Service Design for Social Innovation: Empowering People

Daniela Selloni | Daria Cantù

Excerpt from the paper From engaging to empowering people

From engaging to empowering people: a set of co-design experiments with a service design perspective [1].

1.1 Collaborative Services and the City

In recent years cities have been undergoing a profound transformation, characterized by a new wave of activism on the part of their citizens, who are seeking to improve the quality of their urban life and determine the identity of the spaces they live in.
Cities are now sites of resistance and contestation (Short, 2006), but at the same time they are places of experimentation, where people are starting to innovate what is already there without waiting for the arrival of a bigger, top-down change. This is why citizens are the protagonists of a new innovation age that is witnessing the birth of Creative Communities: “people who cooperatively invent, enhance and manage innovative solutions for new ways of living” (Meroni, 2007, p.30).
Many of these solutions deal with designing services, because it is especially within cities that the growth of the service sector is evident: cities are places where it is necessary to provide and benefit from services, where mature economies have rapidly shifted from manufacturing to service-based economies (Kim & Short, 2008).
Confronted with a lack of services inside a city, what is now happening is that local communities are seeking to solve the problem from the bottom up, in unprecedented ways, generating original cases of social innovation.

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[1] This paper is the result of collective work, but for the purposes of this paper D. Selloni has written paragraph 1.1; D. Cantù has written paragraph 1.2