Limits to the financialisation of the state: exploring obstructions to social impact bonds as a form of financialised statecraft in the UK, Israel, and Canada

Asa Maron, James W. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Within the financialisation literature, scholars have turned their attention to the state, exploring the adoption of financial activities by state actors, paying less attention to the limits of state financialisation. This paper explores these limits using the case of social impact bonds (SIBs). Pioneered in the UK in 2010 and subsequently trialed in some 35 countries, SIBs use private capital to fund social programs, with governments providing a return based on the degree of success. Despite expectations of dramatic growth, the SIB model has never truly taken hold. Based on the rollout of SIBs in the UK, Israel, and Canada, the paper considers the challenges encountered by the SIB enterprise as a form of financialised statecraft and identifies three barriers: (1) resistance to political agendas of state financialisation; (2) clashes between finance and public sector cultures; (3) financial innovation seen as ‘risk’ and ‘disruption’ to entrenched socio-technical routines. These barriers reveal tensions both within the state itself and between finance and the public sector, and indicate the importance of thinking about the limits and failures of state financialisation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Political Economy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • financialisation
  • limits to financialisation
  • social and public services
  • social impact bonds
  • State financialisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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