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Planning law, power, and practice: Haussmann in Paris (1853–1870)

Paccoud, Antoine (2015) Planning law, power, and practice: Haussmann in Paris (1853–1870). Planning Perspectives, online. pp. 1-21. ISSN 0266-5433

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Identification Number: 10.1080/02665433.2015.1089414


The transformation of Paris by Haussmann (1853–1870) is presented as a classic case of state-led modernization. What most accounts do not take into consideration is that Haussmann faced formidable opposition from property owners in his attempts to realize the emperor's ambitions for Paris, an opposition that centred on competing interpretations and uses of planning law. Based on heretofore unstudied archival material, this paper traces Haussmann's attempts to establish his (at times) creative use of planning law as legitimate in a context where planning was firmly in the hands of property owners. Haussmann's strategic use of the law, or planning practice, was able to lay bare the fact that planning law has no legitimacy in itself – only particular uses of the law can gain or lose legitimacy. Planning power can thus be defined as the possession of legitimacy in the use of planning law; and since the legal framework is a site of contest rather than a source of legitimacy, planning power depends on external legitimation. In the Haussmann case it is clear that state backing was central, even though (implicit) early support from the Parisian population cannot be ruled out until more research has been conducted.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2016 10:07
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 07:33

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