2022-12-20Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/27808
The making of sustainability: ideological strategies, the materiality of nature, and biomass use in the bioeconomy
The bioeconomy, a recent addition to the political project of ecological modernization, is largely premised on the widespread use of biomass. Biomass is presented by bioeconomy proponents as renewable and, therefore, sustainable. However, a large body of academic and non-academic literature questions this sustainability, citing the negative socio-ecological aspects of biomass use. Given this contradiction, we ask how the key institutions of the innovation system (government, science, and industry), construct and uphold the image of sustainability of biomass use in the bioeconomy. Through an analysis based on ideology critique, we look at the broad field of biomass policy in Germany, including official bioeconomy strategies and biomass potential calculations, expert portrayals of biomass use in the bioeconomy-themed Year of Science, and an iconic biomass-based commodity. We identify four central ideological strategies that uphold the image of sustainability and contribute to creating political consent for the political project of the German bioeconomy: seeking managerial solutions, relying on technological innovation, relegating solutions into the future, and obscuring the materiality of nature. We discuss how these strategies are upheld by the wider discourse and institutions of ecological modernization and argue that particular attention should be given to the biophysical materiality of living nature in this context. The materiality of nature represents both an obstacle to the ideological strategies identified, and a starting point for envisioning alternative society–nature relations.
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