Public participation and legitimacy management in planning : A Habermasian Perspective to Finnish Welfarist Planning Tradition

Hanna Mattila*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Communicative planning theory has assumed that legitimacy of planning could be enhanced by employing communicative and participatory planning methods. Although this assumption has been inspired by Habermas’s philosophy, communicative planning theorists have studied only some aspects of his theory of legitimacy. They have typically assessed legitimacy in the context of micro-scale communicative interactions, viewing Habermas’s philosophy as a source of communicative ideals. This paper, however, turns to Habermas’s macro-scale systems-theoretical analyses – such as the one presented in Legitimation Crisis – to find explanations for the fact that these ideals often do not come true: political and administrative decision-makers are not always working for turning ideals into practice but rather manage legitimacy by adhering to corporatist, exclusive, and interest group-based decision-making. The paper employs Habermas’s theory to analyse legitimacy management in the tradition of Finnish welfarist planning, a tradition that has been largely based on corporatist governance. Furthermore, it analyses the ways in which this mode of governance forms a trajectory in current neoliberalist governance hybrids in Finland, thus impeding the realisation of Habermasian communicative ideals. Finally, the paper argues that regardless of these impediments, the Habermasian ideals can still pose a challenge to the traditional legitimacy management of Finnish welfarist planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalGeografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • communicative planning
  • Finland
  • Habermas
  • legitimacy
  • public participation
  • welfarist planning


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