EADI: Opinion Paper "The Role of a Spatial ‘Civic Science’ in Repositioning Scientific Expert Knowledge in Society: A Case from South Africa"

With the emergence of the network society in recent decades and the shift towards more participatory forms of urban governance, there are various ‘communities of interest’ which make knowledge claims regarding the benefits of urban development processes and the impacts on opportunities, quality of life and health of urban residents (Potts, 2008). These knowledge claims exist in various forms; expert knowledge; sectoral knowledge; community knowledge and tacit knowledge (van Ewijk and Baud, 2009). Using these different types of knowledge, including spatialised forms of these knowledges, networks of actors engage in participatory decision-making processes focused on ‘joint problem solving’ (Hajer, 2005). These actors include the state, NGOs, business, consultants, scientists and civil society. Alternatively, civil society groups use their knowledge and present it publicly through mobilisation processes and social protest and in this way ‘participate’ in urban development processes.

The opinion expressed in this paper, based on growing evidence, is that these different types of knowledge can be spatialised, and that participatory spatial knowledge can provide a means for greater inclusion, empowerment and accountability in urban development processes and for the creation of a more resilient city. Read the full publication

Opinion Paper No. 2 – October 2011, by  Dianne Scott

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