ESR-project 9: Susanne Kalka

The impact of innovative solutions on regional discourses and the perception of rural development

The topic of my research is the impact of innovative solutions on regional discourses and the perception of rural development. Due to my background in sociology of gender I will furthermore include aspects of gender dynamics in my research. Rural areas in Europe have to deal with great social and economic problems. In this connection social innovative approaches are seen as a key initiator to help rural regions solve those problems. However, there is still little research on the relation between the implementation of social innovative initiatives and rural development. In addition, gender aspects are often neglected in social innovation research without realising that gender inequality also has an impact on the overall economic development. The aim of my dissertation is to fill a part of this research gap by analysing the existing discourses of social innovative approaches. Discourses have a strong influence on the public perception of social innovations as they constitute the symbolic and material orders of social reality. The research question therefore is: How are social innovative approaches discursively processed in rural regions? And furthermore: What are the underlying gender dynamics in those discourses? For this purpose, the rural regions Mühlviertel (Austria) and Uckermark (Germany) will be analysed in a qualitative case study based on the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse by Reiner Keller.

I am enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Potsdam in Germany and furthermore hosted and supported with practical expertise by the cooperative OTELO eGen in Austria.

Work package 3: The generation, diffusion and impact of social innovations in rural regions