Social innovation, financialisation and commodification: a critique of social impact bonds

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E-pub ahead of print


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Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Economic Policy Reform
Early online date4 Feb 2019
StateE-pub ahead of print - 4 Feb 2019


Despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness there is increasing enthusiasm for Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) from diverse political perspectives across the world. This paper argues that while SIBs may potentially be applicable to some technical policy interventions which address relatively simple conditions, they are inappropriate for the complex conditions characterising wicked social problems. Enthusiasm for and over-extension of SIBs reflects a simplistic view of ‘evidence-based’ policy. More fundamentally, SIBs commodify citizens and redefine service users as problems and potential revenue sources rather than conscious agents. SIBs therefore exemplify a prevalent ideology of marketisation and financialisation in social policy.


  • social innovation, social impact, economic policy