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Contradictory cares in community-led planning

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/04/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Nordic Journal of Science and technology Studies
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)39-52
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The affective, practical and political dimensions of care are conventionally marginalised in spatial planning in the UK, in which technical evidence and certified expert judgements are privileged. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the planning system to influence how the places where they live will change. But to make the kind of arguments that are influential, their care for place must be silenced. Then in 2011, the Localism Act introduced neighbourhood planning to the UK, enabling community groups to write their own statutory planning policies. This initiative explicitly valorized care and affective connection with place, and associated care with knowledge of place (rather than opposing it to objective evidence). Through long-term ethnographic studies of two neighbourhood planning groups I trace the contours of care in this innovative space. I show how the groups’ legitimacy relies on their enactment of three distinct identities and associated sources of authority. Each identity embodies different objects, methods, exclusions and ideals of care, which are in tension and sometimes outright conflict with each other. Neighbourhood planning groups have to find ways to hold these tensions and ambivalences together, and how they do so determines what gets cared for and how. I describe the relations of care embodied by each identity and discuss the (ontological) politics of care that arise from the particular ways in which different modes of care are made to hang together: how patterns of exclusion and marginalisation are reproduced through a policy which explicitly seeks to undo them, and how reconfiguring relations between these identities can enable different cares to be realised. This analysis reveals care in practices that tend to be seen as antithetical to caring, and enables speculation about how silenced relations could be made visible and how policy could do care better.