Diffusion of Social Innovations. Exploring the potential of online platforms that enable the diffusion of proven solutions


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Type of work: Masters Thesis




social innovation


Within the paradigm of an emergent social economy where diffusion efforts don’t keep pace with a culture in which active citizens take stand to address their needs though social innovations, online platforms with the purpose of enabling the diffusion of social innovations have arisen, withholding great untapped potential. This paper aims to explore the diffusion potential of these platforms, by first identifying the defining features behind them and the role of these features in terms of enabling or limiting the diffusion, followed by looking into how the identified features inform the diffusion potential of platforms. Before proceeding, key concepts that enable the comprehension of choices in terms of methodology, methods and theory are introduced and explained, specifically arguing for the paper’s intention to open and encourage a discussion on the convergence points of communication for development and social innovation fields of study. To achieve this purpose, two cases are chosen, Appteca and VIC, which are then contrasted with a theoretical model built on the basis of Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory with a social innovation angle. This analysis reveals two sets of features compiled in tables according to their role of either enabling or limiting diffusion. Following a cross-case synthesis, four areas of interest emerge around glocality, reciprocity, adaptability and citizen empowerment, inspired by Waisbord’s key ideas in thinking and practicing communication for development. These are then argued for in terms of their potential of diffusion with new theory brought in from communication for development, social innovation and interaction design.