Scarcity thinking and planning theories

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SoftGrid in association with AESOP and IFHP
Planning contemporary cities requires new capacities of dealing with a great complexity of unexpected problems which have been challenging the established professional practices and creating an intense theoretical debate among academics. Obviously, this is not a new issue for planning theory and practice. In fact, since the mid-fifties of the twentieth century, a lot has been written with reference to the inefficacy and the impacts of the so-called ‘rational-comprehensive’ models of planning. In the Anglo-Saxon context, for instance, many planning theorists – for the most belonging to the field of political science and public policy analysis – have been arguing the limitations of such a decision-making approach for a long period of time. Among the huge amount of contributions, Lindblom (1959) and Altshuler (1965) have brilliantly pointed out the inadequacy of and the dissatisfaction with this dominant paradigm, focusing on the gap between goals and outcomes of planning policies 1. For Lindblom such an approach, far from being concretely practiced, represents indeed only an ideal and abstract formalisation. Planning processes – according to them – are dominated by persistent conditions of ambiguity and uncertainty concerning problems, goals and means which basically undermine the intellectual capacity of computing and dealing with them2 . Likewise, it has become extremely difficult for experts to take into account and assess the whole range of policy alternatives.
Architecture & Planning in Times of Scarcity : Reclaiming the Possibility of Making. 3rd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2012, Manchester
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