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 8: Social innovation research: a new stage in innovation analysis?

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Bob Jessop, Frank Moulaert, Lars Hulgård and Abdelillah Hamdouch


Social innovation is ‘à la mode’. It figures prominently around the world in diverse policy programmes, and is a strategic reference point for social movements and organizations that aim to fight poverty, overcome social exclusion, empower minorities, etc. It has a key role in the Millennium Agenda, in Barack Obama’s Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in the EC’s Innovation Union Programme (BEPA 2010), in OECD policy advice on the role of social entrepreneurship in combating social exclusion and socioeconomic restructuring (Noya 2009; OECD 2010) and in the strategies of organizations and foundations such as Ashoka Innovators for the Public, the Skoll Foundation, and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship with a global outreach promoting market driven social innovation (Elkington and Hartigan 2008; Reich 2011). The significance that various mainstream strategy and policy documents accord to social innovation (hereafter SI) varies greatly. Nonetheless, one commonality stands out: they interpret it in economic, indeed often in narrowly market-economic, terms.

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