Lisa Knoll: Social Impact Bonds and the Moralization of "The Market"
Lisa Knoll is working as a researcher at the University of Hamburg and the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg on a project funded by the German Research Council titled Risk Practices in Politics and the Financial Sector. She is an elected member of the board of directors of the Economic Sociology Section of the German Sociological Association, and an expert in pragmatism, qualitative methods, and organizational and economic sociology. Her empirical fields of expertise are carbon markets and social impact investment; she published “The Hidden Regulation of Carbon Markets” in Historical Social Research 40, no. 1 (2015).
Social impact bonds are an innovative funding mechanism of the welfare state. Financial capital is asked to help the welfare state in times of austerity to find new sources to fund social welfare programs, and the welfare state is asked to help the financial sector to find new, good, and profitable investment opportunities in times of an investment crisis (investment seeking capital has difficulties in finding enough diversified investment opportunities). Social impact bonds have been accused of "Neoliberalism," but they are also celebrated as a win-win constellation, and they find support in social democratic and conservative parties. They can thus be understood as a critical and a criticized movement moralizing "the market" – that is usually considered to be anti-moral. The French "Sociology of Critique" (a theory by Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, and Ève Chiapello) will thus be used to shed light on critical debates on social impact bonds in order to identify different notions of "welfare."