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 19: A transversal reading of social innovation in European cities

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Serena Vicari Haddock and Chiara Tornaghi


In this chapter we aim to contribute to a methodology for research on social innovation with a particular interest in developing a comprehensive reading of its forms and a critical reflection upon its constitutive dimensions. Our starting point is a transversal reading of various socially innovative and creative initiatives across a number of domains of experience that the literature has identified as loci of processes of social exclusion. We draw in particular on 20 case studies in European cities, and analyse the role played by actors, looking at which kind of actors succeed in resisting and overcoming processes of social exclusion, examining their vision of the causes of social exclusion and the problems they confront, and investigating the strategies they pursue to find solutions to these problems. This investigation allows us to characterize social innovation initiatives according to two main dimensions (Section 19.2). The first refers to value orientation; our cases cover a very wide range of values that are negated by processes of social exclusion and which are, on the other hand, pursued and established as central in the various initiatives.

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