Shared Spaces: Social Innovation in Urban Health and Environment


Études théoriques et méthodologiques






Richard Kimberlee

Derrick Purdue

Judy Orme

Ralph Mackridge


Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales


This paper will examine social innovation by grassroots and policy networks concerned with inclusive public space, well-being and sustainability in cities and urban neighbourhoods as socially creative strategies for urban policy change. Social innovation refers to the use of imagination or creativity for social change rather than, or as well as, technological change. This process of social innovation aims to give a voice to groups that have been traditionally absent from politics and institutions of governance (Moulaert et al., 2005). These socially creative strategies fall at the intersection of environmental, health and urban policy domains. The paper is based on a state-ofthe-art review of the health and environmental policy literatures conducted for the EU funded Katarsis project, using broadly a ‘realist synthesis’ methodological approach (Pawson, 2007). The literature is presented as applying to three levels. At the macro-level are theories of political economy – concerned with social, health and environmental injustice arising from the operation of global markets, global political structures and neo-liberalism. At the micro-level are theories of and claims for social and policy networks – concerned with oppositional or alternative networks through which citizens take control of these aspects of their lives and/or challenge power and policy. At the meso-level, the health and environmental policy agendas converge, where the emblematic policy issues of the moment are climate change and obesity. We identify a third issue of road accidents – a pandemic cause of death and serious injury across Europe particularly for young people. These policy issues related strongly to the cross-cutting policy domains of transport policy and food policy.