The Problem with Community in Planning

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations


As an element of planning practice, the notion of “ community”� is not well thought out. The quest for community in the realm of planning praxis provokes an age-old debate, which, given the current surge of interest in community, needs to be revisited and reassessed. In this article, the author argues that planners need to detach themselves from the idea that physical planning can create a “sense of community.”� The integration of the notion of community and planning is analyzed in three parts. The author first assesses how planning practice currently incorporates the notion of community. Included is an empirical analysis of neighborhood planning documents from sixteen U.S. cities. Second, she discusses why the notion of attempting to build community in planning is problematic, and she presents four fundamental reasons why this is the case. Finally, she outlines how the notion of community in planning could be used more appropriately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Planning Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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