(February 2012) The Power of Communication within the Planning Process: the Case Study of Sardinian Regional Landscape Plan
Communication can represent a source of power within a planning process. According to Forester (1982, p. 69-71), the dialogue can encourage the participation of citizens, avoiding the legitimization and the justification of the existing structures of power, and at the same time, misinformation or distorted communication can justify, and empower political, structural, and organizational actions. Indeed, top-down communication characterized by one-way flow of information represents the lowest level of participation within a planning process. From this perspective, nowadays, the crisis of state legitimacy to satisfy population's needs, and the incapacity to communicate in a constructive way have determined a widespread crisis for regional and urban planning (Friedmann, 1993. p. 16).
In this conceptual framework, the aim of this paper is to analyze if and in what way the communication and the information flow can influence the results of a planning process. In particular the case study of the Sardinian Regional Landscape Plan (RLP) is examined in order to identify potential problems and critical aspects that have influenced in either negative or positive terms the planning processes of elaboration and revision of RLP.
The research is based on a qualitative strategy and a case study design. In particular, the research focuses on a specific landscape area called "Gulf of Cagliari" due to the size of the region. Cagliari represents a critical case study in the Sardinian context owing to complexity of interests at stake. Moreover, the data have been collected through semi-structured interviews and self-completion questionnaires. The former has involved members of academic field, and officials of regional government. The latter has comprised officials of local municipalities, members of environmental organizations and associations, and professionals. Moreover, the results of semi-structured interviews have been interpreted through a thematic analysis; meanwhile the outcomes of questionnaires have been analyzed through a statistical analysis.
The analysis of data from interviews and questionnaires has shown some critical issues in communication within the elaboration and revision processes of RLP in ethical terms. Indeed, during the elaboration phase, the communication has been characterized by one-way and top-down flow due to a specific political purpose. From this perspective, the aim of the regional government has been to legitimate its supremacy over the planning choices at local level, preventing a real involvement of participants. In the revision phase, the regional government has paid more attention to modalities and techniques of communication in order to give voice to single municipalities. Indeed, for example, an expert group of facilitators has had the job of managing and conducting discussions in order to stimulate the communication. However, this more attention could be ensued by a specific idea. Indeed, the first plan has been elaborated by a regional government that belong to opposite political alignment. Therefore, this more awareness could conceal a specific political aim to represent itself as a forward-looking administration in order to obtain more consensus among citizens, and community. On the other hand, this hypothesis could be confirmed or rejected only by the new plan, which has not been implemented yet.
The Power of Communication within the Planning Process: the Case Study of Sardinian Regional Landscape Plan by Federica Leone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Unported License.