Contract, Status, Social Policy, Bonds, Classical Sociology

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Research Article


This article explores the relationship between contract and status in the context of contemporary social policy. Using examples of contract in the areas of unemployment policy (what is here called the workfare contract) and what has become known as the financialisation of the welfare state (Social Impact Bonds), the article identifies the types of bonds and obligations involved in those contracts and their sources. Drawing critically on Émile Durkheim and Max Weber’s work on the history and pre-history of contract, it is argued that issues of status – the status of the unemployed and capital, amongst others – lie at the core of those contracts. Consequently, unlike analyses that equate aspects of contemporary social policy with a shift from status to contract, it is argued that contract and status are inextricably linked and that a fuller understanding of contract depends on an exploration of the non-contractual dimensions of contract.




April 3, 2023


December 28, 2023