Hidden entrepreneurs? Mapping social innovators in Italy

Filippo Barbera
University of Torino and Collegio Carlo Alberto
Thursday, 30 May 2019 - 12:00

This seminar explores the role of “social innovators” in Italy. Drawing on a research design using respondent-driven sampling it gives a detailed description of the population of “social innovators” in Italy. This locus of enquiry is timely because social innovation is a distinctive policy concept, while its analytical value is far from clear. We argue that social innovation points to new kinds of production and exchange markets where profit and non-profit organizations interact in new ways and innovative orders of worth are emerging. Many of the most successful innovators have learned to operate across sectorial boundaries - and innovation thrives most when there are effective dissonant tensions between different orders of worth and quality conventions. Furthermore, this work criticizes the contemporary trend of portraying social innovation purely as a functional reaction to market and state failure. It thus engages with the analytical challenge of understanding whether social innovation satisfy supposedly unmet needs in new ways – and whether social innovation really differs from market-like exchange and ask for a different role of public action.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universitat Politècnica de València | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

Filippo Barbera is Associate Professor of Economic Sociology at the University of Torino and an affiliate at Collegio Carlo Alberto. His research interests are in Local development, the Sociology of markets, Social innovation, Economic sociology of capitalism, Research design and middle-range theory. He has published 6 books, 6 edited volumes and over 30 peer review articles in a wide range of journals. He will be presenting results from his latest book: ‘Innovatori sociali. La sindrome di Prometeo nell’Italia che cambia’.