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Making Materials: The Case of Elaborating Qualities of Bioplastics

This article focuses on materials by taking an alternative route into considering their relationships to products. I draw on approaches from social sciences, especially studies influenced by science and technology studies, and conceptualise materials (and products) as made in their social and technical environment, and their properties as enacted in different environments of which they become a part, such as production and branding. Building on this framework, I focus on the production process in which materials, namely bioplastics, are produced and are transformed into products and so material-product relationships are formed, and new materials are substituted with existing ones. As such this study shows that actually products make materials as well, and that properties of materials are not intrinsic to them so as to be to chosen by designers, but that properties of materials are partly made in relation to the products into which they are made.