Date of the sub-plenary: July 7, 2022
Duration: 90 minutes
The feasibility and desirability of endless economic growth is increasingly being questioned by scholars and activists. While envisioning alternative economic models is key to assure the sustainability and wellbeing of present and future generations, few studies have analysed what might be the role of ‘innovation’ in a post-growth era. Innovating has become the imperative for the survival and expansion of any form of organisation. This sub-plenary starting point is that untangling innovation from growth is key to imagining a post-growth era. If growth is going to be unsustainable, we need new narratives as well as new innovation practices and policies that would accordingly also have to change and increase the scope of the innovation concept itself, beyond technology, into cultural and institutional change, and indeed social life and social order. The STS community has only recently begun to get involved in the debates about post-growth and de-growth. STS contributions may enrich the ways in which we imagine and configure STI systems, which are in turn crucial for enabling a sustainable future and an adaptation to the challenges of the climate crisis. But how science and technology will look like in a system that is not based, and doesn’t not rely, on endless growth? Under which conditions STI without growth would be able to flourish? What levels of technological complexity can we reach in a non-growing economy? What policies, infrastructures and organizational forms are needed or are more likely to facilitate a post-growth innovation era? Questions that have been so far rarely asked within STS and STI circles are now at the heart of what this sub-plenary will address.