2019 NIDEA Seminar Series

Current Seminar

Any enquiries regarding the seminar series should be directed to Shefali Pawar (

Tom Baker - Securitised citizenship: How investors bought a stake in the welfare state

Tuesday 22 October
1.10pm in I.1.09
The contact person for the seminar is Shefali Pawar.

Presentation abstract

By turning social services into products for private investment, Social Impact Bonds are the latest tantalising solution for the financial, electoral and performance problems thought to ail the welfare state. From Denver to Dublin, the global expansion of Social Impact Bonds has seen investors and financial logics inserted into decisions about the provision of publicly-funded social services in ways that are historically unprecedented, raising questions about how Social Impact Bonds became a preferred policy solution, how they are operationalised and for whose benefit. In this presentation, I discuss the ascendance of Social Impact Bonds. Through in-depth research involving politicians, investment bankers, philanthropists, social service managers, consultants, and lawyers across six countries, I show how Social Impact Bonds are premised on the securitisation of citizen–state relations: refashioning vulnerable citizens from rights-bearing subjects to sub-prime subjects that are managed by pooling and de-risking their claims to future public assistance. The process of securitising citizenship involves significant difficulties and unlikely alliances of actors with differing agendas and abilities, raising questions about how the contemporary welfare state is shaped and whose interests it serves.


Tom Baker is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Auckland. His research examines practices and politics of policy innovation. He is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Housing Policy and recently co-edited Public policy circulation: Arenas, agents and actions (2019, Edward Elgar).

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