Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

The transformative potential of social innovation from a social-material perspective: the case of decentralised energy production  
Flor Avelino (Utrecht University) Bonno Pel (Utrecht University) Julia Wittmayer (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Short abstract:

Responding to recurring calls for more conceptual clarity and solid theory on social innovation, this paper proposes a social-material and relational conceptual heuristic of social innovation.

Long abstract:

We conceptualize social Innovation (SI) as sets of ideas, objects and/or activities that change social-material relations and involve new ways of doing, thinking and organizing. We distinguish and specify different relevant units of analysis, including SI-initiatives, SI-actors and SI-fields. Furthermore, we explore the transformative potential of SI in terms of the processes through which SI-initiatives/actors/fields challenge, alter and/or replace dominant structures and institutions in a specific social-material context. In our social-material conceptualization of transformative social innovation, we bridge relational approaches developed in sociology, actor-network theory and co-production studies, with more evolutionary perspectives as found in socio-technical transition research and sustainability studies, so as to offer a critical and systemic perspective on the transformative potential of social innovation.

Examples of social innovation with transformative ambitions include a very wide diversity (e.g. sharing platforms, citizens’ assemblies, participatory budgeting, food cooperatives, urban farming, co-working spaces, digital fabrication, ecovillages, and many more). In this paper, we focus on the example of decentralized energy production. More specifically, we use our social-material conceptualization of social innovation to take stock of, and compare, how cases of decentralized energy have been empirically analysed as social innovation across four specific EU-funded research projects: Transformative Social Innovation Theory (TRANSIT), Prosumers for the Energy Union (PROSEU), Social Innovation in Energy Transitions (SONNET) and EnergyPROSPECTS. Based on this empirical comparison and our conceptual heuristic, we conclude with avenues for future research on social innovation from a social-material perspective.

Traditional Open Panel P013
Social innovation: forms, evidence, and perspectives
  Session 3 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -