Whose Revolution? Utilising Makerspaces as Locations for building Sustainable Communities

Katharina Vones

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    As the concept of the fourth industrial revolution has continued to gain prominence in recent years (Bloem et al., 2014), the rapid proliferation of Makerspaces, Fablabs [defined by (Gershenfeld, 2012) as locations for nurturing a model of a democratised maker culture] and to a lesser extent Hackerspaces, has been depicted as an engine of globalised creativity, innovation and individual entrepreneurial endeavour that enables wealth generation in a changing industrial landscape. However, Makerspaces, Hackerspaces and Fablabs also have the potential to affect profound change in terms of social and environmental sustainability by encouraging alternative views of material culture and experimental fabrication methods (Smith et al., 2013). This is particularly pertinent in the face of growing environmental emergency, when decentralised methods of repurposing and remanufacturing might provide novel ways in which to utilise waste materials and environmentally ethical production methods for local communities. Drawing on a series of site visits to Makerspaces in diverse geographical locations, ranging from Scotland to Kenya, this paper outlines how Makerspaces and Fablabs can act as hubs for building local communities that focus on fostering sustainability, inclusivity and ethical working practices in diverse contexts. It concludes by outlining strategies for enabling the successful integration of these characteristics into the design principles of sustainable manufacturing, speculating how the Makerspace could act as a lynchpin for encouraging social and environmental reform within the context of the fourth industrial revolution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
    EventAfrica and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Defining a Role for Research Universitites - The University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
    Duration: 18 Nov 201920 Nov 2019
    http://arua.org.za/%EF%BB%BFcall-for-papers-for-2019-international-conference/ (Link to conference information)
    https://web.archive.org/web/20191204134147/http://arua.org.za/wp-content/uploads/Call-for-Papers-for-ARUA-International-Conference-2019.pdf (Archived link to conference)


    ConferenceAfrica and the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    Abbreviated titleARUA 2019
    Internet address


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