In light of the perceived failures of communicative planning within Australian cities, many urban scholars have argued that the theory of agonistic pluralism presents a viable alternative to our current planning paradigm. However, planners have thus far struggled to implement these conflictual principles into planning practice.
I argue that these failed attempts are due to the ontological contradictions between the dominant communicative planning system of rational consensus and the conflictual practices of agonistic pluralism. Therefore, given these differences, it remains difficult if not nearly impossible for planners to integrate agonistic pluralism into the existing planning system in hopes of making planning processes more accepting of adversarial relations.
To address this problem, I develop a Mouffe-ian approach to planning practice, which draws from the conflictual principles and practices of agonistic pluralism to understand, legitimise, and explore the use of activism as a radical planning practice. I argue that it is necessary for planners to embrace the affective, emotional, and often irrational aspects of planning and accept that planning is inherently political, that planning will always involve some form of conflict, and that planning itself requires the exercise of power. Ultimately, this radical conceptualisation of planning aims to use activism to re- politicise planners, something which the post-political neoliberal regime has sought to deny. By establishing this theoretical framework, I seek to address my core research question, which asks: How can planning processes be transformed to better accommodate agonistic conflict in the form of activism as a legitimate practice in the pursuit of a more democratic city?