The Turpin affair and invention policy in late 19th century France

Invention policy
By Gabriel Galvez-Behar

The late 19th century is sometimes considered the emerging moment of an invention policy based either on the beginnings of the internalisation of R&D in large companies or on mechanisms aimed at assessing the proposals of individual inventors. Inspired by some contributions of pragmatic sociology, this article interprets this phenomenon as the result of a politicisation of inventions. The Turpin affair, which broke out in the early 1890s around the invention of a powerful explosive, is one of its most emblematic forms, echoing the Dreyfus affair which broke out shortly afterwards.

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