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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Introduction: the pillars of social innovation research and practice

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Serena Vicari Haddock


This part discusses the philosophical orientations, epistemologic stances and the role of the meta-theories of societal change which have proven most appropriate to the production of knowledge in analytical and empirical work on social innovation (SI). Its purpose is to provide a proposal to advance this work. In the first chapter of this part, Novy, Habersack and Schaller make a strong argument in favour of transdisciplinarity as the epistemological stance best suited to knowledge production, in particular in the analysis and promotion of social innovation; in doing so they also anticipate several theoretical positions presented in the following chapters. The argument is based on several propositions: first, the complexity of social problems and the highly disputed and recursive definition of their nature in contemporary societies make it necessary to take into account the plurality of both life-worlds and scientific definitions of problems.

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