Malin Lindberg, Professor in Innovation Studies at the Luleå Technical University (Sweden) has laid out an excellent account of social innovation and empowerment, wherereby she provided an analysis on how these concepts are apporached in the SEMPRE project. Malin Lindberg has followed and supported the SEMPRE project for a long while, as she notably has provided an impulse presentation about organisational capacities for social innovation in rural areas at the SEMPRE Mid-Term Conference in Tallinn on 14 September 2017.
Please find an abstract of her analysis below and the paper here:
‘Social innovation’ refers to processes, which intend to promote and improve people’s life-quality and wellbeing in various social contexts. As such processes address multi-dimensional societal challenges, they require the pooling and sharing of resources (e.g. finances, relations, power, knowledge) and interactions across organisational, sectorial, disciplinary and geographical boundaries.
Rural decline and deteriorating social infrastructures are cross-border societal challenges, which SEMPRE intends to tackle by actively involving social service users in the development and delivery of services. For SEMPRE, service user involvement is one way to initiate empowering social innovation processes which include vulnerable groups in setting the agenda for societal change. Individual agency, collective representation (networking) and institutional transformation are crucial elements of SEMPRE’s project work.
NGOs, including the Diakonie and the Churches, are particularly equipped in their combined roles as advocacy actors, service providers and innovation promotors to support inclusive social innovation processes as investigated by SEMPRE. But enhanced institutional legitimacy for SEMPRE and similar projects is needed in order to ensure lasting improvements in social service provision for vulnerable groups in rural areas.