A rural laboratory in the Austrian alm—Tracing the contingent processes fostering social innovation at the local level
Abstract With social innovation being promoted to address the challenge of rural areas, there is a need to understand how processes of social innovation emerge and evolve at the local level. Rather than focusing on singular socially innovative projects, this article argues for an increased focus on how social innovation ecosystems and infrastructures are crucial for fostering and supporting the emergence of new perceptions, aims and practices. Using the metaphor of ‘laboratory’ as a conceptual frame to view rural development, the article outlines the emergence and long‐term evolution of social innovation at the local level with a case study from the Austrian region of Mühlviertel and demonstrates how changes in perceptions and new ideas for local development are institutionalised and linked with intra‐regional governance networks in a temporally contingent process linking incremental and radical social innovations.
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Published in: Sociologia Ruralis, 10.1111/soru.12372, Wiley