Reimagining Innovation: A Semantic Rehabilitation
As the nineteenth century ended, the word innovation had accumulated four characteristics that made it a powerful term in the mouths of critics of changes brought into the world by humankind. From the Greeks, the representation of innovation had retained its subversive (revolutionary) character. The Reformation added a heretical dimension (individual liberty), and the Renaissance a violent overtone. Together, these characteristics led to a fourth: Innovation came to be talked of in terms of plots (designs, schemes). Yet in spite of these connotations that made a word (innovation) part of the vocabulary and of discourses on order, innovation seems to have escaped the attention of historians. The literature studies many concepts of change but not innovation. Is innovation only a word-a mere word-in the vocabulary of adherents to the status quo-Churches, Kings and their supporters-and devoid of sociological meaning?