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 23: Partnership-based research: coproduction of knowledge and contribution to social innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Jean-Marc Fontan, Denis Harrisson and Juan-Luis Klein


Partnership-based university research has an important place in today’s knowledge society. The building and maintaining of a knowledge society is supposed to be based on the mutual recognition of needs, a definition of the shared problems, and a common search for solutions by the university and community sectors. (Sajnani and Mendell 2007; Wiewel and Broski 1997, p. 2). However, in practice, today’s knowledge society has increasingly evolved into an elitist ‘knowledge economy’. As a marketed good, knowledge is a central component of ‘information capitalism’, or even of a technical-productive paradigm, which is neither neutral nor objective (Lundvall 2002; Foray 2000). In that sense, information and knowledge are key parameters of social justice and citizenship (Castel 2008). The more they are used to serve the selfish interests of an elite, the more society is unequal and exclusive. Conversely, the more they are shared between different types of actors, the more society is potentially cohesive and inclusive.

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