This interdisciplinary workshop addresses head-on the relation between social theory and insurance. We are interested in seeing the conceptual presuppositions of the research in the field being foregrounded, articulated and developed. Hence we will ask the following questions: What kinds of effects on the research has the chosen theoretical traditions had on the kinds of findings that have been made? And vice versa: how does the empirical work on insurance help to renew the theoretical apparatus? Should the researchers in the field strive for the more ambitious goal of developing a full-fledged social theory of insurance, and if yes, how would it differ from the theory relevant for other areas of contemporary way of life? Do we see new theoretical vistas currently emerging that would need to be incorporated in the research on insurance? And finally, is it not the case that theories of social action are not only produced by academic scholars? Also actuaries and other insurance professionals such as economists or even marketing people rely on and develop theoretical assumptions that need to be highlighted and evaluated for rendering possible a broad understanding of the role of insurance in the contemporary way of life. To discuss these and similar related questions, the interdisciplinary workshop brings together sociologists, historians, law scholars and actuarial mathematicians whose recent and current work touches upon these issues.
The written record of the workshop can be found here.
The traditional business model of insurance is going through a disruptive change. InsurTech and predictive analytics are raising high expectations because they can offer personalized policy premiums adapted to the individual level of risk. Whereas the personalization of premium setting represents an opportunity, however, it could also become a threat because it can question the principle of risk pooling and spreading on which the whole insurance mechanism is based. This international interdisciplinary workshop involved actuaries, practitioners and sociologists, and addressed the possible socio-economic, ethical and political consequences of algorithmic techniques in the field of insurance. The program can be found here.