Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice / Edition 2

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The Danish town of Aalborg is to Flyvbjerg what Florence was to Machiavelli: a laboratory for understanding the real workings of power and what they mean for our more general concerns of social and political organization. Politics, administration, and planning are examined in ways that allow a rare, in-depth understanding. The reader witnesses, firsthand, the classic and endless drama which defines what modernity and democracy are and can be.
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Editorial Reviews

The Australian
... the sharpest advance in our understanding of how power actually works since Machiavelli's The Prince was published in 1532.
Times Literary Supplement
... monumental ... Flyvbjerg's genius lies in his unfailing eye for banality, and for discerning the none too invisible hand of power behind it ... carries a salutary message.
American Political Science Review
Should students of urban politics read this book? Of course ... distinctive ... useful ... original.
European Societies, European Sociological Asc.
... full of surprising ironies and telling paradoxes ... rewarding ... enthralling ... a seminal contribution.
Communication Theory
... compelling ... superb ... important ... If new forms of [democratic] life are emerging, detailed studies like Flyvbjerg's will show us what they are like.
Print Administration
The book works on all levels ... clever ... relevant ... useful ... a good Christmas present.
Journal of the American Planning Association
... this book should be compulsory reading." Journal of the American Planning Association
Scandinavian Journal of Management
... rich ... monumental ... a brilliant exemplar.
Journal of Economic and Social Geography
Judging from ... the Internet, Rationality and Power is close to acquiring the status of a cult book in the USA and Western Europe ... [it] is the new bible.
Australian Journal of Political Science
... reads like a novel ... should gain a wide readership." Australian Journal of Political Science
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226254517
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Series: Morality and Society Series Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

"All the problems of politics, of social organization, and of education have been falsified through and through," Nietzsche says, "because one learned to despise 'little' things, which means the basic concerns of life itself." I take the Aalborg case to be one of Nietzsche's "little things," a "discreet and apparently insignificant truth," which, when closely examined, reveals itself to be pregnant with paradigms, metaphors, and general significance, what Nietzsche in typical immodest fashion calls "cyclopean monuments." Applying the Nietzschean approach to Aalborg, we will find that the most particular also reveals itself to be the most general. Nietzsche may have declared the death of God, but God fooled him; God is still in the detail. So is the devil, as we shall see. To understand the story of Aalborg is to understand central aspects of modernity and of modern politics, administration, and planning. Thus, Aalborg is not presented as a case of "something rotten in Denmark." It is put forward as a case of the more pervasive problem of how to make democracy work in a modernity that is strong on democratic ideals but weak on their realization. With Denmark being one of the oldest, and probably also one of the best functioning welfare state democracies in the world, the Danish case demonstrates just how seriously we should take Bernard Crick's observation that to call governments "democratic" is always a misleading piece of propaganda. We may want the democratic element in government to grow greater, but it is still only an element tempered by other elements that we need to take into account when working for more democracy.
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Table of Contents

Map of Downtown Aalborg
1 In Some Remote Corner of the Universe 1
2 The Aalborg Project 9
3 Bacon and Nietzsche Come to Northern Jutland 19
4 Power Defines Reality 28
5 Rationality as Frozen Politics 39
6 The Rationality of Resistance 54
7 The Weakness of the Better Argument 69
8 The Longue Duree of Power 84
9 Rationality in the Context of Power 92
10 Interpretation over Truth 99
11 Antagonistic Reactions at Play 118
12 Farewell to Reason 131
13 The Dream Plan 143
14 Knowledge Kills Action 156
15 Minutiae Matter 174
16 Myths Die Hard 183
17 Exit the Innovators 195
18 A Single Drama...with an Endless Play of Dominations 206
19 Reality Check 219
20 Power Has a Rationality That Rationality Does Not Know 225
Postscript 237
App. A Main Actors in the Aalborg Project 240
App. B Chronology of the Aalborg Project 243
App. C Elements in the Original Aalborg Project 245
Notes 249
Index 277
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