Subsystems of Social Innovation in Brazil

Martha Karina Maldonado-Mariscal

Subsystems of Social Innovation in Brazil: The Society of São Paulo as a New Actor in the Education System and Innovation

Doctoral disseration at Humboldt-University of Berlin

New methods, new organizations or new forms of thinking are all forms of innovation. Despite the increased spending on education in Brazil from 2005 onwards, social innovations have only spread in the country in the form of community participation and non-governmental organization’s initiatives for education. This study investigates to what extent innovations in education in Brazil respond to omissions on the part of the state and the drivers that foster innovation at a local level. Particular attention is devoted to the role of teachers in social innovation. Through a historical approach this study observes the relationship between social innovation and major radical changes, social movements and reforms in Brazil. Drawing on semi-structured interviews and focus groups, two case studies in São Paulo were analysed: one in a school in the urban periphery of the city and an NGO in the city centre. The findings suggest that innovations introduce new rules and practices, creating a subsystem which modifies local relations of power. The NGO established new relations between schools, private actors, NGOs and local government and worked with social networks through education and art. The school implemented a new model that brought the school and community together to solve common problems of insecurity and education. Social innovations embrace the most urgent needs in a community, which are not limited to one field. This research contributes to sociology and political science for a better understanding of social innovations and community participation, specifically in the Brazilian context.