Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Johansen, P.H., Chandler, T.L.
Mechanisms of power in participatory rural planning
(2015) Journal of Rural Studies, 40, pp. 12-20.

This paper explores the specific mechanisms of power in participatory rural planning projects. It follows up on suggestions in planning literature about directing focus at the relational level in the assessment of power, rather than on who has power and who doesn’t. The paper argues that in such an assessment of power it is needed also to drawn in the social context because different social contexts will be more or less vulnerable to different mechanisms of power. The paper takes the stand the rural settings are especially vulnerable to dis-engagement of local citizens, sub-ordination of the rural by the urban privilege to define the rural qualities and creation of local conflicts and that mechanisms of power that cause such unintended outcomes of rural planning projects should be uncovered. Inspired by Foucault’s interpretation of power the paper carries out a grounded theory inspired analysis of a Danish rural participatory planning project. The paper concludes that rural planning literature and analysis will benefits from paying attention to the three – in rural participatory planning projects – specific mechanisms of power ‘Institutionalising knowledge and competencies’; ‘Structuring of criticism’ and ‘Undermining the objectives of the others’. © 2015.

Author Keywords
Illustrative case study; Participation; Power mechanisms; Power relations; Rural planning

Index Keywords
conflict management, local participation, participatory approach, power relations, rural planning; Denmark

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