Social investment innovation and the ‘social turn’of neoliberal finance

David Harvie, Geoff Lightfoot, Simon Lilley, Kenneth Hugh Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


The social turn in finance has brought with it a raft of innovations in finance and investment. For some this is a positive development that positions finance as a means for achieving positive social change. However, the notion that such innovation offers a softer or more benign finance is debated. In this paper we examine one recent innovation, social impact bonds (SIBs), and through a case study, we evaluate policy documents, press releases, interim reports and interviews with 4 key stakeholders in a recent UK SIB. In doing so, we contend that the case SIB embedded modalities of neoliberal governance further into contemporary social care and social relations. We argue that social investment is thus based around a model of inclusive neoliberalism and that the apparent innovations in social investment further embed finance and extractive logic deeper into social life. We conclude by suggesting that the practise of social investment will do nothing to resolve the social problems that they are designed to tackle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102248
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date18 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Finance
  • Neoliberalism
  • Social impact bonds
  • Social investment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems and Management


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