Emiel Rijshouwer is Academic Researcher at the Department of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
I was trained as an industrial design engineer. As a designer, trend researcher and future explorer I used to be involved in the development of innovative products and services. Innovation is usually approached from a technological point of view, but I have always been fascinated by the question under which societal circumstances new products and services come to being and in which social contexts these do or do not function. This made me pursue a master's degree in social sciences.
Right now I am studying self-organization, both online as in urban contexts. The seemingly spontaneous development of Wikipedia, Free and Open Source Software communities, neighborhood enterprises, urban gardens, local energy cooperatives, and networks for sharing services is often regarded as a harbinger of social transformation. The suggestion is that the initiative and the responsibility for the production of common facilities is no longer centrally coordinated. Whether or not supported by professionals, citizens and civil society organizations are supposed to "take matters into their own hands." But how exactly does that work and how do these open and self-organizing communities differ from ‘traditional’, supposedly bureaucratic, hierarchical and closed organizations?