A critical institutionalist analysis of youth participation in Jordan's spatial planning the case of Amman 2025
Zeadat, Zayed F.
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By 2050, it is estimated that 84% of the population in the Global South will be living in urban areas. As a country of the Global South, Jordan has experienced dramatic growth of urban areas over the past decades. Cities in Jordan contain 83% of the population, of which, it is estimated, 24% are in the age group 15–24. Youth input, effort and experience in the planning process are recognised by academic research and international aid donors as a significant element in catalysing positive social and economic change and ensuring sustainable development across the Global South. Consequently, this research aims to investigate whether young groups’ vision and aspirations for, and perspectives on the city of Amman were translated into strategies or projects in urban policy. In doing so, it aims to explore the wide range of institutional challenges and opportunities that either hinder or encourage youth participation in policymaking. To achieve this aim, this study followed the inductive–deductive cycle of knowledge. This research starts with a critical literature review of theories in planning, governance, youth participation and spatial planning in Jordan. Healey’s systemic institutional design for collaborative planning was employed to critically analyse the planning system (hard infrastructure) and planning practice (soft infrastructure) within the chosen case study of Amman 2025. Amman 2025 is a significant and unique strategic spatial planning project in Jordan designed to encourage public participation in the policymaking process regarding urban development in Amman. New primary data were collected through extensive qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews and focus groups to cover the period from the start of Amman 2025, in 2006, to the conducting of data collection in 2015. With the research objectives in mind, a thematic analysis was conducted to identify salient themes in order to address the research aims. The findings of this study show that youth participation in Jordan is neither inherent in the legal, political and administrative framework of the planning system nor in the embedded institutional settings within the planning practice of Jordan. Most importantly, cultural imperialism in Jordan weakens young people’s chances of being considered for any decision-making roles relevant to planning activities. Enhancing youth participation in spatial planning in Jordan requires the institutional capacity of urban governance to be built up to enable a more collaborative planning practice, in addition to applying principles of good governance in the planning system.