Reflexive Planning as Design and Work: Lessons from the Port of Amsterdam

In recent years, planning theorists have advanced various interpretations of the notion of reflexivity, inspired by American pragmatism, complexity theory, hermeneutics, discursive and collaborative planning. Scholars agree that “reflexivity” has a strong temporal dimension: it not only aims to solve present planning problems, but to imagine and understand alternative trajectories for future action. This article explores the practical utility of reflexivity for planners, through a case study that focuses on a project to promote sustainable development in the Port of Amsterdam. Reflexivity in planning emerges as a new tool for generating critical knowledge and dialogue that can synthesise the perspectives of multiple actors in a common understanding, existing structural constraints and a collective imagination of alternative future possibilities. Such research highlights the potential of this approach to generate a creative reconfiguration of the present, and to build capacity for meaningful and considered change.

Enza Lissandrello & John Grin (2011) Reflexive Planning as Design and Work: Lessons from the Port of Amsterdam, Planning Theory & Practice, 12:2, 223-248,

DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2011.580156

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