Shadows of Power examines public policy and in particular, the communicative processes of policy and decision-making. It explore the important who, how and why issues of policy decisions. Who really takes the decisions? How are they arrived at and why were such processes used? What relations of power may be revealed between the various participants?
Using stories from planning practices, this book shows that local planning decisions, particularly those which involve consideration of issues of 'public space' cannot be understood separately from the socially constructed, subjective territorial identities, meanings and values of the local people and the planners concerned. Nor can it be fully represented as a linear planning process concentrating on traditional planning policy-making and decision-making ideas of survey analysis-plan or officer recommendation-council decision-implementation.
Such notions assume that policy-and decision-making proceed in a relatively technocratic and value neutral, unidirectional, step-wise process towards a finite end point. In this book Jean Hiller explores ways in which different values and mind-sets may affect planning outcomes and relate to systemic power structures. By unpacking these and bring them together as influences on participants' communication, she reveals influences at work in decision-making processes that were previously invisible.
If planning theory is to be of real use to practitioners, it needs to address practice as it is actually encountered in the worlds of planning officers and elected representatives. Hillier shed light on the shadows so that practitioners may be better able to understand the circumstances in which they find themselves and act more effectively in what is in reality a messy, highly politicised decision-making process.
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Jean Hillier is Professor of Urban and Regional Studies at Curtin University of Technology, Perth and Director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (WA).
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