Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentShilon Mor
SubjectPlanning in the Global Era: A Socio-Relational Analysis of
Ben-Gurion International Airport
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


This research is concerned with conceptualizations of present-day urban planning. The ‘global era’ brings about the collaborations and participation of multilevel actors in new forms of urban governance, the flow of planning ideas and practices across the globe, increased multiculturalism within cities, and a decline in state planning models alongside a rise in non-governmental actors. By drawing on innovative socio-relational approaches in general, and on Actor Network Theory (ANT) tools in particular, the study probes into the concerns global alterations raise for planning scholarship. The research is occupied with the complexities of urban planning under global transformations. Accordingly, it asks: what can socio-relational approaches offer to the understanding of contemporary urban planning?

            The complexity of present-day planning is highly evident in airports’ planning processes. Airports are material embodiments of globalization that provide connections; separations; and flow of people, commodities, and knowledge. In addition, their planning involves multilevel actors. For analyzing planning today, the research empirically examines ‘Ben Gurion International Airport (NATBAG) 2000’ planning. The research follows the constitution and ongoing effects of two National Outline Plans (TAMA) for the NATBAG 2000 Project, namely, TAMA 4/2, and TAMA 4/2a. Following ANT principles, the study scrutinizes the interrelationships between actors and actants (i.e. non-human actors) that have participated in the planning process, the forms of performativities, and the practices that have constituted it on the ground.

            The study draws on qualitative methodology. Through in-depth interviews, I traced connections between actors and actants all along the planning process up to the time of writing. The content analysis of formal reports, surveys, and protocols provided data regarding the TAMA planning procedures. Finally, participant observations focused on present procedures such as ongoing struggles, formal planning committees’ gatherings, and ongoing planning decisions.

            The study follows a non-hierarchical perspective that traces planning-in-the-making. It probes into recent concerns within planning literature and attempts to overcome the shortcomings of contemporary studies. The examination addresses questions regarding categories of scale, the separation between the state and non-governmental actors, power and domination, and the tools and concepts that should be used for studying planning today by following innovative approaches that can provide different answers to these questions than the ones which are currently offered by planning scholars.

            The conclusions of the study are three-fold: first, fixed dichotomies that are commonly used as categories with which to analyze planning processes should be addressed in relational terms, and described as shaping and being shaped by processes of planning-in-the-making. Second, planning knowledge production should be examined as a multilevel process that is more-than-contextual. Finally, affective relations are an important facet in planning processes that must be addressed when examining people’s engagements with these processes.

            The research emphasizes the dynamic aspects of planning and the importance of non-humans that shape and alter planning on the ground. It contributes original conceptualizations of planning processes and provides concepts and tools for future analyses. It offers useful insights and implications beyond the scope of urban planning - for multidisciplinary investigations which are concerned with current socio-spatial configurations.