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

Cristina Dalla Torre*, Elisa Ravazzoli, Marijke Dijkshoorn-Dekker, Nico Polman, Mariana Melnykovych, Elena Pisani, Francesca Gori, Riccardo Da Re, Kamini Vicentini, Laura Secco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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 agencys resilience, and agency as catalyst for empowerment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4440
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020

Keywords

  • Agency dimensions
  • Embeddedness
  • Empowerment
  • Resilience
  • Rural areas
  • Social innovation idea
  • Societal challenges
  • Transformability
  • Vulnerable groups

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