Passion, Reason, and Power: The Rhetorics of Electric Power Planning in Chicago

J. A. Throgmorton. 1990. The Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 7, 4 (Winter): 330-350.

This paper describes, justifies, and illustrates a conceptual framework that draws attention to the importance of rhetoric in planning. Defining rhetoric as persuasive discourse within and between interpretive communities, I suggest that practicing planners are embedded in a complex rhetorical situation created by the interaction of three broad communities (politicians, lay advocates, and scientists) and that planners can and should actively mediate the discourse between these three communities. I illustrate this framework with a concrete example drawn from a currently (late-1980s) active effort to restructure the electric power industry in the Chicago area.

A slightly different version of this article appeared as a chapter in Sue Hendler (ed.). 1995. Planning Ethics: A Reader in Planning Theory, Practice, and Education, New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research: 195-220. The revised version added material concerning the normative ethics of alternative roles for planners.

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