Martijn Duineveld, Raoul Beunen, Kristof Van Assche and Arjaan Pellis

Understanding conflicts is at the core of governance studies and related disciplines, like planning and management. Conflicts are conceptualised in a large variety of ways, yet there seem to be some recurring features. Often conflicts are framed as problematic. Conflicts should be avoided, resolved, softened, or overcome. To do so they are analysed and problematized to find solutions like ‘joint collaborative arrangements between public-private partnerships’, ‘consensus making’, ‘local involvement’, ‘participatory community practices’, ‘good governance’ and ‘compensation deals’.

Contrary to the latent assumption or overt hope that conflicts can be resolved – that they are temporary, non-static ‘in betweens’ – we argue that they have a propensity to endure because they are productive self-referential and evolving social systems in governance.

In this presentation we use Evolutionary Governance Theory  (EGT) to analyse the productive roles of conflicts in three Dutch case studies on local urban governance. Contrary to many still prevailing conceptualisations of conflicts we argue they have a social life of their own, marked by different dependencies and different technologies that co-constitute them as producers of both subjects and objects.