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 30: Local associations in Chile: social innovation in a mature neoliberal society

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Vicente Espinoza


Only a few years after democratic rule had returned to Chile, a scholar of grassroots democracy wondered: where did all protesters go? (Oxhorn 1994) In those days, almost any observer of the Chilean political scene had taken for granted that the popular mobilization of the 1980s would be a prominent companion to the recovered democracy. However, none of the variants of collective action that flourished under the dictatorship was able to keep its strength or appeal afterwards. In this chapter I examine the dynamics of Chilean civil society in the last two decades stressing the changes in structural and institutional conditions and their impact on the collective action of the grassroots. I argue that during the last two decades Chile has been experiencing a change in the cycle of collective action, from a union-centred social movement towards a more diverse and horizontal mobilization. These new orientations have taken mostly fragmented expressions, having in common a preference for autonomy from institutional spaces and an open deliberation about models of society.

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