Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 426871
Title Social innovation and sustainability; how to disentangle the buzzword and its application in the field of agriculture and rural development
Author(s) Bock, B.B.
Source Studies in Agricultural Economics 114 (2012). - ISSN 1418-2106 - p. 57 - 63.
Department(s) Rural Sociology
Publication type Non-refereed article in scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Abstract Social innovation is often appointed as an essential part of agricultural and rural innovation. Everybody seems to agree that social innovation is important but what exactly is meant by the term remains often unclear. This paper aims at clarifying the meaning and signifi cance of the concept by going back to its root in innovation science and policy. It appoints three main interpretations of social innovation, referring to the social mechanism of innovation, the social responsibility of innovation and the need for innovating society. Studying its application in the fi eld of agriculture and rural development reveals that social innovation is rarely referred to when agriculture as a singular economic activity is concerned, but prominently present in discussions about rural development. Here social innovation may be referred to when identifying society’s need for more sustainable production methods, the necessity for collaboration and social learning, and the scope of change needed for revitalising (rural) society. Often, however, social innovation is presented as a tangle of interdependent processes and benefi cial outcomes. Its fuzziness contributes to its discursive power in discussions about agricultural politics and the signifi cance of sustainability, but also hides the valued-loadedness of social innovation. As a result its critical potential becomes neutralised. For gaining more insight in how to more effectively support social innovation, it is important to disentangle the social innovation jumble, to unravel the diverse interrelations and to explore and monitor its functioning and contribution to processes of social change and renewal.
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