Power dynamics in a transforming local authority-planning environment: the Tshwane experience

  • Johnny Coetzee
  • Mark Oranje
Keywords: Transformation, power, rationality, local authority-planning


This article presents a perspective on the complex, dynamic and illusive power relations that are omnipresent in the local authority-planning environment. It specifically unpacks the fine grain of the power web or the so-called "micro physics of power" (Watson, 2001), the different types of power, the ways in which the different powers traverse and change in the web, how they impact on each other (the general matrix of force relations), and lastly its impact on people and systems. This article presents a discussion on the inseparable relationship between power relations (see Foucault, 1969; 1975; 19940; l 994b) and social relations - and a perspective on how power relations are affected by social alignments, effective communication and communicative action - i.e. "the force of the better argument" (Habermas, 1983; 1984; 1987). Based on the work of, amongst others, Foucault (1969; 1975: 19940: l994b) and Habermas (1983; 1984; 1987), the article foregrounds new insight and counter-arguments on the debates regarding the relationship between power and rationality as captured in the work of Flyvbjerg (19980: 1998b); Watson (2001): Allmendinger (2001) and Hillier (2002).


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