a topic to discuss fab labs oriented to alternative economies, degrowth, post-growth, post-capitalism. activities, challenges, research literature, case studies…
The environmental value and impact of the Maker movement—Insights from a cross‐case analysis of European maker initiatives
Business Strategy & the Environment
The aim of this paper is to explore the environmental value of the Maker movement, which is driving digital fabrication into the mainstream. Makers are inspiring each other to create smart solutions for all types of individual needs and address societal and environmental challenges at the same time. They share their creative ideas and solutions in collaborative work spaces and Maker Faires or on social media platforms. Is this grassroots innovation the beginning of the next industrial revolution? This paper will explore the environmental value and impact of makers’ innovative business model and discuss on how to increase the circularity. At the same time, we will describe the role of maker communities and how to help to play a better role. In the framework of a case study analysis based on 10 different Maker initiatives across Europe, 39 interviews were conducted with makers and Maker initiatives managers evaluating core questions such as potential environmental value and impact, value chains, and energy efficient behaviours. This study is expected to contribute to building an explorative but yet empirically rooted analysis of the environmental value and impact of the Maker movement. Furthermore, the challenges in the future and the suggestions for policy makers are provided.
Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias
Erik Olin Wright
American Sociological Review
This address explores a broad framework for thinking sociologically about emancipatory alternatives to dominant institutions and social structures, especially capitalism. The framework is grounded in two foundational propositions: (1) Many forms of human suffering and many deficits in human flourishing are the result of existing institutions and social structures. (2) Transforming existing institutions and social structures in the right way has the potential to substantially reduce human suffering and expand the possibilities for human flourishing. An emancipatory social science responding to these propositions faces four broad tasks: specifying the moral principles for judging social institutions; using these moral principles as the standards for diagnosis and critique of existing institutions; developing an account of viable alternatives in response to the critique; and proposing a theory of transformation for realizing those alternatives. The idea of “real utopias” is one way of thinking about alternatives and transformation.
Open social innovation dynamics and impact: exploratory study of a fab lab network
The aim of this research is to explore the dynamics and impact of open social innovation, within the context of fab labs and makerspaces. Using an exploratory methodology based on 12 semi‐structured interviews of fab lab founders belonging to The Centres for Maker Innovation and Technology (CMIT) programme – a network of 170 fab labs located in Eastern Europe – this research explores the impact of an adopting an open approach in relation to the different stages of social innovation (prompts, proposals, prototypes, sustaining, scaling and diffusion, systemic change) as well as social impact. The main results of this study are that while the CMIT programme provided each fab lab with similar initial conditions (identical funding, objectives and rules), the open social innovation approached adopted enabled to give birth to a wide diversity of fab labs, each being very well adapted to the local environment, social needs and constraints and able to deliver social impact in just a matter of years; a result that would be hard to achieve with a centralised top‐down approach. The study identified three types of CMITs – Education, Industry and Residential – which could be similar or different depending on the stage of social open innovation. Furthermore, this paper discusses the main difficulties social entrepreneurs encounter as a part of the open social innovation process, as well as means to overcome them. In this respect, this study adds to the literature on fab labs by providing more comprehensive view of the challenges faced by fab labs (and makerspaces) founders, as well as suggestions of strategies enabling to ensure their long‐term sustainability.