Stratified and defensive planning democracy: Hearings on objections to plans in nine Israeli cities

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This article contributes to the debate on inclusion and democracy in planning by comparing the answers given by five Israeli district committees to objections to planning proposals in nine cities, and by analysing their discourse in terms of socio-spatial inequality. We investigate how the committees’ answers to various professionals and civil actors, and how the type and degree of effort they invest in justifying their decisions, reflect their views of existing social divisions. We consider current theses on compromises to planning democracy. First, we follow urban regime theorists and compare the planners’ answers to objections submitted by their professional and development peers, and by ordinary people. Second, we follow theories on identity and class-related biases, and compare the committees’ answers to objectors along Israeli socio-spatial and ethnic disparities. Third, we trace planners’ post-political methods to simultaneously protect and legitimate their decisions. We demonstrate evidence of a combination of a positive bias towards the most powerful actors, a negative bias towards the least powerful ones, and many less obvious and neutral answers to those in the middle. We argue that with this array of answers and justifications, Israeli committees preserve a superficial display of inclusion and legitimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3504-3521
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number16
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • citizen participation
  • class
  • democracy
  • development coalitions
  • ethnicity
  • planning

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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