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Politics out of place

Understanding the geography of discontent in the Netherlands from a spatial justice perspective
PhD ceremony:Mr B. (Bram) van Vulpen
When:October 04, 2023
Supervisors:C.F. (Caspar) van den Berg, prof. dr. ir. B.B. (Bettina) Bock
Where:Map for Campus Fryslân
Faculty:Campus Fryslân
Politics out of place

Regularly, indignant protesters appear in the Dutch news, pointing an accusatory finger at politicians 'in The Hague' or people 'from the Randstad' who are perceived as having no concern for those in rural areas and on the outskirts of the country. Consider, for example, recent farmers' protests, protests against natural gas extraction in the Groningen region or resistance to the return of the wolf. In these instances, there is often talk of 'the divide' between the urban and rural or between the centre and periphery. The dissertation Politics out of place exposes the so-called geography of discontent, by examining how feelings of discontent are spread across regional divides and what regional disparities can explain contemporary discontent.

The Netherlands serves as an intriguing case study. Many studies on geographical patterns of discontent focus on the most likely cases, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Conversely, the Netherlands can be considered a least likely case. It is a small, densely populated, highly prosperous country with a proportional democracy without a district system. This dissertation does not consider the geography of discontent solely as a populist threat but looks at the various feelings of discontent that residents might share regardless of their voting behaviour. Through the lens of socio-spatial justice, this doctoral research also regards discontented citizens as potentially vulnerable groups who may be affected by regional inequalities, inadequate recognition and political underrepresentation.