Chapter 31: The financialization of social policy: an overview
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The authors argue that the concept of financialization is central to understanding current transformations in social policies. The chapter maps some of the ways in which these transformations are occurring across key sectors of social provision, such as pensions, education, and health care. The authors show how the advance of this new paradigm of social policy in financialized capitalism is connected to a growing dependence of households on financial markets, especially through mounting levels of debts. They point to the corrosion of social ownership and collective identities that sustained the development of a wide variety of welfare systems in central and peripheral economies, which now engenders an accelerated process of recommodification and re-individualization. Rather than promoting socioeconomic security over the course of individuals’ life cycle, social policy now regulates access to financial markets while it is simultaneously regulated and reconfigured by them. The result of the financialization of social policy is therefore the production of families’ growing dependence on deregulated financial markets. The discussion carried out throughout the chapter aims to critically examine how this paradigm undermines the fundamental goals of social policy by deepening different forms of inequalities and exclusions among individuals, while feeding financial accumulation.

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