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Planning, networks and power relations: Is democratic planning under capitalism possible?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Frank Moulaert


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This article examines the relevance of leading social science network theories for the analysis of social relations in particular fields and as a guideline for democratic planning practice. The first section explains the risks of using the network metaphor in social science analysis: the confusion of normative and real features of networks may lead to an abstract representation of institutional structures and power relations and naive expectancies regarding democratic planning opportunities. The second section reviews institutional network theories in social science. The survey focuses on: the 'raison d'Ítre' of the network, the typical behaviour of its agents, the types of communication, interaction with the environment and creation of its own institutions. Section 3 examines how these network theories deal or do not deal with power and suggests improving the theorizing of the role of power in networks by providing a more solid reading of power relations in institutional structures and personal relationships in networks. This solidity could be offered by a combination of Regulation Theory and Bourdieu's theory of practice. The final section provides some guidelines on how a better reading of institutional structures and power relations may improve the impact of democratic planning. Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Moulaert F, Cabaret K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Planning Theory

Year: 2006

Volume: 5

Issue: 1

Pages: 51-70

ISSN (print): 1473-0952

ISSN (electronic): 1741-3052

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/1473095206061021


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