Frank Moulaert is Professor of Spatial Planning at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Trained as an economist in Antwerp, Leuven and Philadelphia, before coming to Leuven, he was a Professor of Economics at the University of Lille (France) and of European Spatial Planning at Newcastle University (UK). The focus of his research lies at the intersection of social innovation and urban and regional development. His most recent book “International Handbook on Social Innovation. Collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research.” (Edward Elgar) (2013) was edited together with Diana MacCallum, Abid Mehmood and Abdelillah Hamdouch. It gives an overview of the State of the Art in Social Innovation research.
The lecture focuses on the analytical dimensions of social innovation concepts and theories that are relevant for the study of the spatiality of social innovation initiatives and processes.
First it provides an overview of concepts of social innovation used in the literature in different fields, with a particular focus on their potential or effective spatial meaning.
Second it looks at the dialectics between space and social innovation. Does social innovation spatially speaking involve more than innovations in social space? It is argued that the existential logic of social innovation suggests a broadening of the concept of social space to multi-scalar perspective and reactivates the interaction between the different perspectives which actors adopt toward social space. In addition, it is shown how transformation of the built environment can be an active positive or negative catalyst for social innovation.
Third the paper focuses on two particular types of ‘Spaces of social innovation’: places that pursue local development through Integrated Area Development (IAD); and spatial networks of social innovation initiatives.
The Conclusion points at possible new directions for future research on spaces of social innovation.