T071
Innovation: Discourses, politics, societies, and blind spots

Convenors:
Sebastian Pfotenhauer (Technical University of Munich)
Benoit Godin
David Tyfield (Lancaster University)
Stream:
Tracks
Location:
128
Start time:
1 September, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
5

Short abstract:

Innovation has become a leitmotif of policy-making and institution-building. Yet, innovation policy remains strangely apolitical. This track discusses the political, normative, deliberative, and culturally specific aspects of innovation policy and weighs them against current (mainstream) frameworks.

Long abstract:

Innovation has become a leitmotif of policy-making and institution-building around the globe - a "panacea" that carries with it the promise of solving socioeconomic woes almost independently of what and where these woes are. Conversely, all governmental functions must increasingly cater to innovation in order to appear legitimate, economically defensible, and modern. Yet, innovation policy remains strangely apolitical: envisioned as something that principally connects (apolitical) technology with (apolitical) markets; driven by economic and technocratic rationality about market failures, institutional failures, and systemic efficiency; conceptualized in terms of universal models with little attention to if and how concepts and models travel across social, cultural, and political contexts; and with no role for the state other than providing funding and post-hoc regulation. This track invites papers that foreground the political, normative, deliberative, and culturally specific aspects of innovation policy and put them in conversation with the current (mainstream) frameworks: • How do politics enter - or are being prevented from entering - the innovation discourse and process? What is the role of the political state? • Which imaginaries and discursive formations underwrite innovation across countries? What are the locally diagnosed deficits in the name of which innovation is invoked? • How is the 'innovation imperative' shaping other policy domains? • What are the blind spots of the current innovation discourse? • Which frictions exist between standardizing innovation in the form of models and pluralizing innovation as contingent practice? • Who are the 'innovation experts?' How is innovation expertise co-produced with global power differentials and inequalities?

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