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Area Development: An Unfinished Project

What is the role of knowledge in establishing democratic legitimacy? When does it stand in the way, and when does it make a positive contribution? That is the key issue addressed in this essay. I will be discussing whether the practice of regional planning, with its intermediary networks and institutes, can be viewed in terms of knowledge and power. This discussion will be placed in the context of current Dutch political debate, which involves a fundamental, ongoing discussion of the democratic involvement of citizens. From there, I go on to present networks as autonomous intermediary structures that can enhance coordination between layers of government and serve as experimentation zones for public-private planning (Husken & Jonge, 2005; Aarts, During et al. 2006). I explain how these networks can alternatively foster and frustrate democracy. In doing so, I emphasize knowledge, looking at how it is defined, what types there are, and how it is produced, imported, excluded and codified.