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Field Emergence and Stabilization

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In this chapter, Golka unpacks the remarkable amplitude of social impact investing in British social policy: from being virtually nonexistent in the early 2000s, the concept was a key ingredient of British social policy reform during the Brown and Cameron premierships, before losing importance with the 2016 “Brexit” referendum and change of government. Golka argues that this was due to two main developments: on the one hand, impact investing proponents gained support from parts of the voluntary sector as the “social enterprise” concept emerged. On the other hand, the emergence of a “Treasury view” forged by HM Treasury’s dominance in British social policy between 1997 and 2016 served as a key resonance space for the financialization as welfare frame among policymakers.

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  1. 1.

    Source: Tom Happold and Kevin Maguire, Revealed: Brown and Blair’s pact, The Guardian, June 6th 2003:, accessed July 16th 2017.

  2. 2.

    Similar observations have been noted in four other interviews, as well as in Lee (2008, pp. 72, 93, 105ff.), and others.

  3. 3.

    A former politician mentioned to me in a private conversation an alleged deal between the two that saw Brown to guarantee keeping taxes on venture capital and private equity on the low levels inherited from the Conservative period, in return for Cohen committing the venture capital and private equity industries to more “social” investment activities.

  4. 4.

    This tax credit was based on the investor’s personal income tax, and not on the capital gains tax on potential profits. Investors were able to reduce their income tax by a total of 25% of the investment sum, while furthermore receiving the investment’s profits.

  5. 5.

    Source: Lexie Goddard, Social Enterprise: Compassionate Profit, Third Sector, March 22nd 2002,, accessed March 28th 2017.

  6. 6.

    Source: Geraldine Peacock, Opinion: Thinkpiece—Time to break the old culture of dependency, March 20th 2002,, accessed March 28th 2017.

  7. 7.

    Source: Social Enterprise Coalition website, archived October 2nd 2006, accessed March 31st 2017:

  8. 8.

    Source: Office of the CIC Regulator, Setting up a Social Enterprise:, accessed November 9th 2017.

  9. 9.

    See for example a 2003 snapshot of the company’s website, accessed April 3rd 2017:

  10. 10.

    These are loans with royalties, i.e. loans charged with a contractually agreed distribution of the investee’s income in addition to interest rates (p. 43). As these royalties target an organization’s income, not profits, they would still fall under the SE definition.

  11. 11.

    Source: Social Enterprise UK, Coalition members, website snapshot archived February 6th 2007, accessed April 5th 2017:

  12. 12.

    Source: futurebuilders England online self-description, archived August 3rd 2004, accessed April 5th 2017:

  13. 13.

    Source: Full text of Gordon Brown’s Pre-Budget Report Speech delivered to the House of Commons, The Guardian, December 5th 2005,, accessed April 6th 2017.

  14. 14.

    Source: Commission on Unclaimed Assets Recommends New Social Lender, Report Release, Charity Times, March 14th 2007,, accessed April 7th 2017.

  15. 15.

    Source: Statement by Stephen Bubb in Jamie Carpenter, Cabinet Office to oversee policy on third sector, Placemaking Resource, May 12th 2006:, accessed April 8th 2017.

  16. 16.

    Source: Social Finance website, archived October 10th 2005,, accessed April 11th 2017.

  17. 17.

    Source: St. Giles Trust website, Our history,, accessed April 11th 2017.

  18. 18.

    Source: David Brindle, Pressure on government to reward charity commitment, The Guardian, March 21st 2001:, accessed April 11th 2017.

  19. 19.

    Source: Social Finance self-description, Office of the Third Sector appoints four Deputy Directors to spearhead new team structure, May 21st 2007, archived December 12th 2008,, accessed April 12th 2017.

  20. 20.

    Source: Social Finance self-description, archived October 05th 2008,, accessed April 12th 2017.

  21. 21.

    Source: Cabinet Office Press Release, Office of the Third Sector appoints four Deputy Directors to spearhead new team structure, May 21st 2007, archived October 05th 2008,, accessed April 11th 2017.

  22. 22.

    Although before, Bridges Community Ventures had propagated a similar frame, their frame began to expand to the wider field of social ventures only a few years later.

  23. 23.

    Source: Hansard Records of House of Commons Debate, October 6th 2008,, accessed November 10th 2017.

  24. 24.

    This loose definition of the “third sector” was already present in the Bill as introduced to the House of Lords on November 8th 2007 and, according to Hansard records, this topic was neither mentioned in parliamentary debate, nor were any amendments made in that regard.

  25. 25.

    Source: Cabinet Office Press Release, Social Enterprise Access to Investment (SEATI) programme, last updated September 7th 2009,, accessed April 19th 2017.

  26. 26.

    Source: Cabinet Office Press Release, Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, announces new investment and support for social investment, September 15th 2009,, accessed April 19th 2017.

  27. 27.

    Source: Cabinet Office Press Release, Social Investment, last updated 18th September 2009,, accessed April 19th 2017.

  28. 28.

    Note that already before, the Prince’s Trust was contracted by DWP and paid according to its success in integrating unemployed in the labor market (2003_ACEVO).

  29. 29.

    The idea to relate Conservative SII discourse to Boosterism was developed by Jay Wiggan (2017). I built on his idea here, but, using my own empirical analysis, expanded the concept.

  30. 30.

    See for example Stephen Bubb’s Blog in November 26th 2010, Big Society Bank,, accessed April 25th 2017.

  31. 31.

    Source: Stephen Cook, Acevo at a crossroads, Third Sector, December 28th 2016,, accessed April 25th 2017.

  32. 32.

    See for example a letter by Stuart Etherington to the respective Cabinet Office Minister from August 22nd 2013,, accessed April 25th 2017.

  33. 33.

    Source: e.g. BBC News, Charities ‘will be silenced’ by new grant rules, January 6th 2016,, accessed April 25th 2017.

  34. 34.

    See Cabinet Office press release from July 19th 2010, Prime Minister launches the Big Society Bank,, accessed April 25th 2017.

  35. 35.

    For example: Press release by the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) calling social investment “over-hyped”: David Ainsworth, Significance of social investment has been ‘over-hyped’, says Navca chief, Third Sector, December 12th 2011,, accessed April 29th 2017.

  36. 36.

    Source: Charlotte Ravenscroft, If social investment is the answer, what is the question?, NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations), November 14th 2012,, accessed April 29th 2017.

    Charlotte Ravenscroft, Social Investment: Writing the Rules of a New Game, NCVO, July 16th 2012,, accessed April 29th 2017.

    Andrew O’Brien, G8 social investment report: What do you need to know?, NCVO, September 17th 2014,, accessed April 29th 2017.

  37. 37.

    This is not to say that VCS and SE actors were not critical of the Coalition and Conservative governments—quite the opposite. But their critique and mobilization centered around austerity, i.e. direct spending cuts to social and public sector organizations. Rejecting financial products such as SIBs during austerity would for social organizations often mean losing access to public funds altogether.

  38. 38.

    Source: Meeting notes from “Widening perspective on Social Impact Bonds” conference, London, September 13th 2016.


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Golka, P. (2019). Field Emergence and Stabilization. In: Financialization as Welfare. Springer, Cham.

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