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Call for Papers: NOvation

Innovation is an old word, of Greek origin, that came into the Latin vocabulary in the early Middle Age and into our everyday vocabulary with the Reformation. However, it is only during the second half of the twentieth century that innovation became a fashionable concept and turned into a buzzword. It gave rise to a plethora of terms like technological innovation, organizational innovation, industrial innovation and, more recently, social innovation, open innovation, sustainable innovation, responsible innovation. We may call these terms X-innovation.

In this way, X-innovation is the latest step (see background paper < /et al./ 2017 and Godin and Vinck 2017 <>) to give sense to a century-old process of enlargement of the concept of innovation. Over the last five centuries, innovation enlarged its meaning from the religious to the political to the social to the economical. X-innovation is the more recent such enlargement. It Is the continuation, under new terms, of the contestation of technological innovation as the dominant discourse of the twentieth century.

How can we make sense of this semantic extension? Why do these terms come into being? What drives people to coin new terms? What effects do the terms have on thought, on culture and scholarship and on policy and politics? Which forms of contestation and appropriation ensue around certain X-innovations? How do they shape, and are shaped by, broader social trends? How to they relate to questions of power and inclusion?

This call asks for answers to these questions through critical approaches in human and social sciences, including intellectual and conceptual history, science and technology studies, political economy, sociology, and anthropology. We welcome both conceptual and empirical work.

The five areas below represent the scope of methodological possibilities for this special issue of NOvation:

  1.  Critical analyses: from and on studies of innovation, being those approaches more disciplinary or interdisciplinary in nature;
  2. Discourse analysis: deconstructing actors' rhetoric, policy-makers' frameworks and scholars' theories;
  3. Intellectual history: documenting scholars' intellectual, academic and social trajectories;
  4. Conceptual accounts: studying the concepts used in the field, the traveling of concepts among fields (academic and public) and their transformation into catchwords;
  5. Case studies: understanding and mapping the uses of innovation and rethinking current narratives;

Abstract Proposals

Submissions should be made by e-mail:


  • Submission of Abstract Proposals: 20 January 2018
  • Selection of Proposals Fit for Article Submission: 15 February 2018
  • Full Article Submission: 30 September 2018

Submission of Abstract Proposals should present:

  • Between 250 and 500 words;
  • Brief introduction, objectives, methodology, hypothesis (if it is the case) and final considerations;
  • Up to five keywords;
  • Up to five bibliographic references;
  • Authors affiliations and email address.

Call for Submissions