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Social Innovation in the specific field
(WP4, 5, 6 & 7)



On the basis of a general framework (General structure of case based field-country investigations) ITSSOIN partners compiled detailed descriptions of the constitution of specific fields in selected countries. Below you will find an overview of the country-field combinations for each section as well as some information on the main characteristics and trends of social innovation that could be identified. For a more detailed summary on specific fields, please follow the link provided at the end of each section.

Culture and Arts (WP4)

Civic engagement in the field of culture and arts contributes to the expressive, communicative, recreational, and spiritual needs of individuals and communities. Such engagement takes place in spaces of cultural exchange through interaction between individuals in a given social environment. These places of cultural exchange can serve as opportunities for social innovation. The field of culture and arts thus promised to be insightful for the research on the main variables of the ITSSOIN hypotheses.
As the leading partner in this work package the Bocconi University set a focus on social participation in the culture and arts field and specifically looked at the non-industrial art sector. By analysing several cross-nationally relevant trends and dynamics in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and France in the non-industrial art sector, similarities in that sector among different geographical markets could be identified and highlighted, e.g. the growing importance of volunteers as human resources and the development towards a ‘digital society’.
In light of such similarities common innovative trends were drawn. Innovation in the field of culture and arts is a very multidimensional phenomenon. For example, it refers to new models of multi-stakeholder governance and new processes of decision-making. Further, innovation in the field of culture and arts comprises phenomena such as crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as new initiatives for funding the sector which make use of the increasing importance of the Internet as a major innovation in cultural production. Innovative processes also help art communities to reshape themselves in terms of their production, their economic sustainability, or their ‘informalisation’ . Finally, the field is seen to be particularly innovative in fostering social cohesion and promoting intercultural dialogue.
For more detailed information on the field description in culture and arts, please follow this link to the respective deliverable: Field description in Arts and Culture.

Social Services and Health (WP5)

The fields of social innovation in the health ecosystem and social services have undergone important changes over the last decades. Major developments have been, for example, the support of careers and migrant populations, community development, engagement, or co-production. Some of these movements can be traced back to the 18th century and have been reinvented and reformed many times. Most recently, their role has been discussed as central to questions of personalisation and localisation.
The fields of social services and health thus share common features that seem to offer explanatory potential as to how such developments contribute to enabling and producing social innovation – all the more so as both fields are related to civic engagement and beneficiary participation. However, in order to gain precise and definable information, they are treated separately during the empirical field work.

Social Services (WP5, Part 1)

As to the field of social services the University of A Coruña is the lead partner. Comparing the field across the four countries Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden, striking similarities with regard to social innovation in social services have been identified. In each country three interconnected exogenous shocks could be discovered as the main drivers of a broadening gap between the needs and expectations for social services, on the one hand, and the actual resources, capabilities, and roles of funders and providers, on the other. These drivers were found to be financial, socio-demographic, policy-related, and legislative in nature. On that basis, more detailed social innovation dynamics in five field-specific trends were identified. Amongst which we can find, for example, changes in the perception and expectation of service provision, changes in the profiles of those needing social care, emergence of new models of service provision, and increased levels of institutionalisation of social services in parallel with increased pressures on informal networks.
Specific examples concerning the trends in innovation and the identified changes mostly related to: process innovations, marketing innovations, and organisational innovations. These trends respond to seven social innovation streams, either in an isolated or combined way. These innovation streams comprise the reconceptualisation of social problems, the attraction of new actors, resources, and capabilities to the field, the integration of social services and other services from proximate fields, the customisation of services to the particular needs of each dependent person, the exertion of citizens’ co-responsibility in configuring demand and supply (co-creation) with reference to social services, the establishment of cross-sector and citizen partnerships through informal and formal networks in the field, and the increase of participation of beneficiaries in the governance of the social services system.
For more detailed information on these trends and for the description of the field of social services in general, please follow this link: Field description in Social Services.

Health Care (WP5, Part 2)

The lead partner for the field of health is the London School of Economics. The analysis conducted in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, and the Czech Republic focused from an early stage on the social model of disability and health. This had the advantage of excluding technological innovations from the research. Further, this focus helped to define community engagement and co-production as the guiding principles of the analysis. While working on the field description, contextual factors and social innovation themes were identified, informing a detailed contextual framework for social innovations in each of the four countries. This framework served as a foundation for anchoring and generalising findings on social innovation in each country and will ensure comparability.
Here, only a few of the many factors found to be linked to the (non-) existence of social innovation trends shall be named. On the most general level it was found that social innovation is particularly high at the grassroots level. With regard to the health system, integration and personalisation reforms turned out to function as potential drivers of social innovation. Service user and citizenship movements also serve as driving forces for social innovation. Collaborations between, for example, patient associations and professional membership bodies were identified as important drivers of social innovations. Where professional membership organisations do not cooperate with patient association certain social innovations might be hindered. Government-initiated top-down approaches to patient participation turned out not to achieve substantial changes in practice.
Thus, by describing the field of health it was possible to highlight driving and hindering factors for social innovation as well as differences between national and regional healthcare systems. For more detail on these and other findings, please follow the link to the respective deliverable Field description in Health Care.

Environmental Sustainability and Consumer Protection in Finance (WP6)

Civic engagement within the field of environmental sustainability has a long history and has taken many forms, from local conservation groups, NIMBY (‘not in my back yard’) activism, or topical advocacy groups to the development of national and international organisations devoted to promoting ecological awareness. Similarly, consumer protection in finance can be characterised by institutional heterogeneity and a long tradition of civic engagement in this field. A large number of civic activities can be identified.
The advocacy role of nonprofits in both fields is well documented. However, the role and function of the third sector in advancing social innovation have recently increased in policy discourse and governance programmes. Thus, the aim of this work package was to focus on the structural capacities of the third sector in relation to the mobilisation of particular forms of civic engagement and ‘active citizenship’. In order to gain specific and detailed information on these connections, the two fields were treated as distinct fields of analysis.

Environmental Sustainability (WP6, Part 1)

As to the field of environmental sustainability Denmark is the lead partner. Insights from this country were enriched by the input of participating partners from Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. In a first step, a detailed description of the field in each of these countries as well as at an international European level was provided. Thereby, a particular focus was put on the main trends in innovation at play within the field of sustainability in cities.
The descriptions of the field of environmental sustainability cover numerous aspects, ranging from the central regulative characteristics and important developments over the last 10 years to key players drawn from government, the private sector, and third sector. These characteristics are presented in detail for each of the four studied countries. Furthermore, for each country one city was identified, which will form the basis for carrying out a case study as the study proceeds.
Numerous forms of social innovation were identified in all four countries and cities. The cross- country analysis provided an interesting overview allowing to highlight the main activities within sectors for each of the cities (e.g. food, water/waste, energy, buildings, transport) and for cross-sectoral activities (e.g. quality of life/awareness, sharing/circular economy, neighbour scale redesign/resilience). This overview creates a good map of the extensive variety of initiatives defining social innovation in the countries and cities that were analysed within the field of environmental sustainability.
For more detailed information on the main results of the field description such as a characterisation of the respective roles of the third sector or an extensive list of potential social innovations by each of the selected cities, please follow this link to the respective deliverable Field description environmental sustainability.

Consumer Protection in Finance (WP6, Part 2)

The description of the field consumer protection in finance was carried out in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Denmark. These countries were selected because they represent very different constellations of factors that were expected to enable or disable social innovations. The Czech partners assumed the role of the leading partner during this research process.
As a first step, the field of consumer protection in finance was narrowed down. Thereby, in regard to the general field of consumer protection in finance a particular focus was put on the rather dynamic subfield of alternative financial services. Subsequently, the key dimensions determining the status, structure, and dynamics of these alternative financial services with reference to consumer protection were identified for each selected country. A cross-national comparison of these results provided a basic overview of innovation motives and areas.
On the basis of these results it was then possible to identify several streams of social innovation in different areas : web applications/online initiatives (aiming at empowering the consumers of financial services), financial education (aiming at raising financial literacy amongst consumers), peer-lending (aiming at handling unsatisfactory treatment by official banks and non-banking institutions), COOP networks (with different aims including supporting communities and community building, supporting fair and local trade, or spreading financial services to rural areas), crowd funding platforms (aiming at avoiding traditional banking services and improving the availability of financial services), and time banks (aiming at avoiding the payment by monetary means). Except for the innovation of ‘time banks’, all trends could be found in all of the analysed countries.
A more detailed description of the research conducted on the field of consumer protection can be accessed through the following link: Field description Consumer Protection in Finance.

Work Integration and Community Development (WP7)

Both fields, work integration and community development, are characterised by the blurring of boundaries between the public, the commercial, and the sphere of the third sector. Therefore, initially analysing these fields in combination seemed promising. It was expected that in both fields a particular emphasis on sector intersections would characterise the investigation of social innovations as well as the role of civic engagement therein. Guiding questions considered the main players, the different ‘theories of change’ in the fields, various organisational models, and the role played by the state, the for-profit, and the non-profit providers. It was also of major interest to research on the interrelations between the two fields. However, first empirical investigations showed that in the field of work integration cross-country differences in the role of each sector are more marked than the common characteristic of blurred boundaries. Consequently, in order to create a precise and detailed informational basis for each field, it was decided to treat the two fields separately during analysis.

Work Integration (WP7, Part 1)

As a result of this comparative, cross-country characterisation it was observed that in each of the countries some actors from the private sector can be found which are increasingly becoming interested in work integration. Often the initiatives developed by these actors are undertaken within a partnership of actors from the public and/or the third sector. A typology of the countries’ social innovation in work integration, including an analysis of the public and third sector engagement in the field, was created, which allowed to clarify the mechanisms linking the different actors’ participation and the capacity to generate social innovation.
With regard to concrete social innovation streams, five interesting phenomena were identified: WISEs (Work Integration Social Enterprises), cross-sector partnerships, work integration initiatives that try to scale their social impact, quality management in work integration initiatives, and integrative approaches to disadvantaged people.
For more detail on the outcomes of the field description in work integration, please follow the link: Field description Work Integration.

Community Development (WP7, Part 2)

As community development was considered a topic too broad to be handled in a single case study on social innovation, the theme was narrowed down by focusing on groups that experience exclusionary or inclusionary practices. Subsequently, refugees were selected as the target group for the study. On that basis, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and as lead partner the Netherlands were selected for comparison in course of the field description. Italy was selected because of its large influx of migrants; the Czech Republic was selected as a country which is changing from a post-socialist country of transit to Western Europe to a country of destination in its own right; the UK and the Netherlands were selected as countries of arrival.
By means of a shared methodology a general field description including an overview of the history of refugee protection, central regulative characteristics, and important developments over the last 10 years was developed for each country. Further, key players from government, the private sector, and the third sector were identified and described according to their role, interests, and relations in the field. The perceptions and public discourse on refugees were briefly surveyed too. Analysing these reports then allowed the researchers to determine cross-country commonalities and differences and to draw up a list of social innovative practices.
Although the cross-country comparison has to be treated with caution, some commonalities stand out, including the more restrictive immigration policies in all countries and the importance of third sector organisations. However, also the differences in the way in which social problems are being tackled are considerable, ranging from housing, community-based health programmes and micro finance initiatives for asylum seekers to (health) education and housing projects for refugees and insurance programmes and legal advocacy for refused asylum seekers and undocumented people. The overlap between activities in the field of work integration and community development is rather minimal and only few of the examples came up in multiple countries.
For more detail on the multiple innovative approaches as well as on the field reports and its implications for the case selection as a next step of the study in the respective deliverable, please follow this link: Field description Community Development.