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 20: Qualitative approaches for the study of socially innovative initiatives

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Haris Konstantatos, Dimitra Siatitsa and Dina Vaiou


Social innovation, as it is conceptualized by the contributors to this volume, valorizes the knowledge and cultural assets of communities and prioritizes the creative reconfiguration of social relations (MacCallum et al. 2009, p. 18). In this sense, it is sought not only in bottom-up initiatives linked to particular places, but also at a multiplicity of spatial scales and intersections of institutional and everyday practices. Socially innovative initiatives often develop as a response to growing inequalities and processes of social exclusion, mobilizing resources of various kinds in novel ways. As such, they call for particular methodologies to approach, and learn from, the actors, aims and practices involved. Such methodologies are part of the broad field of qualitative research, which has gained a hard won acceptance in many disciplines since the 1970s.

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