Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 103, Supplement 1, pp 33–44

The Forms and Limits of Insurance Solidarity


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1221-x

Cite this article as:
Lehtonen, TK. & Liukko, J. J Bus Ethics (2011) 103: 33. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1221-x


What makes insurance special among risk technologies is the particular way in which it links solidarity and technical rationality. On one hand, within insurance practices ‘risk’ is always defined in technical terms. It is related to monetary measurement of value and to statistical probability calculated for a limited population. On the other hand, and at the same time, insurance has an inherent connection to solidarity. When taking out an insurance, one participates in the risk pool within which each member is reciprocally responsible for others’ risks. The combination of technical controllability and solidarity has made insurance a successful tool for governing welfare societies during the twentieth century. From the point of view of business ethics, it is interesting that, as we argue in this article, the connection between insurance and solidarity is not limited to social welfare assemblages, but is evident in relation to private insurance as well. At the same time, however, it is important to understand that insurance does not advance all forms of solidarity. Hence, this theoretical article analyzes the specific conceptions of solidarity that the different forms of insurance practice produce. Particular emphasis is put on the distinction between ‘chance solidarity’ and ‘subsidizing solidarity’. The main questions of the article are: What kinds of conceptions of solidarity are built in the insurance technology? And how are the limits of solidarity defined and justified in different forms of insurance?


Chance solidarityInsuranceLife insuranceRiskRisk technologiesSolidaritySubsidizing solidarityWelfare

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland