The Basics

Social Innovation Against the Crisis: how Leadership Practices and Civic Capacity improve Neighbourhood Development (SOCRISIS).

Focusing on socially innovative initiatives emerging from below, SOCRISIS Project explores how local communities are responding to the Great Recession effects in two global cities: Barcelona and New York. The Project aims to better understand how social innovation emerges, is constrained/enabled and is finally get done in different places.


  • Institute for Government and Public Policy – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (IGOP-UAB)
  • Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service – New York University (NYU-Wagner)
  • The SOCRISIS project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme under grant agreement No 625070-FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IOF.


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.


Bringing together disruptive theories of social innovation and constructionist theories of collective leadership this research delves on the context-agency debate. On one hand we analyse how neighbourhood features constrain/enable social innovation effectiveness and scalability. On the other hand, we unveil those collective leadership practices that democratize socially innovative initiatives and make social change happen.


SOCRISIS is a two-year research project started in September 2014. The field work was carried out between September 2014 and December 2015.


Eight socially innovative initiatives have been analysed in four different communities in Barcelona and New York. The four neighbourhoods studied were:

  • Bushwick (Brooklyn, New York City)
  • South Bronx (The Bronx, New York City)
  • Nou Barris Nord (Nou Barris, Barcelona)
  • Sants (Sants-Montjuïc, Barcelona)


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