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Mike Raco and Sonia Freire-Trigo

Traditional debates over governance and democratic engagement have drawn on the binary distinction between top-down and bottom-up approaches. The chapter examines some of the shifts that have taken place in the governance and management of urban planning systems in recent decades and argues that such perspectives are increasingly redundant in an era of structural governance reform. It highlights the growing plurality of decision-making structures, governance arrangements, and political demands and the challenges that these pose to policy-makers. Drawing on writings on agonism and neo-liberal reform the discussion also highlights approaches that are more applicable to these emerging contexts, in terms of both policy relevance and critical research design.