Planning for Dissent

Atul Pokharel, Dan Milz, Curt D. Gervich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Participatory planning traditionally requires face-to-face meetings with the public in community fora, design charrettes, planning commission meetings, and so on. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and aided by online participatory technologies, planners have been translating their face-to-face practices for use in digital forums. These new tools are equipping planners with greater ability to control meeting interactions, including the ability to stifle dissent. In this Viewpoint, we argue that planners should devise the means to protect modes of digital dissent if they want to avoid propagating the injustices of physical participatory processes in the digital world. Based on ongoing research, we offer guidance to planners about how to begin discussing the meaningful roles dissent could play and how it might effectively and fairly be incorporated into virtual participatory planning processes. In practice, this means that planners must pay more explicit attention to the norms and rules of participation as they evolve for online settings and to avoid hasty judgments when confronted with dissenting voices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • dissent
  • information and communication technologies
  • online participatory technologies
  • participatory planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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