In planning debates, culture is often treated as a fixed element, either as a quasi-economic resource or as a category of behaviour. Yet a wealth of research and analysis is available that moves the spotlight from the question of what culture is, towards understanding what we are doing when we talk about culture. This book brings that focus to planning research, examining culture as a socio-historical concept, and introducing a line of scholarship, both established and recent, to show what 'culture' does and why. Illustrated by case studies from planning contexts, it addresses the materialisation of abstract concepts, performance and embodiment, and social categorisation. In doing so, it shows how a deeper understanding of culture can offer new insights into the challenges that planners and planning theorists face. While Culture and Planning is aimed primarily at planning theorists, professionals and students, it has equal relevance for students of human geography or sociology and is accessible to a wider readership. In effect, it opens up the field of planning to a new realm of research, enabling readers to think beyond the bounds of what they know about planning, and to think about what they may, or may not, know about culture.
'This book offers a fresh perspective on planning, informed by social anthropology but emerging from an engagement with planning itself and its concerns. Intriguing, enlightening and provocative, it unsettles the reader, whose view of planning will never be quite the same again. A book to enjoy, argue with and revisit.' Huw Thomas, Cardiff University, UK 'Vividly illustrated and vigorously argued, this will be an indispensable guide to the meanings, relevance, utility and hazards of ideas of "culture" for students and professionals in all branches of planning.' A. F. Robertson, University of Edinburgh, UK '... much can be leamed from the joumey Abram invites us to make with her. It is valuable for planners, both professional and aspiring, to look beyond the traditional ideas ofthe field. Taking a trip "through the looking glass" to the land beyond accepted ways of analyzing planning can provide both students and practitioners with a fresh point of view. Culture and Planning is an excellent guide to that journey and provides a comprehensive roadmap to ensure that the trip is worthwhile.' Journal of Planning Education and Research