You are browsing the archive for Books.

Publication ‘Smart about Cities’

September 1, 2014 in Books


The discourse on ‘Smart Cities’ is everywhere. It promises an era of innovative urban planning, driven by smart urban technologies that will make cities safer, cleaner and, above all, more efficient. Efficiency seems uncontroversial but does it make for great cities? In this book, Maarten Hajer, Director-general of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Ton Dassen, urban sustainability researcher at PBL, plea for a ‘smart urbanism’ instead of uncritically adopting ‘smart cities’. _

_Such smart urbanism needs to find solutions for what modern 20th century urbanism has forgotten to take into account: the ‘metabolism’ of cities – the variety of flows that connect city life to nature. What are we taking in, what are we discharging, and how efficiently are we doing that? Illustrated by 50 infographics, this book highlights both the challenges and opportunities for change. It calls for a ‘globally networked urbanism’ that allows cities worldwide to learn faster and jointly identify effective strategies. A viable 21st century planning, rather than including top-down innovation, opts to embed technology in social innovations. []

Strong Stories

October 3, 2011 in Books

“Strong Stories. How the Dutch are reinventing spatial planning (010 Publishers, 2010)


Spatial planning in the Netherlands involves a diverse range of partnerships between government bodies, centres of knowledge, the public, and organizations in the private sector. Experiments with interactive, development-oriented planning have been going on for some years, especially at the regional level. The book Strong Stories presents the results. Which coalitions, practices, and forms of collaboration have been successful, and which ones have not? When consultants play a major role, do public authorities outsource a growing number of planning projects, or does their gaze tend to turn inward? Can networks and regional actors supply all the information and expertise that is needed? And what can be done to make sure that the results of public participation are put to good use?


Authoritative Governance

October 2, 2011 in Books

Now in paperback: Authoritative Governance: Policy Making in the Age of Mediatization (Oxford University Press, hb 2009, pb 2011)

Authorative GovernanceThe role of the media has become a central part of politics and policy in the twenty-first century. That dominance has led many to suggest a trend of ‘dumbing down’: the privileging of style over content. In this provocative new book, Maarten Hajer takes issue with the ‘dumbing down’ thesis both on theoretical and empirical grounds.
He aims to show how authoritative governance remains possible in crisis-driven circumstances and a highly ‘mediatised’ world. The book elaborates a communicative understanding of authority, which, the author argues, can create a new basis for authoritative governance in a world marked by political and institutional fragmentation.
The argument of the book is that in the age of mediatisation governance needs to be ‘performed’. Hajer describes a genuinely new authoritative governance that breaks with existing interpretations. He demonstrates new ways in which the traditional government of standing institutions and notions of network governance can be combined in actively creating relations with a variety of publics.