Bioenergy Futures: Framing Sociotechnical Imaginaries in Local Places



Sociotechnical imaginaries are collectively imagined forms of social life reflected in the design and fulfillment of technological projects. While it is implied that there may be contention around sociotechnical imaginaries, the literature on how that contention is manifested is scant. We use a frame-analytic approach to demonstrate the potency of collective action frames for making sense of the national imaginaries underpinning siting proposals. As a case study, we use woody biomass bioenergy development in northern Michigan. After briefly outlining the multiple frames that are encompassed in the imaginary of bioenergy development, we focus on the “wood for energy” frame, employing the concept of “frame keys” to demonstrate how national imaginaries are interpreted differently by local and nonlocal actors involved in community sitings of proposed facilities. We find not only that frame keys are essential to how the national imaginary of bioenergy is interpreted, (re)produced, and responded to but also that framing processes are related to social movements that coalesce around competing collective memories of place.