Imagining the future through revisiting the past: the value of history in thinking about R(R)I's possible future(s)

Danielle Shanley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Despite reflexivity being held up as a core pillar of Responsible Research and Innovation (R(R)I), actors in the field have yet to consider the importance of R(R)I’s history. Acknowledging the various histories of the field, not only the ones that are told but also the ones that could be told, is necessary in order to meet the requirement of reflexivity. Inspired by the notion of ANTi-history, I therefore propose an alternative historiography. Based on ethnographic and archival research, I trace some of the interactions between early iterations of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Technology Assessment (TA) which do not regularly feature as a part of R(R)I’s established history, drawing attention to potentially ‘forgotten’ or ‘neglected’ histories. I also propose the Appropriate Technology (AT) movement as an ‘alternative’ forebear of R(R)I. By bringing lesser known histories of R(R)I into the foreground, I argue that the interpretative richness offered by empirical historical analysis can provide insights for thinking about R(R)I’s possible future(s).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Responsible Innovation
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2021


  • Responsible innovation
  • responsible research and innovation
  • narratives
  • critical history
  • reflexivity
  • futures

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