Town Planning Review

Social dilemmas and the communicative planning paradox

Town Planning Review (2001), 72, (1), 77–96.

Abstract

Often in spatial and environmental planning a contradiction can be witnessed between interests of individuals and collective interests as expressed in government plans and policy proposals. This seems to be a paradox that may be explained by social dilemma theory. In this paper the argument will be developed that communicative planning insufficiently takes into account the existence of social dilemmas, that is the conflicts that exist between the choice an individual would make to maximise his or her self interest and the choice that would be best for the group or a society as a whole. Some examples of social dilemmas will be given that illustrate the importance of this concept for planning theory. It is argued that communicative planning also has an intrinsic paradox that makes this planning concept vulnerable. Attention is given to ways of finding solutions for social dilemmas. It is concluded that communicative planning does not solve social dilemmas.

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Voogd, Henk