Fund in October 2010. Innovation funds, innovation labs and innovationstudies
subsequently proliferated, and by 2016 innovation had become important enough to be
adopted as one of the central themes of the World Humanitarian Summit.
The ALNAP research specifically framed innovation as a response to external threats,
stating that ‘[i]f established aid organisations fail to prioritise innovations,
they are in danger of losing popular support and being overtaken by new types of relief
This book is the first monograph-length investigation of innovation and the innovation process from an archaeological perspective. We live in a world where innovation, innovativeness, creativity, and invention are almost laughably over-used buzzwords. Yet comparatively little research has been carried out on the long-term history of innovation beyond and before the Industrial Revolution. This monograph offers both a response and a sort of answer to the wider trans-disciplinary dialogue on innovation, invention, and technological and social change. The idea of innovation that permeates our popular media and our political and scientific discourse is set against the long-term perspective that only archaeology can offer in dialogue with a range of social theory about the development of new technologies and social structures. The book offers a new version of the story of human inventiveness from our earliest hominin ancestors to the present day. In doing so, it challenges the contemporary lionization of disruptive technologies, while also setting the post-Industrial-Revolution innovation boom into a deeper temporal and wider cultural context. It argues that the present narrow focus on pushing the adoption of technical innovations ignores the complex interplay of social, technological, and environmental systems that underlies truly innovative societies; the inherent connections between new technologies, technologists, and social structure that give them meaning and make them valuable; and the significance and value of conservative social practices that lead to the frequent rejection of innovations.
innovations. This research was carried out in dialogue with policy makers and developed out of an intellectual framework that viewed technological changes (and the concomitant changes in social practices that accompanied them) as an unmitigated good (Godin 2010a , 2010b ), a perspective that remains strongly present in contemporary research in innovationstudies, such that one leading voice in the field can suggest without irony that “there seems to be something inherently ‘human’ about the tendency to think about new and better ways of doing things and to try them out in
sociology, economics, and anthropology, we run the risk of uncritically reproducing the social and economic modalities of the last 200 years in Olde Worlde drag.
The social world of innovation
In order to push back against what I see as a tendency towards overly presentist arguments in archaeological studies of innovation, I have chosen to focus throughout this book on social relationships and social phenomena. The innovation-studies literature – and indeed the wider popular discourse around innovation – is profoundly bound up in common wisdom about social and
. Consequently, each of the chapters asks a question and then attempts to answer it. Another scholar with a different background and area of expertise would likely ask different questions or answer these ones differently. The point is not to provide the definitive answer, but to shake up the debate, disrupting our innovationstudies status quo.
In Chapter 1 , I ask why we should study innovation and what value an archaeological approach has. In this chapter, I emphasize the politicization of innovation, the value attached to the concept in contemporary contexts, and the
. Put baldly, not only are we not machines that replicate perfectly until a fault or new program is introduced, knowledge transfer itself transforms knowledge, birthing invention and making space for creativity (Wilkins 2018 ). Indeed, as discussed in Chapter 3 , every imitation re-invents and re-mixes its prototype; emulation is not mechanical but transmutational.
For much of the later twentieth century, innovationstudies and diffusion studies were inextricably bound up with each other (Hall 2006 ). Although, today, we tend to think of
Audiences and stakeholders in the history of medicine
Solveig Jülich and Sven Widmalm
emergence of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and innovationstudies.
Later, governments started to evaluate research from cost-benefit and
new-public-management perspectives, while scientific literacy in relation to
democratic decision-making has likewise come under scrutiny as the hegemony of
scientific expertise is challenged (true of history as well as medicine) on
political as well as grass-root levels.
problem to be analysed is long-term economic development, in the course of which entirely new and unpredictable new objects of
Thus the consumer cannot be considered constant and invariant with
respect to economic development. On the contrary, we need to consider the
consumer as an innovator (Earl, 1986), although the meaning of the word
will be somewhat different here with respect to that customarily used in
innovationstudies. The consumer is an innovator when he/she encounters a
new object of consumption of which he/she has only incomplete or no
: Solar photovoltaic electricity in the UK. Technological Forecasting
and Social Change, 81, 115–130.
Smith, A., and Stirling, A. (2007). Moving outside or inside? Objectification
and reflexivity in the governance of socio-technical systems. Journal of
Environmental Policy and Planning, 9(3–4), 351–373.
Smith, A., Voß, J.-P., and Grin, J. (2010). Innovationstudies and sustainability
transitions: The allure of the multi-level perspective and its challenges.
Research Policy, 39(4), 435–448.
Stirling, A. (2014). Emancipating Transformations: From Controlling ‘the
suggested by Goodman (2002: 272): ‘organic
production, other alternative agrofood networks, quality assurance schemes
and territorial strategies to valorise local food product’. However according
to Goodman, consumption has been under-theorised in the research devoted
to the political economy of agrofood, and this has led him to call for an
integrative approach to production and consumption. To integrate the consumption point of view in innovationstudies regarding food chains is still a
challenge for both sociologists and economists.
One may observe that food markets and