Accepted Paper:

Framing the bioeconomy: imaginaries of a transnational political project  


Barbara Ribeiro (University of Nottingham)
Robert Smith (King's College London)
Kate Millar (University of Nottingham )

Paper short abstract:

We explore European National Bioeconomy Strategies by investigating how they are being framed, the actors that participate in their design and implementation and the potential tensions that exist when they are viewed in light of a holistic vision for the bioeconomy.

Paper long abstract:

This paper questions how the 'bioeconomy project' is being framed in European national and supra-national policies, how it will be implemented, and by whom. Current discourses on the bioeconomy are attached to narratives that are largely concerned with economic processes, embracing an overwhelming array of bio-based technologies and industries (e.g. food and bioenergy industries), as well as the related biosciences fields that support them. These are included under the same umbrella term, which has become increasingly popular and motivated governments around Europe to create dedicated strategies to its development. We use frame analysis to understand what the bioeconomy project consists of, what differentiates it from past bioscience support policies, and how Member Countries, such as the UK, Germany and Finland build synergy and differentiate themselves. There seem to be unavoidable tensions regarding the values and assumptions that frame imaginaries of the bioeconomy project as they fluctuate between a new paradigm for bio-based sectors that is more sustainable and more resource efficient than the current one and those which resemble the existing industrialist paradigm. Drawing on empirical work done in a project around public engagement in the bioeconomy, we explore both hidden and explicit assumptions that underpin bioeconomy strategies, and the kinds of concerns currently included in them. Exploring how these values and assumptions, as well as the associated concerns, are framed is important because they are responsible for shaping the consequences of the bioeconomy, and ultimately who benefits and how.

Panel T094
Emerging science and technology : questioning the regime of promising