Background resources

This weblog has a certain theoretical background. This background is not a closed system, and is even less a homogenous approach, but rather a varied landscape of arguments and empirical insights concerning social innovation and struggles.

The following list will be extended from time to time. We are grateful for proposals to include further material.

Some important publications include works on

Social movement theory

Piven, Frances Fox; Cloward, A. Richard (1977): “Poor People’s Movements. Why They Succeed, How They Fail.” Vintage Books, New York.

Piven, Frances Fox (2006): “Challenging Authority. How Ordinary People Can Change America.” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Plymouth.

These two cornerstones of social movement theory explore an empirical approach to what works in terms of strategies for social change and what not. Piven and Cloward became famous for their results on social struggles in the USA. They could show that they were successfull if they combined militancy with decentralized action. Mass organisation building and lobbying were causes of decay and loss of impact. Overall political instability is an important contextual factor for the success of social struggles. The power of movements always depends on their power to disrupt parts of the social order, either in work relations, in state institutions or on the streets.

Social innovation theory

Geels, Frank W. (2005): “Processes and patterns in transitions and system innovations: Refining the co-evolutionary multi-level perspective”. Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72: 681-696.

Romijn, Henny; Caniels, Marjolein (2011): “The Jatropha Biofuels Sector in Tanzania 2005-9: Evolution Towards Sustainability?”, Research Policy40: 618-636.

Exner, Andreas; Lauk, Christian (2012): “Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth”. The Solutions 3(4): 45-49.

Exner, Andreas; Fleissner, Peter; Kranzl, Lukas; Zittel, Werner (2013): “Land and Resource Scarcity. Capitalism, Struggle and Well-Being in a World Without Fossil Fuels.” Routledge, London, New York.

Social innovation theory is based on works within a Strategic Niche Management (SNM) paradigm in a Multi-Level Perspective. A newer paper in this tradition is the one by Geels (2005). SNM conceives innovation as diffusion of new ideas, concepts or technologies into the wider society from social places which are protected from state intervention and market forces. Three processes are typically identified as success factors: convergence of perspectives of niche agents, networking and linking with agents disposing of more resources and power outside the niche, learning and adaptation to feedbacks. In an empirical study on biofuel networks, Romijn and Caniels pointed out that it is necessary to include conflict as a fourth niche process. Exner and Lauk applied the SNM framework to social innovations. The book edited by Exner et al. develops a perspective called Degrowth Solidarity based on this approach.

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