‘Social Innovation, Financialisation and Commodification: a Critique of Social Impact Bonds’

16th Oct 2019, 1:15pm - 2:30pm

Edge Hill University

Professor Michael Roy, Glasgow Caledonian University Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are recognised as a novel financing mechanism for public services. Despite a surprising lack of evidence on their effectiveness, there is seemingly no end to the enthusiasm for SIBs from governments all across the world. Professor Roy will argue that while SIBs may potentially be applicable to some technical policy interventions that aim to address relatively simple conditions, they are inappropriate for the complex conditions characterising so-called ‘wicked’ social problems. Enthusiasm for and over-extension of SIBs reflects a  simplistic view of ‘evidence-based policy’. More fundamentally, SIBs treat citizens as commodities and redefine service users as problems and potential revenue sources rather than as conscious agents, and thus exemplify a prevalent ideology of marketisation and financialisation in social policy.


  • 1.00pm – Registration and refreshments
  • 1.15pm – Event start
  • 2.30pm – Networking

Michael Roy

Michael is Professor of Economic Sociology and Social Policy at the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University. He has specific expertise in studying the health and well-being impacts of social enterprise-led activity, publishing extensively on this topic in major international scientific journals such as Social Science and Medicine and Public Management Review. He has also written on policy ‘ecosystems’ of support for social enterprise and on Social Impact Bonds in publications such as Stanford Social Innovation Review. Professor Roy’s research has been funded by the OECD, the ILO, the European Commission, the UK’s Medical Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council, the Australian Research Council, Employment and Social Development Canada, the Scottish Government and the Swiss Agency for Co-operation and Development. He has participated at conferences on the social economy at the invitation of both the  Italian Government and the Slovak Government on the occasion of their presidencies of the EU Council. He is Deputy Editor in Chief of Social Enterprise Journal, and is on the board of Voluntas: the International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. He was awarded the Helen Potter Award of Special Recognition for 2017 by the Association for Social Economics based in the USA.

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