Participatory mapping and counter-representations in wind energy planning: A Radical Democracy Perspective

Stefanie Müller*, Johannes Flacke, Matthias Buchecker

*Corresponding author for this work

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Participatory mapping for landscape planning is gaining in popularity. With a participatory geographic information system, the local spatial knowledge of the affected public can be collected and included in planning decisions. For its proponents, participatory mapping is deemed useful not only for rendering planning more inclusive but also for facilitating consensus in planning. Here, we present a case study of wind energy planning in a region in Switzerland in which we applied a participatory mapping approach that resulted in providing spatial data not for consensus-making but for creating counter-maps. Using a critical cartography approach, we identified from our sample data the distinct wind energy discourses of supporters, opponents, and people who were indifferent; these revealed three different representations of the same place, which leaves little room for reaching a consensus. Drawing on the agonistic planning theory of radical democracy, however, we could demonstrate why this outcome is not necessarily problematic but rather bears potential for more democracy and pluralism in controversial landscape planning. This case study builds the foundation for discussions about how to implement energy transition in the face of the climate crisis and touches on other cutting-edge issues, including the handling of dissensus, conflict, and polarization in planning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1561651
JournalCase Studies in the Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2022


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