Topic: Social innovation in marginalised rural areas: exploring diversity in the reconfiguration of social practices
This paper explores the diversity of social innovation in relation to societal challenges in rural areas regarding the type of reconfiguration of social practices. Building on the data gathered and theoretical and analytical work done within the H2020 project ‘Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas’ (SIMRA), it describes the existing diversity of social innovation in rural areas in terms of types of social change and involvement of civil society.
Social innovation remains an imprecise concept despite the development of numerous definitions and while it has been already studied in detail in urban contexts, there is a need for exploring in depth their characterisation in rural areas and communities. The SIMRA project understands social innovation from a transdisciplinary approach as the reconfiguration of social practices in response to societal challenges, which seeks to enhance outcomes on societal well-being and necessarily includes the engagement of civil society actors (Polman et al 2017).
Our study draws on the more than 300 initiatives identified as examples of social innovation in rural areas by scholars and stakeholders, with expertise on the topic, as part of SIMRA. We present the findings of a qualitative analysis of the initiatives included in the database to assess their diversity (Bryce et al., 2017). Hence, this paper contributes the ongoing literature debate about the traits that distinguish social innovations illustrating the diversity of social innovation in rural areas. In concrete, the analysis of types of reconfiguration of social practices in this article looks at the involvement of civil society in terms of the targeted participants, and the type of systemic change sought by the social innovation
Hence, this paper contributes the ongoing literature debate about the traits that distinguish social innovations from other types of social processes with which common features are shared while illustrating the diversity of social innovations in rural areas.