strategy

Promoting social innovation

Synonyms:
Facilitating social innovation
Applying social entrepreneurship
Causing social transmutation
Social engineering
Description:
Promoting activities which create new social forms and and supporting inventors of societal variety.
Context:
Social invention is the deliberate development of new techniques, ideas, systems and organizations, usually designed to create more opportunity, more equity and more unity than is provided by existing social institutions and processes. Such innovations are focused on improving the environment of the individual human being and facilitating the development of the network of social interactions in which he is embedded as well as his own personal development. To this end innovations may be explored in such domains as: organizational and administrative structures; technological systems; designed environments; social decision making, control and participation systems; legal structures; energy systems; and information systems.

Social engineering in its more coercive form may be an attempt by individuals, groups or governments to assert their respective ideologies upon society, and plan society and desirable social change by the management of people in accordance with their place and function, or lack of it, in society. Social engineering can also take many other forms, however subtle, such as genetic engineering, test-tube babies, and population control (such as the one baby per family rule imposed on Chinese couples).

Extremism tends to facilitate social engineering, though this is by no means exclusive. History's most vivid example of social engineering was fascist Nazi Germany's final solution, essentially the total eradication of Jews by organized mass murder or genocide. More recently, fascist "ethnic cleansing" has been used as a doctrine in ex-Yugoslavia to purify regions from other ethnic groups by murder and terror. Another stark example of mass-scale social engineering was the communist former Soviet Union whose vast empire of many countries or regions was conquered and held together by communist rule from Moscow. Their communist doctrine was based on Marxism-Leninism, which supports a totalitarian government in which a single party controls state-owned means of production with the aim of establishing a classless society. Other political forms, religion, individual enterprise, innovation and private ownership were not included or tolerated in this society.

Implementation:
The aim of the Institute for Social Inventions is to promote social inventions. Whereas technological inventions tend to be new patentable products, social inventions are new social services or new and imaginative solutions to social problems -- such as ideas for new organizations, new social services, new electoral systems and new ways for people to relate. Examples of social inventions in the UK are the Open University, the Consumers Association and its magazine [Which], "Brain Trains" (study clubs on trains for bored commuters), "Meals on Wheels", the first marriage guidance bureau, and the "Family Covenant Association" which encourages the formal expression of commitments to new-born babies as an alternative to religious baptism. Marriage, money, laws and schools were also all social inventions of their time. The Institute provides an opportunity to tackle social problems before they become crises, through encouraging public participation in continuous problem solving and through the promotions of small-scale innovative experiments.
Claim:
1. Social inventions are a positive alternative to revolution. Instead of change through continuous revolution there is continuous evolution -- that is, continuous problem-solving social change -- identifying problems, finding possible solutions, setting up trial projects, evaluating and disseminating the results.

2. In the fields of medical research or electronics or chemistry, governments recognize the need for, and give support to, research laboratories. But the equivalent resources for research and experimentation are not put into helping resolve social problems such as poverty, unemployment, inter-racial conflict, drug additions, crime, mental illness, labour disputes, poor education and family breakdown. Part of the difficulty that social scientists are wary of creating social inventions, preferring a passive and analytical role. Another flaw is that government agencies do not share the business world's seductive approach and its love for the new.

Constrained by:
Rejecting new ideas
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure