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Alienated and politicized? Young planners’ confrontation with entrepreneurial and authoritarian state intervention in urban development in Turkey
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Planning in Turkey is dominated by powerful market interests and authoritarian state regulation, resulting in a conflictual socio-political environment. Caught in the crossfire between interventionist urban policies and a planning education system that is oriented towards the public good, planners have come to feel alienated from their work. This paper considers how young planners respond to these challenges, drawing upon questionnaires and semi-structured in-depth interviews with planners with fewer than 10 years of experience. Their confrontation with entrepreneurial and authoritarian state interventions in urban development alienates them from their ideals, leading them to explore new ways of dealing with increasing political authority and economic neoliberalism. The participants of the study came up with a number of diverse responses related to this process. Disappointed with the practice of their profession ‘lost planners' begin searching for alternative pathways outside their practice towards a more meaningful society. In contrast, ‘profiteer planners' focus on getting more business and play a conformist and opportunistic role in the existing planning practice; while ‘struggling planners' develop alternative ways to pursue the public good by participating in urban movements. In short, they cope with alienation through politicization, solidarity and the identification of new means of engaging with society.