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 26: Learning from case studies of social innovation in the field of social services: creatively balancing top-down universalism with bottom-up democracy

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Flavia Martinelli


Socially innovative initiatives (SIIs) involve collective actions that aim at improving opportunities for people threatened by a wide diversity of exclusionary processes or looking for alternative futures. However, in order to become durable, socially innovative processes and achievements need to be translated into some form of institutionalized rights. Since many SIIs are generated from below, this translation is far from automatic. This is most evident in the domain of social services, where, in the context of the generalized restructuring of the welfare state, a double danger emerges: on the one hand SIIs are increasingly called to substitute for retrenching or inadequate public provisions; on the other, since they are most often based on the mobilization of social groups characterized by hardship, they cannot be sustained over time.

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