Social Innovations for Community Development

Social innovations are novel approaches (both thematic and process-oriented) to address social issues, which should also result in the development of new or improved skills and more efficient social processes (The Young Foundation, 2012). As contemporary challenges (e.g. social, demographic, economic and environmental) are complex in nature, they can rarely be solved by one actor in isolation. This approach, then, requires a different understanding of social innovation that focuses on new economic (Jessop, 2012) and social imaginaries [with a view to re-frame the current capital-centric production, consumption and redistribution processes as well as the current governance structures (Mosedale, 2011)]. Social innovations in this context are framed around changing social relations to elicit a structural change towards a more just society. For instance, social innovations are deemed to be important for achieving more sustainable communities (Ashford, 2001), as they increase both a society’s capacity to act and their resilience to change (The Young Foundation, 2012).

In a post-structural discourse analysis of documents discussing social innovation, Ilie and During (2012) have identified three differing discourses: social innovation as (a) changing governance processes to improve participation; (b) social entrepreneurship by individuals and (c) social community innovation with a focus on collaborative innovation within a community setting.

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