The meaning of ‘planning’ or ‘to plan’ has undergone a continuous and contradictory process of transition and adjustment to changing context conditions. Complex changes such as migration, climate change, political crises and economic recessions now coincide in our cities in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, cities should be seen not only as spaces of transition, but – from a procedural planning perspective – as places for converting these challenges into good living conditions for all their citizens. Current demands on the design and conduct of planning processes and their goals for spatial developments exceed established planning conceptions.
Spatial planning practice is both variable and versatile. However, given today’s fast processes of change, what are the current role interpretations and self-conceptions for space-based action? This special issue aims to provide insights into how planning experiences – and positions and depicts itself in – organizational cultures, professional roles and individual self-conceptions, and most importantly, what this means for future roles and positions in planning. Diverse role interpretations can be observed in everyday practices or can be extracted from theoretical models and concepts – often inspired by neighbouring disciplines. Planners are searching for a new meaningful core for their daily routines and their available options for space-based action. Referring to the ‘Great Transformation’ (WBGU 2011; WBGU 2016), ‘planetary urbanization’ (Brenner 2014), the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III), ‘Everything 4.0’ and the decline of traditional public management options – who and what will this core be in the future?
The aim of this special issue is to collect and open the discussion about recent approaches, positions and reflections on planning as a space- and action-oriented discipline. Theory-based and empirically grounded contributions provide insights into the state of research as well as new elements for the future of planning. Role interpretations and self-images serve as common ground from which to reflect on and think about potential futures. This includes in particular:
- Current processes and drivers of change, e. g. empirical studies about contemporary planning practices, comparative research on different scales, the consequences of global trends and societal developments on planning actions, the implications of digitalization on planners, planning action in contested large-scale projects, changes of framing conditions and decision options
- Reflections about the role interpretations and self-images of planners, e. g. new topics, contradictions and conflicts in planning research and practice, comparisons between self-perspective and outside perspective, changing forms of cooperation and comparative roles between research and practice, critical reviews of dominant role interpretations, changing self-conceptions over time
- Theory-building and future outlooks, e.g. adequate research methods, new conceptions of role interpretations, additional theoretical perspectives, links to other disciplines and lines of thought, theory-based future outlooks and well-grounded conceptual utopias
We invite papers focusing on a research perspective. This implies elaborating and thinking about theory-based role images and peculiarities in organizational cultures. Furthermore, empirically sound knowledge is essential to ensure the action-oriented practices of planners are pro-active, and to plan urban developments against the background of global connections, accelerating development dynamics and large transformation processes.
All contributions within the special issue “Planning and transition – on role interpretations and self-conceptions” should provide innovative insights in current and future role interpretations and self-images in planning. They should provide scientific grounding and further understanding of the interplay between change, self-conceptions and accepted role interpretations. Furthermore, the special issue opens up the German-speaking discussion and brings in international perspectives on the theoretical framing and knowledge co-production of planners’ role perceptions and role interpretations. We especially welcome contributions taking an international perspective as well as papers including the English-speaking debate.