Eve Chiapello & Lisa Knoll: Social Finance and Impact Investing. Governing Welfare in the Era of Financialization. [Abstract]

Social Finance and Impact Investing took off after the 2008 financial crisis, offering alternative financing solutions for social welfare. Presented as answers to the pressing problems of the 21st century (public sector fiscal constraints, overstrained welfare states, and a lack of investment opportunities in an era awash with investment-seeking capital), they propose to combine public and private funds in complex negotiated and cascade-like credit and subsidy structures. They aim at attracting private capital by advertising potential social and financial gains to private investors. This introductory article provides an overview of the Social Finance and social impact investment phenomenon. It discusses the scope of literature, and outlines the transformative trajectory of Social Finance in terms of financialization, public sector governance reform, and welfare state policies. Social Finance and Impact Investing are important research fields for the social sciences, as they are much more than mere “financial innovations.” They transform how we govern and think of welfare and organize public sector funding. The articles assembled in this special issue provide the reader with insights into the making of a field and the establishment of new financial relations and circuits, judgement devices, and ranking schemes.

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