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FAPI network call for chapter contributions and mobility

FAPI network call for chapter contributions and mobility

Achieving social justice through social innovation and entrepreneurship

Call for chapter contributions and mobility within the FAPI network


The Åbo Akademi University and the University of Jyväskylä networks of the Finland-Africa Platform for Innovation (FAPI) jointly call for expressions of interest to take part in research cooperation in an intersection between disciplines of law, business, and development studies. The call is primarily directed at scholars that have completed their PhD within the last five years and who are working on themes related to social innovation and social entrepreneurship as means to achieve social justice.

The call is part of the work of the two universities within the Finland-Africa Platform for Innovation (SDG 9), one of the large-scale, thematic networks supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland under its Global Internationalisation Programme 2021-2024. Contributing to the implementation of Finland’s Africa Strategy and advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, FAPI works to facilitate joint research, education and innovation collaboration between Finnish higher education institutions and African partners.

In line with the FAPI objectives, the purpose of this call is to promote research collaboration between Finnish and African higher education research institutions through facilitating researcher mobility and interdisciplinary research exchange. We invite abstract proposals for chapters in an edited volume to be submitted to an international publisher. Scholars who submit an abstract proposal can also apply for short-term research mobility to one of the participating universities in Finland.

Call for Abstracts
Theme of the call

The overarching research theme of the call is the role of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in building social justice in Africa. In recent years, the continent has experienced significant changes when it comes to economic growth, digitalization, and democratization. However, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges related to inequalities persist both in Africa and globally. Thus, the questions related to economic survival, social justice and human rights have become even more prevalent. The idea of social justice and the obligation for equitable social protection is central to human rights. On the ground, social protection, however, is often provided by family and kinship relations, or patron-client networks rather than the state. Inadequate social protection results for example in a lack of social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, adequate salaries to healthcare workers and teachers, or sufficient law enforcement. Moreover, (semi)authoritarian regimes actively hinder human rights discourses and other efforts to express discontent or mobilize to demand political or social rights. Additionally, authoritarianism and neoliberalism are combined in discourses of “responsibilization” directed at communities and individuals who are expected to ensure their own well-being.

In such constrained contexts, different forms of social entrepreneurship may be essential and are often exercised for everyday survival even in the most vulnerable circumstances. Social entrepreneurship as a phenomenon has rapidly picked up momentum in the 2000s, attracting renewed and growing attention as a source for innovation for addressing societal challenges such as poverty and inequality. Social entrepreneurship can manifest itself in multiple forms ranging from corporations to associations and cooperatives. They can be non-profit yet self-sustaining or combine altruistic aims with for-profit goals, while operating for a social purpose, such as community development or poverty alleviation.

The often localised and bottom-up nature of social or shared entrepreneurship ventures has proved helpful in identifying innovative solutions to community-based problems. Diverse self-help groups, farming groups, village saving and loan groups and co-operatives are all buffers for hardships but also spaces for joint risk taking and solving local grievances. In this way, economic and civic agency often go hand in hand. Yet even shared/social entrepreneurship is rarely sufficient: research has shown that it rarely ‘lifts’ individuals or groups beyond subsistence or survival. Systemic economic and social barriers also need to be addressed. Social innovation, in other words, needs to reach beyond mere mitigation to contribute to social justice on a broader scale.

Different models have lately been suggested for the standardisation and/or institutionalisation of social entrepreneurship initiatives to enable them to reach larger number of beneficiaries. It is hoped these models will bring about increasing support and collaboration by corporate and state actors. This is needed in order to scale up effectiveness and to help social entrepreneurship co-create and refine innovations that can address broad-based structural societal challenges. Along with standardisation and institutionalisation, however, come also questions related to issues such as representation, ownership, distribution, and the equality of outcomes. If social entrepreneurship is to unlock its innovative potential as an institutionalised key to social justice premised on equitable access to resources, diversity, rights and participation, these questions must be addressed.

The call seeks contributions from the perspectives of human rights law, economics/business, development studies and anthropology on the question of what innovation for social justice could mean in the African context. Open questions include:

  • How can inclusive innovative initiatives be identified that integrate human rights-based approaches and social entrepreneurship at the grassroots level, leveraging local governance structures, and speaking to the rationales and priorities of people at all socio-economic levels?
  • How do social innovations (such as social entrepreneurship) affect various facets of people’s lives?
  • How can social innovations enhance livelihoods, requirements of equality and social transformations simultaneously?
  • How can they meet the urgent need to achieve lasting impact as identified in the SDGs?
  • How can they find and navigate the contextual constraints for entrepreneurship and civic action?

The call welcomes proposals that explore any aspect of the entangled relation between human rights, livelihoods, and social justice, as well as the roles that different actors (individuals, groups, societies, business actors, organizations, state authorities) play in this regard, as well as learning from grassroots experiences.

To further analyse the possibilities and challenges of social innovation and social entrepreneurship as building blocks of social justice, abstract proposals for an edited volume are invited on, for example (but not exclusively!) one or more of the following questions:

  • What does an enabling environment for social entrepreneurship that contributes to social justice look like? What are examples of innovative models or practices in terms of empowering social entrepreneurship and social innovation? What kinds of new practices could support combinations of economic and civic agency? How can modern technology, including social media, be utilised to that end?
  • How can barriers and structural impediments for socially just and innovative entrepreneurship be overcome? What are the prevailing issues that function as barriers at the grassroots level and beyond?
  • Which are the relevant (hidden and visible; formal and informal; third sector, for-profit and government) actors (at local, regional, state, and international levels) with relevant roles in this regard? What are the internal and external factors that influence the social innovation capacity of these different actors and how can they function as catalysts for innovation? How can collaboration between the different actors involved in social innovation be strengthened?
  • How does social entrepreneurship pay attention to the social dimensions of power and hierarchy? Who loses and benefits? How does social entrepreneurship contribute to social equality, and can it challenge existing unequal power structures (or is there a risk that it sustains them)? Whose voice is heard in decision-making concerning social entrepreneurship and who do such voices stand for?
  • What is the role of law (in its different constellations and uses) in enabling/facilitating/hindering innovative solutions for social entrepreneurship to contribute to social justice?
  • What are the roles and the responsibility of the state in socially just innovation and social entrepreneurship? Can social entrepreneurship function as an enabler in contributing to social justice where the state does not live up to its obligations?
Format of the abstracts and submission

Both theoretical and empirical explorations on the theme of the call, or combinations of the two, are welcomed. Particularly encouraged are abstract submissions for chapters co-authored by authors from research institutes in Finland and Africa. All contributions will be peer reviewed.

Please submit your abstract of 1,000 words (excluding footnotes/references) on the topic of the call by 15 March 2022 through the Chapter contributions online submission form. After submission, you will receive a delivery receipt by email. The editors will announce their decisions on the acceptance of abstracts by the end of March 2022. The selected authors are expected to attend online seminars to facilitate the book writing/publishing process. If you wish to also take part in the call for mobility, you are invited to submit a separate application for research mobility (see below).

Please state clearly in your abstract your institutional affiliation, the title of the proposed chapter, the main research goal or research question, the data that will be analyzed, the methodologies used, and how the research findings will offer novel insights into the theme.

Call for Research Mobility

To promote research collaboration between Finnish and African higher education research institutions, we invite applications by African scholars for a short-term research mobility in Finland. The call for mobility is directed at scholars submitting an abstract proposal under the above call for chapter contributions within the FAPI network.

The selected mobility scholars will be hosted by the Åbo Akademi University Institute for Human Rights; School of Business and Economics at the Åbo Akademi University; or International Development Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. The candidates are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the respective thematic profiles of the institutions and direct their application to their preferred option. The mobility periods that can be applied for range from 0.5 to 2 months and should preferably be scheduled for the period between 1 September and 10 December 2022. The duration of the mobility stay is negotiated on an individual basis.

What do we offer?
  • Integration into the FAPI activities of the host institutions, including a research retreat in autumn 2022;
  • Relevant research seminars and events that may take place at the host institutions during the mobility period;
  • A working space at one of the host institutions for the duration of the mobility period;
  • Access to the library collections and other research facilities of the host institutions;
  • Support for your contribution to the edited volume;
  • Collaboration and networking with FAPI scholars.

The mobility scholarship is 4,000€/month. From this scholarship the recipients will have to pay all costs related to the mobility, including living, accommodation, travel, insurance, and visa related costs.

Who should apply?

To be eligible, the applicants should meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Educational degree: Completed PhD (preferably within the last five years) in social or human sciences, such as law, economics, social sciences, or development studies.
  • Thematic expertise: Previous expertise or proven interest in the areas of this call.
  • Affiliation: Employed or affiliated with a research institution in Africa.
How to apply?

Applicants should fill in the online application forms found at Mobility form ÅAU (for Åbo Akademi University) or JYU Application form (for University of Jyväskylä). The following documents must be included in the application form:

  • A Curriculum Vitae including a list of publications
  • A motivation letter specifying the personal and scientific motivations for the research mobility in the areas of the call as identified above.

The complete applications with the required appendices shall be submitted through the electronic application form by 15 March 2022. After submission, the applicant will receive a delivery receipt by email.

Selection process

Mobility scholars will be selected on the following criteria:

  • Scientific quality of the abstract proposal
  • Academic merits of the applicant and their relevance for this specific call
  • Scientific and personal motivation

All applicants will be notified of the selections by the end of March 2022. Short-listed candidates will be interviewed through Zoom. The selected candidates will be asked to confirm receipt of the decision and send the preliminary schedule of their mobility periods to the host institutions within 15 days after receiving the decision.

Mobility scholars shall report on the results achieved with the funding within two months after the mobility period. The grantees will be provided with the reporting details before the end of the mobility period.

More information

For questions, please contact humanrights@abo.fi

Updated 3.2.2022