Financialization as Welfare. Social Impact Investing and British Social Policy, 1997-2016

Philipp Golka (2019)

Cham: Springer

About this book. Providing an in-depth case study on the emergence of social impact investing in the UK, this book develops a new perspective on financialization processes that highlights the roles of non-financial actors. In contrast to the common view that impact investing gears finance toward the solution of social problems, the author analyzes how these investments create new problems and inequalities. To explain how social impact investing became popular in British social policy despite its unclear effectiveness, the author focuses on cooperative relations between institutional entrepreneurs from finance and various non-financial actors. Drawing on field theory, he shows how seemingly unrelated social transformations – such as HM Treasury’s expanding role in public service reform – may act as resonance spaces for the spread of finance. Opening up a new perspective on financialization processes in the terrain of public policy, this book invites readers to refocus scholarship on capitalist dynamics to the meso-level. Based on this analysis, the author also proposes ways to transform social impact investing to increase its potential for reducing global inequalities.

Keywords: Social impact investing, Financialization, Frame resonance, British social policy, Political economy, Institutional change, Strategic action fields, Social movements, Social enterprise, Varieties of capitalism

Extracts. “[…] Nonfinancial actors use the interpretation of their position in a dynamic field environment to test whether cooperative ties with financial actors make sense. At a theoretical level, this proposed “resonance” mechanism for the emergence of cooperative ties therefore blends the “European Pragmatism” (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Habermas 1981) with its American counterpart. On the empirical level, this mechanism shifts our attention to the structured opportunities, or “resonance spaces,” that allow for the mobilization of nonfinancial actors. […] At the same time, I studied the works of French pragmatism (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006) and became interested in the understanding of social justice (or “order of worth”). […] Other authors have developed different contentual models for these tests: for example, the sociology of conventions and critique (Boltanski and Chiapello 2006; Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Chiapello 2013) distinguishes between eight different, socially constructed conventions against which claims are assessed.”


Link to the book