Innovation is generally associated with the creation of something new and with economic growth, and is often understood in relation to modernity and its prime social site, ‘the city’. Accordingly, the coupling of innovation and rural areas may seem incongruent. Drawing on ethnographic research on Israel's high-tech scene, we analyse innovation centres located primarily in kibbutzim in the northern and southern regions of the country. This allows us to juxtapose the ultra-modernist and individualist ethos of the creative actor against a more communal understanding of social life. In these sites, we observe not just the imitation of ‘urban’ innovation, but also the strong influence of the community and the contribution of local knowledge in the design of technologically innovative products and services. Examining what is taking place outside urban centres thus enables a more complete and nuanced understanding of the interplay between innovation and society at large.
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© 2023 The Authors. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Anthropological Institute.