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Scientific paper


Innovation for de-growth: A case study of counter-hegemonic practices from Kerala, India

Mario Pansera, Richard Owen

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Scientific paper

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Journal of Cleaner Production


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Keywords: Degrowth from the Global South; Technological innovation; Discourse of development

Abstract: Our research focuses on the cross-pollination of the discourses of innovation and (post)development in the Global South. We suggest that the buzzword innovation is progressively infiltrating the lexicon and situated practices of development. Within this a hegemonic framing of innovation is emerging that leverages the language of inclusion to promote connection to, and participation in, the global free market economy. This, we hypothesise is closing down a broader debate concerning the goals and roles of innovation and technology in the so called developing world. At the same time, our research suggests that this emerging hegemony is contested, presenting as alternative, minority framings with different normative underpinnings for technology and innovation that challenge the pro-growth and market-led dominant paradigm. We present the results of one of these through a qualitative in-depth case study conducted in the Indian state of Kerala. The case provides interesting insights for the degrowth community in two regards. First it shows a concrete example of an alternative framing of technology underpinned by a set of normative principles connected to those of degrowth. Second, the case shows that alternative technological paradigms based on principles aligned with those of degrowth are not only possible, but can and do co-exist with the hegemonic paradigm.

Journal of Cleaner Production; Available online 4 July 2016
Part of a special issue on degrowth and technology

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