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Keywords:

  • Foucault;
  • government;
  • planning for housing;
  • sustainable development;
  • south east England

Foucault's understanding of government as the ‘conduct of conduct’ is adopted in order to investigate how the state ‘governs at a distance’ across space and through time. Rationalities and techniques of governance are identified as the main means by which the state establishes ‘networks’ across the domains to be governed. The effort required to keep the networks in place is emphasized and it is indicated that conflict can emerge around the rationalities and techniques that underpin governmental networks. A case study examining how conflict unfolds is outlined drawn from the planning-for-housing sector in England. It is shown that governmental rationalities associated with ‘developmentalism’ are coming into conflict with those associated with ‘sustainable development’. It is argued that a new rationality of government is thus beginning to recast the networks of planning and that this rationality privileges space over time.