Social Investment Risks? An explorative analysis of new social risks in the social investment state

Luc Benda, Menno Fenger, Ferry Koster, Romke Van der Veen


Individual responsibilities and individual capabilities are becoming increasingly important in public policies of European welfare states. Therefore, it is said that European welfare states develop in the direction of social investment states. In this article we argue that the shift towards the social investment state may lead to new social risks and new inequalities. Building upon Bonoli’s (2005) seminal article, we introduce the concept of ‘social investment risks’ to refer to these risks. In this article we explore and identify the development towards a social investment state in detail by focusing on different social policy trends in different welfare areas and by analysing their impact on the individual level. We deconstruct the underlying assumptions of the social investment paradigm and reflect on the role of individual capabilities and social capital in the social investment state. We assess to what extent the distribution of these capabilities creates new social risks and new inequalities. Dealing with these new inequalities and new social risks may be considered as new challenges for welfare states. Therefore, this article innovatively expands the borders of current-day welfare state research and explores the consequences of the social investment paradigm.


New social risks; Welfare State Regimes; Capabilities; Social Capital; Social Investment;

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X