Social impact bonds: the securitization of the homeless

Christine Cooper, Cameron Graham, Darlene Hinick

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper examines the recent phenomenon of social impact bonds (SIBs). Social impact bonds are an attempt to marketize/financialize to some contemporary, intractable “social problems” (for example, homelessness and criminal recidivism). SIBs rely on a vast array of accounting technologies including budgets, future cash flows, discounting, performance measurement and auditing. As such, they represent a potentially powerful and problematic use of accounting to enact government policy. This paper contains a case study of the most recent in a series of SIBs, the London Homelessness SIB and St Mungo’s, a London-based charitable foundation. The case is designed to enable a critical reflection on the rationalities which underpin the SIB. For this, the paper draws upon Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics and neo-liberalism. The SIB is thoroughly neoliberal in that it is constructed upon an assumption that there is no such thing as a social problem -- only individuals who fail; it transforms all participants in the bond, except the homeless themselves, into entrepreneurs. The homeless are securitised into the potential future cash flows of investors.

Conference

Conference11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015
CountrySweden
CityStockholm
Period8/07/1510/07/15

Fingerprint

Securitization
Homeless
Social problems
Homelessness
Cash flow
Discounting
Government policy
Critical reflection
Performance measurement
Michel Foucault
Recidivism
Auditing
Neoliberalism
Rationality
Investors
Entrepreneurs
Biopolitics

Keywords

  • homelessness
  • social programmes
  • not-for-profit sector
  • biopolitics
  • Foucault

Cite this

Cooper, C., Graham, C., & Hinick, D. (2015). Social impact bonds: the securitization of the homeless. Paper presented at 11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015, Stockholm, Sweden.
Cooper, Christine ; Graham, Cameron ; Hinick, Darlene. / Social impact bonds : the securitization of the homeless. Paper presented at 11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015, Stockholm, Sweden.
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Cooper, C, Graham, C & Hinick, D 2015, 'Social impact bonds: the securitization of the homeless' Paper presented at 11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015, Stockholm, Sweden, 8/07/15 - 10/07/15, .

Social impact bonds : the securitization of the homeless. / Cooper, Christine; Graham, Cameron; Hinick, Darlene.

2015. Paper presented at 11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015, Stockholm, Sweden.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

TY - CONF

T1 - Social impact bonds

T2 - the securitization of the homeless

AU - Cooper, Christine

AU - Graham, Cameron

AU - Hinick, Darlene

PY - 2015/7/8

Y1 - 2015/7/8

N2 - This paper examines the recent phenomenon of social impact bonds (SIBs). Social impact bonds are an attempt to marketize/financialize to some contemporary, intractable “social problems” (for example, homelessness and criminal recidivism). SIBs rely on a vast array of accounting technologies including budgets, future cash flows, discounting, performance measurement and auditing. As such, they represent a potentially powerful and problematic use of accounting to enact government policy. This paper contains a case study of the most recent in a series of SIBs, the London Homelessness SIB and St Mungo’s, a London-based charitable foundation. The case is designed to enable a critical reflection on the rationalities which underpin the SIB. For this, the paper draws upon Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics and neo-liberalism. The SIB is thoroughly neoliberal in that it is constructed upon an assumption that there is no such thing as a social problem -- only individuals who fail; it transforms all participants in the bond, except the homeless themselves, into entrepreneurs. The homeless are securitised into the potential future cash flows of investors.

AB - This paper examines the recent phenomenon of social impact bonds (SIBs). Social impact bonds are an attempt to marketize/financialize to some contemporary, intractable “social problems” (for example, homelessness and criminal recidivism). SIBs rely on a vast array of accounting technologies including budgets, future cash flows, discounting, performance measurement and auditing. As such, they represent a potentially powerful and problematic use of accounting to enact government policy. This paper contains a case study of the most recent in a series of SIBs, the London Homelessness SIB and St Mungo’s, a London-based charitable foundation. The case is designed to enable a critical reflection on the rationalities which underpin the SIB. For this, the paper draws upon Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics and neo-liberalism. The SIB is thoroughly neoliberal in that it is constructed upon an assumption that there is no such thing as a social problem -- only individuals who fail; it transforms all participants in the bond, except the homeless themselves, into entrepreneurs. The homeless are securitised into the potential future cash flows of investors.

KW - homelessness

KW - social programmes

KW - not-for-profit sector

KW - biopolitics

KW - Foucault

UR - http://business.cardiff.ac.uk/research/groups/interdisciplinary-perspectives-accounting-research-group

UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aos.2016.10.003

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Cooper C, Graham C, Hinick D. Social impact bonds: the securitization of the homeless. 2015. Paper presented at 11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015, Stockholm, Sweden.