Navigating the Multiplicity of Planning
Keywords:assemblage, Deleuze, Luhmann, roles of planners, social systems, uncertainty
Planning scholars use complexity perspectives to account for unpredictable societal circumstances in an uncertain and changing world. Questions emerge not only about how planning communication and action can transform but more so about the planner’s ability to navigate the complex relational dynamics of planning. To move forward, we use Gilles Deleuze’s concept of assemblage thinking to frame spatial planning as a continually changing multiplicity of diverse entities and emerging dynamic relations among them. Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory then helps to promote a perspective on planners as a multiplicity of roles grounded in continuously evolving self-descriptions and self-developed meanings. Planners achieve the organisation (navigation) in an uncertain and complex environment through the reproduction of roles. This paper positions planning as a self-reflexive process that uses a multiplicity of role configurations that ultimately defines and transforms the meaning of planning itself.