Introduction: ‘reality’ as a guide for SI research methods?
Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research
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This part focuses on the methodologies that can be mobilized to be effective from a social innovation (SI) perspective. The key idea underlying the part is that SI analysis should be guided by what is going on in the ‘real’ social world: new initiatives, people’s responses to new socioeconomic challenges, perception and interpretation of such experiences by the stakeholders, forms of interaction, negotiation and collaboration among social actors, learning patterns and strategy-building in SI initiatives, etc. But should SI analysis be instructed by ‘reality’ only, or are there also methodologies that have something to say about how reality should be interpreted, analysed and, potentially, ‘transformed’? For researchers, therefore, a key challenge is to think of how new knowledge about the reality of SI initiatives and dynamics can be built and, at the same time, contribute to changing the reality. To put it another way, researchers are confronted with three intertwined major issues: 1) knowledge from ‘where’ and gathered/ produced by ‘whom’? 2) knowledge for ‘what’ and for ‘whom’? 3) what are the roles of the researchers in SI processes?

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