A transition in the Dutch wastewater system? The struggle between discourses and with lock-ins

Kasper Ampe, Erik Paredis, Lotte Asveld, Patricia Osseweijer, Thomas Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, calls have increased for a paradigm shift or transition towards resource recovery and a circular economy in the Dutch wastewater system. However, we have observed diverging interpretations on the nature of the transition. This reflects the political environment of sustainability transitions: political struggle emerges over the definition of problems, futures and strategies to be used. In order to help clarify the emerging debate and identify political choices, we conducted a discourse analysis. We identified three discourses that reveal some of the political choices to be made. One discourse is becoming dominant and focusses on optimising the large-scale infrastructure, market development and legislative changes. The discourse draws on the existing infrastructure and current political-economic institutions, which gives it an advantage in becoming dominant. Our findings also suggest that this discourse shapes a transition pathway that is characterised by lock-in effects and, at most, incremental changes instead of a fundamental shift in the established Dutch wastewater system
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Wastewater
  • transition
  • discourse
  • politics
  • circulareconomy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A transition in the Dutch wastewater system? The struggle between discourses and with lock-ins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this