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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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Chapter 9: Learning from socially innovative initiatives and leadership practices

Marc Parés, Sonia M. Ospina and Joan Subirats


In this chapter we review lessons from the socially innovative initiatives discussed throughout the book. These are deconstructed and categorized along several dimensions. The four case studies are used to analyse the global–local relations prominent in the post-recession environment, and the responses that have emerged to cope with this new context. On one hand, we focus on the so-called ‘zone effect’ to examine how neighbourhood features determine both resilience and responses. On the other hand, we analyze the leadership practices that are evident in those initiatives. We finally conclude that a multi-scalar and comprehensive combination of three strategies – community capacity building, the development of democratic leadership practices and bottom-linked socially innovative initiatives – is required for social innovation to become a real driver of social change.

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