Power and contingency in planning

K. van Assche, M. Duineveld, R. Beunen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we analyse the role and reception of poststructuralist perspectives on power in planning since the 1990s, and then ask whether a renewed encounter with the works of poststructuralist theorists Foucault, Deleuze, and Luhmann could add something to the points that were already made. We make a distinction between the power of planning (the impact in society), power in planning (relations between players active in planning), and power on planning (the influence of broader society on the planning system), to refine the analysis of planning/power. It is argued that an interpretation of Deleuze, Luhmann, and Foucault, as thinkers of power in a theoretical framework that is based on the idea of contingency, can help to refine the analysis of power in planning. Planning then can be regarded as a system in other systems, with roles, values, procedures, and materialities in constant transformation, with the results of each operation serving as input for the next one. The different power relations constitute the possibilities, the forms, and the potential impact of planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2385-2400
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • actor-network theory
  • urban
  • systems
  • governance
  • discourse
  • ideology
  • foucault
  • politics
  • deleuze
  • design


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