Innovation: social, political, cultural 11-15 April 2016


Coordinator: Serena Vicari (

Up to the 1990s the concept of innovation was usually restricted to the technology or technical domains; in these domains theoretical and empirical studies enjoyed increasing interest for the potential of technological innovations in promoting economic development. In this module we will develop the analysis of other domains of innovation, namely the social, cultural and political sides as they interplay with the development and transformation of the urban realm.

Since the seminal work of Chambon, David and Deverey (1982) a very wide and significant body of analytical and empirical scientific literature on social innovation has been developed; social innovation has become an increasingly influential concept in both scholarship and policy, particularly at the European level and in the last two decades. Social innovation is called to produce social cohesion and development in strategies of mobilization of local endogenous resources.  In doing so, it is expected also to revive democracy by generating processes of empowerment and participation.

The shortcomings of contemporary democracy open up spaces for novel forms of political engagement in what can be theorized as the post-political city. In general, political innovation means more participative and interactive forms of policy-making and it is based on the recognition that our existing democratic settlements are intended, at least in part, to protect the majority from an active or well-resourced minority trying to impose their interests or beliefs upon others.

The city has always been the locus of cultural innovation brought about by social interaction among heterogeneous social groups and individuals in public spaces. Changes in the nature of public spaces and the presence of superdiversity (Vertotec 2014) in cities bring new challenges to cultural innovation.

All meetings are in Aula Pagani, Dept. Sociology and Social Research, U7 3rd floor, via Bicocca degli Arcimboldi 8, Milano unless otherwise specified

Monday 11

10-13: A dialogue between Frank Moulaert and Erik Swyngedouw

14:30-17:30 : Roundtable on Innovation and cities.  Adam Arvidsson, Antonio Calafati, Marco
Grasso, Frank Moulaert, Erik Swyngedouw, Serena Vicari Discussant Gabriele Pasqui

Tuesday 12

14:30-17:30 : “Milan: The Emerging Economic Structure”, Antonio Calafati.

Wednesday 13

10-13, Aula De Lillo: “Grassroots Activism and Urban Innovation in Milan”, Carolina Pacchi
14:30-17:30 @ Yatta!, v.le Pasubio 14, Milano: Roundtable on Social innovation in the “creative city”, Marianna d’Ovidio, Bertram Niessen, Marc Pradel.

Thursday 14

10-13: Global Capital and Local Mega-projects, Guido Anselmi e Serena Vicari

Friday 15

10-13: Cultural innovation: theoretical aspects, Carmen Leccardi

14:30-17:30: Young cosmopolitans and cultural innovation, Ilenya Camozzi