Innovation and Inequality

Innovation and Inequality

Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World

Edited by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Inequality is one of the main features of globalization. Do emerging technologies, as they spread around the world, contribute to more inequality or less? This unique interdisciplinary text examines the relationships between emerging technologies and social, economic and other forms of inequality.

Chapter 16: Discussion and conclusions

Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Subjects: development studies, development studies, innovation and technology, innovation policy, technology and ict, politics and public policy, public policy


We began this book with some questions. At the very least, we hope to end it with different questions. We began by asking "What are the distributional dynamics of emerging technologies?" and learned that those dynamics are diverse, locally conditioned, and patterned, all at the same time. Champions shape technologies differently in different environments, but environments share some common actors and characteristics. Are the distributional dynamics predictable based on national conditions, such as the bundle of conditions that differentiate affluent from less affluent countries: education, poverty, and inequalities? Not entirely; the microenvironments around specific technologies play a stronger role than those general conditions. Can public interventions shape distributional dynamics in positive directions? Yes, but often the most influential interventions are not the conventional instruments of science, technology, or innovation policy. What does this all mean for policymakers? They have a lot of options, and one strategy will not fit all national goals or circumstances. Our main follow-on question is therefore, "What works, under what circumstances?" We leave that question to analysts and scholars to address in the future.

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