Social Innovation Networks in Practice: A Case Study of the Humanity Innovation and Social Practice Project





Published date: 

December, 2018


Muyi Chou
Huei-Lan Xiong
Dung-Sheng Chen


This paper focuses on analyzing the actor-network which has been built by university and local communities based on the Humanity Innovation and Social Practice (HISP) project. We intend to explore the complicated translation processes between different actors after linking them together. Accordingly, we suggest a new theoretical approach in community empowerment studies, that is, a Bottom-up-Local-Open-Reassembling (BLOR) actor-network. Confronted by a risk society derived from globalization, the BLOR actor-network particularly fits such a context due to its fault-tolerant and malleable traits. These traits make it beneficial to appreciate the local context and open participation, and facilitate collective brainstorming to find innovative solutions. This paper assumes the community to be a place with heterogeneous components and openness. The university works in partnership with local communities and co-constructs a social practice actor-network to respond to social problems. The university-community partnership seeks to overcome the limitations of current community empowerment projects such as working as a closed system and power centralization. The university serves as a medium for linking different issues with different groups of community actors and translating different cultural traits among diverse actors, which generates an open and intertwined social practice network, namely, the BLOR actor-network, which is rooted in this region. The BLOR actor-network is not fixed. Instead, it reassembles itself according to the changes in its components, needs and social context, in order to enable heterogeneous components to coexist. In this paper, we emphasize not only the traits of the BLOR actor-network, but also the mechanisms that enable these components to co-function. With this objective in mind, we adopt two cases from the HIPS project to illustrate what the mechanisms are and how they function.