Planning as a Rhetorical Activity: Survey Research as a Trope in Arguments About Electric Power Planning in Chicago


James A. Throgmorton. 1993. Journal of the American Planning Association 59 (Summer): 334-346.

This paper proposes a rhetorical approach to planning, then applies it to the City of Chicago’s effort from 1985 to 1991 to explore alternatives to remaining dependent on a single, privately owned electric utility. Arguing that surveys, models, and forecasts act as tropes (or rhetorical devices) in planning arguments, the paper focuses on a survey of Chicago businesses and their responses to the city’s exploration of new energy planning options. It examines a meeting in which the survey researcher attempted to persuade a quasi-political task force of the accuracy of his survey “results.” The paper discusses how a rhetorical approach could improve the theory, pedagogy, and practice of planning.

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