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 17: Going beyond physical urban planning interventions: fostering social innovation through urban renewal in Brugse Poort, Ghent

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Stijn Oosterlynck and Pascal Debruyne


In this chapter we analyse the scope for socially innovative forms of strategic urban agency at the neighbourhood scale. Our focus here lies on integrated area development (Moulaert 2002) and socially creative strategies in post-industrial neighbourhoods that are subject to severe forms of socioeconomic decline and are confronted with increasing degrees of ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity. What we are particularly interested in is how particular local social needs are identified and integrated in an urban renewal project for this type of neighbourhood. We will show that this requires a socially innovative approach to urban renewal, i.e. an approach that goes beyond mere physical urban planning interventions but also transforms existing localized social relations and community dynamics in ways that empower local communities to collectively identify and meet its needs. In what follows, we briefly engage with the literature on neo-communitarian strategies for urban renewal and community development and relate it to the social innovation literature. We then assess the social innovation potential of neo-communitarian urban renewal strategies in the Belgian city of Ghent, which has invested in community-based forms of urban planning for more than two decades and has developed quite a reputation in it (Stad Gent 2009).

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