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How political geography can challenge dubious socio-spatial practices: developing transcendental phronetic political geography
Název práce v češtině:
Název v anglickém jazyce: How political geography can challenge dubious socio-spatial practices: developing transcendental phronetic political geography
Akademický rok vypsání: 2014/2015
Typ práce: diplomová práce
Jazyk práce: angličtina
Ústav: Katedra politologie (23-KP)
Vedoucí / školitel: RNDr. Jan Kofroň, Ph.D.
Řešitel: skrytý - zadáno vedoucím/školitelem
Datum přihlášení: 12.06.2015
Datum zadání: 13.06.2015
Datum a čas obhajoby: 24.06.2016 00:00
Místo konání obhajoby: IPS FSV UK, U kříže 8/661 158 00 Praha 5 – Jinonice
Datum odevzdání elektronické podoby:12.05.2016
Datum proběhlé obhajoby: 24.06.2016
Oponenti: Mgr. Jakub Franěk, Ph.D.
 
 
 
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Zásady pro vypracování
2 Methodology
To put under scrutiny the prevailing habits connected to these challenges, I decide for
an emancipatory way of philosophical grounding and research methodology. By using
critical realism as ontological and epistemological groundwork, I intend to set the
necessary cornerstones for pursuing so-called phronetic inquiry (see below). Although
I consider the risk of combining two of such heavily theoretical structures, I see the
need for setting an ontological and epistemological base for phronetic social science.
This is because the approach remains silent about its underlying philosophy. Yet, as
an emancipatory Weltanschauung, and tolerant to di�erent types of methodological
approaches, I assert critical realism as an ideal philosophical counterpart. Here, I
refer to Sayer (1992, pp. 4, 5-6, 7, 14) who emphasises the triangle of method, object,
and purpose; epitomises characteristics of critical realism; claims to originate from
‘interdisciplinary studies of [. . .] urban and regional systems, in which researchers
tend to come from geography, sociology, [. . .] political science’; and argues that
knowledge is about knowing ‘how to do something’. Further, not to go beyond the
2
scope of this proposal concerning the philosophical foundations alone, I lastly mention
critical realism’s demand for normative research (Sayer 1997, p. 476). These aspects
combined fall in my own ontological and epistemological standpoint, mirror the ideas
of phronetic social science, and enhance the latter with a so far missing ontology and
epistemology as philosophical base.
Flyvbjerg (2009) argues that social sciences are di�erent from natural sciences per
se and, therefore, require a new course of research. His claim is based on the discovery
of three terms originally coined by Aristotle (Flyvbjerg 2009, p. 57): episteme, techne,
and phronesis. According to Flyvbjerg, episteme and techne found their representation
in today’s philosophy of science whereas phronesis remains missing. Since their
entirety is asserted as necessary for successful scienti�c inquiry, the lack of phronesis
questions the current modus operandi of the social sciences. Thus, Flyvbjerg o�ers
a new research approach called ‘phronetic social science’. It is constituted by three
pillars which are: four key questions, nine methodological guidelines, and the concept
of “tension points”. Here, the most important to mention are the four power questions
(Flyvbjerg, Landman and Schram 2012b, p. 5): Where are we going with a speci�c
problematic? Who gains and who loses, and by which mechanism of power? Is this
development desirable? What, if anything, should we do about it? However there
is much more to say about the other two pillars, not to go beyond the scope of this
document, I summarise phronetic research as follows: The notion is to answer the
four key questions with the help of the guidelines; to �nd tensions points while
undertaking this inquiry; to actively stimulate a dialogue about the �ndings and the
object of study; and to challenge dominant habits associated within uncovered power
relations (Flyvbjerg 2004, 2012; Flyvbjerg, Landman and Schram 2012a). This paves
the way for two ideas: eventually shifting social research from theory and discourse to
praxis and action; and, thereby, set it apart from the natural sciences. Although I see
the phronetic approach as an ideal method for my research, I support the argument
of Soja (2013) who uncovers a crucial de�cit of phronetic inquiry: its lack of spatiality.
Hence, Soja (2013, p. 753) demands that ‘phronesis from the start needs to be seen
as simultaneously social, historical, and spatial’. However, so far ‘one of the most
signi�cant unexplored �elds of phronetic social science [. . .] [is its application] to
urban spatial causality and the generative e�ects of urban agglomeration’ (Soja 2013,
p. 755). But concentrating on ‘inequality, hierarchy, and injustice’, according to Soja,
is ‘a key step in the spatialization of phronetic social science’ and important for
the future development of phronetic inquiry. Since these are key components in my
prospective research, next to its thematic contribution, my inquiry also puts phronetic
social science on its way forward.
Two main reasons call for case study research. First, as argued by Flyvbjerg
(2006), case study research is a perfect way of inquiry to simultaneously gain valuable
speci�c and general knowledge, and, as shown in another example (Flyvbjerg, Holm
and Buhl 2002), perfectly suits phronetic research. Second, I have the opportunity
to work as an intern in the ‘Participatory development programme in urban areas’
executed by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in Cairo,
Egypt1 which o�ers me the opportunity to bene�t from practical insights in the modus
operandi of programs which try to tackle the challenges outlined above. Additionally,
throughout the internship, I will gain direct experience of the situation in informal
urban settlements. I consider the location and the particular development program
itself ideal for investigations because of the following facts: In Greater Cairo more than
1For further information about the project please consult giz (2015) and pdp (2015).
3
twelve million people live in informal urban settlements (Amnesty International 2011,
p. 1) which have been causing challenges in a variety of realms (e.g, El-Batran and
Arandel 1998; Siou� 1981). Because of controversies in connection to the measurement
of poverty in Cairo the case is a �tting example for the ongoing debate about new
conceptualisations of ‘poverty’ for post-2015 (Lang and Lingnau 2015; Melamed 2015;
Sabry 2010), the development policy proposed for the time after the deadline of the
Millennium Development Goals. In addition, Cairo is embedded into a region of
recent turmoils and, thus, of geopolitical concern (e.g., Anderson 2011; Daloucara
2012; Ramadan 2013). Concerning the development program, it must be noted that it
can be considered unique, and thus especially interesting to investigate, because it
intervenes on multiple scales. In this context, the program was successful cooperating
with three ministries of the Greater Cairo region, facilitated the foundation of a
Ministry of Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements which became responsible not
only for Cairo but entire Egypt (giz 2015). Concluding, the case is connected to
multiple topics which are debated within the realm of my prospective thesis as well
as the �eld of Political Geography in general.
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Předběžná náplň práce v anglickém jazyce
3 Content
The research I conduct is lead by the following main research question: How to achieve
better living conditions for the ‘left-behind’ in face of an increasing scale and speed of
planetary urbanisation and the lack of willingness and ability of local and national
governments to provide needed resources? An answer to the question I attempt to �nd
by structuring it into four sub-questions inspired by phronetic inquiry. Following this
approach my prospective thesis will include a chapter concerning the chosen methodology
which is an in-depth description of the method mentioned above, thereby,
argues for more political and spatial Political Geography, and explains key concepts;2
the main part of the thesis is divided according to the four sub-questions into (a) a
recapitulation of the status quo, (b) an analysis of the dominant power distribution,
(c) a swot analysis, and (d) recommendations; �nally, the last part summarises and
concludes the paper by giving an answer to the main research question.
In general, I consider the case study an institutional and socio-spatial analysis
because of the direction the ‘power questions’ of phronetic social science point to and
the interplay of society and space within Political Geography (cf. Soja 1980; Harvey
2008). The section status quo is lead by the question Where are we going with the
development of informal urban settlements in Cairo? Thereby, it sets the particular case
of Cairo into the international framework of development cooperation and locates
Cairo’s role within the concept of planetary urbanisation. The idea is to pursue
inquiry on the macro and micro scale. In the section power distribution I answer the
question Who gains and who loses, and by which mechanisms of power? This part of the
thesis focuses on the local dimensions of the issue, investigates the power relations
of important actors, and uncovers the consequences of prevailing habits for space. In
the swot analysis, investigation is lead by the question Is this development desirable?
Here, I discover strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the status quo
so-far presented in the thesis. Final recommendations respond to What, if anything,
should we do about it? While especially focusing on the interplay of action on di�erent
scales, here, the idea is to give institutional and socio-spatial advice. The �nal part of
2Key concepts so far considered are: better living conditions, the ‘left-behind’, planetary urbanisation,
and needed resources.
4
the prospective thesis answers to the main research question How to achieve better
living conditions for the ‘left-behind’ in face of an increasing scale and speed of planetary
urbanisation and the lack of willingness and ability of local and national governments
to provide needed resources? Throughout this chapter, the methodological input and
the contributions to the particular case study are summarised.
To conclude, my future inquiry presents an emancipatory way of facing the
demands an increasing population growth and planetary urbanisation sets by conducting
a phronetic case study in Cairo, Egypt. In addition, throughout the inquiry,
I tackle a major de�cit of phronetic social science. Furthermore, I see the proposed
inquiry capable of providing practical guidance to improve the living conditions of
‘the left-behind’.
 
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