“From marginalization to protagonism: a sociotechnical and linguistic approach to  social.”

Defended December 17, 2022, nominated for the best thesis defended in 2021 at HEC Montreal.

Co-directors: Marlei Pozzebon and Patrick Cohendet


This thesis is part of a socio-technical tradition in the social innovation literature, putting forward the notion of narrative work. Drawing on the Latin American concept of social technology, this thesis provides an empirical example to help examine organizational practices and mechanisms that aim to empower individuals from disadvantaged communities.

In order to illustrate the understanding of these practices and mechanisms, this thesis relies on a marriage between narrative and socio-technical perspectives – which allows for the observation of the intrinsic relationship between discursive and non-discursive phenomena, thus offering an alternative conceptual pathway to the economic, institutional, evolutionary, social practices, multi-stakeholder, eudemonic and territorial approaches of the social innovation literature.

Using as a case analysis a methodology of change developed by a Brazilian organization, Agência de Redes para a Juventude (AdR), this work demonstrates how the political organizing of a social technology is structured around the notion of narrative work, transforming marginalized individuals into leaders and actors of change in their communities. This organization provides training to young people in situations of marginality, leading them through an original methodological path that offers them the possibility of rethinking their perception of themselves and their territories, leading these young people to propose projects with high social impact in their communities.