Disambiguating and Re-Conceptualizing Social Investment

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Nathalie MOREL , Sciences po, France
Joakim PALME , University of Uppsala, Sweden
Since the late 1990s, ‘social investment’ has appeared in the policy discourse of international and European organisations, as well as on the policy agenda of several governments across Europe and elsewhere. As a strategy that aims to combat social risks while enhancing economic performance, the social investment perspective seems to have appealed to a variety of governments. Indeed, policy analyses show how the notion functions as somewhat of a ‘catchall’ strategy. This is true also on the theoretical side, where social investment is both over-determined on the ideational level, and under-conceptualized. This paper aims to contribute to a finer conceptualisation of social investment by 1. assessing and re-specifying its normative and social dimensions, 2. by offering a discussion of how we can conceptually and empirically identify investment-oriented policy instruments, and 3. by taking stock of existing analyses of the distributive consequences of social investment policies. In doing so, the paper aims to contribute to a reconceptualization of social investment that goes beyond an analysis of its economic returns to also address the social basis and social returns of a social investment strategy, and its possible pitfalls.