The chapter is about urban planners handling everyday challenges that rise with norm implementation. Based on ethnographic work conducted in Napoli’s city planning department, the chapter mainly focuses on discretion as a coping mechanism to effectively process various instances posed by homeowners, developers, and investors interacting with regulations inscribed into plans and codes. Looking at brokerage and translation as distinctive practices that planners perform to support or hinder proposed projects, norm implementation is here understood as a process “during which the identity of actors, the possibility of interaction and the margins of maneuver are negotiated and delimited”. In this perspective, discretionary power comes in the form of a mediation between the abstract power of regulation (general principles, values, norms of conduct, and professional cultures) and the concrete demands and stakes coming from the everyday city. As a practice, discretion brings together social ties, regulatory technologies, and moral considerations, as well as material objects and places: in such an empirical context, benefits and limits of discretionary power are illustrated and discussed.
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