On the importance of power struggles in the diffusion of social innovations

Rick Hölsgens


Diffusion of social innovations has become a key theme in social innovation research. In this paper I argue that the importance of power relations and opposition against social innovations should receive a more central position in this line of research. Using detours to the related fields of Science and Technology Studies and Transition Studies, the significance of (shifting) power relations in the diffusion of innovations is underlined. Through a historical case study on the institutionalisation/diffusion of women’s suffrage in the Netherlands (1883-1919) it is shown that power struggles and shifting power relations are also key for the successful diffusion of a social innovation. With this paper I aim to bring power and empowerment to the agenda of social innovation researchers.

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