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Policy boostering and the making of Social Impact Investment Markets

Policy boostering and the making of Social Impact Investment Markets
Speaker: Jay Wiggan # University of Edinburgh; Hosted by: Elke Heins # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
2nd Feb 2018 15:00 - 2nd Feb 2018 18:00
Chrystal Macmillan Building Staff Room 6th Floor

***All talks are followed by a drinks reception, commencing around 4.30pm to which all attendees are invited.***


Since the early 2000s successive UK governments have provided material and discursive support for the development of Social Impact Investment Markets (SIIM) in the UK. Drawing on Hyatt’s (2013a; 2013b; 2015) Critical Policy Discourse Analysis Framework, this paper examines UK Government policy documents to provide a critical appraisal of the policy drivers and justifications offered by successive Conservative led UK Governments for their accelerated development of a Social Impact Investment Market. The aim is to explore the co-constitution of discourse and policy reforms in the construction of SIIM infrastructure, and the manufacturing of desire for SII amongst potential market participants.

The paper argues that UK policy documents and ministerial pronouncements concerned with SIIM are exemplars of ‘policy boosterism’, providing zealous endorsements of SII and the UK as a world leading environment for investors (McCann, 2013: 8; Gutsche 2015: 502; Dowling and Harvie, 2014). This draws upon and reproduces a broader conservative-liberal political-economic narrative by weaving together three threads (Broken Britain, the Big (market) Society; a buccaneering Global Britain). The problem-solution story that emerges recuperates finance capital as a socially useful actor, able to (re)solve societal fragmentation and reaffirm Britain’s position as a dynamic, open liberal market economy. Through this crafting of a new future welfare imaginary the case for a series of policy reforms that facilitate incorporation of social welfare services into distributed financial chains of value have been advanced and legitimated.

Biographical statement: Jay Wiggan is a Lecturer in Social Policy in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.