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 27: The social and solidarity-based economy as a new field of public action: a policy and method for promoting social innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Laurent Fraisse


Social innovation is a recent and new field of public policy in some Western countries. This concept has been used in political discourse for a few years, and has been progressively placed on political agendas. The creation of an Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Obama administration’s White House, with the implementation of a Social Innovation Fund is one example. The European Commission also has introduced a strategy for social innovation through various exchanges and research programs as well as a European platform dedicated to social innovation. This chapter discusses the emergence of local public policies dedicated to the social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) in France as a case study for analysing the potential and limits of new public policies that support social innovation. Social innovation is a broad concept. In this chapter, we refer to the Integrated Area Development definition (Moulaert et al. 2010) as grassroots initiatives based on the satisfaction of basic human needs, the empowerment of excluded social groups and communities for accessing social and citizen rights, and social changes in power relationships as well as transformations of governance practices.

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