Radical social innovations and the spatialities of grassroots activism: navigating pathways for tackling inequality and reinventing the commons

Elia Apostolopoulou, Dimitrios Bormpoudakis, Alexandros Chatzipavlidis, Juan José Cortés Vázquez , Ioana lorea , Mary Gearey, Julyan Levy, Julia Loginova , James Ordner, Tristan Partridge, Alejandra Pizarro, Hannibal Rhoades, Kate Symons, Céline Veríssimo, Noura Wahby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, by drawing on empirical evidence from twelve case studies from nine countries from across the Global South and North, we ask how radical grassroots social innovations that are part of social movements and struggles can offer pathways for tackling socio-spatial and socio-environmental inequality and for reinventing the commons. We define radical grassroots social innovations as a set of practices initiated by formal or informal community-led initiatives or/and social movements which aim to generate novel, democratic, socially, spatially and environmentally just solutions to address social needs that are otherwise
ignored or marginalised. To address our research questions, we draw on the work of Cindi Katz to explore how grassroots innovations relate to practices of resilience, reworking and resistance. We identify possibilities and limitations as well as patterns of spatial practices and pathways of re-scaling and radical praxis, uncovering broadly-shared resemblances across different places. Through this analysis we aim to make a twofold contribution to political ecology and human geography scholarship on grassroots radical activism, social innovation and the spatialities of resistance. First, to reveal the connections between socialenvironmental struggles, emerging grassroots innovations and broader structural factors that cause, enable or limit them. Second, to explore how grassroots radical innovations stemming from place-based community struggles can relate to resistance practices that would not only successfully oppose inequality and the withering of the commons in the short-term, but would also open long-term pathways to alternative modes of social organization, and a new commons, based on social needs and social rights that are currently
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Pages (from-to)144-188
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Political Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Innovación social
  • Innovation sociale
  • Social innovation
  • activisme de base
  • activismo de base
  • biens communs
  • commons
  • comunes
  • environmental justice
  • grassroots activism
  • justice environnementale
  • justice sociale
  • justicia ambiental
  • justicia social
  • mouvements sociaux-environnementaux
  • movimientos socio-ambientales
  • readaptación
  • remaniement
  • resilience
  • resiliencia
  • resistance
  • resistencia
  • reworking
  • résilience
  • résistance
  • social justice
  • socialenvironmental movements


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