Standing up to interfere! Citizen initiatives' roles in transition - A view from within

W. Bosschaart, I.M. Buizer, J.R. de Vries, N. Aarts, R. van den Born

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


With planning instruments and rhetoric transitioning towards a greater focus on local initiatives, motivated citizen coalitions are now seen as serious partners in spatial planning. Consequently, the number of such initiatives has increased along with the possibility to grow and proliferate. Local initiatives are often presented as the proverbial ''glue'' to provide better participation and communication, increase trust amongst involved participants and come to more effective and legitimate decision-making. However, the performativity of the practices that they are involved in is highly diverse. In our paper, we present and compare three cases from the Netherlands, where groups of citizens (inhabitants, entrepreneurs, returning visitors) interact with governments over future landscape developments. The first case deals with a citizen initiative that aims to promote a biodiverse landscape through fostering a transition towards nature-inclusive agriculture, the second with a citizen initiative to prevent wastewater discharge in former salt-mines, and the third focuses on a group of volunteers that aims to develop a vision for their ''land in the city''. In these cases, different interests, ideas, knowledge and meanings clash and/or conjoin.Through the analysis, we aim to understand how different roles of citizen initiatives are discursively constructed in particular communication practices in different planning contexts. We focus on how these practices and roles of the initiatives evolve, how this is influenced by the specific planning contexts and vice versa. A view from within these processes, which we have obtained as participatory action researchers, is rare and highlights the dilemmas faced in citizen initiatives, for instance in relation to responsibilities, trust and democracy. Our analysis reveals the particular practices involved in the exchange of ideas and discourse, highlights the dilemmas faced when working towards shared visions, and scrutinizes how roles evolve in the transition process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlanning for Transition
Subtitle of host publicationAESOP 2019 Conference - Book of Abstracts
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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