Res Publica

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 155–169 | Cite as

Producing Solidarity, Inequality and Exclusion Through Insurance

  • Turo-Kimmo LehtonenEmail author
  • Jyri Liukko


The article presents two main arguments. First, we claim that in contemporary societies, insurance enacts peculiar kinds of solidarities as well as inequality and exclusion. Especially important in this respect are life, health, disability and old age pension insurance, both in compulsory and voluntary forms. Second, the article maintains that the ideas of solidarity, inequality and exclusion are transformed by the machinery of insurance. In other words, the concrete ways in which insurance relations are practically arranged have an effect on the ways in which the related moral and political concepts are perceived. We elaborate on three different forms of insurance solidarity, which we call chance, risk and income solidarity. The existence of multiple forms of solidarity relevant to insurance is significant because practices of insurance require decisions concerning what kind of solidarity is emphasised, when it is emphasised, and on what grounds. Moreover, what is solidarity for some can entail exclusion and inequality for others. Showing these internal tensions within insurance practice underlines the inherently political and moral nature of insurance.


Insurance Solidarity Risk Inequality Exclusion 



We would like to thank Xavier Landes for his comments and suggestions, which greatly improved the paper. The study was funded by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, and the Academy of Finland (Decision No. 28344).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Research and Humanities, Linna 5064University of TampereTampereFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Centre for PensionsHelsinkiFinland

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