Versteeg, Wytske

Drs. Wytske Versteeg

University of Twente

Faculty of Behavioural Sciences

Institute ELAN, Science Communication

PO Box 217

7500 AE Enschede

T: +31 53 489 5616


Visiting address: Cubicus C227

See also:

Wytske Versteeg is a PhD-student at the University of Twente, faculty of Behavioural Sciences.

Title PhD-Project: Talking boundaries into being: communicating about the contested brain

Supervisor: prof. dr. Hedwig teMolder

Content: The neurosciences have been hailed as the science able to explain why we act in the way we do: neuroscientists assert in the media that ‘we are bypassed by our neurons’, or ‘we are our brain’, promising that neuro-imaging technology will provide us with the ability to observe reality itself. These new technologies have also become weapons in the struggle to define the boundaries of what constitutes genuine disease. Contested phenomena such as autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and unexplained somatic complaints give rise to discussions about the nature of expertise itself, as actors argue whether the cause for these illnesses should be sought in the dynamics of society at large or in the biological characteristics of the individual involved, and whether they exist at all.

This project draws on the methods of conversation analysis and discursive psychology to empirically study how expert and lay interactants negotiate the credibility of (claimed) neurological phenomena. How do interactants invoke standardized, scientific knowledge or on the contrary individual experience or ‘common sense’ to establish a truth claim? What is required for a knowledge claim to be accepted or refuted, and which interactional business can be performed with these actions? And how is morality instantiated in relation to these contested phenomena on the one hand, and to the promises of new technologies of the brain on the other hand?

By studying naturally occurring conversations, the project aims to contribute to the dialogue between science and the rest of society; discursive psychology is able to highlight interactional patterns that speakers are not necessarily aware of, but that they do recognize when shown. The study aims to move beyond the fixed dichotomy between experts and laypersons, focusing instead on how interactants ‘from both sides’ discursively try to build expert identities, in an active attempt to acquire the accompanying entitlement to speak.

Recent and forthcoming presentations


What it means (not) to know; negotiating knowledgeability in a radio phone-in about the flu shot. Loughborough, Anniversary Conference Darg/Camarg, March 21-23.

The ordering of disorder; how people do use science to arrange their lives. Ravenstein, WTMC workshop Science and citizenship, June 13-15.

Let’s (inter)act! Utrecht, seminar lectoraat Crossmediale communicatie in het publieke domein, September 27.


Peer reviewed:


Voices of vulnerability; the reconfiguration of policy discourses. In: The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. J. Dryzek, R. Norgaard and D. Schlosberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Co-author: Maarten Hajer.

Stop looking up the ladder; analyzing the impact of participatory technology assessment from a process perspective. Science and public policy 38 (8), pp. 599- 608. Co-authors Anne Loeber, Erich Griessler.

Is this how it is, or is this how it is here? Making sense of politics in planning. In: Conceptual challenges for spatial planning. J. Hillier, P. Healey. London, Ashgate. Co-author: Maarten Hajer.



Fremdkörper in the Polis: how health technology helps define who ‘we’ are. Paper presented at the General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research, Reykjavik. 25-28 August, 2011. Co-author Anne Loeber.


Authority through Deliberative Governance: the British Food Standards Agency in action. In: Authoritative Governance: Policy-Making in an Age of Mediatization. M. Hajer. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 125-169. Co-authors: Maarten Hajer and David Laws.


A decade of discourse analysis of environmental politics; achievements, challenges, perspectives. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 7 (3), pp. 175-184, co-author Maarten Hajer.

Performing governance through networks. European Political Science 4 (3), pp. 340-347, co-author Maarten Hajer.



Klimaatdebat 2011: media-analyse. Rapport in opdracht van het Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving. 


Van ondergraving naar ondervraging: over de vormgeving van gezag in een gemediatiseerde wereld. In: De toekomst van het openbaar bestuur. WRR. Den Haag, WRR. Co-author: Maarten Hajer.

Political rhetoric in the Netherlands: reframing crises in the media. In: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Migration Policy Institute (red.), Migration, public opinion and politics. Gutersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Co-author: Maarten Hajer.

De stad in de ogen kijken. In: S. Lindemann, I. Schutten(red.), Stedelijke transformatie in de tussentijd. Sun/Trancity. Co-author: Maarten Hajer.

W. Versteeg & A. Loeber (2010). The Xenotransplantation debate in the Netherlands: a case study EU FP7 project “Impact of Citizen Participation on Decision-Making in a Knowledge Intensive Policy Field” (CIT-PART). (Working Paper10 ). Brussels: EU.


Voorwoord. In: Annelies Neutel, Verbinding verbroken; ervaringen met de Utrechtse straatadvocaten. 

De wond en het weefselIn: Streven, januari 2009.


Dit is geen dakloze. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat 


Het milieu als institutioneel probleem: over liegende gletsjers, pratende bomen en het gevecht om de aandacht. In: J.W. Duyvendak & M. Otto (red.), Sociale kaart van Nederland, Over maatschappelijke instituties, Amsterdam: Boom Onderwijs, pp. 240-261, co-author Maarten Hajer. 


Meervoudige democratie; ervaringen met vernieuwend bestuur. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Aksant. Edited with Maarten Hajer en John Grin.

Jenseits von Monster und Mädchen. Freitag, 26-05-2006. Translation: Andrea Knoflach.


Geen panacee voor alle democratische kwalen. Socialisme & Democratie 62(11), pp. 58-61.

Het kwaad in het gelaat van de ander. Trouw, 28-05-2005.