In the last 40 years, the post-war European welfare systems have changed profoundly. As shown in Chapter 2, the rise of social innovation as a paradigm for social intervention is part of this ongoing restructuring process and reflects the different views of diverse actors over social policy reforms. In Chapter 2 the (recent) historical development of social innovation discourses and practices was analysed in detail, showing how the predominant meaning of social innovation shifted from bottom-up collective action to being the outcome of a more complex multilevel governance process. This chapter aims to analyse how social innovation relates to other, more institutionalised paradigms of social intervention, namely social protection and social investment. Of course, this distinction is made here primarily for analytical purposes, as actually existing welfare systems combine aspects from each of these three paradigms.
In order to do so, the chapter is divided into four sections. After this introduction, the second section presents the three paradigms, analysing their main characteristics, the conditions within which they have developed, the institutions involved and their aims and functions. It describes the paradigms through a metaphor using animals and their characteristics in order to exemplify the specificities of the three paradigms: elephants, representing the social protection paradigm as awkward, but solid and based on reciprocity and solidarity in the herd; butterflies, representing the social innovation paradigm as flexible and creative, but fragile and unstable; lions, representing the social investment paradigm as assertive, active and competing in order to preserve their own status in a political-economic context increasingly dominated by the market logic.
The third section aims at analysing the relations among the three paradigms as an example of how welfare policies targeted to poverty and social exclusion have changed over time. It will do so through the analysis of the 31 case studies (see appendix), exploring their varying and complex articulations within different policy domains and different welfare regimes and disentangling the potential tensions that emerged in the ongoing processes of social policy restructuring.
The concluding section provides some reflections on the three paradigms’ prospects by gaining an understanding of how their different combinations impact on their capacity to reduce poverty and social exclusion. What are the contextual conditions that allow them to strengthen one another instead of mutually weakening each other?