Civic innovation is a different way of thinking about social transformation. This panel invites papers to discuss how innovative civic practices (such as solidarity economies, local social movements, or rights movements around body and sexuality) trigger imaginaries for new political opportunities.
Civic innovation is about focusing on what is positive, creative and imaginative in the face of a world that seems beset by crisis narratives. As development researchers we see the mainstream development community responding with difficulty to these crisis narratives - awkwardly speaking of the failure of the Millennium Development Goals while setting up a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. Underlining these discussions are deep concerns about the viability of the development project in the new conditions of today. In exploring the term civic innovation we suggest this helps us to give a useful alternative to overwhelming crisis narratives. We are not looking for a new theory and practice that will lead to a grand transformation of neoliberal capitalism but rather at how to build a mosaic of responses by looking at what is happening on the ground where people are living the contradictions of development. We argue that we need to question pre-determined ideas of what measures to take and go beyond universal policy solutions, in order to look with openness at the actions on the ground. This also means going beyond the strictures of development aid and its logics. We invite papers that discuss how innovative practices of community and solidarity economies, sometimes in alliances with transformative empowerment strategies in global value chains, local politics of social movements and rights movements around the body, gender and sexuality are allowing new imaginaries of well-being and possibility to flourish.