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The folds of social finance: Making markets, remaking the social

Langley, P.

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The global financial crisis acted as a spur to ‘social finance’, a loose grouping of markets demarcated on the grounds of their ostensible social purpose. This article’s critical analysis of social finance contributes to cultural economy research into marketization processes in economic geography and allied fields. First, responding to calls for greater attention to be given to heterogeneous and variegated market-making processes ‘on the ground’, social finance is analysed as a relatively discrete and hybrid modality of marketization that makes possible the valuation and capitalization of the social economy to address collective social problems. Second, moving beyond topographical accounts that understand geographies of marketization as ‘taking place’ through the outward expansion of the market’s imagined boundaries, Gilles Deleuze’s concept of ‘the fold’ is elaborated upon to develop a topological analysis of the spatial constitution of social finance markets. The folds of social finance are seams of inflection, entanglements where the social utility typically lacking from mainstream finance is variously spliced and stitched into marketization processes. In social finance markets-in-the-making, ‘the social’ is also shown to be remade as an array of thoroughly liberal associations and subjectivities that are, at once, pluralist, ethical and entrepreneurial.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 21, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 16, 2018
Publication Date Feb 28, 2020
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 2, 2018
Journal Environment and Planning A
Print ISSN 0308-518X
Electronic ISSN 1472-3409
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 1
Pages 130-147
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (444 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Langley, P. (2020). The folds of social finance: Making markets, remaking the social. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 52(1): 130-147. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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