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The social consequences of minor innovations in construction

Ewart, I. J. ORCID: (2019) The social consequences of minor innovations in construction. Construction Management and Economics, 37 (9). pp. 537-549. ISSN 1466-433X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2019.1614202


Innovation studies in construction focus on a desire to increase economics and efficiency at a large scale. This has resulted in a skewed perspective that sees only major corporations with substantial R&D resources, complex projects, or national interests at the heart of innovation. By adopting anthropological methods, it becomes possible to examine the two aims of this paper: to demonstrate that an accumulation of minor innovations can have significant consequences; and to show that these are inherently social rather than purely economic. Results come from fieldwork studying the improvisatory house-building practices of the Kelabit people of rural Borneo, tracing changes to the technologies used for roofing and foundations, and describes how these are mutually entangled with new social structures. The conclusion is that we should think more broadly about the forms and effects of innovation in construction, and recognise the significance of improvisation at the level of the individual or small group.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:79743
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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