Everyone a changemaker? Exploring the moral underpinnings of social innovation discourse through real utopias

Simon Teasdale*, Michael J. Roy, Rafael Ziegler, Stefanie Mauksch, Pascal Dey, Emmanuel B. Raufflet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The term ‘social innovation’ has come to gather all manner of (positive) meanings from policymakers and politicians across the political spectrum. But while actors may unproblematically unite around a broadly positive perspective of social innovation as bringing about (positive) social change, we rarely see evidence of a shared vision for the kind of social change that social innovation ought to bring about. Taking inspiration from methods that recognise the utopian thinking inherent in the social innovation concept, we draw upon Erik Olin Wright’s concept of ‘real utopias’ to investigate the moral underpinnings inherent in the public statements of Ashoka, one of the most prominent social innovation actors operating in the world today. We seek to animate discussion on the moral principles that guide social innovation discourse through examining the problems that Ashoka is trying to solve through social innovation, the world they are striving to create, and the strategies they propose to realise their vision.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Entrepreneurship
Early online date19 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2020



  • social innovation
  • utopia
  • vagueness
  • ashoka
  • real utopias
  • changemaking

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