25. April | 2023

Special Section on Dynamics of Social Innovations in Rural Communities published

Social innovations can help to overcome the problems of rural areas. With strong IRS participation, a special section of the “Journal of Rural Studies” was published, dedicated to the question of how social innovations emerge and spread. Among other things, the contained articles focus on the role of social entrepreneurship and of particularly committed key players.

The 99th issue of the renowned “Journal of Rural Studies”, published in April 2023, dedicates a special section to the dynamics of social innovation processes in rural communities. The section was guest-edited by Gabriela Christmann, head of the IRS Research Group “Social Innovations in Rural Spaces”, Ralph Richter, researcher in said Research Group, and Mary O'Shaughnessy, lecturer with the Department of Food Business and Development at Cork University Business School. It is dedicated to the temporal patterns of social innovation processes and their specific conditions in rural areas. The section brings together eleven academic articles by authors from both the Global South and the Global North. The introductory article by the three guest editors introduces the conceptual concern of the special section and differentiates between the regional contexts as conditions and addressees of social innovation processes, the actors and temporal patterns as well as social entrepreneurship as a specific socially innovative type of actor. In their contribution “On the Role of Key Players in Rural Social Innovation Processes”, Ralph Richter and Gabriela Christmann focus on the special role of key players in rural innovation processes. Drawing on the concept of key players developed at the IRS, they show that particularly committed individual players, tandems or core groups are important for overcoming resistance and linking local competences with supra-local resources. Another focus is on articles written within the framework of the EU project “RurAction” led by Gabriela Christmann. One of these articles is contributed by former IRS doctoral researcher Jamie-Scott Baxter. Under the title “Modes of Spread in Social Innovation: A Social Topology Case in Rural Portugal", Baxter describes the diffusion of social innovations as a relational process that is essentially driven by images as material-discursive configurations.


Christmann, Gabriela B.; O'Shaughnessy, Mary; Richter, Ralph. (Guest Editors) (2023): Special Section on the “Dynamics of Social Innovations in Rural Communities”. Journal of Rural Studies. Vol. 99.

Baxter, Jamie-Scott (2023): Modes of Spread in Social Innovation: A Social Topology Case in Rural Portugal. Journal of Rural Studies. 99: 243-251. doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.04.016.

O'Shaughnessy, Mary; Christmann, Gabriela B.; Richter, Ralph (2023): Introduction. Dynamics of social innovations in rural communities. Journal of Rural Studies. 99: 187-192. doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2022.09.010.

Richter, Ralph; Christmann, Gabriela B. (2023): On the Role of Key Players in Rural Social Innovation Processes. Journal of Rural Studies. 99: 213-222. doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.04.010.