The Power to Frame the Scale? Analysing Scalar Politics over, in and of a Deliberative Governance Process

M. van Lieshout*, A.R.P.J. Dewulf, M.N.C. Aarts, C.J.A.M. Termeer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Scale framing is a powerful mechanism in shaping the meaning of policy issues, with far-reaching consequences for governance processes in terms of responsibilities and inclusion or exclusion of actors and ideas. However scale framing has not received much attention in public administration and policy sciences. In this paper, we study scale framing in governance processes. We question how some actors ensure that their scale frames prevail, whereas other scale frames disappear. We analyse the interplay between scale framing and power dynamics in a debate about the future of Dutch intensive agriculture.We distinguish between the power dynamics: in the interaction, of the interaction and over the interaction. Our study shows that at first sight, the ‘power-over’ in this process appeared very strong and dominated the ‘power-in’ and the ‘power-of’, but in the end, surprisingly, the power-of appeared even stronger. Furthermore, we show that scale frames are powerful discursive devices in the different episodes (power-in), but the analysis of the process shows that the variety in (scale) frames largely disappears. Thus, although there are many good arguments in favour of organizing policy processes deliberatively, the process design in this case strengthened central government’s power-over, rather than the other actors’ power-of.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-573
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number5
Early online date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • frame analysis
  • governance
  • policy process
  • politics of scale
  • power dynamics


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