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: 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.