Mediating between “Fat Cats” and “Stupid Activists”: The Planning Controversy over Re-building Brno Railway Station

Project funded by the Laboratoire d’Economie et de Transport, Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat , University of Lyon 2009–2010.

Since many years Brno citizens and expert argue about whether to re-build the Brno railway station in its current location or to move it 800 meters down the south. This controversy is a timely example of the role of emotions in understanding planning controversies. The project builds on studies in planning that have dismantled the importance of discourses for enrolling particular policies and shows that we need to pay more attention to emotions that are part of those discourses. Emotions are understood as discursive experiences of values and assumptions that consolidate respective groups of actors.

Two discourses – the “sustainability discourse” and the “modernizing discourse” – stand against each other. Identifying the emotional accounts of these discourses helps us, on one hand, to understand their interdependence with the issue of citizen’s participation. On the other hand, the emotional accounts uncover the aggregate effects of the insufficient introduction of citizen’s participation in the context of Czech experience; as revealed by the negative labelling of the actors either as “fat cats” or as “stupid activists”. The project analyzes the emotional accounts of the debate in order to encourage a broader reflection on how to facilitate participatory policy settings.

Results published in:

Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, online first

Results presented at:

5th–7th July 2012, 7th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference, hosted by University of Tilburg

26th–28th October 2011, Planning/conflict: critical perspectives on contentious urban developments, hosted by Technical University of Berlin