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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Chapter 7: Social innovation for People-Centred Development

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Lars Hulgård and P.K. Shajahan


Social innovation is closely related to the people-centred development (PCD) framework of knowledge production and intervention as developed by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai.2 The three features of social innovation emphasized in this handbook are satisfaction of human needs, the role of social relations, and empowerment or socio-political mobilization by people trying to fulfil their needs. The discussion of people-centred development in this chapter particularly expands on the third feature of social innovation mentioned above, i.e., the empowerment or the socio-political mobilization of people. The insistence of social innovation theory on uniting the fulfilment of human needs to active engagement and changes in social relations is based upon two fundamental goals: the aim of creating ‘a people’s democracy’ and a desire to address issues of social injustice, such that innovations target ‘the fundamental needs of groups of citizens deprived (démunis) of a minimum income, of access to quality education and of other benefits of an economy from which their community has been excluded’ (Moulaert 2009, p. 18).

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