Starting from an earlier project on decision-making in planning through a project focused on understanding the power dynamics of the wider political context for the same project, I found some similarities and differences in approach from other authors dealing with these issues in research projects. These research projects made me understand that political decision-making has its own logic, and it relies on arenas with specific actors. Could this logic be influenced by the specific expertise of a minister/executive politician? Does the intellectual background, the practical experience, the epistemological basis, a past of direct engagement of a minister, mayor or vice mayor have an impact on her/his functioning? I started to wonder whether and how, in one way or the other, an executive politician with a background in planning could benefit from this background. So I invited 10 (ex)-politicians with a background in planning to tell their stories in their own words.
Using, for analytical reasons, a distinction between three dimensions of the broader process, the need is felt to unravel the political. It is argued that planning needs a better understanding of how political decision-making takes place. Moreover, in a similar way as advocacy planners realized that, because they lacked power to implement chosen policies, they had to run for office, some planners telling their story in this book ran for office or were appointed in an executive position. The stories of the (ex)politicians with a background in planning illustrate that their background, in different ways, made it possible to make a difference. The stories reveal how these politicians thought about their responsibilities, how and why they decided to act in the way they did, how they succeeded/failed and how they attempted to draw lessons.
Do they Make a Difference?
Edited by Louis Albrechts
As a reaction to a mainly technocratic strategic planning a more radical strategic planning is introduced. The narrative of radical strategic planning is a narrative of emancipation. It aims to bring fundamental ethical issues – equity, social justice – to the top of the political agenda. It therefore needs to develop skills that are able to combine a strategic grasp of the contextual dynamics of particular challenges and situations with a real awareness of the particularity of moments of opportunity in which cracks can appear in institutionalized discourses and practices.