From Social Investment to Investing in the Social: Insiders' Perceptions, Experiences, and Expectations

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Social investment is a policy approach intended to promote the social inclusion of excluded individuals and groups, mainly through labour market participation and long-term human capital development. Since the 1980's this approach has spread from Europe worldwide and is now regarded as the latest shift from both 'traditional' welfare and the unrestrained neoliberal policy implemented under the austerity regime of the last decades. Most social investment studies focus on the social and economic impacts of policy at the macro-level. This article takes a different perspective to examine how members of excluded communities experience social investment policy in their daily lives. The study analyzes qualitative data collected from a purposive sample of 96 participants from excluded communities in the North of Israel. Findings indicate that participants strongly support social investment ideas of inclusion via human capital development and the labour market. However, their experiences in both areas point to continued struggles with social mechanisms that marginalize them and reinforce multigenerational exclusion. Findings affirm critique of social investment when implemented without major structural changes. The study implications for policy suggest that, without such changes, the paradigmatic promises of social investment may further entrench social exclusion by replicating discriminatory and oppressive practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-284
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Communities
  • Neoliberalism
  • Social Exclusion
  • Social Inclusion
  • Social Investment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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