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Developing a theory of Transformative Social Innovation

TRANSIT is working on first stepping stone for developing a theory of Transformative Social Innovation. Case studies contribute to developing knowledge about the dynamics of social innovation and societal transformation.

TRANSIT (TRANsformative Social Innovation Theory) is developing a theory of transformative social innovation: a process through which social innovation contributes to transformative change. After the first phase of in-depth empirical work has now come to its end, TRANSIT shares its first materials. Over the past year, TRANSIT researchers have interacted with and studied 12 transnational networks – for each network they focused on the network level as well as on 2-3 local manifestations

‘Constant comparison’ between emergent theory and data required

The case study reports and synthesis report that are now publicly available on the website form part of the overall iterative set-up of the project in which a ‘constant comparison’ between emergent theory and data is required and will take up to the end of 2017.

Networks engaging in many dimensions of social innovation

The first results suggest that the social innovations that the networks engage in are broad and cover examples of all the dimensions of social innovation mentioned in our working-definition of ‘social innovation’: new social practices, new ideas, new models, new rules, new social relations and new products. Most of the social innovations are combined innovations, for example combining a practice and idea (i.e. design thinking) and applies it to other kinds of questions (i.e. societal challenges). Many cases are offering a physical place in which social innovation can take place, i.e. where new social relations and practices can be experimented with or created. The provision of these physical places and/or mental spaces constitutes itself a social innovation and is referred to as incubation, ecosystem for innovation, or lab. Within these spaces/places, social innovation by others can take place, such as networks facilitating co-working spaces where start-ups might be working on innovative solutions.  Only a small number of networks explicitly relate to the term social innovation. In other cases there is scepticism and resistance towards the term “social innovation”.

Unravelling the dynamics of societal transformations in the making

The networks interact and contribute to a societal transformation in the making, however a more thorough analysis is needed to unravel these dynamics of societal transformations in the making. The case reports mostly outline the transformative ambitions of the case, while some describe the strategies that the case uses and the intended outcomes this should have – telling the narrative of change of the network, while others are looking into the interaction of different shades of change for the specific case (historically).

Matolay, R., Weaver, P., Strasser, T. (2015) Transformative Social Innovation Narrative: Ashoka. TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169 | 31st of March 2015 

The materials are available in a Deliverable (PDF) for the European Commission and several reports on the respective networks.

TRANSIT is a consortium of European and Latin-American research-institutions and is co-funded by the European Commission. It runs for four years, from January 2014 until December 2017. 

Press release: TRANSIT and partners bring together over 300 social innovators, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and researchers from all over the world in conference “Social Innovation 2015: Pathways to Social Change”

 

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TRANSIT sajto.pdf1.19 MB