This thesis examines the politics of sustainable urban space-making. It focusses on the struggles associated with the ways in which urban spaces are becoming more green, clean and inclusive. Even though cities are increasingly considered as sites that can make societies sustainable, there is a lack of understanding how long-term struggles shape sustainable urban livelihoods. Conceptually, a transition analytics of urban spaces is developed, drawing on transition research, critical urban studies and governmentality research. Informed by archival records, policy documents, interviews and participatory observations, two in-depth cases of the practice of urban transition politics are examined.
The first case presents a shift from traditional port activities to a cleaner and urbanised waterfront of Rotterdam. The second case presents the shift from techno-capitalist cities to greener and communitarian livelihoods, created by a grassroots movement called Transition Towns. Both cases represent how different urban histories and political rationalities shape sustainable spaces, such as community gardens, local economies and floating houses.
The research argues that even though urban transition politics can be democratic, it does not ‘automatically’ lead to more sustainable and just cities. Importantly, transition research needs to develop more critical perspectives and methods. Additionally, the study proposes a transition ethics that could enable researchers and professionals to engage with urban eco-spaces more democratically.

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D.A. Loorbach (Derk) , J. Rotmans (Jan)
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)
The research resulting in this thesis was financially supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (Rijkswaterstaat).
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)

Jhagroe, S.S. (2016, October 7). Urban Transition Politics : How struggles for sustainability are (re)making urban spaces. Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). Retrieved from