This panel asks how STS can combine with heterodox economics to provide new directions for Responsible Innovation. It uses Responsible Stagnation as a lens through which to consider questions relative to the governance of 'innovation' in a world of finite resources and fragile ecosystems.
Responsible Innovation (RI) was originally conceived as a way of mediating the crisis-driven demand for economic growth by shaping high-tech innovation towards filling social needs rather than merely generating profit. However, as RI has become embedded in science, technology and innovation (STI) policies, it has become subsumed into the same growth-driven paradigms it was originally meant to challenge. Accepting that productivity in advanced economies has reached that steady state in which returns from increased input are diminishing, we therefore suggest an exploration of Responsible Stagnation (RS) as an integral and neglected part of the discussion of RI. This panel seeks papers which explore the idea that to be responsible to the future, innovation must take place in an enabling economic framework that respects planetary limitations and sustains social progress. What kinds of 'innovation' should be encouraged in advanced economies which are effectively stagnant in terms of wages and social improvement, and how may 'filling social needs' be better measured than mere increase in GDP? Under what conditions can innovation which leads to stagnation in consumption of non-renewable resources become a desirable economic goal? Heterodox economists have asked similar questions but have not engaged with STS as a means of understanding the co-production of technology and social relations to further their aims. We hence invite papers that explore how heterodox economics can combine with STS to provide fruitful new directions for RI. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions.