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Explaining Sociotechnical Transitions: A Critical Realist Perspective

Steve Sorrell

SPRU Working Paper Series from SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School

Abstract: Social innovation requires a transformation in innovation practices. These transformations should be democratic. At least that is the hypothesis in this paper. Makerspaces are studied as potential sites for democratising innovation activity. Makerspaces are community-based workshops where people access the tools, skills and collaborators to design and make almost anything they wish. Makerspaces are also networked spaces for reflection and debate over design and making in society. But they are many other things too, including a place for personal recreation, entrepreneurship, and education - features of increasing interest to institutions. Makerspaces are pulled and pushed in different directions. An open innovation agenda seeks to insert makerspace creativity into global manufacturing circuits under business as usual. Others see in makerspaces an inchoate infrastructure for a commons-based, sustainable and redistributed manufacturing economy. Activists anticipate new relations in material culture and political economy. Makerspaces are thus socially innovative and not socially innovative at the same time: a site of struggle over issues of profound social significance, and hence an example of innovation democracy in action.

Keywords: Multilevel perspective; Critical realism; Emergence; Process theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ino, nep-pke and nep-sbm
Date: 2017-05
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Journal Article: Explaining sociotechnical transitions: A critical realist perspective (2018) Downloads
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