Innovations are often narrowly conceptualised in terms of technological advancements or market entries. The more recent notion of 'social innovations', in contrast, denotes innovations of a socio-political nature that have a normative agenda, setting them apart from the economic sphere. IRS researchers studying novel social practices deliberately attempt to overcome compartmentalised (i.e. technological, economic, social) conceptualisations of innovations, which are widespread today. The scholars themselves do not ascribe a normative quality to social innovations. They do, however, recognise that the 'value' of an innovation is negotiated as an innovation develops. IRS researchers regard innovations as socially and culturally embedded processes characterised by a (re)combination of both new and old technologies, business models and socio-cultural practices. IRS studies on social innovations focus on various aspects: the role of spatial pioneers regarding modifications to rural and urban spaces, the appropriation and informal use of urban space beyond existing plans, the emergence of new political and planning practices, and the genesis of novel forms of citizens participation in processes of research and development.
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