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The virtual bioeconomy: the 'failure' of performativity and the implications for bioeconomics

Birch, Kean (2007) The virtual bioeconomy: the 'failure' of performativity and the implications for bioeconomics. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 14. pp. 83-99. ISSN 1600-910X

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This article considers how the bioeconomy - conceived as a market constituted by and constituting technologies derived from the biosciences - can be usefully considered as a virtual economy in that the representations and practices of economic activity differ significantly from one another. It does so through an analysis of the economic theories on spatial innovation processes (e.g. clusters) that have proved a popular approach in economic geography. The article contrasts the theory of performativity with that of virtualism in order to illustrate how the failure of economic performativity helps to explain economic practices rather than assuming that economic theories necessarily 'work' as implied by the theory of performativity. This has important implications for how we understand the bioeconomy because it means that we have to reconsider the production of biovalue.