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In search of the poldermodel. Participation and representation in Dutch water boards in the pre-democratic era


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Water management in the pre-democratic Netherlands was characterised by an intensive participation of the rural population. This 'bottom up' structure of water management has often been portrayed as an important explanation for the success of both water management as such, and of Dutch society more generally, but in fact very little is known about it. This project aims to establish:


  1. to what extent stakeholders (like peasants, large landowners and leaseholders) actually participated in water management;
  2. if, how and why this participation changed over time; 
  3. if the Netherlands were unique in this.


The project's methodology is deliberately comparative. The project is intellectually framed by the debate on the role of civic institutions in the prosperity and progress of societies.


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