Social innovation’ and contentious urban politics : Questioning the innovative potential of contested urban developments in Berlin

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Following the ‘territorial’ approach, emerged in the 1990s, social innovation in and for local development is primarily conceived as a response to social exclusion dynamics and to the difficulties traditional public systems (including welfare ones) face in dealing with changing societal needs and in addressing ‘wicked’ challenges (Caulier-Griece at al., 2013: 5; Borzaga and Bodini, 2012). It is conceptualized as both the (positive) outcome of social transformation processes and the means through which social improvement can occur. This only takes place “when the mobilization of social and institutional practices succeeds in bringing about the satisfaction of previously alienated human needs, the relative empowerment of previously silent or excluded social groups through the creation of new ‘capabilities’, and, ultimately, the changes in existing social – and power – relations towards a more inclusive and democratic governance system” (Gonzalez et al., 2010: 54). These conditions refer to what Moulaert et al. (2005: 1976 2010) define as the three main dimensions of social innovation. The product dimension focuses on “innovation in the conceptualization, design, and production of goods and services that address social and environmental needs and market failures” (Nicholls and Murdock, 2012). The process dimension focuses on the redefinition of organizational arrangement and on restructuring of social relations in more socially inclusive terms. This is related to governance innovation, but it also encompasses the reconfiguration of social practices (Howaldt and Schwarz, 2010). The third dimension is more directly related to the empowerment of the actors involved, and it is based on the (progressive) assumption that “individuals and communities can muster the passion and have the capacity to self-organize and self-manage in equitable and inclusive manners” (Swyngedouw and Moulaert, 2010: 221).
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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