What Makes a Maker?

- Curating a pioneer community through franchising

  • Andreas Hepp ZeMKI, University of Bremen


Academic research typically portrays the Maker Movement as a bottom-up emancipatory movement that emerged out of localised, grassroots initiatives. On the basis of a broad media ethnography that gathered data in Germany, Great Britain, and the USA, this article demonstrates the myopia of this assessment. Rather than being a bottom-up movement, the Maker Movement is in fact a pioneer community with intimate connections to the corporate world and the political class maintained by a globally spread organisational elite. The increasingly global sweep of the Maker Movement is a complex act of co-construction involving an abundance of different actors. With its curatorial centre firmly embedded within the offices of the Maker Media company—guiding the discourse on the movement's identity through its periodical Make: and its experiential experiences through international Maker Faires—the Maker Movement has its organisational basis in a franchise model that leaves it open to the flexible influence of an organisational elite who secures the intellectual and physical space for individual practitioners and local groups.


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