Historical Social Research

Jacob Hellman: Feeling Good and Financing Impact: Affective Judgments as a Tool for Social Investing. [Abstract]

This article analyzes how moralized repertoires get linked to affective judgments to form the early-stage social impact investor, a financial subject who invests in startups for both profit and positive social impact. It draws on interviews with and observations of investors in San Diego, California. The financialization of social activities generally proceeds by quantification and commensuration. However, for startups, nothing yet exists to quantify. Instead, investors narrate ethical conversions, and evaluate through affective knowing and encounters with entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, they draw on financial skills, technologies, and disciplines to grow these startups. Startups must soon quantify their social impact to attract bigger investors, suggesting how affective and moralized forms of relation may persist, even when subsumed within larger financial flows governed by quantified reasoning.

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