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Evidence in many places around the world suggest that citizens are, increasingly, self-organizing to produce innovative solutions as they face the collective problems that governments are failing to solve in a context of scarcity and austerity policies. Social innovation is usually conceptualized as a way of improving territorial development in disenfranchised neighbourhoods. However, little attention has been paid to the dynamics by which responses emerge, how social impact or scalability could be achieved and, finally, how social change could be effectively accomplished.

Combining theories of social innovation and collective leadership, the SOCRISIS project analyses the ways in which local communities, at neighbourhood level, are addressing the effects of economic recession in two global cities: Barcelona and New York. We focus on those socially innovative responses emerging from below, and we use our analysis to draw conclusions aiming to both understand and foster social change.

SOCRISIS is a two-year research project started in September 2014 and carried out by the Institute for Government and Public Policy (IGOP-UAB) and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU-Wagner). The project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme under grant agreement No 625070- FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IOF.