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Unpacking the concept of bioeconomy: Problems of definition, measurement, and the attribution of ‘value’

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Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Technology Studies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2020


In this paper, we critically explore the evolution and impact of the concept ‘bioeconomy’ as a descriptor of different scientific, technological and policy initiatives in the life sciences. We unpack the different ways bioeconomy has been framed – as an emergent, present, or sometimes promissory economic regime underpinned by particular socio-technical practices - by tracing how its use has evolved in different disciplinary areas. Our overarching questions are: What is the bioeconomy, how has it been used in different fields, and how might it be best understood and valued both economically and politically? In answering these questions, we build on and contribute to critical scholarship in science and technology studies, particularly theoretical work on biovalue, commodification, and assetisation; using this in conjunction with our empirical concept search and analysis to contribute knowledge and understanding of the bioeconomy’s past, present, and future.

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