Chapter 3: A multi-level rationality model for planning behaviour
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This chapter is about rationality as a frame of reference for choice, planning and decision-making and that is susceptible to evolutionary and revolutionary tendencies. To begin with, rationality as it is commonly used in today’s planning debate no longer holds and the debate is progressing towards new understandings. This is a rather challenging and perhaps a somewhat controversial statement, knowing that the mainstream planning debate on rationality, communicative action and intersubjective reasoning is already far beyond the traditional, but still dominant, ‘rational choice theory’. This existing planning model positions two rationalities – the technical and the communicative – as opposing and complementary extremes that frame and explain planning behaviour in the governmental domain. Between these extremes, a multitude of realities regarding public choice, planning and decision-making can be assigned, each reality representing a specific course of action. However, to relate public choice, planning and decision-making to the governmental domain only is increasingly perceived as a limitation. Consequently, developments within planning practice require additional and innovative steps outside the existing rationality model for planning behaviour. This chapter proposes a multi-level expansion of the rationality model for planning behaviour. The rise of social movements, civil initiatives and collective action, as well as the ongoing democracy crisis, inspire the idea of seeking rationalities beyond the governmental domain. These new movements, initiatives and actions no longer relate to approaches within the traditional range from command-and-control government to shared governance. Consequently, planners and decision-makers are looking for frames of reference that include processes of self-governance. Building on the concepts of dynamic patterning, co-evolution and multiple layering, taken from the complexity sciences, a new rationality model will be constructed with multiple frames of reference for public choice, planning and decision-making.

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