Rationality revisited: Politicisation through planning rationality against the rationality of power

Ozdemir E.

PLANNING THEORY, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/14730952211001103
  • Title of Journal : PLANNING THEORY


In this article, I readdress the issue of rationality, which has been so far considered in western liberal democracies and in planning theory as procedural, and more recently as post-political in the post-foundational approach, aiming to show how it can gain a substantive and politicising character. I first discuss the problems and limits of the treatment of rational thinking as well as rational consensus-seeking as merely procedural and post-political. Secondly, utilising the notion of Realrationalitat of Flyvbjerg, I discuss how rationality attains a politicising role due to its strong relationship with power. Using the concept of planning rationality aiming at public interest, I present the general position and actions of professional organisations in Turkey, focusing on the Chamber of City Planners, as an example illustrative of my argument. I finally argue that rationality becomes a substantive issue that politicizes planning, when it is put forward as an alternative to authoritarian market logic. In doing so, I adopt the Rancierian definition of the political, defined as disclosure of a wrong and staging of equality. In conclusion, I first emphasize the importance of avoiding quick rejections of the concepts of rationality and consensus in the framework of planning activity and planning theory and secondly, call for a broader definition of the political; the political that is not confined to conflict but is open to rational thinking and rational consensus.