Historical Social Research

Manuel Wirth: Nudging Subjects at Risk: Social Impact Bonds between Financialization and Compassion. [Abstract]

This paper explores the consequences of a recent Social Impact Bond (SIB) implementation in the UK at the level of everyday practices in three youth homelessness charities. By focusing on the effects of measuring and valuation devices, it is argued that the SIB transforms the way social welfare is delivered: it redefines practices, relationships, and interactions within service provision along the ambiguous dynamics of marketization processes. On the one hand, this is characterized by moments of creative articulation whereby service interventions connect a multitude of logics and narratives and exhibit both an emotionalized and behaviorist content. On the other hand, as this paper shows, economic principles underpinning the SIB are performatively actualized in the scheme, shaping interactions and relationships. The paper concludes that these two processes should be conceived not as mutually exclusive but as concomitant, yet conflictive forces that shape the marketization process of SIBs.

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