Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Experiential Evaluation to Create Risky Situations and Address Tensions in a Participatory Planning Process

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Abstract:  Planning processes often cause tensions between institutions and citizens because the local knowledge and values of the citizens are not included in the decision-making process, which can cause mistrust. This article builds on an ongoing PhD research that explores the potential of experiential evaluation as an alternative and experimental approach to “hybrid forums”: an approach to open the participatory planning process for diverse actors and values. In order to render tensions visible and constructive in the participatory planning process, experiential evaluation creates “risky situations” in these hybrid forums. To discuss this approach of experiential evaluation, we use a methodological and analytical framework based on the four steps of strategic navigation techniques: tracing, mapping, diagramming, and agencying. We use these techniques to analyse two risky situations that were created through experiential evaluation within the participatory planning process of the neighbourhood spatial plan (NSP) of Zwijnaarde (Ghent, Belgium). Based on the analysis of the case, we observed that experiential evaluation was able to render tensions visible, but did not yet make them constructive. However, as a framework for a dialogue between institutions and citizens, the NSP leaves room to continue the experiential evaluation process that was initiated and to take further care of tensions on a smaller scale.

Keywords:  democratic decision-making; hybrid forums; more-than-human actors; participatory design; staging; values



© Lieve Custers, Liesbeth Huybrechts, Oswald Devisch. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.