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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

The framing of power in communicative planning theory: Analysing the work of John Forester, Patsy Healey and Judith Innes

Westin, Martin


In this paper, I analyse the framing of power in streams of communicative planning influenced by American pragmatism, sociological institutionalism and alternative dispute resolution. While scholars have heavily debated Habermasian communicative planning theory, the broader conception of power across these linked, but distinct, streams of the theory remains to be explicated. Through analysis of 40 years' of publishing by John Forester, Patsy Healey and Judith Innes - widely cited representatives of these three streams - a broader account of the treatment of power in communicative planning is established. The analysis shows that the streams of communicative planning provide distinct approaches to power with a joint focus on criticising conflictual illegitimate power over and developing ideas for how consensual power with might arise through agency in the micro practices of planning. Even if communicative planning thereby offers more for reflections on power than critics have acknowledged, the theory still leaves conceptual voids regarding constitutive power to and legitimate power over.


participatory planning; facilitators; frame analysis; collaborative planning; critical pragmatism; planners; sociological institutionalism; alternative dispute resolution

Published in

Planning Theory
2022, Volume: 21, number: 2, article number: 14730952211043219Publisher: SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
    Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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