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Working Paper

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The communicative approach to planning (especially represented by Forester 1985, 1989, 1993) has offered an alternative approach to practicing planners (Lauria & Whelan 1995) uncomfortable with an instrumental rationality that leaves values undiscussed or unspecified. By recognizing that all forms of knowledge are socially constructed it accepts that values are not predetermined but are established in the communicative process itself. The examination of what planners do has revealed the role that planners can play in facilitating or hindering such communication (Healey 1992, 1996, Innes 1995, Forester 1994, Lauria & Soll 1996). This body of work draws on insights gained by examining in detail the way planners communicate with other actors in their daily practice, through face to face interactions or through planning documents. In other words, the focus has been on planners and plans. Now it seems that a useful way of building upon this body of work is to decenter the role of the planner and the plan so as to appreciate more fully the dynamic role played by divergent "public" interests. It is this increasing recognition of diversity of interests that forces us to question our capacity as planners to maneuver sympathetically between substantially different codes of meaning. I suggest that one way of doing this is to pay greater importance to the construction of the discourse of collective actors who are not just passive receivers of information or misinformation.