Among the consequences of multiple phenomena, including planetary urbanization, the long cycle of neoliberal policies, the rise of the platform economy and finally the pandemic crisis, has taken place a radical transformation of living – physical, social, and anthropological - linked to processes of increasing marginalization and peripheralization. Parallel to a decreasing ability of public authorities to regulate the economy and govern transformations, there is an evident and growing protagonism of civil society, whose very heterogeneous forms have often been unified through the ‘quasi-concept’ of ‘social innovation’. The paper aims to test the usefulness of this concept starting from the research-action approach adopted by LabSU - Laboratory of Urban Studies ‘Territori dell’abitare’ (DICEA, Sapienza University of Rome), and from three cases of application of this approach in the context of the suburbs of Rome. Starting from a process perspective in the interpretation of social innovation, the three cases in question suggest a series of inductive theoretical considerations. First of all they show that the “Janus-face” of social innovation can be properly adopted and disambiguated only by understanding it as a dynamic and multidimensional process of societal change. As shown by the three cases described, characterized by a homogeneous context and very diverse processes, there are no universal formulas that have value regardless of the contingencies of contexts and processes, while it is crucial recognize the transformative capacities of the local actors, and support of forms of self-organization that they put in place. In this sense, the role of the university takes on great importance both in discriminating between different practices and in making things happen, especially promoting horizontal and vertical collaboration and setting collaborative environments and lived spaces, be they physical or digital.

Social Innovation or Societal Change? Rethinking Innovation in Bottom-Up Transformation Processes Starting from Three Cases in Rome’s Suburbs

Luca Brignone
;
Carlo Cellamare;Francesco Montillo;Serena Olcuire;Stefano Simoncini
2022

Abstract

Among the consequences of multiple phenomena, including planetary urbanization, the long cycle of neoliberal policies, the rise of the platform economy and finally the pandemic crisis, has taken place a radical transformation of living – physical, social, and anthropological - linked to processes of increasing marginalization and peripheralization. Parallel to a decreasing ability of public authorities to regulate the economy and govern transformations, there is an evident and growing protagonism of civil society, whose very heterogeneous forms have often been unified through the ‘quasi-concept’ of ‘social innovation’. The paper aims to test the usefulness of this concept starting from the research-action approach adopted by LabSU - Laboratory of Urban Studies ‘Territori dell’abitare’ (DICEA, Sapienza University of Rome), and from three cases of application of this approach in the context of the suburbs of Rome. Starting from a process perspective in the interpretation of social innovation, the three cases in question suggest a series of inductive theoretical considerations. First of all they show that the “Janus-face” of social innovation can be properly adopted and disambiguated only by understanding it as a dynamic and multidimensional process of societal change. As shown by the three cases described, characterized by a homogeneous context and very diverse processes, there are no universal formulas that have value regardless of the contingencies of contexts and processes, while it is crucial recognize the transformative capacities of the local actors, and support of forms of self-organization that they put in place. In this sense, the role of the university takes on great importance both in discriminating between different practices and in making things happen, especially promoting horizontal and vertical collaboration and setting collaborative environments and lived spaces, be they physical or digital.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11573/1654191
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