Challenges and tricky words. a stronger role for planners

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In the last 20 years, a deliberate strategy of impoverishment of local governments argued the imperative need of: a) involving at all (public) costs, the private sector through the “trojan horse” of governance (Miraftab 2004); b) designing big and shortsighted urban projects (frequently destroying public resources and ignoring public needs) through the mantra of the urban and territorial competition. As it has been already noted, “by elevating Governance above Government, and Economics above Politics, the global policy undermined nation- and state-building capacities in many Countries” (Demmers, Jilberto, Hogenboom, 2004). Moreover, through the rhetoric on pluralism, the neo-liberal governance has contributed to shrink and destroy the relevance of public interest. In fact, behind the 'screen' of governance and the representation of an amorphous citizenship and a not qualified of diffuse interests, the deployment of capitalism has prevailed. This legitimized the partial and strongest interests into shaping the public agenda within the polarized inequalities. In this framework, the paper will give some suggestions and advices for rethinking current problems, and trying to deal with them, by starting by the critical evaluation of some words we use. Moreover, by focusing on the ethic of responsibility and accountability of planners (and for most of us as planning scholars), the paper argues that a stronger role for planners and planning scholars has to do with our own field of responsibility (such as professionals/practitioners/scholars), and moreover with our commitment in building and using new theories and research approaches at least to: a) incorporate the ‘others’/minorities by considering furthermore the interaction between capitalism accumulation in space and the minorities (Yiftachel 2013); b) improve critical urban theories mixing with place-based planning and research practices (Campbell 2012; 2014), by applying different approaches; c) co-produce (Watson 2014) a public model of development, being aware of the oligopolistic elites and extractive institutions (Acemouglou, Robinson, 2012).
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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