Is regional planning dead or just coping? The transformation of a state sociospatial project into growth-oriented strategies

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How is regional planning transformed in increasingly changing socioeconomic and political contexts? How are regional planning policies and practices ultimately shaped and why? With this paper I propose and apply an analytical model based on notions of state theory, state spatial selectivity, new planning spaces, and policy discourses to examine how regional planning has evolved in the course of the past four or so decades. On the basis of an analysis concerned with the history and evolution of Danish regional planning I argue that regional planning has shifted away from being a sociospatial and welfarist state project towards being a domain characterised by growth-oriented strategies that stand for neoliberal political agendas. In analysing this process I show that hierarchical forms of governance and statutory mechanisms embedded within them have been largely substituted by emerging soft spaces of governance and flexible policies intended to destabilise formal planning arenas. Finally, I discuss the fact that the ‘classical–modernist’ steering role of regional planning that once sought to tackle socioeconomic disparities has been replaced by a facilitating role that promotes competitiveness through growth-oriented policy instruments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government & Policy
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)536-552
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
EventAESOP 2012 26th Annual Conference: Planning to Achieve/Planning to Avoid - Ankara, Turkey
Duration: 11 Jul 201214 Jul 2012


ConferenceAESOP 2012 26th Annual Conference


  • regional planning, planning reorientations, structural reform, spatial planning, planning roles, governance structures, soft governance spaces

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