French S, Kneale J, 2009, "Excessive financialisation: insuring lifestyles, enlivening subjects, and everyday spaces of biosocial excess" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(6) 1030 – 1053
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Excessive financialisation: insuring lifestyles, enlivening subjects, and everyday spaces of biosocial excess
Shaun French, James Kneale
Received 28 August 2007; in revised form 19 May 2009
Abstract. The last two decades have witnessed, as part of a wider financialisation of British economy and society, a creeping privatisation of social welfare provision. Political justification for the expansion of privatised social insurance markets has frequently been couched in the language of responsibility. However, as the ‘credit crunch’ spectacularly attests and as studies of the dynamics of financialisation have succeeded in showing, financialised capitalism turns on excess. In this paper we explore some of the ways in which the reworking of long-term insurance or life assurance has contributed to the financialisation of everyday life. More particularly, we trace the emergence of what we call ‘lifestyle insurance’. Our purpose here is not only to begin to map the terrain and consider the consequences of this nascent modality of insurance in the UK, but in so doing to contribute to wider debates about the processes of subjectification that underwrite financialisation. In addition to pressing for a greater attention to be given to life assurance the paper suggests, by mobilising the figure of excess, three more areas to which studies of the financialisation of the everyday might productively attend: first, the financialisation of life itself; second, the ways in which financialisation is affectively charged; third, the spatial politics of financialisation.
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