This year, 21 outstanding articles were nominated by journal editors for the AESOP Best Published Paper Award. From these, AESOP’s Best Published Paper Committee shortlisted the following five articles;

- Buhler, T. (2021). When vagueness is a strategic resource for planning actors. Planning Theory 20(4) 325-349,

- Ngwenya, N. & Cirolia, L.R. (2021). Conflicts between and within: the ‘conflicting rationalities’ of informal occupation in South Africa. Planning Theory & Practice 22(5) 691-706,

- Pallagst, K.; Fleschurz, R.; Nothof, S. & Uemura, T. (2021). Shrinking cities: Implications for planning cultures? Urban Studies 58(1) 164-181,

- Suitner, J. (2021). Vienna’s planning history: periodizing stable phases of regulating urban development, 1820-2020. Planning Perspectives 36(5) 881-902,

- Tulumello, S. & Allegretti, G. (2021). Articulating urban change in Southern Europe: Gentrification, touristification and financialisation in Mouraria, Lisbon. European Urban and Regional Studies 28(2) 111-132,

The committee is delighted to announce that this year’s Best Published Paper Award goes to Thomas Buhler for his paper entitled ‘When vagueness is a strategic resource for planning actors’ published in Planning Theory.

Buhler’s article focuses on the use of vagueness in urban transport plans, arguing that vagueness can have both negative and positive implications for planners. By doing so, his article successfully challenges some generally-held assumptions about the negative impacts of vagueness in a clear and convincing way. On one hand, vagueness can be challenging for planners when it leads for example to misunderstandings and conflicts among actors. On the other hand, vagueness is a potential ‘resource’ or tool that planners can use to their advantage in certain circumstances. In his systematic analysis of 36 urban transport plans, Buhler illustrates that elements of vagueness frequently exist and are often used strategically by planners, such as hedging against commitments in the context of major uncertainties or high levels of tension between actors. Some of the main reasons for being nominated for this year’s prize include: the article’s focus on an omnipresent, but yet relatively underexplored topic in planning; its solid foundation in relevant theoretical literature; and its application of novel, well-justified methods for analysing empirical material. In doing so, the article makes a valuable contribution to both planning theory and practice. All committee members wish to congratulate the author on receiving this year’s award.

AESOP Best Published Paper Committee

Dominic Stead, Committee Chair (Aalto University, Finland); Lauren Andres (University College London, UK); Mennatullah Hendawy, YAN Representative (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany); Anna Hersperger (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Switzerland); Mark Scott (University College Dublin, Ireland); and Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone (Politecnico di Torino, Italy).