Innovating Futures

Alan Irwin, Linda Soneryd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper addresses the relationship between innovation processes, governance challenges and socio-technical visions of the future. A number of specific examples – including the potential development of ‘Graphene City’ in Manchester – will be drawn upon for this purpose. On the one hand, the very idea of innovation conjures up a sense of the multiple possibilities linked to social and technical change. On the other, these multiple futures in practice are often presented in decidedly singular terms so that what they omit becomes as significant as what they actually include. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between these ‘innovation futures’ and more mundane forms of governance. In exploring this relationship, one can ask questions such as:
- How do certain visions of the future come to appear more plausible, persuasive and realizable than others?
- How do these projected futures relate to present action?
- What do they mean for ideas of politics and democracy – and for socio-technical governance more generally?
A particular concern in this paper will be the relationship between these innovation futures and our sense of the political. Often presented in distinctly non-political and unreflective terms, projections of the future – and related calls for us to take action today in the interests of tomorrow – necessarily suggest forms of social and political change. Accordingly, how ‘the political’ is made (or not made) in this context becomes an important topic for discussion. Equally, and looking ahead in more positive terms, one can inquire whether the gaps between these potential futures and the experience of ‘lived presents’ opens up the possibility for a ‘politics of emergence’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstracts : Third Nordic Science and Technology Conference
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationGothenburg
PublisherGöteborg Universitet
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThird Nordic Science and Technology Studies (STS) Conference - University of Gothenburg, Campus Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 31 May 20172 Jun 2017
Conference number: 3


ConferenceThird Nordic Science and Technology Studies (STS) Conference
LocationUniversity of Gothenburg, Campus Haga
Internet address

Cite this