Urban/Spatial Planners and Power: The Role of Time and Scale

Lucia Dobrucká


This study combines existing approaches to power according to how they reflect
the factors of time and scale, and shows how these lenses might inspire planners to rethink their roles
in a more holistic manner. Planners’ perception of power differs significantly depending whether they
understand change in terms of continuous evolution or discontinuous eras. A desire to understand
the complex processes in which cities evolve puts planners in a rather passive role as trend-watchers,
analysts and moderators. In the second case, planners’ perceptions and roles vary according to how
continual evolution is disconnected and how the factors of space and time are applied. First, if “context”
is understood as the fundamental base, planners see their roles mainly as describing the situation at hand and
opposing those with power in terms of providing relevant information, setting up appropriate agendas and
keeping to specific terms. Second, planners who highlight “context-free values” (or good intentions) prefer
to see their role as keeping their eyes on fair processes, maintaining a balance among participants, striving
for mutual trust and being advocates of those without power. Third, if planners focused on “participants’
behaviour”, which is often rooted in individuals’ subliminal perceptions, they might also tend to nudge
participants in the desired direction and frame tasks, anchor discussions and inhibit automatic reactions
in favour of careful considerations.

Klíčová slova

Urban/spatial planning; planners; power; time; scale; complexity; subliminal perceptions

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