Empowering women farmers and of refugees: two Italian experiences of social innovation in mountain areas
Dalla Torre C
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At: ISIRC Social Innovation: Local Solutions to Global Challenges ; Glasgow ; 02/09/2019 - 04/09/2019 Mountain areas across Italy are significantly changing their social and economic fabric, becoming more socially and culturally diverse, as a response to global societal challenges (e.g. international migration, depopulation, economic structural changes). This call for new solutions that existing public institutions and private organizations fail to address properly. Due to shrinking public financial resources, non-traditional actors (e.g. social cooperatives and social enterprises) started to introduce new solutions (e.g. services, practices, cooperation models) to better respond to social needs, promoting initiatives of social innovation (SI). In the literature the concept of SI has been widely explored. Here, it is defined as “the reconfiguring of social practices, in response to societal challenges, which seeks to enhance outcomes on societal well-being and necessarily includes the engagement of civil society actors” (Polman et al., 2017). SI is conceived a process of social change i.e. attitudes, behaviors or perceptions associated with collective actions that is expected to provide societal outcomes. It has become a relevant paradigm to address social challenges. By means of two case studies we conducted an explorative study that aims to analyze: a) the process of reconfiguration of social practices; b) the outcomes on societal well-being; and c) the mountain-related factors that influence the SI development. Results show that social innovation in both cases have mobilized endogenous and exogenous resources to challenge the context. It re-interpreted traditional cultural values and symbols transforming and adapting their meanings. It reconfigured social practice changing the socio-economic roles of the target groups. As so defined, SI was able not only to tackle specific local problems and social needs, but it has empowered the targeted vulnerable groups and improve the community well-being. At the same time, SI changed the way society perceived women farmers and refugees.
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