“Innovation” is ubiquitous as a way to describe beneficial societal change. Yet, the innovation language is deeply tied to a technology-centric and top-down ways of thinking that shackles the imagination and limits the pathways for change.
The god term I have in mind is, of course, “innovation.” The word derives from the Latin innovare, which means “to renew” or “to restore.” In everyday speech the word has come to mean something like: the activity of bringing new things into being that will generate sweeping renewal throughout the world.
The Transition movement isn’t the first idea/movement to grow rapidly and then wonder how to take the next step forward. Within the field of social enterprise, the question of scaling up is faced by many diverse enterprises and innovations.
For over two decades, Rome’s FORUM PA has been experimenting with novel forms of engagement in Italy and beyond. Through its annual Expo, the organization encourages public administrators and citizens alike to discover what community empowerment, the Web 2.0 and sharing have to do with social innovation.
Abstract: The political-economic limits to system innovation are explored through the Polanyian concepts of disembedding and the ‘double movement’. The Keynesian Welfare State is examined as the final outcome of a much broader ‘counter movement for societal protection.’ In place of reciprocity and autarchy, the Keynesian social compact involved the establishment of new, top-down circuits of redistribution, designed to facilitate continuing processes of capitalist modernization. Where social innovation is directed at the broad dynamics of marketization and the commodification of goods and services, this growth imperative continues to present an insuperable obstacle to system-level change. But as ecological capital at the level of the biosphere becomes a critical focus for a new protective ‘counter-movement’ and ‘degrowth’ becomes the de facto context for social innovation, systemic transformation becomes more thinkable. Hodgson’s ‘evotopia’ is recommended as a heuristic for a provisional, experimental and incremental exploration of the ‘adjacent possible.’