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The cultural economy of cleantech: environmental discourse and the emergence of a new technology sector

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Abstract:

The paper analyses the discursive definition of the cleantech sector over the period 2000–10. It develops a dialogue between a cultural economy approach to sectoral development and recent research on the role of discourse in defining discursive arenas of environmental concern. The cleantech sector’s rapid emergence in less than a decade can be seen as an example of the development of the cultural economy of an economic sector, defined in part through discursive logics and strategies performed by networks of actors constituted by firms, executives and policy professionals as well as non‐governmental organisations and industry bodies. The paper conceptualises cleantech as a socio‐technical sector that has developed through mechanisms that have established a dynamic sectoral identity as well as legitimacy around the way in which cleantech has been defined by networks of actors. The process of sectoral definition has, in turn, been based on the establishment of discursive logics that justify and make sense of the cleantech sector for investor firms and governments alike. Three discursive strands are thus identified and examined in the paper: the depiction of cleantech as the next paradigmatic technology revolution, the concept of cleantech as market‐driven and the idea of cleantech as a ‘technical fix’ or solution to climate crisis.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00485.x

Affiliations: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8DL

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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