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Planning as Persuasive Storytelling

The Rhetorical Construction of Chicago’s Electric Future

Planning as Persuasive Storytelling is a revealing look at the world of political conflict surrounding the Commonwealth Edison Company’s ambitious nuclear power plant construction program in northern Illinois during the 1980s. Examining the clash between the utility, consumer groups, community-based groups, the Illinois Commerce Commission, and the City of Chicago, Throgmorton argues that planning can best be thought of as a form of persuasive storytelling. A planner’s task is to write future-oriented texts that employ language and figures of speech designed to persuade their constituencies of the validity of their vision. Juxtaposing stories about efforts to construct Chicago’s electric future, Planning as Persuasive Storytelling suggests a shift in how we think about planning. In order to account for the fragmented and conflicted nature of contemporary American life and politics, that shift would be away from "science" and the "experts" and toward rhetoric and storytelling.

328 pages | 28 halftones, 15 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1996

New Practices of Inquiry

Chicago and Illinois

Geography: Urban Geography

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Prelude: A Strange Place, an Alien Language
1: The Irony of Modernist Planning
2: The Argumentative or Rhetorical Turn in Planning
3: The Modernist Institution and Rhetoric of Regulated Natural Monopoly
4: Commonwealth Edison’s Ambitious Nuclear Power Expansion Plan, 1973-
5: The Best Deal for Illinois Consumers? Assessing Commonwealth Edison’s
"Negotiated Settlement"
6: Edison Completes Its Nuclear Power Expansion Plan, But Who Will Pay
for the Last of It?
7: Precinct Captains at the Nuclear Switch? Exploring Chicago’s Electric
Power Options
8: Survey Research as a Trope in Electric Power Planning Arguments
9: Precinct Captains at the Nuclear Switch? The Mayor’s Hand Turns up
10: Frozen in a Passionate Embrace: Allocating Pain, Allocating Blame
11: The Plateau in the Web: Planning as Persuasive Storytelling within a
Web of Relationships
Postlude: E-mail to a Friend
Illustration Credits

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