The Social Practice of Independent Inventing

TitleThe Social Practice of Independent Inventing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsWhalley, P.
Secondary TitleScience, Technology, & Human Values

The history of modern innovation is primarily that of the industrial research laboratory, but the demise of the independent inventor-like that of the entrepreneur-has been much exaggerated. Independent inventing, in fact, continues to flourish as a cultural and technical practice in the contemporary United States. There are, however, a number of structural and cultural impediments in the way of independent inventors who seek to translate their invention into a commercial innovation. By drawing a comparison with the art world, this article explores these impediments and argues that their existence is revealing of the deep social embeddedness of the invention and innovation process.