We challenge the idea that social innovation can constitute an effective strategy to counter-balance the retrenchment of public social provisions. The changes within the Italian healthcare system, one of the most important sectors of the welfare state, in which the concept of social innovation has been widely discussed, are a clear example of a broader trend toward decentralisation and marketization. In conjunction with a new balance between public and private funding, these changes are contributing to increased inequalities and territorial disparities. The call to social innovation, if not embedded within a structural reform of the Italian welfare state and the health care system, might simply become a convenient buzzword to forward the neoliberal ideology in a time of austerity.
Keywords: Social innovation; neoliberalism; austerity