Dealing in Uncertainty: Insurance in the Age of Finance

Arjen van der Heide

28. April 2023

MPIfG Book


Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press, 2023
208 pages
ISBN 978-1-5292-2135-0 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-5292-2136-7 (ePub)

» Publisher's page


Insurance is an important – if still poorly understood – mechanism for dealing with a broad variety of risks associated with modern life. In Dealing in Uncertainty: Insurance in the Age of Finance, Arjen van der Heide conducts an in-depth examination of one of the largest and longest-established private insurance industries in Europe: British life insurance. In doing so, the author draws on over 40 oral history interviews to trace how the sector has changed since the 1970s, a period characterized by rampant financialization and neoliberalization. Combining insights from science and technology studies and economic sociology, this book is an unprecedented study of the evolution of insurance practices and an invaluable contribution to our understanding of financial capitalism.


1 Life Insurance in the Age of Finance
2 Financialization, Quantification and Evaluation
3 Shifting Boundaries between Insurance and Finance
4 Actuaries Going on a Random Walk
5 ‘Authors of Their Own Misfortune’
6 ‘Taking Account of What the Market Has To Say’
7 Managing Risk in Insurance
8 The Long Road to Solvency II (and Back Again?)
9 De-Risking Pensions, Managing Assets
10 Financial Evaluation and the Future of Insurance Society



Arjen van der Heide

Arjen van der Heide is a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. He previously obtained his PhD at the University of Edinburgh and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne.

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