Crowdsourcing Social Innovation: Towards a Collaborative Social Capitalism

Crowdsourcing Social Innovation: Towards a Collaborative Social Capitalism

Emanuele Musa (Babele, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8182-6.ch005
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The growing awareness of humanity's finite resources and recognition of the limitations of one-off projects are prompting step changes in development planning. Sustainable development addresses the limitations of current practices; its aim is to achieve the triple bottom line of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity, meeting the needs of present society without compromising resources for future generations. Collective intelligence is considered by both Charles Leadbeater (former advisor to Tony Blair) and MIT as one of the most powerful ways to tackle complex problems, like climate change. This chapter explores the principles of crowdsourcing, its applications and the main trends. It presents theories, practices and examples of the use of crowdsourcing to innovate in the area of sustainable development for the common good. It announces the rise of collective brain-power to the challenge of creating better and more effective forms of civic and social engagement to solve problems on a world scale.
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The Limits Of Capitalism

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world seems more divided than ever.

The world GDP keeps growing year after year, so in theory, we are all getting wealthier. However, the gap between the richest and the poorest is increasing and the richest 1% of the population will soon possess half of the global wealth. We keep extracting, exploiting and consuming at a rate that was never so high before. We are increasingly polluting, despite the evidence of global warming, the alarming loss of biodiversity, and the uncountable number of lives that are wasted throughout the process to consumerism.

A “revolution” toward a large scale improvement of well-being and sustainable development is approaching.

The growing awareness of humanity’s finite resources and the impossibility to achieve an infinite economic growth in a finite planet, are demonstrating the capabilities of the capitalistic model to reduce inequalities and address the most urgent challenges of our time.

While market forces demonstrated to be a non-sufficient mean to lead to the most efficient allocation of resources, governments and institutions have failed to meet the needs of the Common Good and bring society together to solve global issues:

  • Every year nearly 12 million children die of mainly preventable causes, including diseases for which vaccines are routinely administered in many countries;

  • Although access to safe drinking water increased from 61 per cent in 1990 to 71 per cent by mid-decade, 1.4 billion people in developing countries still lack such access. Furthermore, 2.7 billion people still do not have adequate access to sanitation;

  • In the developing world, about 130 million children still remain out of primary school, nearly 60 per cent of them girls. Adult illiteracy remains high, affecting roughly 855 million people, nearly two thirds of them women;

  • According to the World Bank, in 2011, 17 percent of people in the developing world lived at or below $1.25 a day.

Through intense pressure from commercial marketing, consumption became the desire for status and social distinction at the personal and group level. Considering the finite natural resources available, it would be impossible for the estimated 2.2 billion people currently living on less than 2$ a day, to ever match the consumption level of the richest group. If every person on earth would consume at the same rate of a US citizen, we would need 5 planets in order to accommodate the need for resources.

We are still using a linear system applied to a finite planet.

Increases in poverty and inequality and the decline in opportunities have had a serious adverse effect on the well-being of individuals, communities and even countries. Several critics have argued that the development orchestrated by the industrialized countries tended to replicate the forces of colonialism continuing the pattern of resource expropriation and economic control by the industrialized countries.

The paradox of a global economy increasingly unified, and a global society increasingly divided is the most dangerous threat that weighs on the planet, because it makes difficult, if not impossible, the cooperation necessary to solve the most urgent problems of our time.

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