The social impacts of innovation: reproducing racial, gender and social class inequality

Eric Dahlin, Samantha K. Ammons, Jacob S. Rugh, Rachel Sumsion, Justin Hebertson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: While current scholarship on innovation typically examines its antecedents, the purpose of this paper is to provide a more complete account by advocating for social impacts as a critical component of the sociological study of innovation. Design/methodology/approach: This study adopts a conceptual approach to illustrate the ways in which innovation may generate unequitable outcomes. The authors illustrate the purpose of the paper by discussing strategically selected examples that are intended to reflect prominent themes and topics in the relevant literature. Findings: The analysis suggests that while innovation yields many positive benefits, pervasive narratives about its virtues can be overstated when, in fact, innovation may generate adverse effects for particular social groups by reproducing or exacerbating inequality. The authors provide a more complete account of innovation by naming social impacts as a critical component of its sociological study and discussing examples that illustrate how innovation can produce disadvantageous effects by race, gender and social class. The authors move forward the discussion of social impacts by elaborating conditions in which innovation is likely to reproduce the status quo as well as ameliorate negative impacts. Originality/value: While many studies have explained the conditions that foster innovation, this study pushes the boundaries of the study of innovation – a timely topic for practitioners and scholars in the fields of not only sociology, but management, education and public policy. Accordingly, we move forward the discussion of the social impacts of innovation by identifying the ways in which innovation is likely to reproduce structural inequalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Inequality
  • Innovation
  • Race
  • Social class
  • Social impacts
  • Social innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The social impacts of innovation: reproducing racial, gender and social class inequality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this