Making sense of planning expertise: housing policy and the role of experts in the Programa Especial de Realojamento (PER)

Making sense of planning expertise: housing policy and the role of experts in the Programa Especial de Realojamento (PER)

Most of contemporary policy issues are dealt with through the mobilization of experts’ knowledge - on which citizens and decision makers are increasingly dependent in the so-called “age of expertise”. The project exPERts will address this crucial democratic and theoretical issue in the light of two questions: How a given set of professional knowledge and skills is assembled and mobilized to support the policy process? And to what extent the experts’ role extends beyond the narrow boundaries of their professional training, to imply also a strategic use of professional knowledge and status?

In doing so, we build on a constructivist understanding of experts’ knowledge, which conceives policy approaches as embodying ideological and value assumptions (Wagenaar 2011, Latour 2005, Callon et al 2009) and travelling between (and adapting to) to a variety of local contexts (Sanyal 2005, Knieling & Othengrafen 2009, Peck & Theodore 2010, Healey 2013), and sees experts’ role beyond the deployment of their professional skills (Fischer & Forester 1993, Hoppe 1999, Jasanoff 2003, Fischer 2009).

In the light of these assumptions, exPERts will investigate the development of the Programa Especial de Realojamento (Special Rehousing Program, hereafter PER, which was enacted in 1993 and has been running during two decades), the largest public housing program ever developed in democratic Portugal, developed with the primary aim of eradicating slums in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and rehouse former slum dwellers in council housing estates. The research team has substantial expertise in the fields related to the theme of the research (Allegra et al 2013, Allegra & Rokem 2015, Tulumello 2015), including past research on Portuguese housing policy (Cahado 2013, Ascensão 2015).

Our aim in investigating the PER is twofold.

First, exPERts will constitute the first comprehensive assessment of the PER. Through the creation of a web-based atlas (PER-ATLAS, Task 4) that will include data for all PER actions developed in the Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (Lisbon Metropolitan Area, hereafter AML) and in-depth research on selected case studies, exPERts will greatly contribute to further our understanding of the PER and advance the Portuguese debate on a crucial policy area.

Second, exPERts will address two theoretical issues, namely:

(a) the way general policy paradigms, practices and techniques are adopted in (and adapted to) specific contexts and policy sectors, and how timing and context of this adoption influence the dynamics of urban policy-making and its results. The project will investigate how alternative policy approaches informed Portuguese housing policy, competing, mixing and stratifying over time in the AML.

(b) the agency of experts (non-elected professionals who apply “a particular body of knowledge, skills and techniques to the problems confronting [their] client”, Fischer 2009: 18) in the policy process. exPERts will focus in particular on the less visible and inherently political functions of the expertise - i.e. on functions that are neither formally sanctioned nor budgeted (and therefore largely unnoticed by standard policy evaluation procedures), and are largely removed from a narrow understanding of their professional role (i.e. adhering to the good professional practices and procedural standards).

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Rede: 
IGOT-ULisboa; CIES-IUL; IHRU
Keywords: 

Social housing, Urban studies, Spatial planning, Lisbon metropolitan area

Most of contemporary policy issues are dealt with through the mobilization of experts’ knowledge - on which citizens and decision makers are increasingly dependent in the so-called “age of expertise”. The project exPERts will address this crucial democratic and theoretical issue in the light of two questions: How a given set of professional knowledge and skills is assembled and mobilized to support the policy process? And to what extent the experts’ role extends beyond the narrow boundaries of their professional training, to imply also a strategic use of professional knowledge and status?

In doing so, we build on a constructivist understanding of experts’ knowledge, which conceives policy approaches as embodying ideological and value assumptions (Wagenaar 2011, Latour 2005, Callon et al 2009) and travelling between (and adapting to) to a variety of local contexts (Sanyal 2005, Knieling & Othengrafen 2009, Peck & Theodore 2010, Healey 2013), and sees experts’ role beyond the deployment of their professional skills (Fischer & Forester 1993, Hoppe 1999, Jasanoff 2003, Fischer 2009).

In the light of these assumptions, exPERts will investigate the development of the Programa Especial de Realojamento (Special Rehousing Program, hereafter PER, which was enacted in 1993 and has been running during two decades), the largest public housing program ever developed in democratic Portugal, developed with the primary aim of eradicating slums in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and rehouse former slum dwellers in council housing estates. The research team has substantial expertise in the fields related to the theme of the research (Allegra et al 2013, Allegra & Rokem 2015, Tulumello 2015), including past research on Portuguese housing policy (Cahado 2013, Ascensão 2015).

Our aim in investigating the PER is twofold.

First, exPERts will constitute the first comprehensive assessment of the PER. Through the creation of a web-based atlas (PER-ATLAS, Task 4) that will include data for all PER actions developed in the Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (Lisbon Metropolitan Area, hereafter AML) and in-depth research on selected case studies, exPERts will greatly contribute to further our understanding of the PER and advance the Portuguese debate on a crucial policy area.

Second, exPERts will address two theoretical issues, namely:

(a) the way general policy paradigms, practices and techniques are adopted in (and adapted to) specific contexts and policy sectors, and how timing and context of this adoption influence the dynamics of urban policy-making and its results. The project will investigate how alternative policy approaches informed Portuguese housing policy, competing, mixing and stratifying over time in the AML.

(b) the agency of experts (non-elected professionals who apply “a particular body of knowledge, skills and techniques to the problems confronting [their] client”, Fischer 2009: 18) in the policy process. exPERts will focus in particular on the less visible and inherently political functions of the expertise - i.e. on functions that are neither formally sanctioned nor budgeted (and therefore largely unnoticed by standard policy evaluation procedures), and are largely removed from a narrow understanding of their professional role (i.e. adhering to the good professional practices and procedural standards).

 

Objectivos: 
Through the project we will contribute to the "practical turn" of social sciences (Schram et al 2013), as well as to the debate on policy expertise and planning cultures. In a moment when housing issues are once again a matter of public debate (link: https://expertsproject.org/2016/12/14/publico-governo-admite-novo-programa-de-realojamento-em-2017/), exPERts aims to contribute to the debate on Portuguese planning and housing policies; to work alongside the main stakeholders in this policy area; and to act as a hub for connecting the experience of young Portuguese scholars working on related issues
Parceria: 
National network
Ricardo Veludo
Rita Cachado
Eduardo Ascensão
Caterina Di Giovanni
Alessandro Colombo
Ana Estevens

exPERts

Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/05/2016
End Date: 
30/04/2019
Duração: 
36 meses
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