The limits of the Maker ideology: local Makerspaces, experimental practices, and COVID-19

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Using ethnographic methods to investigate the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affected two Makerspaces, we discuss the limits of the Maker movement’s ideological foundations. Both spaces moved their activities online but differ in their engagement with Corona-specific projects: While the eLab Berlin decided to avoid any involvement due to legal and practical issues, the South London Makerspace produced face shields using 3D printing and laser cutting processes. Across these differences in engagement, our main argument is that the pandemic caused, in both cases, a shock of the real, for the Maker ideology: Individually, the spaces’ members were shocked at what the pandemic meant for the limits of their practice. From a more macro perspective, there was a shock of the real for the entire movement as a whole as the pandemic revealed the limits of its claims; the idea that the Maker movement can develop fast creative ideas and physical prototypes, which can then be scaled-up in production and, therefore, restructure manufacturing processes on a societal level.




Hepp, A., & Schmitz, A. (2022). The limits of the Maker ideology: local Makerspaces, experimental practices, and COVID-19. Continuum, 36(2), 199–213.

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