In search of the irreducible political moment: or why planning shouldn't be too hung up on conflictuality
Book chapter, 2015
Current approaches within planning theory, which on the one hand declare ‘the disappearance of the political’ and on the other propose agonistic pluralism as a solution, risk threatening to make planning blind to the more subtle mechanisms at work in political power. Such mechanisms do not always operate through repressing potential conflicts, but perhaps more importantly work through processes of identification, by which political objectives can be unconsciously internalised in the subject and thus never occur as potential subjects for conflicts. This chapter therefore uses an analytical approach to unfold political moments, so that they can be scrutinised. In order to do so, and drawing on Laclau and Mouffe, a perception of the political moment as “irreducible” is outlined. Following Dyrberg, it is argued that the political and politics ought to be understood as fundamentally interconnected; that the political conditions politics, which in turns, constantly intervene in the political order through the actualisation of potentials. Drawing on the above-mentioned conceptualisations, and using the example of the English planning reform 1998-2010, the chapter seeks to illustrate how mechanisms of political power work. In conclusion it is argued that only by unfolding political moments, so as to scrutinize their normalising effects, can we open the way for counter-hegemonic articulations that could provide planners with political moments that do not simply pass by unnoticed, but enable their rightful moments of ‘being able’.