Citizen participation in such complex issues as the quality of the environment, neighborhood housing, urban design, and economic development often brings with it suspicion of government, anger between stakeholders, and power plays by many—as well as appeals to rational argument. Deliberative planning practice in these contexts takes political vision and pragmatic skill. Working from the accounts of practitioners in urban and rural settings, North and South, John Forester shows how skillful deliberative practices can facilitate practical and timely participatory planning processes. In so doing, he provides a window onto the wider world of democratic governance, participation, and practical decisionmaking. Integrating interpretation and theoretical insight with diverse accounts of practice, Forester draws on political science, law, philosophy, literature, and planning to explore the challenges and possibilities of deliberative practice.
Jürgen Habermas's critical communications theory of society has excited widespread interest in recent years. The essays in this book explore the research implications of Habermas's theory for the analysis of modern problems of public life. Spanning the spectrum of the social sciences, the essays relate critical theory to industrial policy under advanced capitalism, education, the mass media and consumerism, public participation in planning, policy analysis, and critical historical studies.
John Forester is Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. Critical Theory and Public Life is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.