Operationalizing contested problem-solution spaces:

The case of Dutch circular construction

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In shaping collective responses to societal challenges, we currently lack an understanding of how to grasp and navigate conflicting ideas on societal problems and potential solutions. The problem-solution space is an increasingly popular framework for conceptualizing the extent to which problem-oriented and solution-oriented views are divergent. However, this reflexive framework needs an operationalization to become useful in practice. We contribute to this debate by demonstrating how Q-methodology can be used to systematically identify, describe, and compare collectively held visions in relation to problems and solutions. We use the case of Dutch circular construction, and identify three conflicting imaginaries that inform us about disagreement and common ground. We conclude by discussing how policymakers can use different approaches to navigate contestation, presumably mobilizing actors for a collective response.