From protesters to professionals: Growing governance capacities in the Antwerp ring road struggles

Beitske Boonstra, Suzanne Van Brussel

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Many community-based initiatives are started out of the presumed inability of governmental-led comprehensive planning to answer contemporary complex urban challenges. As such, those initiatives and governments often hold antagonistic positions towards each other, despite their entanglement in complex relationships of interdependency. This chapter explores governance approaches through which this mutual interdependency can be acknowledged and enhanced. This is done through an analysis of the struggles between community-based initiatives and governmental planning procedures around the ring road of Antwerp, Belgium. Building on an analytical framework of governance approaches in various degrees-of-complexity, the chapter explore how various actors (governmental stakeholders, engineering and consultancy consortia, and citizen movements/community-based initiatives) deployed and changed strategies, built relationships and eventually converged toward a shared approach. Accordingly, the chapter discusses what governance capacities enabled these stakeholders to move from their initial antagonistic positions toward an acknowledgment and enhancement of interdependency. The case example discussed shows, how over time governmental actors learned to acknowledge complexity and be more dynamic and inclusive, whereas citizen movements learned to develop from protesters to professional stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCitizens back in the driver’s seat?
Subtitle of host publicationNew governance arrangements in the public realm, enhancing governance capacities of citizens and governments
Number of pages132
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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