Emergent forms of social reproduction financialisation
: social investment and adult social care

  • Ryan Peter Bushell

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis examines a newly emergent space in the economy: socially invested adult social care (SIASC). Adult social care in the UK is currently under substantial financial duress, with the problems that the sector faces being compounded by the increasing withdrawal or collapse of privately funded provision and cuts to local authority budgets. It is against this backdrop that the social investment sector has started to offer the adult social care sector new sources of finance and provision, simultaneously providing social investors with a new space within which they can generate financial returns and create a social benefit.

    This research identifies and conceptualises social investment in adult social care as a form of financialisation. It is argued that through social investment in adult social care, the processes of financialisation have entered further the realm of the third sector and communities, and that SIASC is another example of the financialisation of social reproduction (in comparison to, for instance, housing, education and utilities). The thesis investigates and develops our understanding of this emergent form of financialisation, its processes, innovations, complexities and nuances. Drawing on existing literature on financialisation, the marketisation of the third sector, and new forms of (social) investment, (social) business and (social) economic practice, a conceptual framework for understanding financialised social reproduction is generated. Thereafter, the thesis investigates this conceptual framework in the case of the emergence of socially invested adult social care.

    Empirically, the thesis begins by presenting an institutional map of socially invested adult social care, documenting how this particular space of social reproduction has been constructed and what elements are present. Given this map, a deeper interrogation of socially invested adult social care and its processes of financialisation is conducted through three case studies. Each case describes a model of care provision, and an emergent example of the financialisation of social reproduction. The first example is a model of financialised social reproduction based on a co-operative model; the second is an example of a social impact bond approach and the third model of financialised social reproduction is based on legal duties and increased financial obligations.

    The findings portray a varied, at times complex and nuanced process of financialisation of adult social care. This process includes, for example, new forms of investment product, the development of a range of new, socially orientated, business models and continued and expanded reliance on volunteer labour. Social investment financialisation is found to have driven new and innovative forms of adult social care provision, expanded the capacity of the care sector in terms of finance and resource and, for example, instigated organisational change throughout the procurement process - whilst transferring welfare responsibilities from the state to communities and individuals through a number of approaches and variegations. The result is the creation of a complex financial and social architecture, capable of acting in support of the care sector, whilst expanding and deepening the scope of financialisation practices into the sphere of social reproduction. Given the limited scale, scope and nature of socially invested adult social care, it is highly unlikely that it can provide a sector wide solution to ‘the crisis of adult social care’ but, arguably, it can offer a partial ‘fix’ for the sector or additional support in a time of crisis. Social investment then, is both pushing financialisation toward new areas of the economy, whilst providing new forms of support and new services in the adult social care sector.
    Date of AwardNov 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorNick Henry (Supervisor), Lindsey Appleyard (Supervisor) & Carlos Ferreira (Supervisor)

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