Local Ruralism: Systemic Design for Economic Development

  • Silvia BarberoEmail author
Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 8)


Rural regions have high potential for local economic development offered by social innovation (Neumeier, Sociologia Ruralis 52:48–69, 2012) and social transformation and transition (Markard et al., Research Policy 41:955–967, 2012).

The aim of this article is to unlock the potential of systemic innovation in rural development through research insights and practical methods. Theories and practices can define a framework to be used and exported in different contexts.

Design approaches inform first principles for human social systems and encourage social innovation processes for the improvement of the quality of life and the economic well-being of people (Bistagnino, Systemic Design: designing productive and environmental sustainability. Slow Food Editore, Bra, Italy, 2011). The explained case studies are practices undertaken by the author to directly bring findings from a design phase through to implementation. The three cases are set in three different geographical contexts (Mexico, Italy, and Spain) with declining rural situations. The empirical evidence for what might be the necessary enabling condition for rural development remains limited, so this direct experience can give new insights on systemic innovation as enabler for rural development.

The ambition underlying these projects is to develop pertinent knowledge, clear frameworks, and concrete guidelines, which constitute a new method to facilitate the actions of systemic networks in rural regions.



Many thanks to Professor Luigi Bistagnino, author and promoter of the systemic design approach in Torino, who helped me to define the limits of this research and improve it at national and international levels. My thanks go to all the systemic design team at Politecnico di Torino with which I implemented the project: EN.FA.SI. project with Paolo Tamborrini, Eleonora Fiore, Valeria Giannelli, and Desirée Morello; Ahuehuetla project with Miriam Bicocca and Marianna Morozzi; Azaro project with Agnese Pallaro and Chiara Battistoni. Furthermore, each project was possible thanks to the local partners, especially to Giuseppe Tecco, Nuria Costa, and Leire Arrizabalaga. I’m very grateful to Andrea Gaiardo for the long discussion on the relation between desk and field research. Finally, I thank the Systemic Design Research Network members for your thoughts on systemic design theories.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and DesignPolitecnico di TorinoTurinItaly

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