Due to (supra)national climate pressures, municipalities receive growing responsibilities to meet energy transition goals. An increasingly common practice of municipalities is inviting citizens to participate in their projects: citizen participation. Although this is often seen as a promising practice, citizen resistance is increasing as well. This thesis responds to the need for a better understanding of the relation between citizen participation best practices and citizen resistance, specifically in relation to windmill projects. The latter are being developed more and more each year. There is thus an academic gap and social relevance, since the results can be used to improve actual participation projects. This benefits both government and citizens. Specifically, this thesis addresses the question how citizen resistance to windmill projects in The Netherlands can be reduced by the application of citizen participation, and how this relationship might be affected by common citizen participation obstacles. Two cases are compared: Breda, where citizen resistance reduced during citizen participation, and Amsterdam, where citizen resistance grew. For both cases, 5 interviews were performed with citizens, public officials and a participation expert. The results were open coded and analyzed by performing Process Tracing and a Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Outcomes show that certain citizen participation guidelines are important to maintain throughout the entire process for resistance reduction: identifying purposes, revisiting the design (& redesigning if needed) to fit the context, perceived legitimacy of interactions and participation forms, generation of new resources and context-fit technologies for engagement. One guideline is especially important in the very first phase: inclusive processes that engage diversity. Not actively including diverse points of view – including proponents and opponents – from the start leads to more resistance later in the process. Additionally, it becomes clear that not only do participation obstacles influence the citizen participation process towards reducing resistance, but also vice versa: poorly applied participation guidelines create greater presence of obstacles. There is a self-reinforcing system between participation guidelines (according to a framework by Bryson et al., 2012) and obstacles (according to a framework by Iannello et al., 2019), which deserves further attention.

Dr. Jan Fransen, Dr. Laura Ripoll Gonzalez
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Joëlle de Raaff. (2022, August 7). Resistance in Citizen Participation? The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind. Public Administration. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/66483