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Innovation Studies

  • By: Regina Lee Blaszczyk
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

The Oxford English Dictionary credits the economist Joseph Schumpeter with the modern definition of innovation. In his 1939 book Business Cycles, this Harvard University professor distinguished between invention and innovation. Invention is the process of turning a new idea into a useful thing; the process can be accidental or deliberate. In contrast, innovation occurs when an entrepreneur or an organization purposely works to bring an idea, technique, or product into widespread use or to apply it to new settings. An innovation can be a new invention, but it might simply be an old product, process, or concept presented in a novel way.

Innovation is important to consumer society for several reasons. The many novelties that are at the heart of daily experience—everything from the annual vehicle ...

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