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How Open Is the Maker Movement? Integrative Literature Review of the Openness Practices in the Global Maker Movement

Saari, Hanna; Åkerman, Maria; Kieslinger, Barbara; Myllyoja, Jouko; Sipos, Regina

FG Arbeitslehre / Technik und Partizipation

This article explores the multiple meanings of the concept of openness in the global maker movement. Openness is viewed as one of the key principles of the maker movement. As the global maker movement is a bricolage of diverse and situated practices and traditions, there are also many different interpretations and ways of practicing openness. We have explored this diversity with an integrative literature review, relying on the Web of Science™ database. We identified three interrelated but also, in part, mutually contested approaches to openness. Firstly, openness often refers to applying open hardware. Secondly, it is in many cases related to the inclusion and empowerment of various groups in making. Thirdly, openness appears to be seen as a means to pursue economic growth through increasing innovation activity and entrepreneurship. Our results also highlight the substantial barriers encountered by makers while aiming to open up their practices. These barriers include: value conflicts in which openness is overridden by other important values; exclusion of lower income groups from making due to a lack of resources; and difficulties in maintaining long-term activities. The different meanings of openness together with the barriers create tensions within the maker movement while implementing openness. We propose that engaging in a reflexive futures dialogue on the consequences of these tensions can enhance the maker movement to become more open, inclusive and resilient.