Grassroots innovation and democracy

gi-and-d-coverIn the summer of 2016 Andy Stirling and Adrian Smith were asked by Friends of the Earth to write a ‘thinkpiece’ on the topic grassroots innovation and democracy as part of their Big Ideas series. A referenced version of their report is available now as a Working Paper (pdf) from the STEPS Centre. Innovation is considered as an inherently political activity, since its implications for sustainability and livelihoods, whether positive or negative, can be pervasive. And yet, citizens are rarely  involved directly and routinely in key decisions about innovation. In this piece of work we consider how grassroots innovation can contribute to more innovation democracy. Grassroots innovation often involves citizens centrally in activities, as well as contributing to a greater diversity of innovations in society, operating to a wider plurality of social values and visions. We explore how this contributes in different ways to democracy, and suggest some actions for broadening such contributions.