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Towards a closer investigation of the planner's agency at the micro-practice of planning

Herrington, K. (2017) Towards a closer investigation of the planner's agency at the micro-practice of planning. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The research examines, at the micro level of the individual planner during their 'mundane' day to day practice, what is structuring their behaviour, within the particular context of speed performance. Drawing upon the observations that planners are refusing applications rather than amending them (Campbell and Marshall, 1998) the research sought to understand the role of the planner's agency in relation to speed performance. This research is located within the debates of collaborative planning theory that questions the normalisation of the planner's judgement and argues for the need to conceptualise the workings of power. Upon reviewing the literature it is argued that there is a lack of the conceptualisation and investigation of the planner's agency and their individuality in producing behavioural outcomes such debates. The research contributes towards these debates through the development of a hybrid conceptual framework and method arrangement to collect multiple case studies that are detailed and personal across time. Such hybrid conceptual framework re-examines current readings of Bourdieu within such body of literature and applies the concept of fields at the micro-level of practices and the habitus as the decision-making of the individual planner. Drawing from Certoma (2015), Foucault's (1991) technologies and self-regulation are applied to understand the workings of structures. To understand the role of agency the conceptual framework deploys cognitive theory (Mischel and Shoda, 1995), seldom applied to this body of literature, to understand the agency ofthe planner in both terms ofthe exercise of their discretion but also the behavioural implications of individual difference. Such research objective posed a methodological challenge as the data was required to be personal, contextual and was required to be collected over the time frame of a planning application. The result was the development of a method arrangement called 10101-1 that used a combination of methods including participant dairies across 5 local planning authorities and 10 planners over a total time span of 9 months. The findings include a reflection upon the benefits of the conceptual framework and method arrangement along with a critique, including areas for future development. With regard to speed performance it was observed that rather than speed performance structuring planner behaviour over other factors, in practice there is a complex interaction between the planners agency amongst structures (along with the context of the planning application) that have a role in whether speed performance targets are met.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Parker, G.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School
ID Code:73802

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