Constructing the public in roadmapping the transition to a bioeconomy: A case study from the Netherlands

Durwin H.J. Lynch*, Pim Klaassen, Lan van Wassenaer, Jacqueline E.W. Broerse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In recent years there has been increasing attention to the transition toward a bioeconomy. From comparable transitions toward sustainability, we know that transitions require integral, inclusive approaches toward developing a long-term strategy, focusing not only on technological innovation, but also on involving the public. This is not easy. Public engagement encompasses diverse forms of public and civil society participation, and it is crucial to understand the specificities of these interactions and their effects on potential transition pathways. We present a conceptual-analytical paper where the focus lies on understanding sense-making practices in the construction of publics in the bioeconomy. Using a case-study approach, this article describes five partialities of the constructed public in the bioeconomy and analyzes the orchestration, productive dimensions and effects of these constructions. Our analysis offers a new perspective on, and appreciation of, the partiality of different forms of public participation, and varying degrees in which possibilities of system change in the bioeconomy transition are inclusive or exclusive toward differentially constructed publics. This offers an alternative, constructive way of exploring actor dynamics and politics in system change. We aim to contribute to a more nuanced and integral interpretation of public engagement in sustainability transitions, which is relevant to actors from academia, policy, industry and other spheres relevant to the bioeconomy transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3179
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


Funding: This research was supported by BE-BASIC, an international public–private partnership (PPP) that develops industrial bio-based solutions to build a sustainable society ( This project was carried out under the Flagship “Embedding Biobased Economy in Society” of the BE-Basic program, funded by the Dutch Government’s FES program.

FundersFunder number
Dutch Government
BE-Basic Foundation


    • Bioeconomy
    • Coproduction
    • Participative collective
    • Participatory mechanism
    • Public construction
    • Public engagement
    • STS
    • Sustainability transition
    • The netherlands
    • Transition management


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