Thoughts for a Better World
Edited by Pieter Van den Broeck, Abid Mehmood, Angeliki Paidakaki and Constanza Parra
Chapter 41: WHEN INNOVATION LOST ITS SOCIAL CHARACTER. OR NOT?
Starting from the history of thought and practice of innovation, Frank Moulaert muses on the trajectories of meanings and theorization of this concept. He uses this history as a mirror to reflect on the relationship between innovation and development and explains how originally, say starting in the eighteenth century, the term innovation basically referred to social innovation and to debates and struggles to change the world. But with the rise of modernity and the strong appeal of science and technology to policy makers and other societal and economic leaders, the concept of innovation lost its essentially social meaning. As of the 1930s, innovation has been predominantly referred to as technological innovation, connecting it preferably to economic innovation. This reduction of the meaning of innovation has had an impact on the way development was conceived and materialized, especially at the expense of visions and strategies of development from below.
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