- The Trilogy of Power, Politics and Planning   click here to open paper content800 kb
by    Beyazit, Eda | ebeyazit@gmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper understands socio-spatial inequalities in cities with reference
to the trilogy of power, politics and planning.
Power and politics are deeply embedded in planning. The idea of controlling
cities and nations via planning is as old as the city-states. According to
Foucault (1976) every political debate in the eighteenth century onwards
included discussions on urbanism, architecture and facilities of common
life. Yet, it is not only through planning or infrastructure that power
becomes tangible but also through a range of political techniques
(Castells, 1997). Therefore, instead of speaking of the influence of power
and politics in planning, it is important to refer to the mutual
relationship between these three notions, thus, discuss the trilogy of
power, politics and planning.

In this paper, such an approach to power, politics and planning is used in
order to understand socio-spatial inequalities. Although empirical examples
that assess the relationship between these notions can be found in the
literature, their use in understanding socio-spatial inequalities is not
very common. Moreover, having stated the mutuality of these notions, in
this paper power is also acknowledged as a plural term, and power of
politics, planning and economy are taken as important determinants of
socio-spatial inequalities. For instance, according to Harvey (2006) the
clash of different powers, e.g. economic and political, generates uneven
geographic developments. In this sense, socio-spatial inequalities are
explored through the relationship of these powers and the paper is grounded
within the urban land rent theory, theories of uneven geographies,
geometries of power as well as discussions on participatory planning and
right to the city. Planning process and infrastructure development in
Istanbul are used in order to explain socio-spatial inequalities.

In Istanbul, plan amendment process has become a major issue especially
within the last decade. The Municipal Council of the Istanbul Metropolitan
Municipality makes decisions on the future of the development of the city
in limited time, with limited participation and regardless of the approved
Urban Master Plan decisions. In this sense, the municipality
(re)distributes the wealth and urban rent and yet, no regular scheme is
applied for the participation of different interest groups in this process.
Therefore, tension between different interest groups has climbed in recent
years. For instance, professional chambers such as the chamber of urban
planners and chamber of architects have sued the municipality on a number
of occasions. Moreover, major transport infrastructures in the city are
used as important tools in increasing the urban land rent in conjunction
with plan amendments.

This paper uses a series of qualitative data, i.e. expert interviews,
newspaper articles, adverts and caricatures and analyses them with
reference to political agency and structure of socio-spatial processes.
This method is based on Jager’s (2003) analysis of the urban land rent.
Findings indicate the existence of power geometries in the planning process
in Istanbul. Different powers in this process generate unbalanced spatial
development by preventing equal participation to decision making processes
and disregarding planning decisions based on expertise and knowledge.
Differential rent created through the plan amendment process is distributed
unevenly in the city based on power relationships. Moreover, capital
accumulation in certain areas fosters inequalities. This paper, with its
methodology and approach to understanding socio-spatial inequalities and
power-politics-planning debate, is an important contribution to planning
theory and methods. In this sense, this research is applicable to different
cities and cases.

Castells, M. (1997). The power of identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell.

Foucault, M. (1976) Power. Faubion, J.D. (ed.) Essential Works of Foucault
1954-1984 Third Volume [1994] London: Penguin

Harvey, D. (2006) Spaces of global capitalism: towards a theory of uneven
geographical development, London, Verso.

Jager, J. (2003) Urban Land Rent Theory : A Regulationist Perspective.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 27(2), pp.233–249
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