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Rationality and power: democracy in practice

By: Flyvbjerg, Bent.
Contributor(s): Sampson, Steven [Translator].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Morality and society. Publisher: Chicago University of Chicago Press 1998Description: xiv, 290p. With index.ISBN: 9780226254517.Subject(s): Denmark--alborg | Democracy | Politics and governmentDDC classification: 320.44895 Summary: In the Enlightenment tradition, rationality is considered well-defined, independent of context; we know what rationality is, and its meaning is constant across time and space. Bent Flyvbjerg shows that rationality is context-dependent and that the crucial context is determined by decision-makers’ power. Power blurs the dividing line between rationality and rationalization. The result is a rationality that is often as imaginary as the time in Little Town, yet with very real social and environmental consequences. Flyvbjerg takes us behind the scenes to uncover the real politics—and real rationality—of policy-making, administration, and planning in an internationally acclaimed project for environmental improvement, auto traffic reduction, land use, and urban renewal. The action takes place in the Danish city of Aalborg, but it could be anywhere. Aalborg is to Flyvbjerg what Florence was to Machiavelli: a laboratory for understanding power and what it means for our more general concerns of social and political organization. Policy-making, administration, and planning are examined in ways that allow a rare, in-depth understanding. The reader is a firsthand witness to the classic, endless drama that defines what democracy and modernity are, and what they can be. The result is a fascinating narrative that is both concrete and general, current and timeless. Drawing on the ideas of Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Habermas, Flyvbjerg reads the Aalborg case as a metaphor of modernity and of modern politics, administration, and planning. Flyvbjerg uncovers the interplay of power and rationality that distorts policy deliberation. He demonstrates that modern "rationality" is but an ideal when confronted with the real rationalities involved in decision making by central actors in government, economy, and civil society. Flyvbjerg then elaborates on how this problem can be dealt with so that more fruitful deliberation and action can occur. If the new millennium marks a recurrence of the real, Flyvbjerg’s Rationality and Power epitomizes this development, setting new standards for social and political inquiry. Richly informed, powerfully argued, and clearly written, this is a book that no one trying to understand policy-making, administration, and planning can afford to overlook. https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/R/bo3640330.html
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Slot 441 (0 Floor, West Wing) Non-fiction 320.44895 F5R2 (Browse shelf) Checked out 28/08/2019 199216

Table of content

1: In Some Remote Corner of the Universe
2: The Aalborg Project
3: Bacon and Nietzsche Come to Northern Jutland
4: Power Defines Reality
5: Rationality as Frozen Politics
6: The Rationality of Resistance
7: The Weakness of the Better Argument
8: The Longue Duree of Power
9: Rationality in the Context of Power
10: Interpretation over Truth
11: Antagonistic Reactions at Play
12: Farewell to Reason
13: The Dream Plan
14: Knowledge Kills Action
15: Minutiae Matter
16: Myths Die Hard
17: Exit the Innovators
18: A Single Drama...with an Endless Play of Dominations
19: Reality Check
20: Power Has a Rationality That Rationality Does Not Know
Postscript
App. A: Main Actors in the Aalborg Project
App. B: Chronology of the Aalborg Project
App. C: Elements in the Original Aalborg Project

In the Enlightenment tradition, rationality is considered well-defined, independent of context; we know what rationality is, and its meaning is constant across time and space. Bent Flyvbjerg shows that rationality is context-dependent and that the crucial context is determined by decision-makers’ power. Power blurs the dividing line between rationality and rationalization. The result is a rationality that is often as imaginary as the time in Little Town, yet with very real social and environmental consequences. Flyvbjerg takes us behind the scenes to uncover the real politics—and real rationality—of policy-making, administration, and planning in an internationally acclaimed project for environmental improvement, auto traffic reduction, land use, and urban renewal. The action takes place in the Danish city of Aalborg, but it could be anywhere. Aalborg is to Flyvbjerg what Florence was to Machiavelli: a laboratory for understanding power and what it means for our more general concerns of social and political organization. Policy-making, administration, and planning are examined in ways that allow a rare, in-depth understanding. The reader is a firsthand witness to the classic, endless drama that defines what democracy and modernity are, and what they can be. The result is a fascinating narrative that is both concrete and general, current and timeless. Drawing on the ideas of Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Habermas, Flyvbjerg reads the Aalborg case as a metaphor of modernity and of modern politics, administration, and planning. Flyvbjerg uncovers the interplay of power and rationality that distorts policy deliberation. He demonstrates that modern "rationality" is but an ideal when confronted with the real rationalities involved in decision making by central actors in government, economy, and civil society. Flyvbjerg then elaborates on how this problem can be dealt with so that more fruitful deliberation and action can occur. If the new millennium marks a recurrence of the real, Flyvbjerg’s Rationality and Power epitomizes this development, setting new standards for social and political inquiry. Richly informed, powerfully argued, and clearly written, this is a book that no one trying to understand policy-making, administration, and planning can afford to overlook.

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/R/bo3640330.html

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