Urban Planning and Social Justice

Authored by: Susan S. Fainstein

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138905016
eBook ISBN: 9781315696072
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses the relationship between urban planning and social justice. 1 Since the primary way in which urban planning affects social justice is through spatial arrangements, spatial justice constitutes the focus of the discussion. Underlying all spatial planning is the premise that conscious choice of means and ends produces better cities and regions than unregulated development. Normative planning theory explores the moral basis of planning; that is, what is meant by “producing better cities and regions.” The term “better” implies more attributes than simply more just—it implies more productive, more efficient, more beautiful, more sustainable as well. I begin by addressing the question of why justice should be given priority, examine the role of planners in effecting or blocking its application, look at the history of value emphases in planning, consider current debates, and conclude by discussing what can be done. The issues then become the appropriate process for decision making about the location, content, and form of the built environment; evaluation of approaches to urban and regional growth and decline; and formulation of the values by which process and outcome should be judged.

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