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Mountains in crisis: what responses by social innovation?

Call for papers. Deadlines: 30st April 2018 (abstract) and 1st September 2018 (articles). Guest editors: Lauranne Jacob (LabEx ITEM, PACTE – IGEDT), Marina Soubirou (UMR PACTE - LabEx ITEM, Université Grenoble Alpes) and Coralie Mounet (CNRS, Laboratoire PACTE, UMR 5194, Grenoble),

Context: why examine social innovation in mountain territories?

Although the concept of innovation initially referred to technological progress and economic development (Schumpeter 1990, and Alter 2000), questions on the subject of social innovation have arisen since the late 1980s that go beyond these objectives alone, in particular at the Centre de Recherche sur les Innovations Sociales (CRISES – Centre for Research on Social Innovations) in Canada. A social innovation may be defined as “an intervention initiated by social actors to respond to an aspiration, meet a need, provide a solution or take advantage of an opportunity for action in order to modify social relations, transform an action framework or propose new cultural orientations” with a view to “contributing to the greater wellbeing of individuals and communities” (Saucier et al., 2007, p. 390). This notion, which is rather more connected with the human development approach (Sen, 2003), has as much to do with the social purpose of innovations as with their process of dissemination. This being so, the territory is regarded as “the preferred fertile ground” (Saucier et al., 2007) for such dissemination as local social networking. However, the supraterritorial social, economic, political and environmental contexts in which such processes take place may also have a positive or negative influence on them (Moulaert and Nussbaumer, 2014).

The notion of social innovation has also been put to use in order to analyse various types of territories and issues, such as urban areas (Tremblay, 2007, Morin et al., 2011), rural areas (Klein et al., 2015), and, for example, the fight against sexuality-based discrimination (Jaurand and Leroy, 2009). Here, we propose to use it to analyse mountain territories. A fair amount of work has focused on innovation in the broader sense in such territories. The ITEM (Innovation and Mountain Territories) Laboratory of Excellence has hypothesised that their character favours such dynamics: Profoundly affected by major contemporary changes, socioeconomic and environmental alike, such territories provide an excellent opportunity to study the mechanisms of adaptation and/or innovation underway, first of all because the constraints imposed by their environments have an amplifying effect, and secondly because their dissimilarity to the industrio-Fordist model, which used to be a handicap, may now seem a source of inspiration (Attali, Dalmasso and Granet-Abisset, 2014, p. 6).

Numerous questions (not to say controversies) are currently in the air as to the future of mountain territories, given such issues as governance of protected areas and borders, the city-mountain relationship, infrastructure projects, economic models to prioritise, adaptation to climate change, and demographic shifts. It would therefore now seem necessary to take a closer look at the responses that social actors are bringing to these various crises.

Potential topics for papers

Proposed articles must make explicit reference to mountain territories as category or context. Proposals focusing on social innovations meeting needs specific to the inhabitants of mountain territories will be of particular interest. Contributions bearing on examples located in mountain territories will also be welcome, however. When a process or initiative has been identified as falling within this category, authors are asked to justify their choice by explaining the theoretical and methodological framework to which they refer.

Contributions may cover any of the following themes (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Theoretical and/or methodological reflections on methods of identifying social innovations, more specifically in mountain territories.

  • Supraterritorial dissemination and effects of social innovations in mountain territories (at various levels: massif, regional, national, international, etc.)

  • Actors (whether within or outside the territory) involved in social innovation processes in mountain territories.

  • Methods by which mountain territories appropriate initiatives with social goals developed in other territories.

  • Past social innovations (historical approach).

  • Failures: “almost” social innovations (those that remained unachieved), “false” social innovations (for example, those that have shown themselves to be harmful in the long term), etc.

The call is open to the various disciplines of the social sciences: sociology, history, geography, anthropology, economics, law, psychology, etc.


Article proposals, around 600 words in length, should be sent in French (if the author is a native French speaker) OR in English (if the author’s mother tongue is any other language) by April 30st, 2018 to Lauranne Jacob (Labex ITEM, PACTE – IGEDT), Marina Soubirou (UMR PACTE - LabEx ITEM, Université Grenoble Alpes) and Coralie Mounet (Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS PACTE UMR 5194),

Final articles are expected by September 1st, 2018. Publication of the articles is tentatively scheduled for June 2019.

Final articles must be submitted in one of the languages of the review: Alpine languages (French, Italian, German), Spanish or English. The author must see to the translation of the article into a second language before submitting the text. One of the two versions must be in English. If the article is submitted by a native English speaker, the second version must be in French.

Tremblay D.-G., 2007.– « A-t-on appris et innové ? Le cas du multimédia à Montréal », dans Klein J.-L., Harrisson D.(dir.), L’innovation sociale. Émergences et effets sur la transformation des sociétés, Collection « Innovation sociale », Presses Universitaires du Québec, pp. 231-248.


Some references

Alter N., 2000.– L’innovation ordinaire, Collection « Quadrige », Presses Universitaires de France.

Attali M., Dalmasso A., Granet-Abisset A.-M., 2014.– « Introduction », dans Attali M., Dalmasso A. et Granet-Abisset A.-M. (dir.), Innovation en territoire de Montagne. Le défi de l’approche interdisciplinaire, collection « Montagne et innovation », Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, pp. 5-8.

Jaurand E., Leroy S., 2009.– « Espaces de pacs : géographie d'une innovation sociale », Annales de géographie, 667(3), 2009, pp. 179-203.

Klein J.-L. et al., 2015.– « Saint-Camille : Récit d’une expérience de co-construction de la connaissance », Collection « Études de cas », Cahiers du CRISES.

Morin P. et al., 2011.– « L’office municipal d’habitation de Montréal comme entreprise publique innovante : l’exemple des travaux majeurs de rénovation de son parc immobilier », dans Bellemare G. et Klein J.-L. (dir.), Innovation sociale et territoire. Convergences théoriques et pratiques, Collection « Innovation sociale », Presses de l’Université du Québec, pp. 123-146

Moulaert F., Nussbaumer J., 2014.– « Pour repenser l’innovation : vers un système régional d’innovation sociale », dans Klein J.-L., Laville J.-L., Moulaert F. (dir.), L’innovation sociale, Collection « Sociologie économique », Éditions Érès, pp. 81-114.

Saucier C. et al., 2007.- « Axe 3 – Développement et territoire », dans Klein J.-L., Harrisson D.(dir.), L’innovation sociale. Émergences et effets sur la transformation des sociétés, Collection « Innovation sociale », Presses Universitaires du Québec, pp. 377-395.

Schumpeter J., 1990.– Capitalisme, socialisme et démocratie, Collection « Bibliothèque historique », Payot.

Sen A., 2003.– Un nouveau modèle économique. Développement, justice, liberté, Collection « Poches », Odile Jacob.

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