Social Innovation and Societal Change: Role and Impact of Clinical Sociology

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Jean-Marc FONTAN , Sociology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
For over twenty years, a wide range of research processes and activities have been developed in response to demands brought forth by representatives from local initiatives working toward social innovation specifically by means of social transformation. Among the main organizations that embarked on this undertaking are the Service aux collectivités (SAC) of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), the Alliance de recherche universités-communautés en économie sociale (ARUC-ÉS), the Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales (CRISES) and the Incubateur universitaire Parole d’excluEs (IUPE).

In that context, collaborations were formed with labour representatives (to counteract plant closures and mass layoffs), with local development initiatives (similar to those involved in the revitalization of the Angus brownfield in Montreal), with community organizations (working to provide social housing in the fight against poverty and social exclusion) as well as with the social economy and solidarity-based economy (through Quebec government support for the new social economy).

With this historical backdrop, we present a summary of our reflections on the capacity of such initiatives to impact social change. When evaluating initiatives, we proceed in three steps. To begin, we examine the extent to which an initiative is able to respond to social or socio-economic emergencies, thereby testing its reformist capacity. We then look at its institutional impact on the production of societal frameworks, namely through its ability to contribute to the determination of new path dependencies. In a third step, we identify the conditions that would allow it to increase its reformist or restorative capacity as well as its potential to act as an agent of change within the societal framework.