Accepted Paper:

Inequality matters - comparing discourses of innovation in UK and post-apartheid South Africa  


Melanie Smallman (University College London)
Koen Beumer (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

There is evidence that investment in science and innovation drives economic growth. More recent research suggests it also creates inequalities. Comparing discourses within innovation policy in South Africa and the UK, we consider how inequality is accounted for in government innovation strategies.

Paper long abstract:

Economic growth has been an important argument in favour of government investment in science and innovation. And while there is evidence that investment in these areas has made significant contributions to the growth of the economies of developed countries over the past 50 years, more recent evidence suggests that technological innovations have also contributed to growing inequalities within nations. So how is the shape of the economy accounted for in government strategies for investment in innovation? In this paper, we compare the discourses within innovation policy in the UK and South Africa. We argue that while UK innovation policy has focused upon growing the size of the economy, the post apartheid South African Government has had a specific mandate to address structural inequalities within their country, which should lead to a necessary focus on the spread as well as size of the economy.

Panel C05
Science, innovation and inequality: part of the solution or the problem?