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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

Webinar: Agency, Autonomy and Social Innovation

Friday, December 15, 2017
16:00 -17:30 Central European Time, 19:30-21:00 Delhi Time, 12:00 – 13:30 Eastern Standard Time

While the concept of social innovation is becoming increasingly popular in the social sciences, empirical evidence on it is still rather scarce and fragmented and there is still a search for consolidated methods regarding social innovation measurement and its impact. Of particular interest from a human development and capabilities approach perspective is the agency of those involved in social innovation processes. However, how can we track agency, and the interplay of structure and agency in social innovation process? And based on this: What is the evidence: does social innovation promote agency and empower those “benefiting” from social innovation?

The webinar will present preliminary results from the EU-research project CrESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation). Drawing from its extended social grid approach, CrESSI researchers operationalized agency in terms of autonomy and conducted an empirical survey with innovators and beneficiaries across three European social innovation cases (solidarity purchasing groups, interest communities for decentralized drinking water supply and wastewater removal and complementary currencies). The webinar will introduce methods and results of this approach. Moreover, the approach will be critically contrasted with insights and findings from the EU-research project TRANSIT (Transformative Social Innovation Theory).

The case will be presented by Dr. Nadia von Jacobi (Oxford University) and Professor Enrica Chiappero Martinetti (University of Pavia), followed by an initial round of comments by Professor René Kemp (Maastricht University), and Dr. Graciela Tonon (Universidad de Palermo).  The webinar host is Dr. Rafael Ziegler (GETIDOS). The webinar is a joint event of the HDCA Thematic Group Technology, Innovation and Design, the HDCA Thematic Group Quantitative Research Methods, and the EU-project CrESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation) that explores the economic underpinnings of social innovation, drawing inter alia on long-term studies of social innovations such as social housing and freshwater supply.

Participants must register in advance: To register please send a brief email to Once you have registered, you will receive further instructions on how to participate in the webinar.

Suggested readings (Texts will be made available to participants prior to the webinar

Nadia von Jacobi, Enrica Chiappero-Martinetti, Rafael Ziegler, Martjin van der Linden and Cees van Beers, "Social Innovation and Agency: Empirical Results from three European Case Studies on Perceived Autonomy", Chapter 10 of Alex Nicholls and Rafael Ziegler “Creating economic space for social innovation” (in preparation for 2018).

 Haxeltine A., Jørgensen, M. S., Pel, B., Dumitru, A., Avelino, F., Bauler, Lema, Blanco, I., T. Chilvers, J., Cipolla, C., Dorland, J., Elle, M., Garido, S., Kemp, R., Kunze, I., Longhurst, N., Pataki, G., Rach, S., Renema, J., Ruijsink, S., Strasser, T., Tawakol, D., Weaver, P. and Wittmayer J. M. (2016) On the agency and dynamics of transformative social innovation, TRANSIT working paper #7.

Further readings:

 Special Issue “Social Innovation and Marginalization” in the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 3/2017

Alex Nicholls and Rafael Ziegler, An extended social grid model for the Study of Marginalization Processes and Social Innovation, CrESSI Working Papers #2

Further information:


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