Deciphering planning concepts from a perspective of Lacan’s four discourses - a case study of urban village in British planning policy

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With the explosion of available information in the contemporary age, numerous new planning concepts are being invented in pursuit of better urban environments. When we read books about future cities, listen to the speeches of renowned architects and urbanists, browse edge-cutting urban design projects or audit discussion of urban development, countless new concepts pop up in texts along with models, drawings and videos such as eco-village, smart city and numerous -isms. Many concepts in planning are notoriously difficult to define. If we are asked to give a definition of smart city, the answers are often curtailed to individual perception. What is the ‘smartness’ of cities? Optimal transport, efficient energy consumption, data networking, social networking or even all the above-mentioned characteristics? Many planning scholars and practitioners doubt the validity and effectiveness of some planning concepts, such as public interest (Campbell & Marshall, 2002), smart growth (Downs, 2005) and sustainable development (Marcuse, 1998). It raises a question for this research: how much can contested planning concepts influence urban planning policies and future urban development? This paper tries to open up a new perspective to view this question with the help of Lacan’s Four Discourses theory, focusing on a particular planning concept – urban village - in the context of British planning policies.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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