By the mid-1990s neoliberalism had begun to reach its economic, social and political limits. International as well national and even sub-national social policymakers in and concerned with Latin America and Europe began to converge around new ideas about doing social policy, characterised here as the social investment perspective. The first section of the article documents this convergence across two regions. The second section then identifies three social mechanisms that supported this convergence. The first began in the heyday of neoliberalism, and involved opening space for legitimate alternatives. A second was the polysemic character of social investment as a quasi-concept that could penetrate and link numerous policy communities. The third was boundary-crossing, as distinctions that had separated analysis and action in the two regions fell away.