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.



Media discourses of low carbon housing: The marginalisation of social and behavioural dimensions within the British broadsheet press

Catherine Cherry, Christina Hopfe, Brian MacGillivray, Nick Pidgeon

Decarbonising housing is a key UK government policy to mitigate climate change. Using discourse analysis, we assess how low carbon housing is portrayed within British broadsheet media. Three distinct storylines were identified. Dominating the discourse, Zero carbon housing promotes new-build, low carbon houses as offering high technology solutions to the climate problem. Retrofitting homes emphasises the need to reduce emissions within existing housing, tackling both climate change and rising fuel prices. A more marginal discourse, Sustainable living, frames low carbon houses as related to individual identities and ‘off-grid’ or greener lifestyles. Our analysis demonstrates that technical and economic paradigms dominate media discourse on low carbon housing, marginalising social and behavioural aspects.


Economic crisis and public attitudes toward science: A study of regional differences in Spain

Luis Sanz-Menéndez, Gregg G. Van Ryzin

Although there is little theory about the effects of economic conditions on public support for science and technology (S&T), some evidence suggests that an economic crisis could produce a decline in support for S&T because of more pressing priorities, such as jobs and social services. But the public may also view S&T as a strategic pathway out of an economic slump. We test these competing hypotheses employing two national surveys from Spain, implemented before (2006) and after (2010) the onset of a severe economic crisis. We find that, in regions hit hardest by the crisis (compared to less-affected regions), trust in the benefits of S&T increased substantially, as did general public interest in S&T. Similarly, residents of the hardest-hit regions were more likely after the crisis to choose S&T (out of a list of policy areas) as a priority for government, and somewhat more likely to express support for increases in government S&T spending. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.