1st Edition

Innovation Contested The Idea of Innovation Over the Centuries

By Benoît Godin Copyright 2015
    370 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Innovation is everywhere. In the world of goods (technology), but also in the world of words: innovation is discussed in the scientific and technical literature, but also in the social sciences and humanities. Innovation is also a central idea in the popular imaginary, in the media and in public policy. Innovation has become the emblem of the modern society and a panacea for resolving many problems.

    Today, innovation is spontaneously understood as technological innovation because of its contribution to economic "progress". Yet for 2,500 years, innovation had nothing to do with economics in a positive sense. Innovation was pejorative and political. It was a contested idea in philosophy, religion, politics and social affairs. Innovation only got de-contested in the last century. This occurred gradually beginning after the French revolution. Innovation shifted from a vice to a virtue. Innovation became an instrument for achieving political and social goals.

    In this book, Benoît Godin lucidly examines the representations and meaning(s) of innovation over time, its diverse uses, and the contexts in which the concept emerged and changed. This history is organized around three periods or episteme: the prohibition episteme, the instrument episteme, and the value episteme.

    Selected Contents: Introduction Part 1: The Emergence of a Concept 1. Kainotomia and Conceptual Innovation in Ancient Greece 2. Innovo: On the Vicissitudes and Varieties of a Concept 3. Innovation, or, How to Stabilize a Changing World Part 2. Use of the Concept: The Prohibition Episteme 4. ‘Meddle Not With Them That Are Given to Change’: Innovation as Evil 5. Republicanism as Innovation … or Not Innovation 6. Social Innovation: From Scheme to Utopia Part 3. Transformation of the Concept: The Instrument Episteme 7. Re-imagining Innovation: A Semantic Rehabilitation 8. Innovation Transformed: From Word to Concept 9. When Science Had Nothing to Do with Innovation, and Vice-Versa Part 4. Diffusion of the Concept: The Value Episteme 10. The Vocabulary of Innovation: A Lexicon 11. Appropriating Innovation: For What Purpose? 12. "Innovation Studies": The Invention of a Specialty. Conclusion. Appendices. Sources and References. Index


    Benoît Godin is a professor at INRS in Montreal, Canada. He holds a Dphil in science policy from Sussex (UK) University and has written extensively on science policy, research evaluation and science indicators.