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Leveraging social value: multiple valuation logics in the field of social finance

Guter-Sandu, Andrei (2018). Leveraging social value: multiple valuation logics in the field of social finance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


What are the mechanisms behind the advance of financial actors, instruments, and models into the field of social policy design and delivery? Over the past couple of decades, the state’s function as provider of welfare and safety nets against various forms of socio-economic risk has been transformed not just by privatisation or downsizing, but also by the advent of alternative forms of social policy delivery. One example of the latter is social impact investment, a form of investing in social programmes with the intent of pursuing social (and environmental) impact alongside financial return, and yielding innovative financial instruments such as social impact bonds, social stocks, or community bonds. The emergence of this field is generally seen as an outcome of the broader process of financialisation. From this perspective, both financial return and social policy objectives can be achieved via the straightforward implementation of existing financial instruments and methodologies. However, the very process of implicating existing financial technologies in the sphere of the pursuit of social outcomes generates its own set of dynamics. This study focuses on these dynamics from the perspective of the valuation processes underpinning the emergence of social impact investment. It argues that as finance engulfs this field, it engages in a valuation process of fashioning and delineating a hybridised form of value – blended value – supporting its advance, which is distinctly separate, though not independent, from financial value creation. The result of this process is the concomitant proliferation of non-financial spaces of valuation, which come not to replace, but to accompany and support financialisation. In order to make this argument, it looks at the case of the valuation processes undergirding the launch of the world’s first social impact bond in 2010 in the UK. Besides providing an empirical account of the latter, it also makes a theoretical contribution to the literature on financialisation by deepening the understanding of the manner in which financial actors, instruments, and markets advance in non-financial realms.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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