Social Innovation: Driving Force Of Social Change

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Juergen HOWALDT , Social Research Center Dortmund, Duisburg, Germany
The importance of social innovation in successfully addressing social, economic, political and environmental challenges of the 21st century as e.g. poverty and inequality is recognised not only within the Europe 2020 strategy but also on a global scale. However, despite this growing awareness of the significance of social innovation, there is still no sustained and systematic analysis of social innovation, its theories, characteristics and impacts.

Since Schumpeter, the concept of innovation has focused predominantly on economic and technical developments, whereas social sciences were particularly interested in the corresponding social processes and effects. This may explain why social sciences, to this day, have been conducting empirical work on social innovations quite comprehensively, but without labeling them as such and, with few exceptions, without a concept of social innovation informed by social theory.

In light of the increasing importance of social innovation the paper looks at the theoretical concepts, areas of empirical research and observable trends in the field of social innovation on a global scale. It gives an overview of the current situation and the perspectives of socio-scientific innovation research that have greatly contributed to the development and spread of an enlightened socio-scientific understanding of innovation.

It will present the objectives and the concept of the global research project SI-DRIVE (7. Framework programme of the European Commission) which intends to extend knowledge about social innovation (SI). Facilitating empowerment within innovation processes driving social change can and shall be a main result of social innovations. Thus, social innovations need to mobilise citizens to take an active part in innovation processes and thereby enhance society’s generic innovative capacity. This requires new models of governance in favour of self-organisation and political participation, allowing sometimes unexpected results through the involvement of stakeholders.