NomadIT Conference Suite

DSA, 2019: DSA2019: Opening up Development

Open University, Milton Keynes, 19/06/2019 – 21/06/2019


Inclusive innovation for development: what inclusion for a fairer future? [paper]
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]


  • Theodoros Papaioannou (Open University) email
  • Les Levidow (Open University) email

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Short abstract

The panel explores new forms of inclusive innovation for development that reduce or mitigate inequality in marginalised and lower-income populations as well as contestations from theoretical and/or empirical viewpoints.

Long abstract

Inequality remains a primary challenge to sustainable development in the 21st century. Innovation has been a key factor in the growing divide between rich and poor. Over recent decades, science, technology and innovation (STI) has excluded or marginalised a significant part of the world's population. For this reason, global development policymakers and practitioners have been advocating more inclusive forms of innovation as means towards a fairer future. State bodies have been promoting novel forms such as frugal and grassroots innovation.

Yet several issues remain unclear or even contentious: how innovations should be evaluated for socio-economic fairness, what political arrangements can generate inclusive innovations, and what policies can facilitate them. Some ‘inclusive innovation’ agendas obscure the sources of inequality within societies. In dominant portrayals, unequal outcomes are retrospectively explained by the wider context, e.g. patterns of distribution, access, and affordability -- rather than by STI design. By contrast, any socio-economic improvements are attributed to an innovation per se; such improvements are rarely attributed to users’ collective power.

Such power relations have been contested through social movements for reshaping innovation. These have various kinds of engagements with mainstream institutions of STI – in particular, incorporation or mobilization. The latter mode generates bottom-up processes and principles of global justice, as a basis to challenge the dominant practices, technologies, power relations and discourses of innovation.

This panel will focus on inclusive innovation for development and various contestations from theoretical and/or empirical viewpoints. Abstracts should address some of the following questions:

1. How do types of inclusive innovation (frugal, grassroots, etc.) relate to development, e.g. by presuming or facilitating specific trajectories?

2. What evaluative frameworks do we need in order to make sense of inclusive innovation for development?

3. What kind of transformative politics and policy are required for promoting inclusive innovation in diverse contexts?

4. How do some social movements reshape innovation for/by contesting socio-economic inequalities?

5. What specific features make social movements effective in promoting inclusive innovation for global justice?

6. How do initiatives for ‘inclusive innovation’ change (or proliferate) meanings of innovation and inclusion? By which actors? What exclusions remain hidden?

7. How do these processes potentially transform, complement or reinforce incumbent systems? What tensions arise?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


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This panel is closed to new paper proposals.