Abstract: To date, the primary focus of research in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been on the strategic implications of CSR for corporations and less on an evaluation of CSR from a wider political, economic and social perspective. In this paper, we aim to address this gap by critically engaging with marketing campaigns of so-called ‘ethical’ bottled water. We especially focus on a major CSR strategy of a range of different companies that promise to provide drinking water for (what they name as) ‘poor African people’ by way of Western consumers purchasing bottled water. Following Fairclough’s approach, we unfold a three-step critical discourse analysis of the marketing campaigns of 10 such ‘ethical’ brands. Our results show that bottled water companies try to influence consumers’ tastes through the management of the cultural meaning of bottled water, producing a more ‘ethical’ and ‘socially responsible’ perception of their products/brands. Theoretically, we base our analysis on McCracken’s model of the cultural meaning of consumer goods, which, we argue, offers a critical perspective of the recent emergence of CSR and business ethics initiatives. We discuss how these marketing campaigns can be framed as historical struggles associated with neo-liberal ideology and hegemony. Our analysis demonstrates how such CSR strategies are part of a general process of the reproduction of capitalist modes of accumulation and legitimation through the usage of cultural categories.
Abstract: This paper explores articulations of the value of investment in culture and the arts through a critical discourse analysis of policy documents, reports and academic commentary since 1997. It argues that in this period, discourses around the value of culture have moved from a focus on the direct economic contributions of the culture industries to their indirect economic benefits. These indirect benefits are discussed here under three main headings: creativity and innovation, employability, and social inclusion. These are in turn analysed in terms of three forms of capital: human, social and cultural. The paper concludes with an analysis of this discursive shift through the lens of autonomist Marxist concerns with the labour of social reproduction. It is our argument that, in contemporary policy discourses on culture and the arts, the government in the UK is increasingly concerned with the use of culture to form the social in the image of capital. As such, we must turn our attention beyond the walls of the factory in order to understand the contemporary capitalist production of value and resistance to it.
Abstract: In this paper we analyze the role of marketing in the construction of what can be called the hegemony of development. Through an investigation of the marketing practices of the pulp and paper industry in South America and the resistances that are articulated by a range of civil society actors against the expansion of this industry, we problematize marketing as a political and contested discourse and practice. By using Laclau and Mouffe’s (1985, 2001) theoretical framework, which is centered on the concept of ‘hegemony’, we highlight the crucial role marketing plays in the social and cultural legitimation of the highly controversial development of the pulp and paper industry – regarded as one of the most polluting industries in the world – in South America. We build on existing ‘critical marketing’ literatures to critique marketing’s role in spreading ‘development’ practices around the world, and we introduce Laclau and Mouffe’s theories to the marketing field in order to understand better the way marketing helps to produce ‘development’ as a hegemonic discourse in a particular social and cultural field. In this way we contribute to a growing understanding that critical marketing research is not only about exposing and analyzing the discourses and practices that drive consumption. Rather, we see marketing as an ontological discourse and practice that is crucial for the cultural and social legitimation of the development of entire industries and economic spheres.
Abstract: How do groups resist the apparently all-encompassing discourse of management? Rejecting current theories of resistance as ‘re-appropriation’ or ‘micro-politics’, we argue that resistance may be thought about as hegemonic struggle undertaken by social movements. We identify four major resistance movements that engage with management: unions, organizational misbehaviour, civic movements and civic movement organizations. We argue that these forms of resistance differ in terms of location (civil society or workplace) and strategy (political or infra-political). We chart out the possible interconnections between these different modes of resistance and detail how these interconnections are established. By doing this, the paper provides a framework for understanding the many forms of resistance movements that seek to disrupt the hegemonic discourse of management.
Abstract: ‘Organization studies does not exist’. Given all that talk of paradigm proliferation, pluralism and other apparent open-mindedness, you might have thought that Lacan had the perfect slogan to explain the fundamental gap that organisation theorists continually encounter. The fact that, on one side of the divide, certain managerial writers continually confront a world that is fraught with division, conflict, resistance, and so forth, while other side so-called critical writers fail to understand why it is that their managerial enemies are unable to theorise conflict.
Abstract: In many parts of the contemporary, post-modernised social sciences Kant is often seen as an enemy: part of the ‘axis of evil’ of Enlightenment philosophers that also comprises fundamentalists such as Descartes and Hegel. Just like his fellow Enlightenment totalitarians, Kant is usually represented as a philosopher of the Universal and Transcendental, and his work is often associated with terms such as Homogeneity, Reason, Rationality and Modernity – words that have attained a truly evil status in our post-modern era that is said to be characterised by difference, emotions and smoothness. Did Kant not aim to establish the Universal of Knowledge? Is he not the philosopher of Pure Reason? And was his project not geared towards Universal ethical rules that would regulate – once and for all – our moral activities?