Insurance and the Problem of Insecurity

The project studies insurance as a key means for encountering the problem of insecurity in the contemporary societies. Because of its wide usability and efficiency, during the past one hundred years powerful institutions and businesses have been built around insurance technology. On the one hand, insurance has been at the core of welfare state construction, providing a tool with which to operationalise the ideas of shared responsibility and social justice in face of insecurity. On the other hand, during the same time, insurance has become an influential sector within capitalist economies, as it has channelled private savings into huge funds that affect the whole global economy.

Although in recent years there has emerged a new sociology of insurance, which richly thematizes these questions, some key issues have still drawn too little attention. To begin with, in social scientific analyses, the private and public side of insurance are still too often examined separately, thus leading to an ignorance of their fundamental intertwinement. Second, the sociology of insurance has not often been able to analyse at one go the different scales on which insurance rationality can operate. Third, the co-dependence of different infrastructure technologies and insurance remains too little studied.

In addressing these themes, the INSPRINS project aims at providing a more holistic view on how insurance is used in the contemporary society to manage the problem of insecurity. The main questions of the project are the following: How is the problem of insecurity encountered and managed with the use of various insurance tools? And what kind of societal effects does the reliance on insurance rationality have?

These questions are studied in six subprojects that operationalise and concretise the main questions into empirical research cases and respective subquestions:

  • What is the role of insurance in the management of energy infrastructure systems and their security? (Antti Silvast)
  • How is the insecurity created by climate change actively incorporated in reinsurance companies’ business practices? (Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen & Salla Jarske)
  • How do economic, political and moral consideration affect each other and become intertwined in the case of health insurance? (Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen & Liina Sointu)
  • How do insurance experts make decisions on disability insurance or rehabilitation benefits? (Jyri Liukko)
  • How do scientists, clinicians and patients deal with diagnostic uncertainty in psychiatry? (Lotta Hautamäki)
  • Challenging vaccination as a risk technology: why has social insurance become controversial in the case of HPV vaccination campaign? (Mikko J. Virtanen)