Innovation, justice and politics

Papaioannou, Theo (2010). Innovation, justice and politics. In: 60th Political Studies Association, 29 Mar - 1 Apr 2010, Edinburgh.


The importance of innovation in human development is undeniable. Since the 1780s, successive scientific and technological revolutions have introduced new products and services with tremendous impact on well-being and general welfare. These products and processes range from industrial textiles, railways and electricity to automobiles, ICTs and more recently, nanotechnology, genomics and biotechnology. However, innovation theory has so far refused to engage with questions of fairness and justice in the generation and diffusion of new innovative technologies, especially in developing countries. On the other hand, emerging approaches to global justice have been almost indifferent to the prominence of such new technologies in the fight against poverty and inequality. The aim of this paper is to bridge the gulf between the literatures of technological innovation and global justice. It will be argued that technological innovation can satisfy the requirements of social justice only through successful public action and campaigning against unjust innovation diffusion. This implies that politics of development should support redistributive systems and global social movements against current IPR regimes, providing alternative incentives for successful generation and application of new scientific knowledge.

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