The spatial development of for example neighborhoods, cities and urban regions is increasingly understood as a dynamic process progressing in a non-linear way. These areas can been seen as dynamic spatial systems that continuously transform due to internal drivers (e.g. local innovations, initiatives and collaborations) and external drivers (e.g. technological, demographic and economic trends). Complexity scholars argue self-organization plays a crucial role in these transformations.

Self-organization is a process that gives rise to new structures, patterns and organizations emerging from the interaction between elements or actors while external coordination is absent. It is understood as a collective process through which a system tries to reach the best possible ‘fit’ with its environment. Considering self-organization to be an important driver behind spatial change, planners are challenged to gain more insights in why self-organization in the context of planning systems emerges, how these processes evolve, and what the implications are for planners and policy makers.

This call is a follow-up on the 9th meeting  of AESOP’s thematic group on Complexity & Planning on the theme ‘self-organization and spatial planning’. This event was held in April 2011 in Istanbul. Continuing our discussion during the upcoming event, particular attention is asked for:

  • The relation between the concept of self-organization and closely related concepts such as autopoiesis, adaptive capacity and coevolution.
  • The various types of feedback and feed-forward loops together feeding processes of self-organization in a spatial context.
  • The implications for governance of space and place, and how planners might need to adjust their spatial strategies, professional attitudes and cooperation with other actors in response to processes of self-organization.

Important information & dates:

  • A full paper is required
  • Make sure the paper is not only conceptual but includes empirical data as well
  • The paper is requested to meet the guidelines of Town Planning Review
  • Deadline submission abstracts: January, 28th, 2013
  • Acceptance of abstract: February, 15th, 2013
  • Deadline full paper: April, 15th, 2013

Abstracts can be submitted my email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.