Are social innovation paradigms incommensurable?

Tom Montgomery*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)


This paper calls attention to the problematic use of the concept of social innovation which remains undefined despite its proliferation throughout academic and policy discourses. Extant research has thus far failed to capture the socio-political contentions which surround social innovation. This paper therefore draws upon the work of Thomas Kuhn and conducts a paradigmatic analysis of the field of social innovation which identifies two emerging schools: one technocratic, the other democratic. The paper identifies some of the key thinkers in each paradigm and explains how the struggle between these two paradigms reveals itself to be part of a broader conflict between neoliberalism and it opponents and concludes by arguing that future research focused upon local contextualised struggles will reveal which paradigm is in the ascendancy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1979-2000
Number of pages22
JournalVoluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
Early online date18 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • social innovation
  • depoliticisation
  • paradigm
  • neoliberalism


Dive into the research topics of 'Are social innovation paradigms incommensurable?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this