Conflict, Communication and Space for Change in Complex Problem Situations

23 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2008

Date Written: November 9, 2008


This conceptual paper suggests that 'space for change' is a valuable notion for both the analysis of complex problem situations, and practical efforts to manage conflicts that are inherent to such contexts. It first outlines the conceptual starting points of our perspective, which are rooted in studies about the role of communication in processes of societal change and innovation in the life science domain. It then proceeds to explore the notion of space for change. We distinguish various types of space, and argue that the understanding of space for manoeuvre is essentially negotiated in what we label 'discursive space'. We then turn to communicative leverages that may play a role in 'stretching' discursive space, and improving the quality of societal negotiation. We conclude with a discussion of the kinds of research themes that seem relevant when studying communication in conflict situations from a complexity perspective. At the IACM conference we will also present empirical findings in relation to one or two of the research themes mentioned.

Suggested Citation

Aarts, Noelle and Leeuwis, Cees, Conflict, Communication and Space for Change in Complex Problem Situations (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Noelle Aarts (Contact Author)

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
6700 HB Wageningen, 6706KN

Cees Leeuwis

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics