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||11th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2015|
|Period||8/07/15 → 10/07/15|
- social programmes
- not-for-profit sector