This article assesses how social innovations in the field of local domiciliary long-term care are shaped and implemented. It proposes a mapping of innovations in terms of two structuring discourses that inform welfare state reforms: a libertarian and a neo-liberal discourse. It then provides an analysis of the concrete trajectories of three local innovations for elderly people in Hamburg (Germany), Edinburgh (Scotland) and Geneva (Switzerland). Theoretically, social innovation is considered as a discursive process of public problem redefinition and institutionalisation. New coalitions of new actors are formed along this double process, and these transform the original discourse of innovation. The comparative analysis of the three processes of institutionalisation of local innovation shows that, in the context of local policy making, social innovations inspired by a libertarian critique of the welfare state undergo differentiated processes of normalisation.
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