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Emergent transformation games: exploring social innovation agency and activation through the case of the Belgian electricity blackout threat

Bonno Pel, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Département Géosciences, Environnement et Société, Centre d'Etudes du Développement Durable
Grégoire Wallenborn, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Département Géosciences, Environnement et Société, Centre d'Etudes du Développement Durable
Tom Bauler, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Département Géosciences, Environnement et Société, Centre d'Etudes du Développement Durable

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08346-210217

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Abstract

The persistence of current societal problems has given rise to a quest for transformative social innovations. As social innovation actors seek to become change makers, it has been suggested that they need to play into impactful macrodevelopments or “game-changers”. Here, we aim to deepen the understanding of the social innovation agency in these transformation games. We analyze assumptions about the game metaphor, invoking insights from actor-network theory. The very emergence of transformation games is identified as a crucial but easily overlooked issue. As explored through the recent electricity blackout threat in Belgium, some current transformation games are populated with largely passive players. This illustrative case demonstrates that socially innovative agency cannot be presupposed. In some transformation games, the crucial game-changing effect is to start the game by activating the players.

Key words

actor network theory; electricity grid; enrolment; game-changers; social innovation; transformation

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087