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 32: Innovative forms of knowledge production: transdisciplinarity and knowledge alliances

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Andreas Novy, Sarah Habersack and Barbara Schaller


This chapter aims to identify effective strategies for producing socially robust knowledge for the elaboration of social innovations. Its first section exposes alternatives to monodisciplinary forms of knowledge production with a focus on transdisciplinarity, an epistemological innovation to foster multi-perspectivity, context-sensitivity and stakeholder involvement and centres on the joint problematization of the field in which actors have to act. Section two presents knowledge alliances as a specific form of transdisciplinarity based on long-term commitment and partnership. In section three and four, the trajectory, potential and limitations of two knowledge alliances, acting at different scales, are exposed: Unequal Diversity as a local knowledge alliance in Vienna and Social Polis as a transnational platform illustrate that knowledge alliances are not only a condition and cradle of social innovation towards a society based on solidarity, diversity and sustainability, but they are social innovations themselves.

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