Inaugural lecture Marcel Boogers: ‘Democracy and transition: room for collision and connection’

Marcel Boogers

On 19 June 2024 Marcel Boogers will accept his chair as endowed professor in Democracy and Transition at Utrecht University. This chair is established by consultancy firm Necker. At 16.15 hrs. precisely, he will give his inaugural lecture at the aula of Utrecht University Hall entitled ‘Democratie en transitie: ruimte voor botsing en verbinding’ ('Democracy and transition: room for collision and connection’).

Only guests can join the inaugural lecture at the Utrecht University Hall. Those expected, will receive an invitation for this.

All others interested, can join the inaugural lecture (in Dutch) online via a live stream (link below).

Transitions require a transition of democracy

Transitions mean a fundamental change in the existing production systems, involving major economic, social and political interests. In a democracy, this hinders the progress of transitions. At the same time, transitions also put democracy to the test. In his inaugural lecture, Marcel Boogers describes the tension between democracy and transitions and the three different ways in which this is dealt with in theory and practice:


  • Technocracy: In the first approach, democracy is more or less put out of action. In order to be able to make progress with transitions, they are mainly left to administrators, civil servants and experts. We see many examples of this in practice, for example in the decision-making process on the national climate agreement or in regional energy strategies.
  • Democratic reform: The second approach sees democracy not as a problem but rather as a solution. By reforming democracy in such a way that groups that have an interest in transitions are better heard, transitions can be tackled more decisively. We also see examples of this in practice, such as pleas for lowering the voting age or setting up citizens' assemblies.
  • Democracy in transition: The last way to reduce the tension between democracy and transition focuses on the new contradictions and conflicts that transitions bring. Because these new conflicts are disrupting existing democracy – and we see many examples of this too – not only the functioning of democracy, but also the definition of what democracy is, must change fundamentally. Transitions therefore also require a transition of democracy.

In order to manage contradictions and conflicts about transitions, it is not only important that there is room for conflicting opinions and interests, but also that new ways are found to bridge these differences. To achieve this, it is necessary that subjects that were not previously the subject of democratic debate now do become that. Examples of this are: energy cooperatives that recognise and bridge new conflicts about the costs and benefits of wind farms by allowing local residents to share in their revenues.

This brings Marcel Boogers to a number of research questions that he wants to focus on in his research. How, in practice is the choice made between the different ways of dealing with the tension between democracy and transition and what factors influence this? How are decision-making processes about transitions shaped and to what extent do all conflicts and contradictions take into account? How do new transition conflicts put pressure on existing democracy? What new democratic mechanisms are emerging to regulate these new conflicts and why?

You can also read the news item on Marcel Boogers’ appointment (as of 3 April 2023) here:

Start date and time
End date and time
Utrecht University Hall (Domplein 29, Utrecht) or online
Prof. dr. M.J.G.J.A. Boogers
Democratie en Transitie
Inaugural lecture
Democratie en transitie: ruimte voor botsing en verbinding