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 34: Social innovation for community economies: how action research creates ‘other worlds’

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

J.K. Gibson-Graham and Gerda Roelvink


The Community Economies project is an ongoing effort to contribute to an emerging economic politics, one that is centred on the practice of economic self-determination, oriented by the vision that ‘another world is possible’ and committed to postcapitalist economic futures (Community Economies n.d.; Gibson-Graham 2006). The project seeks to ‘reclaim the economy’ as a situated and diverse space of ethical decision making and negotiated interdependence; through that process of reclamation, the economy – a remote and powerful sphere that seems to dictate our lives – becomes instead a familiar, even intimate, space of engagement. Central to the project are three key elements: (1) rethinking ‘economy’ to create a conceptual platform for its re-enactment; (2) enrolling and re-subjecting communities and individuals (including ourselves) in new worlds of possibility; and (3) promoting collective action to build community economies.

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