The Social Value Act: A Sociological Perspective on its Origins, Application, and Effects
Dr. Rebecca Elliott (Department of Sociology) and Dr. David Pinzur (Department of Sociology)
Economisation, Non-Market Valuation, Social Policy, Expertise and Professions, Economic Sociology, Political Sociology
This is a study of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, a legislation introduced in 2013, that requires commissioners in England and Wales to consider more than purely financial criteria (or Value for Money) when assessing contract value. While the Act has been praised for its novelty, it has also been criticised for its non-prescriptive nature: the legislation provides neither a definition of social value nor a measurement methodology. Despite this opacity, social value now routinely features in debates ranging from unemployment to climate change and is a term used by actors in the public, private and third sector. However, social science literature has had little to say on the subject. In my research, I provide an in-depth look at the emergence of the Act and examine its operationalisation by various actors. I investigate both the origin and the effects of the Act, focusing, in particular, on the measurement of social value by specialist intermediaries.