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Diana E Valero & Lucía Lopez Marco

Topic: Tackling depopulation trough social innovation: diversity of topics and types of expertise.


Rural development in general, and particularly depopulation, are complex, multifaceted processes which call for an interdisciplinary approach. Nowadays, rural studies is an interdisciplinary and post-disciplinary field of study which encompasses a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues, as well as relevant public policy. Contributions from sociology, geography, anthropology, political science, ecology and more all have a place in this field (Shucksmith and Brown, 2016; Moyano 2009). It is necessary to tackle study in this area from an interdisciplinary perspective which integrates different factors and offers analysis frameworks capable of accounting for the complexity of events in rural areas when dealing with depopulation.

Social innovation in rural areas is currently one of the most powerful paradigms for fostering rural development and confronting the challenges of depopulation. Despite being a controversial concept (Ayob, Teasdale y Fagan, 2009; Sinclair y Baglioni, 2014), it is widely used in political discourse, particularly in the context of the European Union (Sinclair y Baglioni, 2014). Social innovation has been put forward as the ideal solution to achieve positive social changes in societies experiencing societal challenges, becoming the predominant discursive framework of social development.

The proposed paper explores social innovation initiatives from the perspective of the interdisciplinary involvement in them. The aim of the paper is to study social innovation initiatives in rural areas facing depopulation from the perspective of the diversity of types of knowledge involved in them. For this purpose, we develop a qualitative analysis of the diversity of topics and actors involved in the social innovation initiatives trying to face depopulation processes in marginalised rural areas in Europa that are recorded in the database of the European research project “Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas –SIMRA1”. The results of this analysis allow us to help to identify some of the key elements involved in those experiences, linking them to inputs from different types of knowledge and discipline fields.

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