Meghan Joy and John Shields
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a social policy tool that claims to solve complex policy problems, such as homelessness, unemployment, and recidivism, through the scientific methods of financial modelling. Actively supported by several governments worldwide, SIBs provide a mechanism to turn the risky behaviours of vulnerable individuals into a form of profit making for private impact investors. SIB projects target population groups, such as the homeless, troubled youth, and obese, whose problems result in costly use of emergency-oriented public services such as shelters, prisons, and hospitals. In this way, SIBs are positioned as preventative, allowing future savings on costly public programs. These savings, also known as impacts, outcomes, or results are measured for their social value created (Dowling & Harvie, 2014). The SIB instrument places a current price on anticipated social value based on the assessed future risk that participants will not be reformed. Risks become a reward as investors bet on the extent to which vulnerable people will be transformed.
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a new tool in the arsenal of neoliberal capitalism that might best be seen as an extension of public-private partnerships into the realm of social policy. As part of the pay-for-success movement, SIBs marketize social policy in ways that empower venture capitalists to profit from the misfortunes of others. The solution to difficult social problems has been cast with SIBs as a profiting from pain model.
The aim of our recent article in Policy & Politics entitled Austerity in the Making: Reconfiguring Social Policy through Social Impact Bonds is to identify future avenues for empirical research on SIBs to further assess how the tool reconfigures social policy and with what consequences for democracy and equity. Continue reading Profiting from Pain: social impact bonds and social policy
By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager
From a prevailing, long-standing debate in the journal on the welfare state, we bring you a collection of our best and most recent articles. To highlight just a couple: Anthony McCashin’s How much change? Pierson and the welfare state revisited provides a structural overview of the impact of globalisation on analyses of the welfare state.
Meanwhile Sharon Wright, through forensic scrutiny, exposes the gulf between the discursive constitution of the welfare subject by policy makers, and the lived experiences of those subjects in her article Conceptualising the active welfare subject: welfare reform in discourse, policy and lived experience.
All of these articles seek to critically evaluate this contentious area of policy and point towards purposeful research agendas for the future. Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November
By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager
Try our new themed virtual issues which are free to download from 1-30 November:
Public Services and Reform
In this new virtual issue, we bring you our most impactful and recent research from diverse perspectives with a coherence of focus on increasing our understanding of public services and reform.
To introduce two highlights from the issue, opening the collection is one of our most innovative articles on how health discourses are linked to population health outcomes, hence the title: Working-class discourses of politics, policy and health: ‘I don’t smoke; I don’t drink. The only thing wrong with me is my health’. Moving from health to employment, Rebecca Taylor analyses the changing dynamics that come into play as the provision of employment services increasingly moves to public, private and third-sector organisations in her article entitled UK employment services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field. Covering a diverse range of public industries, other articles in the collection offer insightful studies across education, social care, disability, counter-terrorism, local government and state regulation.
Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on Public Services and Reform: free to download until the end of November
by Simon Pemberton
In our recent Policy & Politics article published as part of a special issue on superdiversity we reflect on the increasing importance of the implications of superdiversity for urban planning, as well as the equality of outcomes of planning practices. We highlight a number of points for consideration.
First, relatively little work has been done on the role of urban planning in responding to migration-related superdiversity. Continue reading The challenge of superdiversity for urban planning
By José Nederhand and Ingmar van Meerkerk
“The place where we organize care, how we provide care, and those who provide the care will change” – Dutch Ministry of Care (2013), Vision on Care and the Welfare Labour Market.
The Dutch Ministry of Health has announced extensive reorganization of the care system. Just like in many other Western countries with ageing populations, the welfare state is subject to major reforms. In parallel with academic debates, the idea of co-producing and self-organizing public services seems to have penetrated the discourse of politicians and governors all over the world. Politicians state that in order to keep care provision affordable, accessible and in line with societal demands, responsibilities should be shifted ‘back’ to society. Through volunteering, citizens are expected to shoulder tasks formerly performed by the state, either by partnering and co-production with the state or by self-organization. Our systematic content analysis shows that citizens are now generally framed as active service producers which are, and should be, part of the general system of care service delivery. This activation of citizens has considerable implications for the roles, competences and responsibilities of care professionals. In fact, government is calling for a new public service ethos of professionals, see our recent article in Policy and Politics. Continue reading The modern welfare state in transition: framing new co-production roles and competences for public professionals
By Céline Mavrot (Researcher at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern) and Fritz Sager (Professor of Political Science at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern).
This post was originally published on Discover Society on 6th June 2017.
Against the backdrop of the current US-American presidency, the Brexit referendum campaign and the decision of the Hungarian government to drive its university of highest repute – the Central European University – out of the country, the fake news epidemic and the related question of the relationship between scientific evidence and democracy are all over the academic agenda. Scientific evidence generally is expected to make policies more coherent: addressing the right target groups, increasing the efficiency of their implementation and increasing their effectiveness. In her recent blog on the subject, Caroline Schlaufer goes beyond this functionalist view of scientific evidence and argues that the use of scientific evidence has also been found to improve democratic debates: Evidence-based arguments make democratic campaigns more rational. Informed citizens are reluctant to attack opponents on a personal basis which increases the deliberative quality of the discourse. However, this is not all. As we argue in our recent article in Policy & Politics, the use of evidence can encourage coherent policy formulation over different tiers in federal systems by creating vertical networks of expertise.
Continue reading Expertise and policies: How to take advantage of multilevel systems to develop policy solutions
By Matt Flinders
A shorter version of this blog post was originally published by Prospect magazine.
When is a wobble not a wobble? This might not seem the most obvious question to be asking in the context of the current General Election campaign but that’s exactly what makes it so important. Could it be that Theresa May’s recent backtracking on the costs of social care was nothing of the kind? Instead part of a more subtle game of preparing the public for tough choices that will inevitably have to be taken? Have we just witnessed the political equivalent of a footballers fake dive? Continue reading Opinion Editorial: The Lady is not for Wobbling: Mrs May, social care and spending political capital