From apophenia to epiphany

Making planning theory-research-practice co-constitutive





Lacanian discourse, planning decision-making, storytelling, master plan, planning ‘critical-hysterical’ research


This paper addresses the question of how planning research could be reasserted to balance the relationship between theory and practice. To that end, a twofold approach is taken: on the one hand, different interrelations among planning theory, research and practice are set out building on Jacques Lacan’s ‘four discourses’—the master’s, the university’s, the hysteric’s and the analyst’s. On the other hand, a process to formulate the plan regulador (local normative master plan) of a canton in southern Costa Rica is drawn upon, through storytelling, to shed light on the aforementioned relations. The article’s in-conclusion is that among planning theory, research and practice, rather than a synergic co-constitution, linkages that challenge, occlude, bypass or control one another are generated. Moreover, due to the apophenic ability of universal(izing)-technocratic(ized) theories to obviate the ‘right measure’ between action and reaction, discourses of research and practice are manipulated and the role of theory as ‘master signifier’ upheld. However, the ‘counter-discourses’ of both the hysteric and the analyst could be articulated by a planning ‘critical-hysterical’ research, which, in turn, would allow epiphanies to come to the fore, separate action from reaction and, pragmatically and dynamically, co-constitute planning theory, research and practice.




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