The International Handbook on Social Innovation
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The International Handbook on Social Innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Edited by Frank Moulaert, Diana MacCallum, Abid Mehmood and Abdelillah Hamdouch

The contributors provide an overview of theoretical perspectives, methodologies and instructive experiences from all continents, as well as implications for collective action and policy. They argue strongly for social innovation as a key to human development. The Handbook defines social innovation as innovation in social relations within both micro and macro spheres, with the purpose of satisfying unmet or new human needs across different layers of society. It connects social innovation to empowerment dynamics, thus giving a political character to social movements and bottom-up governance initiatives. Together these should lay the foundations for a fairer, more democratic society for all.
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Introduction: social innovation at the crossroads between science, economy and society

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Juan-Luis Klein


As the general introduction and many chapters in this handbook show, social innovation is in vogue. Up until some years ago, the very idea of social innovation was, at best, seen as a part of the organizational changes necessary for implementing technological innovations or, at worst, virtually unheard of. However, of late there has been a proliferation of literature that refers to social innovation. Public institutions at all levels (international, national, regional and local) are launching new programs to promote social innovations, alongside organizations in support of these efforts and studies that describe and explain them. What is all the buzz about? The failings and inconsistencies of the neoliberal growth model that has prevailed worldwide since the 1980s are certainly a key factor. However, such a proliferation of discourse and works on social innovation shows the absence of an integrative framework and a great diversity of approaches.

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