The concept of the Anthropocene as a game-changer: a new context for social innovation and transformations to sustainability

Author(s): Olsson, P., M.-L. Moore, F. R. Westley, and D. D. P. McCarthy
In: Ecology and Society 22(2):31.https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09310-220231
Year: 2017
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Olsson, Per
Full reference: Olsson, P., M.-L. Moore, F. R. Westley, and D. D. P. McCarthy. 2017. The concept of the Anthropocene as a game-changer: a new context for social innovation and transformations to sustainability. Ecology and Society 22(2):31.https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09310-220231

Summary

 After tracing the antecedents of the concept and considering its intersection in social innovation research, we put forward the argument that the Anthropocene concept points to three areas of thought that are strategically imperative and must be accelerated if social innovation theory and practice is to prove transformative and respond to the challenges associated with the Anthropocene.

First, we contend that the current debate on social innovation for sustainability lacks a deeper focus on human-environmental interactions and the related feedbacks, which will be necessary to understand and achieve large-scale change and transformations to global sustainability. Many innovations focus on only the social or the ecological, and we believe a more integrated approach will be needed moving forward. Second, social innovation research must confront the path-dependencies embedded within systems, and we propose that the act of “bricolage,” which recombines existing elements in novel ways, will be essential, rather than single variable solutions, which currently dominate social innovation discussions. Finally, we put forward the idea that confronting the cross-scalar nature of the Anthropocene requires revisiting both the scope and temporal nature of social innovations that are most typically focused upon by scholars and funders alike.

We believe the concept of the Anthropocene creates new opportunities for social innovation scholars to imagine new possibilities.

Share

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
SE-10691
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70
info@stockholmresilience.su.se

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201