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 24: Social innovation in public elder care: the role of action research

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

John Andersen and Annette Bilfeldt


This chapter addresses the role of action research in social innovation related to elder care work at public nursing homes in Denmark. The case is part of a development project based on the principles of critical utopian action research (CUAR), a distinct type of knowledge creation which is appropriate to social innovation because of the way it improves social relations between participants, contributes to the empowerment of weaker participants, and builds knowledge essential to improving their quality of life and sense of cooperation. The chapter shows how critical utopian action research can contribute to changing a negative spiral of increasing inhumanity in elder care, and to developing practical and collective utopias to improve human social relations for both residents and employees. Utopian action research has the potential to challenge the dominant neo-bureaucratic and (quasi) market oriented modes of work organization models and governance currently dominant in elder care.

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