Valuation in Rural Social Innovation Processes—Analysing Micro-Impact of a Collaborative Community in Southern Italy

Valuation in Rural Social Innovation Processes – Analysing Micro-Impact of a Collaborative Community in Southern Italy

Federica Ammaturo & Suntje Schmidt

Abstract: Social innovation has been associated with contributing to ‘valuable’ rural development; however, usually, the impact of social innovation has been identified in the aftermath of its development or implementation. This might be too narrow an approach, as an ongoing social innovation process in itself may already lead to effects that contribute to regional and social changes in a local community and beyond. This paper argues that collaborative valuation processes are embedded in social innovation processes, generating effects that contribute to rural development. Focusing on a case study that exemplifies social innovation processes in agriculture and food production carried out by a rural collaborative community in southern Italy, we demonstrate how three valuation phases, such as contestations and negotiations of norms, symbolic capital accumulation and recognition of actions, as well as re-definitions of values, impact community development through joint sense-making, empowerment and societal change. Our empirical results suggest the close intertwining of both social innovation and valuation processes. The empirical results demonstrate how collective valuation processes have micro-effects on the agro-economic system, on local socio-cultural processes, and on place-making activities. Methodologically, this paper builds on ethnographic methods, including participatory observations, semi-structured interviews, oral histories, and socio-spatial analysis investigating moments of valuation embedded in daily collaborative practices.

Keywords: valuation processes; rural community development; social innovation; collaborative valuation

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 955907.