Understanding power dynamics in the planning process: the case of a retail development in Glasgow

Samer Bagaeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) to investigate power, influence and inequality manifested in a process involving a planning application. The objectives behind the case study research, a planning application for a minor retail development in the west end of Glasgow, include an exploration of the role that language and discourse play in reflecting and constituting relations of power between the stakeholders in the process and to explore the value of the ideas of linguists such as Fairclough and Van Dijk as tools of research in town planning. The premise here is that using CDA to study the language used in texts provides insights not ordinarily evident from more traditional research methodologies. To do this, this paper shows how texts can be used to challenge knowledge, manufacture consent and articulate and sustain resistance and challenge. In broad terms, one of the methodological assumptions that inform discourse-based approaches is that different groups seek to establish a particular narrative or version of events as a means to pursue political objectives. This paper sets out initially the theoretical influences that inform relations of power and dominance in order to better understand the relationship between language and power followed by an analysis of texts drawn from a wider body of information related to the planning application to inform the conclusions. This paper concludes with a discussion of the value and utility of CDA as a valid method for social inquiry and as a useful resource for understanding power and dominance in the urban sphere and the struggle to create sustainable communities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-384
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • power
  • critical discourse analysis
  • planning
  • Glasgow


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