Making things irreversible. Object stabilization in urban planning and design

Martijn Duineveld*, Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Web of Science)


Based on a detailed reconstruction of the planning process of a controversial major building in the Dutch city of Groningen, we develop a theoretical and conceptual framework for studying object formation and stabilisation. We argue that the many forms of resistance against the object itself triggered a variety of counter-strategies of object formation. We make a distinction between sites, paths and techniques of object formation. To study object formation in more detail we distinguish three techniques: reification, solidification and codification. The techniques of object formation are accompanied by three techniques that produce a relative stability of the object, that increases its irreversibility, the likelihood of object survival: objectification, naturalisation and institutionalisation. We conclude that complete irreversibility is an illusion in governance and planning processes. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-24
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Object formation
  • Foucault
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Governance
  • Civil resistance
  • Urban planning
  • Irreversibility


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