The bioeconomy provides new approaches to deal with environmental challenges by substituting fossil fuels for sustainable, renewable resources and fuels. In Europe, this process and discourse has mainly been driven from a strategic top-down level. This leads to a lack of inclusion of societal actors, which can consequently lead to reduced acceptance and engagement. Henceforth, in this study, we focus on exploring how the bioeconomy is perceived, understood and evaluated by a wider audience. Through convenience sampling, 456 interviews conducted with students, employees, farmers and pensioners living in Austria provide the database for the study. Due to the novelty of the study’s objective and the consequentially explorative research approach, qualitative and quantitative social science research methods are applied. The results indicate that the bioeconomy concept is associated with various themes and visions. These associated topics also have negative or positive implications. Furthermore, a division between two visions of the bioeconomy, a technology- and industry-driven vision and a vision defined by regional environmentalism, can be observed. The feasibility of a future bioeconomy identifies as the most critical aspect. Sustainable consumption was mentioned as an important topic of the bioeconomy by the participants, a result that could be of particular interest when creating an inclusive bioeconomy, since it calls for active involvement of consumers. The study also shows that responding farmers tend to believe that the bioeconomy will lead to more inequity.
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