Maker Movement

The objective of this study is to delve into the characteristics and impacts of the Maker Movement in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country during 2018.

As the epitome of modern-day “grassroots innovation,” the Maker Movement can be analyzed as an example of collaborative collective action in the fields of technology, knowledge, learning, manufacturing and work. The Maker movement constitutes a social movement with an artisan spirit that emphasizes active learning (learning-through-doing) in a social environment (DIWO, Do It With Others). Maker culture fosters informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment. It focuses on the creation of new devices as well as the tinkering with existing ones; it also encourages new applications of technologies and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate fields and forms of work. Makers, most of them middle-class males, are both hobbyists and professionals –including technology fans, craftsmen, scientists and “garage inventors.” Typical interests among them include activities related to the so-called “new technologies” and engineering (e.g. electronics, robotics, 3D printing); and more traditional arts and crafts (e.g. metallurgy, carpentry, etc.).

Our research approaches the Maker movement through the in-depth analysis of two case studies:

  • Espacio Open (Bilbao): Located in the Old Cookie Factory, in the post-industrial district of Zorrozaurre, Espacio Open defines itself as an “accelerator of social and creative projects that seek to reformulate the link between citizens and industrial heritage.” It operates as a socially conscious company that manages the Bilbao Maker Faire, and the Bilbao Fab Lab.
  • HirikiLabs (San Sebastián-Donostia): Located in Tabakalera, a former tobacco factory, and currently the International Centre for Contemporary Culture in Donostia-San Sebastián, HirikiLabs defines itself as a “laboratory of culture and digital technology that works on the social, critical, creative and collaborative use of new technologies for citizen empowerment.” As part of Tabakalera, HirikiLabs is financed by the municipal, regional and autonomous Basque government.

Our study is based on a theoretical sampling strategy, with governance (grassroots v. institutional) and orientation (entrepreneurial v. educational) as the main sampling criteria. We follow a multi-method approach, with data emerging from in-depth interviews, focus groups, participant observation, analysis of secondary data (e.g. brochures, internal documents, etc.), and netnography.

Researcher: Ignacia Perugorria.