Call for Papers!

Planning Theory Special issue: Coproducing the just city: interrogating the civil society/academy interface

Coproduction as a planning approach has gained theoretical traction of late. In global north and south contexts, the term is increasingly invoked to apprehend configurations of planning that rely on engagement between state and civil society at multiple scales (Galuszka, 2018). In the global north(s) , coproduction is seen as a potential palliative to the oft criticised 'post political' penchant/derailment of collaborative planning; as a means to strengthen the democratic potential of strategic planning (Albrechts, 2012); or indeed, as pathway to "real democracy" in the wake of the 2011 global claims for justice and dignity (Ogien, Laugier, 2014). The term has more traction still in global south contexts, with Mitlin (2008) and Watson (2013, 2014) positing coproduction as a global south contribution to planning theory. At the risk of over-simplifying, coproduction approaches reflect localised hybridisations of collaborative and insurgent planning practices aimed at actualising just planning in practice, in contexts marked by increasing socio-spatial and environmental inequalities and where state-civil society interfaces remain shallow and/or are marred by clientelist practices. In that sense, planning-as-coproduction appears to offer a practice-based and innovative way forward for the tired 'collaboration v. agonism' debates within just city planning theory and practice. Arguably, it offers as well, a means of actualising theories of socio-spatial justice and equality, as well as activating substantive "right to the city" practices on the ground.

Much of this burgeoning "coproduction-as-planning" literature focuses on the configurations of state-civil society engagement and the tactics developed to steer such engagement towards just city objectives. However, less attention has been accorded to the role of other actors in bolstering such just city planning objectives; indeed, on the role of mediators in bringing about new deliberative capabilities (Forester, 2009), as well as locally articulated conceptions of justice. The coproduction literature from/on the global south(s) and insurgent planning (Miraftab, 2009) have brought attention to the role of alliances between third actors (NGOs, community architects) and social movements in buttressing power imbalances at the heart of participatory forms of planning (Luasang et al, 2012; see also: Cossart, Talpin, 2015 ; Deboulet, Mamou, 2015).  This Special Issue builds on such insights, and offers to unpack the critical role of intermediation alliances within coproduction-as-planning processes, focusing on those alliances which feature academics and/or academic institutions. 

 Accordingly, we invite contributions from global south and north contexts that:

  •  Critically analyse the contribution of such alliances to more progressive, caring, just and democratic planning. Such contributions are understood in a broad way and we invite papers that explore alliances' ability to engage in (planning) knowledge translation, counter-planning expertise and methodologies, those that focus on alliances' ability to shape/shift planning curricula, or indeed, on imaginaries of/for the just city.
  • Unpack the diverse social and political configurations and trajectories of alliances between universities, research centres and organized social groups. In particular, we are interested in papers that explore the level of proximity between different alliances' actors and the contextualised genealogies of alliances between universities, research centres and social groups. This may relate to civil societies' organisational capacities, the degree to which universities uphold (or are incentivised to uphold) their 'public' role in the life of the city, or indeed, the role of catalytic moments or individuals in fostering such intermediation alliances. We welcome papers that adopt a historical perspective, exploring the transformation of practices of co-production; and /or that pay particular attention to the local political opportunity structures that enable or constrain coproduction practices between universities and communities.
  • Reflect on the interface between planning theory and practice when key actors of intermediation alliances are also protagonists of theory building. What do these concrete alliances and practices do to the (reformulated) practice of coproduced planning for the just city? What are their 'knowledge effects' with regards specific planning methodologies and/or ways of apprehending planning concerns such as slum upgrading, urban renewal or climate resilience – or indeed, with regards to concrete understandings of justice in planning? In turn, what do these alliances and the self-reflexion they invite, do to the theorisation of coproduction-as-planning and their methodologies? How do they reframe/challenge epistemic injustices at the heart of glibly stated 'participatory' planning theorisation? Indeed, how does coproduction help reframe the project of planning theorisation?   

We welcome comparative papers and are particularly interested in papers that explore the power and ethical tensions/dissensus at the heart of such interaction. As such we encourage coproduced papers that engage head-on with the challenges of intermediation alliances. Given the theory-building project of Planning Theory, we encourage theoretical reflection on empirical findings and shared experiences.  

Key words: urban justice, right to the city, co-production, activist academy, emancipatory pedagogies, circulation, ethics


  • Abstract deadline: 15 February 2022 
  • Abstract selection: 28 February 2022
  • First draft:  30 May 2022
  • Online workshop with accepted contributors: (around) 20 June 2022
  • Revised draft: 15 July 2022

Please send abstracts (300 words max) and contact details to Barbara Lipietz: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Agnès Deboulet: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.