The Conflicts of meanings of space between the civil society and the state, and their implications

Urban planning is too important to be left in the hands of urban planners. This statement might have sounded rather provocative in the past. These days, thanks to an increasing awareness of the plurality of perspectivism, the contention of different modes of thinking and doing is widely recognized. This paper seeks to appreciate the problems of urban development from the semantic approach. There are a number of polarities of meaning between civil society and state authority. They are, among others, as follows:

  • Retrospective vs. Prospective Outlook
  • Micro vs. Macro View
  • People-oriented activities vs. Regulation, Legally-sanctioned Action
  • Phenomenal vs. Physical World
  • People’s ways of live vs. Facility, Infrastructure Focus
  • The Subjectifying vs. the Objectifying Process
  • Cultural-Cognitive Mode vs. Empirico-Physical Paradigm

Though the dichotomies are not always exclusive of each other, neither are they clear-cut. Generally speaking, civil society and state do not often enjoy the rapport of understanding. As an implication from the disjunction, the issues of urban development can be conceptualized as the conflict between the social production of space and the production of social space. By and large, the former is in the realm of the civil society and the latter of the state. To illustrate the point, the on-going resistance and the urban development plan in Chiang Mai will be presented as a case study. Hence, the paper will have two components: one is a theoretical discussion, the other empirical findings. The theoretical issues will cover the state of the art in the field of geography, whereas the facts are from the current situation up to the present day. Hopefully, the paper will shed some light on the questions (a) why some aspects of urban development are more difficult than others, and (b) how the entities in conflict could come to reconcile the differences.

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Chaiyan Abstract_UD.doc20.5 KB
Rajchagool_Conflicts of meanings of space.pdf80.27 KB