Social acceptance of sustainable issues: A discourse analysis of how people speak about bio-digestion

Maartje Harmelink, Annette Klarenbeek, Carina Wiekens

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


For successful energy transitions, social acceptance of innovative technologies is essential. In order to determine the contributing factors, the acceptance of bio-digestion in The Netherlands was analyzed. A discourse analysis of 200 newspaper articles was conducted to answer the question: how do different parties speak about bio-digestion? Discourse analysis is suitable for making underlying concerns and dilemmas of people more explicit. Thus, one can be more in line with people’s sensitivities in communication and policy, both of which play a crucial role in facilitating transition. The results show that there is little support for bio-digesters in residential areas. The relation between municipalities and residents is poor and asymmetric. The municipalities emphasize their role as experts, thus reinforcing incomprehension. Furthermore, they do not take responsibility and avoid confrontations, contradicting research on the significance of discussions when dealing with innovations (Leeuwis & Aarts, 2011).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGroningen
PublisherHanzehogeschool Groningen
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • energy transition
  • sustainability
  • social acceptance


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