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Social Innovation and Democratic Leadership

Communities and Social Change from Below

Marc Parés, Sonia M. Ospina and Joan Subirats

This book explores new forms of democracy in practice following the 2011 global uprisings; democracy that comes from below, by and for the ‘have-nots’. Combining theories of social innovation and collective leadership, it analyses how disadvantaged communities have addressed the effects of economic recession in two global cities: Barcelona and New York.
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Marc Parés, Sonia M. Ospina and Joan Subirats

This book is the result of the Social Innovation against the Crisis (SOCRISIS) project (, funded by the European Union’s FP7 Marie Curie Actions. The research was carried out by the Institute for Government and Public Policy (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (New York University).

We are especially grateful to Santiago Eizaguirre and Cliff Frasier, who did a great job leading the case study research and helped us with their talented analysis. Equally, this book could not have been written without the research team that conducted the field work in New York City and Barcelona: Eduard Cabré, Cristian Carreño, Santiago Eizaguirre, Cliff Frasier, Eugenia Lee, Rose Martínez and Haoyan Zhong.

The research would have not been possible without the projects on urban policies, social innovation and collective leadership that have already been developed in our research groups. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the many colleagues who have participated in these projects, and who have worked and discussed with us on these topics. These colleagues include, among others, Ismael Blanco, Quim Brugué, Helena Cruz, Jennifer Dodge, Waad El-Hadidi, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Ángela García-Bernardos, Ricard Gomà, Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Mariela Iglesias, Marc Martí-Costa, Rubén Martínez, Oriol Nel·lo, Justin Steil and Celina Su.

We are also grateful to all the people that agreed to be interviewed for this project and to all the social change organizations that kindly participated in our research: Ecostation, Make the Road NY, Nos Quedamos, South Bronx Unite, PAH Barcelona, Can Batlló, 50×20 and Centre Cruïlla.