Social impact evaluation in culture-led regeneration processes

Reflections on the “social return on investment” perspective





Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), Complex Urban Landscape (CUL), social enterprise, SROI


Considering that a relevant challenge for social enterprises is to assess their social impacts, this paper approaches this issue by investigating cases that exemplify engagement in culture-led regeneration processes. Assuming the paradigm of ‘Complex Urban Landscape’ (CUL) as a holistic approach focused on the role of relationships, and conceiving the social enterprise as a hybrid organisation potentially affecting the urban context, the author presents a reflection on one of the most-used and much-debated social impact evaluation methods, the Social Return On Investment (SROI). The research deals with three main challenges: the difficulties in integrating cultural heritage as commons within urban planning and practices; the potential role of social enterprises to transmit cultural value through experiences of culture-led regeneration processes; and the exigencies of planning and developing social impact evaluation capable of critically observing and narrating the theory of change proposed by social enterprises.




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