Advocacy Planning Concept

Emergence of various planning concepts

With the emergence of town or urban planning the need of research also grew. These research were an attempt to get a better understanding of the field and led to its evolution. Different planning theories like rational planning model, advocacy planning concept, collaborative planning theory, political economic model in urban planning, critical minimum efforts theory emerged. These shaped the way we know urban planning today and form a part of planning theory.

History of advocacy planning concept

The concept of advocacy planning was given by Paul Davidoff. In this type of planning, there are various interest groups. They can be as follows:

  1. political parties (in power or in opposition)
  2. special interest groups like groups against the caste system (in the Indian context), groups against racial discrimination, pro or anti civil rights groups, chambers of commerce, labour organisations, NGOs aiming at protecting the environment, RWA
  3. Ad-hoc associations protesting against existing policies e.g. there is a group of architects who are against the construction of the over ground construction of the Delhi Metro on the grounds of aesthetics.

Related: Rational Planning Model

Advocacy Planning
Advocacy Planning

These groups have their own needs which they represent through the preparation of plural plans. This is how public participation is achieved in advocacy planning.

Plural plans is a concept of advocacy planning as opposed to the unitary plan of rational planning. Rational planning believes that it is possible to prepare a plan by a single authority with scientific objectivity which tries to takes into account the interests of as many sections of the society as possible which would enable the society to achieve the one and only truth. Advocacy planning defies the existence of the concept of value neutrality and hence the preparation of plural plans with each plan guided by the ideologies of the people preparing it. Values are an inescapable part of ant rational decision making process.

Public interest is not given or defined by the planner but constructed through political process i.e. there has to be representation of diff. Groups which can be done by plural plans preparation. It believes in relative truth. Proper policy is that which is considered proper by its formulators. Right course of action is a matter of choice and not a fact.

Planners play the role of advocates, helping those people in preparing plans whose views match his own. Hence, in advocacy planning the role of the planners is not just that of a technician like in Rational planning. The planner is provided with the opportunity to endorse the plan which he believes in. The planner helps his clients articulate their thoughts in a language which is comprehendible to them, the other parties and to the decision makers. Instrumental knowledge is also used in advocacy planning.

The planner defends his plan by highlighting the strengths of his plan and pointing out the shortcomings of the plans prepared by other groups. This is done to win the political support for the approval of the planner’s clients’ plan which is a prerequisite for the financing and implementation of their plan. The planner makes his clients aware about the various institutions and processes involved in planning. The public is told why certain suggestions were taken and some not. What are the justifications behind the policies which are implemented?

Plural plans ensure the preparation of high quality plans since the different plans compete with one another. The plural plans are based on thorough background studies which is required while defending these plans. They also ensure a healthy rate of generation of these plans.

The plural plans ensure that no contending party preparing a plan has an undue advantage of any sort. Rational planning advocates the preparation of alternatives. But these are more of a mental exercise rather than actual different plans. Advocacy planning overcomes this shortcoming by the construction of plural plans by different sections of the society. Advocacy planning facilitates lively political discussion and opposition to public agency which is required for a healthy democracy and a rational decision making process.

Related: Collaborative Planning Theory, Political Economy Model in Urban Planning

Other advantages of plural plans:

  1. it serves as a means of informing the public about the various alternatives, options and choices available which are strongly supported by their proponents.
  2. It relieves the pressure from the public agency to prepare alternatives.
  3. it puts a professional obligation on the planners to defend the plan of their clients.
  4. the planning agency will not b in a monopolistic condition and hence will be forced to compete with the other contending groups. This will force it to prepare better quality plans.
  5. it will avoid frivolous criticism. Those who object to the existing plan e.g. master plan will be forced to prepare a better plan. Hence accountability increases.

Other functions of a planner in advocacy planning

  1. he undertakes educational work.
  2. he informs his clients about their rights under the various planning laws, the way a city government functions and the particular programmes which might affect them.
  3. he informs the public agencies and other groups about the conditions, outlooks and problems of the group he represents.
  4. the planner points out the nature of biases underlying the information used in other plans.

It is suggested that the federal government should fund the implementation of the plans and not the local government. The local govt can influence the local bodies executing the plan which would refer to the implementation of a plan different from the one chosen.

The different interest groups preparing the plan can ask the federal govt for funding. Other organisations such as charitable organisations can also fund these groups. The local govt can charge the plan preparing groups for the information they require. In case of absence of information, the contending parties would have to spend their own money to collect the required information.

Over time, advocacy planning has led to

  1. Equity planning
  2. Social, mutual and trans active learning
  3. Community based planning

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