Socializing the Undisciplined Thought: Ideation as a Social Practice


Seweryn Rudnicki
AGH University of Science and Technology, Department of Society and Technology Studies, Ul. Czarnowiejska 36, 30-054, Kraków


Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explore new paths for the science of ideas and  general reflection on creativity by outlining the possibility to conceive ideation (idea  generation) as a social practice. Currently, creativity is predominantly treated as a  psychological phenomenon, ideas are regarded as externalized thoughts, and ideation as a  mental activity. This perspective, while well-established, like its historicity and as well as  social and material determinants relatively untouched. 

This paper draws on the current wave of practice theories (sometimes labelled as a  “practice turn” in social theory) to argue that ideation may be treated as a social practice,  and its constitution and evolution as following the logic of how practices are organized in  social life. The article presents the elements constitutive for any social practice to exist  (i.e., meanings, materials, and competences) and shows how some practices (like fine arts and science) emerged to be socially believed to produce new ideas. It also shows that in  the last century a new practice - ‘deliberate creativity’ - emerged as a practice producing novel and useful ideas. The current state and future development of deliberate creativity  are presented as depending on changing configuration of meanings, materials, and  competences of this practice. 

Design/methodology/approach – The papers is a theoretical contribution illustrated by some empirical examples from other studies. 

Originality/value – There is still little studies exploring the historical, social and cultural aspects of creativity and its development to current forms (e.g., Eekelen 2017, 2018; Wilf 2016; Reckwitz 2018). The proposed conceptualization is an attempt to offer an original theoretical framework allowing to grasp ideation as a social phenomenon that may inspire other research and help to explore aspects of creativity that are difficult to be accounted for  within the dominant perspectives. 

December 18, 2023
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