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Conference paper

Cornerstone or rhinestone: the fate of strategic planning in the post-political age

Cities and towns Land use Strategic planning Urban planning New South Wales Sydney
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Abstract: This paper draws on thinking about the post-political condition to critique recent strategic planning practices in NSW. Thinkers such as Mouffe, Rancière and Swynedouw suggest that we are now in an era founded on the suppression of the inherent conflictual or political nature of social action. This is called the ‘post-political condition’. A key mechanism supporting this is the management of issues through technical and managerial processes controlled by ‘experts’ and designed to erase conflict and antagonism (the political). I agree with these thinkers that this is dangerous, has damaged democracy, but in particular has undermined planning. Based on a discourse analysis of the recent Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney, this paper argues that strategic planning has been a key mechanism supporting the post-political condition in land use planning. The Draft Strategy constructs a consensus and argues that there are ‘no winners or losers’ from its policies. This narrows the range of possibilities, suppresses the political, and positions opponents of the Draft Strategy as ‘enemies’, rather than adversaries.

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