'Either/or' and 'and': first impressions of a journey into the planning cultures of four countries
The following portrayal provides an overview on various issues characteristic of the discussion on planning presently going on in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. The first section describes four phases which are significant for the development of planning in the four countries after the Second World War. While it is the changes which have occurred that allow us to distinguish phases at all, there are also things to be noted that have remained constant: themes, roles and methodologies that were always present. The second section compiles common features and analogies amongst current planning discourses in the four countries; key words here are complexity (of the tasks), co-operation (among the actors), focusing (on projects), and professional competence (of the planners). Though these features are generic to all four countries, there are also those which are specific to each country. The third section considers national contexts: differing characteristics can be explained on the basis of widely divergent political conceptions. Despite all the variety of ideas that evidently shape the professional discourse, all planners seem to share the view that planning should serve the public interest at large.
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