Planning Theory for Practitioners

By Michael Brooks, FAICP

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Originally published in 2002 — e-book version released in 2013.

This book is recommended reading for planners preparing to take the AICP exam.

In this book, Michael Brooks bridges the gap between theory and practice. He describes an original approach — Feedback Strategy — that builds on the strengths of previous planning theories with one big difference: it not only acknowledges but welcomes politics — the bogeyman of real-world planning. Don't hold your nose or look the other way, Brooks advises planners, but use politics to your own advantage.

Brooks admits that most of the time planning theory doesn't have much to do with planning practice. These ideas rooted in the planner's real world are different. This strategy employs everyday political processes to advance planning, trusts planners' personal values and professional ethics, and depends on their ability to help clients articulate a vision. Planning Theory for Practitioners will encourage not only veteran planners searching for a fresh approach, but also students and recent graduates dismayed by the gap between academic theory and actual practice.

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Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Oct. 1, 2013
Adobe PDF
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents

1. Planning practice and political power
Public planning • Planning and political power

2. Planning practice and planning theory
The uses of theory in planning • Is there a theory-practice gap? • Planning theory today

3. Running the gauntlet of planning critics
Planning is perilous • Planning is impossible • Planning is impotent • Planning is malevolent • Planning is unconstitutional • Planning is ...alive and well

4. Rationales for public planning
The search for planning's bedrock • The public interest:real or illulsory? • Conclusions

5. The critical role of values and ethics
Values • Ethics • Conclusions

6. Centralized rationality:The planners as applied scientist
The nature of rationality • Rationality based planning strategies • The latest contender:Strategic planning • Current status of the rationality concept

7. Centralized nonrationality:The planner confronts politics
Simon says "satisfice" • Incrementalism • Current status of incrementalism

8. Decentralized rationality:The planner as political activist
Advocacy planning • Current status of advocacy planning

9. Decentralized nonrationality:the planner as communicator
Postmodernism • Planning as communicative action

10. Setting the stage:Ideas, feedback, goals and trail balloons
Where do planning ideas come from? • The critical role of feedback • Formulating workable goals:easier said than done • The benefits of creative trail ballooning

11. The feedback strategy of public planning
Planning as social experimentation • The habits of effective planners • The feedback strategy • How the feedback strategy relates to other paradigms • Potential shortcomings of the feedback strategy

12. The politically savvy planner
The nature of political savvy • The elements of political savvy

13. Vision
The importantance of vision • How to be a visionary and keep your job