Dr. Roberta Nicolodi
Freelance consultant, long time practitioner in the field of women's and child's migration in South Tyrol, Northern Italy.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. The concept of Social Innovation
- 3. Similarities between SI and spatial approaches in social work
- 4. The concept of spatiality in Italian social work
- 5. Conclusions
Christiane Drechsler: Begegnungs-Räume. Athena-Verlag e.K. (Oberhausen) 2019. 152 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-7455-1083-6.
Lothar Böhnisch: Soziale Theorie der Schule. Julius Klinkhardt Verlagsbuchhandlung (Bad Heilbrunn) 2019. 168 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-8252-5156-7.
Erzieher (m/w/d) oder sonstige Fachkräfte nach § 7 KitaG (m/w/d) Kindergarten, Korntal-Münchingen
Weitere Anzeigen im socialnet Stellenmarkt.
Social Innovation and Spatial Approaches as Conceptual Frameworks for Early Childhood Support Interventions – A Theoretical Study on the “Frühe Hilfen” in South Tyrol in Italy
This article is based on a PhD thesis (Nicolodi 2020) on inter-organisational networks in the field of early childhood support interventions. The research took place in a neighbourhood of Bolzano (Bozen), the capital of South Tyrol in Northern Italy, from January 2018 to June 2019. It investigated a process of construction of an inter-organisational network for the implementation of an integrated intervention for families with children in the age group between 0 and 3 years. Specifically, this was a project named "Frühe Hilfen" because it was based on the German and Austrian model of early aids for young children and their families (for the model of “Frühe Hilfen” regard e.g. Thiesen 2018).
Early childhood is an exemplary field of welfare state’s development. The services that deal with early childhood are a composite whole and include complex sectors that increasingly tend to be delegated to different authorities and are usually delivered on municipal level. In a bigger picture, social and health services as a whole have undergone continuous restructuring over the last decades (Martinelli, 2017). The economic crisis and societal changes have led to a call for the restructuring the welfare states in Europe. This restructuring has been ongoing since the 1980s and contributed to the diffusion of neoliberal policies and managerial approaches. This process resulted in fragmentation and decentralization of services together with a general decline of state interventions (Kazepov, 2010). There is evidence that families and practitioners struggle to navigate these complex systems (INTESYS, 2017; Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years, 2015). The main risk is losing the global perspective on families in fragmented approaches. The research on early childhood education and care acknowledges the importance to establish more integrative approaches with families and children in their environment (OECD, 2001; 2006).
Due to this restructuring waves, also the social sector has been looking to find innovative solutions. However, social innovation (SI) research in social services is still scant and it arises manly from economics and management (Eurich & Langer, 2015; Flynn, 2017). Despite the lack of SI research, SI and spatial approaches in social work show similarities. Both suggest that innovation lays in changing relations between the actors involved, and in the capacity to involve new actors and new perspectives.
Looking at Italy, the progressive legal provision fosters and sustains integrated approaches (the laws have been in force for about 20 years). However, the literature demonstrates that there is still a lack of collaboration among services. The case of South Tyrol is exemplary and is acknowledged at the public level:
“[In South Tyrol] a strong need remains for greater collaboration between the different services and sectors, even beyond the social sector in the strictest sense. Managers and collaborators have invested a great deal of energy in improving the quality of their services, often reaching considerable standards, but sometimes neglecting the possibilities and need for collaboration with other services. Some measures to improve networking have been implemented or started, but much remains to be done in this respect.” (Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano et al., 2015, p. 38, Translation by the author.)
The observed pilot project on early childhood interventions in Bolzano was characterized by a high level of complexity (Vermeiren et al., 2018). Three distinct sectors were involved, which is quite innovative in inter-organizational networks: healthcare, social care and early childhood education and care. Furthermore, the pilot project involved many different actors in the local context. It developed formal and informal networks and fostered the construction of new relationships among and within sectors.
Although there is already a substantial body of work on inter-organizational networks and on the specific field of early childhood interventions, this research adds new elements to the body of knowledge by focusing particularly on the network governance in the local welfare systems adopting the special lenses of Social Innovation and spatial approaches.
2. The concept of Social Innovation
There has been much interest recently in the concept of Social Innovation (SI) (Crepaldi et al., 2012; Franz et al., 2012) even though some parts of its popularity remain in the grey literature (Cervia, 2017). The European Union has invested in SI research in the last decade and SI has been envisaged in the Europe 2020 strategy:
“The European Union has certainly played a role in this, including it [SI] among the five (ambitious) objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy for ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive’ growth and making it a key-word for both European programs and those of the member states, but not without rhetorical emphasis.” (Sabatinelli, 2016, p. 8, Translation by the author)
Nevertheless, there is an increasing interest at the academic level (Crepaldi et al., 2012; Franz et al., 2012). The concept has become popular since the economic and financial crises in the early 2000 (de Ambrogio, 2016). The recourse to SI is thus the symptom of challenges that the society seems not to be able to respond to. To a certain degree, SI reveals the weaknesses of contemporary societies and of modern capitalism (Harrisson, 2012).
A shift from technological innovation to SI is commonly accepted. In 2012, the academic world dealing with SI met in Vienna. According to the founders of the Vienna Declaration, the changes in social relations are the central core of SI compared to technological innovation.
“The tracks of international research on innovation demonstrate that the technology-oriented paradigm – shaped by the industrial society – does not cover the broad range of innovations indispensable in the transition from an industrial to a knowledge and service-based society. Such fundamental societal changes require the inclusion of social innovations in a paradigm shift of the innovation system. The new innovation paradigm is essentially characterized by the opening of the innovation process to society.” (Hochgerner et al., 2011, p. 1)
The attention to the changes in social relations in the local context appears as core feature of SI. Social innovations at the local level are particularly strong in dealing with issues of recognition and representation and can be defined only locally. What is innovative in a certain neighbourhood would not have the same result in another context (Crepaldi et al., 2012; Guidi, 2014). The local level is the place where all actors can meet and this may turn a place in a space for collective action. In this sense, SI is path-dependent and context-embedded. The attention to the context is fundamental to understanding the different and opposite dynamics of the actors involved (Kropp, 2017; Moulaert et al., 2010). The empowerment and participation of citizens is assessed as a desirable process, implying that bottom-up processes could be more responsive towards current societal needs. Institutions should, therefore, be driven by demand rather than supply, suggesting that individualization and context-embedded solutions are more desirable than standardized deliveries (Elsen & Lorenz, 2014).
However, the definition of SI remains still blurred. Despite a common ground, SI shows a great diversity of approaches and meanings and it is therefore not surprising that its definition remains ambiguous and is still debated (Borzaga & Bodini, 2014; Eurich & Langer, 2015).
Changes in social relations can drive SI in many different directions. There is evidence that SI processes resulted in antithetical outcomes. The analysis of recent EU funding has shown that the spending review fostered innovative projects that entailed antithetical goals (Crepaldi, 2016). On the one hand, particularly in healthcare, services tended to be more standardized in order to improve their efficiency. On the other hand, some projects employed civil society and community resources with the aim to create more individualized services. However, the call for the involvement of civil society could be a reasonable aim in order to reduce public spending and to find a more cost-efficient way out of the recent welfare crisis, at least in economic terms, but with a limited assessment of the impacts of the outsourcing of social costs (Harrisson, 2012).
SI research appears polarized between the area of business innovation and management and the approaches based on the emancipatory ideals of democratic community and neighbourhood development (Moulaert et al., 2017). While the transformationalist approaches consider social problems as ‘part of a broader perspective of transforming institutions’ (Crepaldi et al., 2012, p. 24), in the former patterns of SI remain in the frameworks of the private sector. According to this neoliberal paradigm, the response to the crisis of the welfare system is found in the “superiority” of the market. The risk is to use SI as a “buzzword” (Grisolia & Ferragina, 2015) to avoid discussions about structural inequalities and to cut social spending. In this way, SI simply substitutes the role and responsibilities of the public sphere. The retrenchment of the state might be fostered by delivering cheaper services with lower quality (Martinelli, 2017; Nicholls & Teasdale, 2017). A comparative study of 30 European Social Fund (ESF) research projects which explicitly referred to SI (Moulaert et al., 2017) points out the tendency to relegate SI to social enterprises and businesses, avoiding other more civic understandings of SI. ESF projects seem to rely more on practical-organizational approaches rather than on the attention on governance processes and democratic practices.
Mouleart (2014) proposes the unpacking SI approaches. His work is focused on SI as a tool and a lens in order to improve social relations to support about social inclusion and social justice. Moulaert defines SI as “innovation in social relations” (Ibid., p. 2) in which there is scope for:
“[…] finding acceptable progressive solutions for a whole range of problems of exclusion, deprivation, alienation, lack of wellbeing and also to those actions that contribute positively to significant human progress and development.” (Ibid., p. 16)
The ethical position of social justice implies that the aim of SI should be the better inclusion of excluded groups and individuals in various spheres of society at various spatial scales. The process is identified as a central factor of SI because social and power relations develop in local spaces. It is thus the result of situated collaborations as well as tensions and conflicts among opposing interests. Those processes require to look at the multilevel governance in order to consider the different scales in which the local welfare system is embedded. However, less emphasis has been placed on the connections between the different levels of governance (Zapata-Barrero et al., 2017).
3. Similarities between SI and spatial approaches in social work
Moulaert’s definition of SI shows similarities with some social work theoretical approaches. SI and the spatial approaches of a space-based orientation (Sozialraumorientierung) in social work both critically refer to the importance of the context. The attention to the context in a critical way is present in the theoretical strands of spatial approaches in the search of autonomy from an excessively medical orientation. As a matter of fact, the “spatial turn” characterized social sciences more broadly (Spatscheck, 2012; 2019; Spatscheck & Wolf-Ostermann, 2009). Communities become important spaces for building significant relationships based on trust and participation and that might foster social capital. This discourse is strictly related to decentralization trends in the last decades and it explains its increase of relevance in urban planning and community development, especially in challenging neighbourhoods.
The reference to social space is not actually particularly novel in social work. It refers to the community work that was developed in the 1930s in the USA (Krummacher et al., 2003). Already in the 1890s, Jane Addams introduced the spatial dimension into her work in the neighbourhoods of Chicago (Spatscheck, 2009). Spatial approaches for social work have been implemented in Germany more widely since the early 1990s. They have been developed at the municipal level particularly in the area of child and youth welfare and other fields in many cities. This process has led to various local reorganizations in social services. Space-based orientation, in fact, points out that overly individualized interventions find their limits in avoiding the complex dynamics of the local context in which people spend their daily life. The basic principles of spatial approaches are the following: attention to the person; activation of actors; development of goals that people can achieve with their own strengths and with the resources of the environment; multidisciplinary ways of working with affected actors; and cooperation between services and stakeholders (Spatscheck 2019). The theoretical and practical consequence is the multiscale way of working which should embrace both the systemic macro-level and the micro-level of the social actors’ lifeworld. From the point of view of the lifeworld, social work should develop networking and non-specific work, fostering the participation of the actors involved while also looking at their resources.
The social space is intended in terms of Bourdieu’s notion that goes far beyond the local space to include the complex relations that reach outside territorial confines. In other words: globalisation in relation with the regional and local level. These relations can be collaborative but also embodied by tensions and conflicts due to the increased heterogeneity of communities which can produce both exclusion and inclusion (Bauman, 2012). The spatial dimension also concerns the relations between the different hierarchical levels, between the local administration and the national and supranational levels that contribute to designing the network of relations in the local context. In this sense, the concept of spatiality requires to look at the multilevel governance in the local space. The German literature has already pointed out strengths as well as weaknesses in the implementation of the space-based orientation (Thiersch, 1992). The risk is that of a simplistic and reductive application of space-based approaches (Krummacher et al., 2003).
The change in social relations through the inclusion of new actors from very different sectors and the promotion of individual and collective empowerment, are the constitutive elements of the process of SI as well as social work. Both aim at social justice and at the empowerment of individuals and groups. Considering the definition of the International Federation of Social Work (IASSW, 2014), the core values of social work are empowerment of individuals and groups in order to achieve social change. More inclusive decisional arrangements trigger positive dynamics for the satisfaction of unexpressed or unmet needs (Martinelli, 2012).
There is a vast literature that assesses the importance of multilevel governance in the delivery of social services in local spaces. It usually differentiates the two concepts: top-down and bottom-up, but the two dynamics cannot be split. Bottom-up initiatives need to be supported and institutionalized by a top-down dynamic, the only one capable of realizing a redefinition of the public sphere, guaranteeing universalism and democratic control (Ibid.). The involvement of the complex networks of actors and stakeholders belonging to local spaces and a preference for participative processes are examples for how the inclusion of differences can produce innovative solutions (Ife, 2010). Public institutions have the capacity to recognize and support SI dynamics. The bottom-linked governance (Garcia et al., 2015), while recognizing and enhancing the perspectives of civil society in local spaces, aims to highlight the dynamics that encourages and stimulates the encounters between different hierarchical administrative levels and among social and institutional actors. Similarly, space-based orientation points out the necessity to acknowledge and foster civil society and citizens as social actors in spatial settings. In fact, there has been a tendency in urban planning studies to look at the ability of grassroots movements to innovate governance models, but these should not replace state responsibilities. As Martinelli argues:
“The subject [bottom-up initiatives] has become quite fashionable in the last ten years, even more so after the financial crisis of 2008, and significant expectations are being attached to ‘socially innovative’ initiatives as a means to reduce public outlays and involve communities in the provision of social services (Murray et al., 2010; Mulgan, 2012). However, several scholars have also highlighted how, while socially innovative local initiatives can contribute to give voice to and empower, social groups are excluded from certain services and decision-making processes, they cannot and should not compensate for a retrenching welfare state.” (Martinelli, 2017, p. 17)
The projects developed at the local level seem to compensate the shortcomings of the public sector, but do not have a transformative impact on the welfare system: if they do not have a multiscale dimension they tend to remain locally confined, with limited social impact and poor sustainability.
Spatial approaches came to similar conclusions. Firstly, the social field should not be identified with the territory. The risk is to limit multiscale interventions, which do not take into account the complexity of the phenomena on the different levels of action (Krummacher et al., 2003; Schubert, 2011). As Spatscheck shows us:
“New ideas about social spaces include the connection between local, regional, national and transnational influences. In this sense, social spaces can be regarded as dynamic fabrics of social and material practices that are (re)produced permanently on different levels of (inter) action.” (Spatscheck, 2012, p. 2)
Secondly, globalization influences local spaces and it is necessary to re-think space beyond the territorial dimension, involving the complex array of relationships of social actors. The local dimension becomes more and more important for social actors, precisely because the national states are losing their legitimation. This issue is pointed out also in the literature on early childhood networking (Vermeiren et al., 2018). The aim is to gather a broader perspective on the lifeworld of citizens by involving new social actors and by creating new forms of collaboration (Thiesen, 2018).
4. The concept of spatiality in Italian social work
Similar reflections have arisen also in Italy. The systemic approach is acknowledged as a reference point for Italian social work. It promotes attention to the context (Campanini, 2013; Ferrari & Miodini, 2018). A more holistic vision is acknowledged as a founding principle of the profession in order to recompose the social fragmentation. Moreover, it is prescribed in article 6 of the Italian Code of Ethics for Social Workers:
“The profession is at the service of individuals, families, groups, communities and the various social groups in order to contribute to their development; it enhances their autonomy, subjectivity, their capacity to assume responsibility, supports them in the use of their own resources and of the society in the prevention and coping of situations of need or distress and in fostering every initiative aimed at reducing the risks of marginalisation.” (Ordine assistenti sociali, 2016, translation by the author)
There is evidence of a recognition of community care as an integrative part of Italian social work practice. Here, community care appears as the response of persons to continue living in the belonging community, following a principle of normalisation rather than institutionalisation (Allegri, 2015; Folgheraiter, 2016; Raineri, 2004), which is also recognized and supported in the last social plan of province of Bolzano (Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, 2008).
The Italian legal framework fosters integrative working, but its implementation is difficult (Fargion et al., 2015). There is still a gap between the legal framework and the local practices. Since the 1990s, Italian legislation has embraced a critical stance towards individualized interventions with families as well as charitable interventions . Furthermore, the participative and active role of families is desired and should be sustained . This represents the transition of the child welfare system from a charity perspective to a promotional system, with universal access. Networking and community care are fostered in the legal framework both at national and at regional level. Due to the decentralization trend of recent decades, Italian regions and autonomous provinces such as South Tyrol have primary legislative competency in delivering the local social services. For this reason, the social and health provisions in Italy show a high territorial differentiation.
South Tyrol is exemplary of the fragmentation and specialization of services. The local welfare witnessed a growth and specialization of services for early childhood, both in the social, health and educational fields which, however, seem to be struggling to respond to the needs of families, particularly of those families which are in vulnerable conditions. These are high-quality services which are appreciated by the local population, however social care and healthcare tend to lose a holistic view of the person because they operate with an individualized and specialized performance logic. This context makes collaboration between services difficult, with lacking social and health integration. The local social report from 2015 highlighted the recent impressive development of local social services, which however need further restructuring:
“In the last 30 years, South Tyrol has experienced a period of unparalleled prosperity. Substantial economic and socio-cultural changes have brought new demands and opportunities, as well as challenges to local welfare. South Tyrol has invested heavily in highly specialized services and arguably, it is currently one of the regions in Europe with the greatest range of welfare provisions for its citizens. However, these services appear disconnected, lacking a holistic perspective of interested citizens and provided by a weak comprehensive framework.” (Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano et al., 2015, p. 42, translation by the author)
Germany and Italy show distinct pathways. Germany has invested time and specific resources in the creation of networks so that networking is regarded as an essential task of social work. In Italy, networking and collaboration are mainly framed as the responsibility of the single social worker or educator (e.g. as a case manager) rather than as an institutional and inter-organizational task (Folgheraiter, 2016; Raineri, 2004). The current Italian literature talks about it extensively, considering networking as a necessary and fundamental element of social work. However, formalized experiences of networks in the field of early childhood are lacking. Networking is a working method that is studied and that is applied with discretion and effort.
In this context, the notions of spatiality and multilevel governance allowed to visualize the role and positioning of the different social actors involved in the local welfare. The attention to the process in terms of inclusion/exclusion of social actors pointed out a significant process of fragmentation and sectorialization of the local welfare.
Firstly, there was a lack of awareness of the local space in terms of limited knowledge of the existing services which were to a certain extent competing in the neighbourhood. Some services did not even know each other and neither had they met. Due to the lack of collaboration and connectivity between sectors, the process of a network establishment in Bolzano took longer than expected.
Secondly, the focus on the network governance highlighted tensions and conflicts in the process which were not addressed openly. Conflicts and tensions emerged from the different hierarchical levels. The literature highlights how different departments often pursue different objectives, making social policies confusing and fragmented (UNRISD, 2016). Furthermore, interviewed practitioners recalled feelings such as “fear” or “threat” toward the local competitors. This contradiction is mirrored at the higher levels of governance by a legal framework that has been fostering calls for tenders rather than co-programming and co-projecting interventions (Borzaga, 2019).
Thirdly, there was a lower attention to structural conditions. Structural elements such as housing and difficult economic situations emerged from social actors’ interviews in the neighbourhood, however, these were hardly linked with social conditions. For instance, some difficulties were addressed to social housing inhabitants without linking them to their socioeconomic conditions such as poverty or lack of social relations. The cultural diversity of families living in social housing was rather taken into account. The involved practitioners seemed not to look at integrative approaches in dealing with families so that representatives from social housing or labour market were not invited to participate in the pilot project “Frühe Hilfen”. "Frühe Hilfen" might be understood in a narrow sense, focusing mainly on the individualized intervention with mother and child.
The risk is to left social and health workers alone, by retrenching the state responsibility. In this framework, social workers made it difficult to acknowledge their specific role in the process and there was limited awareness of the competitive setting in the local welfare. Although practitioners were free to create something innovative without intrusive limits from above, the lack of policy guidelines may have increased practitioners’ incertitude over the sustainability of innovative processes. These findings are broadly in line with research on bottom-linked governance which highlights the risk of shifting responsibility downwards (Martinelli, 2017).
The spatial orientation in social work gave added contribution in terms of practitioners’ approach towards children and families and highlighted the importance of multi-actor settings in order to foster reflexivity among practitioners. In this regard, practitioners showed difficulties in overcoming their institutional settings and were often concerned about the risk of becoming just another separated new service. The attitude of practitioners seemed to be in line with welfare systems based on the provision of services, rather than on the search for more collaborative approaches with users (Folgheraiter, 2016). When practitioners are used to deliver services in a top-down system of provisions, they could reasonably face difficulties in moving beyond existing paradigms, above all when a clear positioning at the policy level is lacking. Nevertheless, the role and positioning of practitioners in the working group improved from the beginning. In the team “Frühe Hilfen” practitioners seemed to become more confident about their specific contribution to the project. This was particularly the case for social workers who required time to acknowledge their specific competence in networking and developing effective collaborations.
Recently the systemic approach has been identified as a tool for producing innovation in social services (Ranci Ortigosa et al., 2016). According to Livia Turco, 2018 , innovation means combining social inclusion with development. Giving trust to people, starting from the novelties of social needs, activating all actors around welfare and activating all policies. In fact, there are good examples of innovative policies in Italy such as the alliance policies against poverty; kindergarten fees for people with disabilities; listening and promoting citizenship; promoting networks, namely the “integrated networks for services” , which was already framed by the Law 328/2000. Social workers should develop an attitude of creativity and a capacity for experimentation which resonates with SI. These reflections are based on the underlying rationale that the relationships between users and social workers are always asymmetrical and require specific awareness and reflection about the feasible approaches towards users, who may well be intimidated or frightened by welfare services.
The conceptual reference to multilevel governance and spatial approaches provided a framework to analyse and reflect the development of innovation processes in local social services. The present case study confirmed that innovation processes in the welfare are context-embedded and path-dependent. In the specific case, the selected criteria contributed to highlighting the existing divide within the vertical and the horizontal governance, pointing out the process of inclusion and exclusion of social actors in the local welfare. On the one hand, cooperation between services and organizations should not be taken for granted, particularly in a fragmented setting. Furthermore, the bigger picture should not be disregarded. A multilevel governance lens shed light on the role and responsibilities of the higher levels of governance for local welfare provisions. A competitive legal framework might hinder the collaboration among private and public stakeholders in the local welfare (Bode, 2017; Borzaga, 2019; Dahme et al., 2008). On the other hand, multidisciplinary settings appear unavoidable in order to cope with the complex needs of families. In this sense, the social investment paradigm that has been embraced by EU childcare policy (European Commission, 2013) risks letting early childhood education and care alone in supporting children and families. Instead, a more integrated system of services would be required (Correll et al., 2012; OECD, 2001).
The selected criteria allowed to highlight the divide between theory and practice, suggesting that more integrative approaches would require constant reflexivity among practitioners in the regarded local spatial settings. There was a weak conceptual connection between the situation of hardship and vulnerability of families and their socio-economic conditions. Therefore, the observed inter-organizational network had to struggle in order to overcome the existing socio-sanitary divide to take multiple issues into account. For instance, additional social actors were not invited in the planning of the pilot project such as social housing or labour market representatives as well as interested families. This might recommend to further reflect on the connectivity of local social policies in terms of addressing and clearly recognising state responsibilities in the development of collaborative settings in order to develop new forms of democratic models of governance based on social justice and rights-based approaches.
Spatial orientations and systemic approaches gave added value at the micro-level analysis, highlighting the importance of the approach with families and children in order to give voice and empower the weakest and most marginalized individuals and groups. On the one hand, multidisciplinary settings may foster reflexivity among practitioners against the well-known controlling tendencies of the profession (Fargion, 2013). On the other hand, the lifeworld of families and children becomes the space where social workers should commit themselves. Theoretical reflections from social work suggest reversing the traditional delivery-oriented approach, looking at the expertise and at the resources of families. In this sense, social work can be a trigger for SI and entails specific resources and skills that can be utilised for integration processes between services. These findings are broadly in line with the critical literature on spatial approaches which demonstrates the difficulty for social services to overcome the institutional settings and engage directly in the lifeworld of social actors. A recent study on the spatial orientation in the field of early aids (“Frühe Hilfen”) confirmed this difficulty (Thiesen, 2018).
Social work is a field that touches individual practice and social intervention and requires broader perspectives. Certainly, the complexity of current modern societies might be confusing and puzzling, so much so that practitioners and managers may need to develop further skills in order to bridge this apparent divide between theory and practice. Complex skills are required to integrate a flexible and curious attitude with the ability to combine the conditions of the territory with global economic and social factors. Multidisciplinary approaches are required. Finally, practitioners should recognize users as rights holders (UNRISD, 2016). According to the observed research field, social workers should be supported in their competences, receiving specific training, as well as safeguarding democratic settings of reflexive thinking about the implemented practices. This difficulty emerged in the social sector, whose practitioners initially saw themselves merely as an antenna, an observatory on the territory. Only later, they could recognize their specific capacity to work in a network and to promote relations. Social workers have project skills, knowledge of social phenomena and networking capacity, which could successfully be applied in the attempt to find innovative responses to societal needs (De Ambrogio, 2016)
Allegri, E. (2015). Il servizio sociale di comunità. Roma: Carocci Editore.
Bauman, Z. (2012). Voglia di comunità. Gius. Laterza & Figli Spa.
Bode, I. (2017). Vernetzung als regierungstechnologisches Rettungsprogramm? Zeitschrift Für Sozialreform, 63(1), 47–74. https://doi.org/10.1515/zsr-2017-0006
Borzaga, C. (2019). L’art.55: come liberare il Terzo settore e i servizi sociali dalla schiavitù della concorrenza | Articolo | welforum.it. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://welforum.it
Campanini, A. (2013). L’intervento sistemico: un modello operativo per il servizio sociale. Roma: Carocci Faber.
Cervia, S. (2017). Promuovere social innovation attraverso la definizione partecipata dei bisogni di salute. Salute e Società, 16(3), 101–117. https://doi.org/10.3280/SES2017-SU3007
Crepaldi, C., Rose, E. De, & Pesce, F. (2012). Work Package 1: Literature review on innovation in social services in Europe (sectors of Health, Education and Welfare Services). Report IRS: INNOSERV; Seventh Framework Programme; IRS; Europan Commission European Research. Retrieved from http://innoserv.philnoug.com/content/literature-review
Dahme, H., Schütter, S., & Wohlfahrt, N. (2008). Lehrbuch Kommunale Sozialverwaltung und Soziale Dienste. Grundlagen, aktuelle Praxis und Entwicklungsperspektiven. Weinheim und München: Juventa Verlag. Retrieved from https://repository.difu.de/jspui/handle/difu/274150
De Ambrogio, U. (2016). Crisi e innovazione nel lavoro degli operatori. Prospettive Sociali e Sanitarie, 1, 16–18.
Elsen, S., & Lorenz, W. (2014). Social innovation, participation and the development of society. Bolzano: University Press.
Eurich, J., & Langer, A. (2015). Innovations in European social services: context, conceptual approach, and findings of the INNOSERV project. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 28(June 2015), 81–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/13511610.2014.999645
Fargion, S. (2013). Il metodo del servizio sociale: riflessioni, casi e ricerche. Roma: Carocci Faber.
Fargion, S., Frei, S., & Lorenz, W. (2015). L’intervento sociale tra gestione del rischio e partecipazione. Roma: Carocci Editore.
Ferrari, M., & Miodini, S. (2018). La presa in carico nel servizio sociale: il processo di ascolto. Roma: Carocci Faber.
Flynn, M. L. (2017). Science, Innovation, and Social Work: Purpose: Clash or Convergence? Research on Social Work Practice, 27(2), 123–128. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731516686198
Folgheraiter, F. (2016). Scritti scelti: teoria e metodologia di social work. (A. C. Pasini & M. L. C. Raineri, Eds.). Trento: Erickson.
Fondazione Emanuela Zancan. (2014). Welfare generativo. Responsabilizzare, rendere, rigenerare. La lotta alla povertà. Rapporto 2014. Bologna: Il Mulino.
Franz, H.-W., Hochgerner, J., & Howaldt, J. (2012). Challenge Social Innovation (Vol. 1). Springer Science & Business Media. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004
Garcia, M., Eizaguirre, S., & Pradel, M. (2015). Social innovation and creativity in cities: A socially inclusive governance approach in two peripheral spaces of Barcelona. City, Culture and Society, 6(4), 93–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccs.2015.07.001
Grisolia, F., & Ferragina, E. (2015). Social Innovation on the Rise: yet another buzzword in time of austerity? Salute e Società, 71–84. Retrieved from https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01512107
Grunwald, K., & Thiersch, H. (2009). The Concept of the “Lifeworld Orientation” for Social Work and Social Care. Journal of Social Work Practice, 23(2), 131–146.
Guidi, R. (2014). In cerca di consenso e stabilità. Note su un progetto di innovazione mediante partecipazione nel welfare locale. Autonomie Locali e Servizi Sociali, 1, 39–56.
Harrisson, D. (2012). Social Innovation: What Is Coming Apart and What Is Being Rebuilt? In Challenge Social Innovation (pp. 73–86). Springer Verlag.
Hochgerner, J., Franz, H.-W., Howaldt, J., & Schindler-Daniels, A. (2011). Vienna Declaration: The most relevant topics in social innovation research. NET4Society, 1–6. Retrieved from http://www.socialinnovation2011.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Vienna-Declaration_final_10Nov2011.pdf
IASSW. (2014). Global Definition of Social Work. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.iassw-aiets.org/global-definition-of-social-work-review-of-the-global-definition/
Ife, J. (2010). Human rights from below: achieving rights through community development. Cambridge: University Press.
INTESYS. (2017). Baseline evaluation report. Padova. Retrieved from https://www.fondazionezancan.it/
Kazepov, Y. (2010). Rescaling social policies: towards multilevel governance in Europe. Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Kessl, F., Reutlinger, C., Maurer, S., & Frey, O. (2005). Handbuch Sozialraum. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
Kropp, C. (2017). Social Innovation, Eco-social Development and Transformative Research.
Krummacher, M., Kulbach, R., Waltz, V., & Wohlfahrt, N. (2003). Soziale Stadt—Sozialraumentwicklung—Quartiersmanagement: Herausforderungen für Politik, Raumplanung und soziale Arbeit. Springer-Verlag.
Martinelli, F. (2012). Social Innovation or Social Exclusion? Innovating Social Services in the Context of a Retrenching Welfare State. In Challenge Social Innovation (pp. 169–181). Springer Science & Business Media.
Martinelli, F. (2017). Social services disrupted: changing supply landscapes, impacts and policy options. Cheltenham Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Moulaert, F. (2014). The international handbook on social innovation: collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research. Cheltenham Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Moulaert, F., Martinelli, F., Swyngedouw, E., & González, S. (2010). Can neighbourhoods save the city?? (1. publ.). London [u.a.]: Routledge.
Moulaert, F., Mehmood, A., MacCallum, D., & Leubolt, B. (2017). Social Innovation as a Trigger for Transformations -The Role of Research. European Commission. https://doi.org/10.2777/68949
Nicholls, A., Simon, J., & Gabriel, M. (2015). New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research. Palgrave Macmillan.
Nicolodi, R. (2020). The Challenges of Diversification for Social Services in South Tyrol A Case Study of an Inter-organizational Network in the Field of Early Childhood Interventions. Free University of Bolzano-Bozen.
OECD. (2006). Starting strong II: Early childhood education and care. Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care. Padova: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264035461-en
OECD. (2017). Starting Strong IV Italy. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from www.oecd.org/edu/earlychildhood
OECD. (2001). Starting strong I: early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD Publishing.
Ordine assistenti sociali. (2016). Codice deontologico dell’assistente sociale. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from http://www.cnoas.it/La_professione/Codice_deontologico.html
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano. (2008). Piano sociale provinciale 2007-2009. Bolzano-Bozen. Retrieved from www.provincia.bz.it/politichesociali
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Bolzano, & Libera Università di Bolzano. (2015). Relazione Sociale 2015. Bolzano. Retrieved from www.provincia.bz.it/politiche-sociali/servizi/pubblicazioni.asp
Raineri, M. L. (2004). Il metodo di rete in pratica: studi di caso nel servizio sociale. Trento: Centro Studi Erickson.
Ranci Ortigosa, E., Siza, R., Sabatinelli, S., Crepaldi, C., De Ambrogio, U., Cicoletti, D., … Menichini, I. (2016). Innovazione sociale per affrontare nuove sfide. Prospettive Sociali e Sanitarie, 1.
Sabatinelli, S. (2016). Aspetti critici dell’innovazione sociale nel contesto italiano. Prospettive Sociali e Sanitarie, 1, 8–11.
Schubert, H. (2011). Die GWA im sozialräumlichen ‚Governancekonzert‘. Sozialraum.de, 3(1). Retrieved from https://www.sozialraum.de/die-gwa-im-sozialraeumlichen-governancekonzert.php
Siza, R. (2016). Fra nuovi rischi e nuove opportunità di relazione e di cura. Prospettive Sociali e Sanitarie, 1, 4–7.
Spatscheck, C. (2012). Socio-Spatial Approaches to Social Work. Social Work and Society International Online Journal, 10(1), 1–13. Retrieved from https://www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/314/659
Spatscheck, C. (2018). Aufenthalts- und Lebensqualitäten in urbanen Quartieren – Sozialräumliche Einblicke in die Bremer Überseestadt und das Bremer Viertel. Sozialraum.de, 9(1). Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.sozialraum.de/aufenthalts-und-lebensqualitaeten-in-urbanen-quartieren.php
Spatscheck, C. (2019). Spatial Approaches to Social Work – Theoretical Foundations and Implications for Practice and Research. European Journal of Social Work, 22(5), 845-859. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2018.1550387
Thiersch, H. (1992). Lebensweltorientierte soziale Arbeit: Aufgaben der Praxis im sozialen Wandel. Weinheim: Juventa.
Thiesen, A. (2018). Flexible Sozialräume: Der Fall im Feld der Frühen Hilfen. Beltz Juventa.
Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years. (2015). Synthesis report. Retrieved from https://scholar.google.co.za/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=synthesis+report+Transatlantic+Forum+on+Inclusive+Early+Years&btnG=
UNRISD. (2016). Policy innovations for transformative change. Implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved from http://www.unrisd.org/80256B42004CCC77/(httpInfoFiles)/2D9B6E61A43A7E87C125804F003285F5/$file/Flagship2016_FullReport.pdf
Vermeiren, C., Raeymaeckers, P., Van Haute, D., Roets, G., Vandenbroeck, M., Jacquet, N., … Dierckx, D. (2018). Integrated networks to combat child poverty (INCh). Retrieved from https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/projects/integrated-networks-childpoverty/the-project/project-results/
Zapata-Barrero, R., Caponio, T., & Scholten, P. (2017). Theorizing the ‘local turn’ in a multi-level governance framework of analysis: a case study in immigrant policies. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 83(2), 241–246. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852316688426
 Law 28 August 1997, n.285, “Provisions for the promotion of rights and opportunities for children and adolescents” which has committed important economic resources for the implementation of children's rights. It is called Turco law by the name of the minister who promoted it. It was the first law that allowed a transition from the rights proclaimed by the UN Convention to concrete actions, implemented through an initial reorganization of social services, establishing the principle of integration between services and networking, as pillars of the new system.
 Law n. 328/2000, Framework law for the implementation of the integrated system of interventions and social services, “Legge quadro per la realizzazione del sistema integrato di interventi e servizi sociali”.
 Speech of Livia Turco, at the Conference “Funzioni e responsabilità del servizio sociale in un welfare plurale” in Trento, 20.09.2018
 “Reti integrate di servizi”.
Nicolodi, Roberta (2020): Social Innovation and Spatial Approaches as Conceptual Frameworks for Early Childhood Support Interventions – A Theoretical Study on the “Frühe Hilfen” in South Tyrol in Italy. In: sozialraum.de (12) Ausgabe 1/2020. URL: https://www.sozialraum.de/social-innovation-and-spatial-approaches-as-conceptual-frameworks-for-early-childhood-support-interventions.php, Datum des Zugriffs: 04.12.2020