While you’re here… help us stay here.

Are you enjoying open access to policy and research published by a broad range of organisations? Please donate today so that we can continue to provide this service.

Conference paper

Multiple dialogues and conflicting agendas on governing the city: Western Australia's 'Dialogue with the City'

Cities and towns Community participation Local government Urban planning Australia
Attachment Size
apo-nid60214.pdf 372.45 KB

Abstract: Governments are seeking to involve the broader community in their decision-making processes in response to changes in the relationships between citizens and the state. This is particularly relevant to public policy issues concerning the built environment of cities. Deliberative democracy has emerged in both practice (Parkinson 2004, Weeks 2000) and theory (Bohman 1998; Bohman & Rehg 1997, Cooke 2000, Dryzek 2000) as a philosophical approach for involving citizens in these types of government decision-making. This has been documented in the planning literature as a normative shift towards participatory planning, as seen in communicative planning theory. While advocates of participatory government decision-making (Healey 1996, 1997; Forester 1999) insist that it can increase citizen influence on policy, some scholars (Cooke 2000; Gaus 1997; Young 1996, 2000, 2001) argue that processes employing this philosophy are either naïve or obfuscatory. Furthermore, several scholars (Held 1987; Young 2001) argue that participatory processes can actually reduce citizen power in decision-making. This paper argues that participatory processes are viewed in multiple ways through multiple dialogues or discourses. It draws on the author’s research of a participatory planning process, the Western Australian Government’s ‘Dialogue with the City’. 'Dialogue' was initiated in 2003 by the Western Australian Planning and Infrastructure Minister to formulate a long-term plan for metropolitan Perth. It was designed as an exercise in deliberative democracy that sought to involve the broader community in determining the future shape of the city. This paper highlights the conflicting perspectives participants had on the Government's motivation for initiating 'Dialogue' and discusses the implications of these agendas for the role of planners in participatory decision-making.

Publication Details
Peer Reviewed:
Access Rights Type: