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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Bioeconomy imaginaries: A review of forest-related social science literature

Holmgren, Sara; D'Amato, Dalia; Giurca, Alexandru


This review article examines how social science literature co-produces various imaginaries of forest-based bioeconomy transformations and pathways for reaching desired ends. Based on an analysis of 59 research articles, we find that despite a growing number of social sciences studies on the forest-based bioeconomy, much of the research tends to replicate a bioeconomy imaginary articulated in EU and national bioeconomy policies and strategies. Accordingly, the research primarily reproduces a weak approach to sustainability, which prioritize economic growth and competitiveness. Expectations are largely directed at national and regional corporate interests and forest industrial renewal, while the state has a supportive rather than restricting role. We discuss the findings against the role of social sciences, and conclude that social science scholars may adopt various strategies if interested in opening up forest-based policy debates and offer alternative imaginaries of sustainable bioeconomy transformations.


Circular bioeconomy; Equity; Forest-based bioeconomy; Knowledge-based economy; Sustainable transformation; Sustainability transitions

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2020, volume: 49, number: 12, pages: 1860-1877
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
D'Amato, Dalia
University of Helsinki
Giurca, Alexandru
University of Freiburg

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers


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