Unravelling emotional viewpoints on a bio-based economy using Q methodology

Susanne Sleenhoff, Eefje Cuppen, Patricia Osseweijer

A transition to a bio-based economy will affect society and requires collective action from a broad range of stakeholders. This includes the public, who are largely unaware of this transition. For meaningful public engagement people’s emotional viewpoints play an important role. However, what the public’s emotions about the transition are and how they can be taken into account is underexposed in public engagement literature and practice. This article aims to unravel the public’s emotional views of the bio-based economy as a starting point for public engagement. Using Q methodology with visual representations of a bio-based economy we found four emotional viewpoints: (1) compassionate environmentalist, (2) principled optimist, (3) hopeful motorist and (4) cynical environmentalist. These provide insight into the distinct and shared ways through which members of the public connect with the transition. Implications for public engagement are discussed.

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