Ten years ago very few people were talking about social innovation; five years ago, President Barroso put social innovation on the European Commission policy agenda; now social innovation has become a bandwagon, attracting attention from many national and local governments, inspiring many young people to explore new career opportunities that combine entrepreneurialism with the desire for social relevance, challenging traditional patterns of social engagement as practiced by cooperatives and civil society organizations. But “social innovation” is more a rallying cry than it is a coherent vision or strategy for societal level social transformation.
This document puts forward a proposal for such a vision, by contextualizing social innovation as a possible way forward from our society’s current system of organizing its transformation processes, a system we call the Innovation Society. We describe four principles that we think should be at the foundation of a systemic theory of social innovation, and we develop some of the strategic implications of these principles – thus providing a basis for an action agenda for social innovation. We conclude with some tactical considerations: a set of projects we would like to launch, to begin to realize the agenda our document implies.