Social innovation: drawing lines around the appropriative usage by mainstream sectors

Nadeen Purna*, Stefano De Paoli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


The conceptual malleability of the notion of social innovation has resulted in the appropriation of the concept in various sectors. The goal of the paper is to provide a critical view of such appropriation. We contend that this appropriation often includes the usage of the concept to advance agendas away from or opposed to that of the common good. This paper evaluates such problematic usage by identifying the distinguishing and core aspects of social innovation. These include the social need-meeting dimension geared towards marginalised or disadvantaged communities which is enacted via processes of social and/or power relations shifts of these groups. The paper locates the current trajectory of social innovation discourse to identify that it is in the actions of grassroots third sector initiatives, where the democratic side of social innovation is conserved, and calls for its advancement to prevent exploitation of disadvantaged communities and hogging of resources away from initiatives that are committed to it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Early online date7 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2022


  • Social innovation
  • Third sector
  • Social relations
  • Power relations
  • Common good


Dive into the research topics of 'Social innovation: drawing lines around the appropriative usage by mainstream sectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this