The Role of Agency in the Emergence and Development of Social Innovations in Rural Areas. Analysis of Two Cases of Social Farming in Italy and The Netherlands
Dalla Torre C
Da Re R
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SubjectAgency dimensions; Transformability; Resilience; Social innovation idea; Rural areas; Societal challenges; Vulnerable groups; Empowerment; Embeddedness
Social innovation is considered a relevant concept to tackle societal challenges and needs in rural areas and to promote smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. The characterising sector of rural areas is agriculture; therefore, the focus of this paper is on social innovation in the field of social farming. Among the many factors leading to the emergence and development of social innovation, agency has been considered relevant in the literature on transformability and transformative social innovation as it is the ability to turn contextual difficulties into opportunities for social innovation and for inclusive growth. This paper proposes an evaluation framework to assess the different dimensions of agency by triangulating quantitative with qualitative data and by using indicators. This paper adopts a case study approach, analysing two cases of social farming in Italy and the Netherlands. The results show that the social innovation idea and the resilience of the agency are among the most relevant dimensions for the emergence and development of social innovations. Finally, this paper discusses the three most relevant factors for agency to lead to social innovation: idea and embeddedness of the agency, transformability of the context through agency´s resilience, and agency as catalyst for empowerment.
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