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Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 669;

A Transition to Which Bioeconomy? An Exploration of Diverging Techno-Political Choices

Institute for Social Change and Sustainability (IGN), Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), Welthandelsplatz 2, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC), Alpen Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria
Energieautark Consulting gmbh, Viktor-Hagl-Gasse 16, 1140 Vienna, Austria
Austrian Energy Agency, Mariahilfer Str. 136, 1150 Vienna, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Helmut Haberl
Received: 7 March 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 23 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
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To date the concept of the bioeconomy—an economy based primarily on biogenic instead of fossil resources—has largely been associated with visions of “green growth” and the advancement of biotechnology and has been framed from within an industrial perspective. However, there is no consensus as to what a bioeconomy should effectively look like, and what type of society it would sustain. In this paper, we identify different types of narratives constructed around this concept and carve out the techno-political implications they convey. We map these narratives on a two-dimensional option space, which allows for a rough classification of narratives and their related imaginaries into four paradigmatic quadrants. We draw the narratives from three different sources: (i) policy documents of national and supra-national authorities; (ii) stakeholder interviews; and (iii) scenarios built in a biophysical modelling exercise. Our analysis shows that there is a considerable gap between official policy papers and visions supported by stakeholders. At least in the case of Austria there is also a gap between the official strategies and the option space identified through biophysical modelling. These gaps testify to the highly political nature of the concept of the bioeconomy and the diverging visions of society arising from it. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioeconomy; transition; biotechnology; bio-resources; technopolitics; agro-ecology; sufficiency; capitalism bioeconomy; transition; biotechnology; bio-resources; technopolitics; agro-ecology; sufficiency; capitalism

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Hausknost, D.; Schriefl, E.; Lauk, C.; Kalt, G. A Transition to Which Bioeconomy? An Exploration of Diverging Techno-Political Choices. Sustainability 2017, 9, 669.

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