Fuel to the fire: Risk governance and framing of shale gas in the Netherlands

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Public resistance to shale gas in the Netherlands came as a surprise to governing actors. The Netherlands was a ‘gas land’ and shale gas extraction had been successfully framed as ‘business as usual’. However, in the eyes of the general public it turned into a ‘risky business’ and national government had to adjust their risk governance strategies. This study of the dynamics between national government's risk governance strategies, framing, and societal responses, shows that this wicked problem could not be managed by authoritative risk governance strategies, nor by collaborative risk governance strategies. Rather, these strategies added fuel to the fire, and resistance increased. The results indicate that all sorts of risk governance strategies, but especially collaborative risk governance strategies, should better take into account the normative dimensions of a conflict, and reflect on who is the legitimate actor to govern the issue. This ‘controversy governance’ includes the possibility to discuss the desirability and necessity of mining activities, and a reflection on who is a legitimate decision maker on a wicked problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-672
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Issue number4
Early online date10 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Energy controversy
  • Framing
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Shale gas
  • the Netherlands

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