The AESOP TG Ethics, Values and Planning welcomes contributions to a themed special issue of Transactions of AESOP on the theme Exploring Conformorality in Planning Debates: Perspectives and Implications, under the Guest Editorship of Dr. Stefano Cozzolino (ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund, Germany) and Dr. Anita De Franco (Milan Polytechnic University, Italy). 

Introducing conformorality

The concept of “conformorality” (Lisciandra et al., 2013) expresses the tendency of groups and communities to conform to certain normative judgments due to peer pressure. It speaks to the tendency of individuals to align with particular values to secure acceptance within a specific group. This issue has been explored in various fields (e.g., ethics, ethology, experimental psychology, philosophy). In this themed special issue, we explore its implications for issues relevant to planning theory and practice.

Crucial questions

Planning scholars are not exempt from conformorality. They advance ideas and solutions influenced by widespread value-based arguments and moral pressure from the planning community. Key related questions might include - To what extent is “conformorality” relevant in opinion-shaping processes, especially concerning spatial transformation and various ethical and moral perspectives on urban issues? How often do planners consider (and reconsider) the ways in which they work and think, even beyond their practical needs (Moroni, 2023)? How often do planning theorists challenge consensual ideas? Are attempts in this regard (Banham et al., 1969) condemned to fall under the accusation of being “naive,” “insensitive,” or “part of the problem”?

Key challenges

It is crucial to recognise that an excess of conformorality can reduce fair debate and hamper innovative ideas and solutions (Turiel, 2002; Talbe, 2012; Kelly et al., 2017; Chituc & Sinnott-Armstrong, 2020; Carlsson et al., 2021; Alshaalan & Gummerum, 2022). Planning policies, urban studies, and human geography are not exempt from this risk (Hartman, 1984/2002; Hesse, 2015; Farrow et al., 2017; Potts, 2020; Kirchherr, 2022). Debates on sustainability, the circular economy, commons, commodification, densification, touristification, segregation, gentrification, digitalisation, informality, inequality, participation, neoliberalism, post-colonialism, peripheries-peripherality, privatisation, social justice, and the just city are all susceptible to conformorality.

A call for contributions

For this special issue, the Call for Papers welcomes both conceptual and empirical papers that critically discuss and explore how the specific issue of “conformorality”, or the more general problem of how “conformism” affects urban planning and regional studies’ debates, by analysing and exploring a specific research topic. Authors are urged to address two key questions in their submissions: 

1 - Which aspects of your chosen theme are affected by conformorality? How does conformorality influence the debate on this particular topic?

2 - What can and should be done to overcome the current impasse and introduce new perspectives and ideas to deal with this particular urban issue?

Abstract Submission - Deadline 10 January 2024

As a first step authors are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words which outlines the themes and content of their proposed papers to the Guest Editors Dr. Stefano Cozzolino This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Dr. Anita De Franco This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 10 January 2024. A full timetable of deadlines for the production of the Special Issue is provided below. 

Full paper format - First full paper draft submission 01 March 2024

Authors whose abstracts are selected will be invited to submit their original contributions in the form of full papers of 5000 up to 7000 words (including footnotes and references) by 01 March 2024.

The connection between the AESOP thematic group Ethics, Values and Plannig and this special issue

The special issue builds on the annual conference of AESOP TG Ethics, Values and Planning: “Breaking through ‘Conformorality’ in urban and regional studies” (Dortmund, September 14-15, 2023; conference report), while also opening the call to scholars who want to engage in the debate.


Important dates:

- 11 December 2023: open call for abstract submissions (200 words)

- 10 January 2024: call for abstracts closes

- 20 January 2024: selection/acceptance of contributors from the open call for abstract

- 1 March 2024: first drafts of full papers received, and review process starts

- 1-15 March 2024: first round of reviews returned to authors

- 30 April 2024: second revised drafts received

- 1-15 May 2024: second round of referee process

- 30 May 2024: final submission to the journal

- July/August 2024: publication and conclusion of the special issue


Guest Editors

Dr. Stefano Cozzolino, ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund, Germany - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  is a Senior Researcher at ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (Dortmund), an Adjunct Professor at RWTH University (Aachen), and the coordinator of the AESOP thematic group on Ethics, Values, and Planning. His primary research interest focuses on the interplay between planning/design and the evolution of spontaneous social-spatial configurations.

Dr. Anita De Franco, Milan Polytechnic University, Italy - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  is a Postdoctoral research fellow at Milan Polytecnic University and Adjunct Professor at the University of Pavia (Italy). From 2020 she is founder and executive member of “NormaCtivity: research network on human and non-human normativity”. In 2022 she joined the AESOP thematic group on Ethics, Values and Planning.


Conformity, Conformorality, Ethics, Moral judgements, Normative principles, Planning theories, Social norms and conventions, Urban planning debates, Urban policies, Urban studies

Some Key References

Alshaalan, H., & Gummerum, M. (2022). Conformity on moral, social conventional and decency issues in the United Kingdom and Kuwait. International Journal of Psychology57(2), 261-270. 

Banham, R., Barker, P., Hall, P. and Price, C. (1969) ‘Non-plan: an experiment in freedom’, New Society 26: 435–43

Carlsson, M., Finseraas, H., Midtbøen, A. H., & Rafnsdóttir, G. L. (2021). Gender bias in academic recruitment? Evidence from a survey experiment in the Nordic region. European Sociological Review37(3), 399-410.

Chituc, V., & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2020). Moral conformity and its philosophical lessons. Philosophical Psychology33(2), 262-282. 

Cialdini, R.B., & Goldstein, N.J. (2004). Social influence: Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology55, 591–621.

Hartman, C. (1984/2002). Right to stay put, reprinted in: Between Eminence and Notoriety. New Brunswick, NJ: CUPR Press.

Hesse, M. (2015). Megaurban regions: Epistemology, discourse patterns, big urban business. In J. Harrison & M. Hoyler, Megaregions (pp. 29–50). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kelly, M., Ngo, L., Chituc, V., Huettel, S., & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2017). Moral conformity in online interactions: Rational justifications increase influence of peer opinions on moral judgments. Social Influence12(2-3), 57-68. 

Kirchherr, J. (2022). Bullshit in the sustainability and transitions literature: A provocation. Circular Economy and Sustainability, 1-6.

Lisciandra, C., Postma-Nilsenová, M., & Colombo, M. (2013). Conformorality. A study on group conditioning of normative judgment. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 4, 751-764.

Moroni, S. (2023). Distinguishing ‘planning’ from the ‘plan’. Institutional and professional implications of taking urban complexity seriously. European Planning Studies, 1-15.

Potts, R. (2020). Is a New ‘Planning 3.0’ Paradigm Emerging? Exploring the Relationship between Digital Technologies and Planning Theory and Practice. Planning Theory & Practice, 21 (2), 272-289.

Turiel, E. (2002). The culture of morality: Social development, context, and conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.