Here are ten short provocations on the theme of social innovation that I have pulled together from the Brazilian radical thinker, Roberto Unger, from a recent visit to the UK. Social innovation is the issue of our times – after all, what it is, is applied social change.
1. In the wake of the traditional economy, new forms of production are emerging that are characterised by permanent innovation.
2. The ‘path of least resistance’ is a hegemonic project in the richest part of the world, hostile to structural innovation.
3. The work of the social innovation movement is to resist and subvert the dictatorship of no alternatives.
4. The multitude of small-scale innovations, of little epiphanies, are down payments on larger transformative possibilities.
5. We can now develop regimes of co-operative competition with small and medium sized firms to spread social innovation.
6. We can now radically transform the character of education – to be analytical, not informative & to embrace co-operation.
7. How does social innovation achieve change? Through two strategies: ‘interpreted foreshadowings’ and ‘exemplary insurgence’.
8. It is the combination of tangible practicality with prophetic vision that most distinguishes the social innovation movement.
9. We aim not for a marginal increase of equality, but the achievement of a larger life for ordinary man and woman.
10. Ordinary men and women are not as ordinary as they seem to be: there is a vocation for a larger life in every human being.