Citizen participation in planning: an examination using some concepts and theories from social and political science, of community decision-making in regional and town planning

Fagence, Michael (1978). Citizen participation in planning: an examination using some concepts and theories from social and political science, of community decision-making in regional and town planning M.A. Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Fagence, Michael
Thesis Title Citizen participation in planning: an examination using some concepts and theories from social and political science, of community decision-making in regional and town planning
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1978
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Total pages 583
Language eng
Subjects 310103 Urban and Regional Planning
Formatted abstract       "There seems to be a consensus ... that we will not approach success in the solution of our urban crises without the expansion and further development of new forms of participation. We are sensitively aware of the effects of inadequate participation and deficiencies in our representative systems ... the forces of tension in society demand that such attempts (i.e. experimentation) be made - irrespective of the fact that we are yet unsure whether the result is a permanent contribution to community stability or instability".

      Mann, 1970, p. 182.

      The research reported in this thesis is set in the context of concern expressed by Mann. It is organized into four inter related parts.

      Many of the problems which beset exercises of citizen participation in planning are derived from confusion about the philosophical and theoretical bases, and from the popular misconception that, rather than being the manifestation of an attitude of mind committed to involvement in civic affairs, participation is merely a technique for making decisions.

      Planning may be interpreted as an integral part of the broad spectrum of political affairs, particularly at the level of local government. As a consequence of this, citizen participation, as a contribution to community decision-making, may be considered to be a means of achieving a redistribution of power in the community, and the role of the planner may be considered as political rather than apolitical. These matters are evident in the participation experiences of the United States and Australia.

      Inadequate performances with, and from citizen participation in planning are the by-products of an imperfect knowledge of the intricacies of community decision-making; this unsatisfactory state may be overcome by subjecting the participation phenomenon to a process of progressive disaggregation into its component parts, the process being structured into inter-related levels of specificity.

      In this thesis are recorded

      * (In Chapter 1) a general review of the political context of planning, and the experiences of the United States and Australia of citizen participation in planning;

      * (In Chapter 2) the components of the analytical device used throughout Part 2 - the levels of specificity;

      * (In Chapter 3) a discussion of the nature and processes of planning, considered as responses to prevailing or emerging political, social, economic, professional and technical conditions;

      * (In Chapter 4) an investigation of the political nature of community decision-making, a consideration of the continuum of political styles, and an interpretation of the key concepts of 'representation' and 'the public interest';

      * (In Chapter 5) an examination of the broad categories of participants - the elected representatives, the public servants, the public ('en masse', in groups and as individuals), the government agencies and professional institutes, the consultants and advocacy planners – and an interpretation of their respective competencies and motivations;

      * (In Chapter 6) a consideration of the means of participation, which for convenience have been categorized as 'conventional' (for example, exhibitions, public meetings, surveys, information dissemination), 'innovative' (delphi, nominal group, brainstorming, charette techniques), 'self-help' (manuals, institutionalized planning aid, task forces), and dependent upon improvements to mass electronic communication technology;

      * (In Chapter 7) a brief consideration of a diversity of matters derived for the preceding examinations, such as the manipulative and control factors which contribute to the distribution of power between participants, the condition of public apathy and non-participation, the influence of the mass media, the special requirements demanded by participation practices (for example, planners with particular communication skills, extended time-scales in the planning process, additional financial resources).

      The discussion of this pertinent theory is used to structure the empirical study made of planning and citizen participation in Brisbane in the period 1961 to 1975, coincident with the Lord Mayoralty of Clem Jones, and the preparation of plans with varying degrees of citizen participation for submission in accordance with the relevant statutes in 1961, 1969 and 1974/75 Chapter 8).

      The principal conclusions to be drawn from the research are that the participation phenomenon is intrinsically more complex than is generally recognized, that no practice should be commenced before the diversity of conceptual, theoretical and practical considerations have been identified and understood by the intending participants, that further experimentation is necessary to provide productive means of participation, that current practices should be carefully monitored and their effectiveness subjected to analysis, and that, generally, there should be a more serious commitment to research in this area of community or civic affairs.
Keyword City planning -- Citizen participation
Regional planning -- Citizen participation
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