- The transformative potential of institutions: how symbolic markers can institute new social meaning in changing cities
- Environment and Planning A
- Volume | Issue number
- 42 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Planners use symbolic markers in order to frame processes of urban change and to mobilise actors. How can we explain the fact that in some cases the symbolisation of new urban spaces manages to enhance and enlarge the meaning of social change while in other cases the symbolic markers remain powerless and might even have a reverse effect? The authors doubt whether the sophistication of symbolic markers as such has much impact. The explanation for the success or failure of symbolic communication is sought within the framework of institutional embedding. This conceptual paper attempts to elaborate institutions’ transformative potential through their use of symbols. To this end, it undertakes a reappraisal of institutional thought in order to conceptualise institutional transformation, the establishment of a conceptual linkage between the transformative potential of institutions and symbolic markers, and the design of an operational model of research for the institutional investigation of symbols in the planning of changing cities.
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