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Article

The Role of Agency in the Emergence and Development of Social Innovations in Rural Areas. Analysis of Two Cases of Social Farming in Italy and The Netherlands

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Institute for Regional Development - Eurac Research, Viale Druso, 1, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
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Wageningen Economic Research, Prinses Beatrixlaan 582-528, 2595 BM The Hague, The Netherlands
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Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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European Forest Institute, St. Antoni M. Claret, 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
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Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry (TESAF) - University of Padova, Via dell’Università, 16, 35020 Legnaro (PD), Italy
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ETIFOR, Piazza Alcide de Gasperi, 41, 35131 Padova, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4440; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114440
Received: 23 April 2020 / Revised: 23 May 2020 / Accepted: 26 May 2020 / Published: 29 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Farming for Social Innovation and Viability in Rural Areas)
Social innovation is considered a relevant concept to tackle societal challenges and needs in rural areas and to promote smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. The characterising sector of rural areas is agriculture; therefore, the focus of this paper is on social innovation in the field of social farming. Among the many factors leading to the emergence and development of social innovation, agency has been considered relevant in the literature on transformability and transformative social innovation as it is the ability to turn contextual difficulties into opportunities for social innovation and for inclusive growth. This paper proposes an evaluation framework to assess the different dimensions of agency by triangulating quantitative with qualitative data and by using indicators. This paper adopts a case study approach, analysing two cases of social farming in Italy and the Netherlands. The results show that the social innovation idea and the resilience of the agency are among the most relevant dimensions for the emergence and development of social innovations. Finally, this paper discusses the three most relevant factors for agency to lead to social innovation: idea and embeddedness of the agency, transformability of the context through agency´s resilience, and agency as catalyst for empowerment. View Full-Text
Keywords: agency dimensions; transformability; resilience; social innovation idea; rural areas; societal challenges; vulnerable groups; empowerment; embeddedness agency dimensions; transformability; resilience; social innovation idea; rural areas; societal challenges; vulnerable groups; empowerment; embeddedness
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MDPI and ACS Style

Dalla Torre, C.; Ravazzoli, E.; Dijkshoorn-Dekker, M.; Polman, N.; Melnykovych, M.; Pisani, E.; Gori, F.; Da Re, R.; Vicentini, K.; Secco, L. The Role of Agency in the Emergence and Development of Social Innovations in Rural Areas. Analysis of Two Cases of Social Farming in Italy and The Netherlands. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4440. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114440

AMA Style

Dalla Torre C, Ravazzoli E, Dijkshoorn-Dekker M, Polman N, Melnykovych M, Pisani E, Gori F, Da Re R, Vicentini K, Secco L. The Role of Agency in the Emergence and Development of Social Innovations in Rural Areas. Analysis of Two Cases of Social Farming in Italy and The Netherlands. Sustainability. 2020; 12(11):4440. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114440

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dalla Torre, Cristina, Elisa Ravazzoli, Marijke Dijkshoorn-Dekker, Nico Polman, Mariana Melnykovych, Elena Pisani, Francesca Gori, Riccardo Da Re, Kamini Vicentini, and Laura Secco. 2020. "The Role of Agency in the Emergence and Development of Social Innovations in Rural Areas. Analysis of Two Cases of Social Farming in Italy and The Netherlands" Sustainability 12, no. 11: 4440. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114440

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