Operationalizing the public interest in the local planning context of Serbia
The concept of the public interest has often been revisited within theoretical debates related to the fields of politics, decision making, and planning. While it has been claimed that the public interest should serve as one of the main pillars for decision-making, various authors reject the possibility of its operationalization, describing it as a vague criterion for any empirical analysis. With that in mind, the main aim of this paper is to present the role of the public interest and its long lasting tradition in Serbian planning practice from socialism until today, as well as its operational dimensions in relation to the specific post-socialist planning context. This paper will first briefly discuss the nature of the public interest concept in relation to planning. It will go on to present some of the socio-economic aspects of Serbian socialist and post-socialist planning practice, so as to better understand the local context in which the public interest is framed. Finally, it will propose the dimensions of planning practice in which the public interest is articulated. The findings were derived from the analysis of the role of the public interest in planning theory, planning practice, and the Serbian legal planning framework.
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