Anti‐corporate activist anger: inappropriate irrationality or social change essential?

Sheldene K. Simola (Trent University, Peterborough, Canada)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to identify the false distinction often drawn in both philosophy and social movement research between rationality of thought and the emotion of anger. By demonstrating that anger may represent something other than irrationality, the adequacy of common management responses to anti‐corporate activist anger is questioned.


Dominant western perspectives, in which anger is negatively constructed as a socially inappropriate irrationality in need of control, are contrasted with alternative viewpoints in which anger is conceptualized as an essential political mechanism through which judgments of injustice occur. Consonance between the latter view and “framing processes”, through which anger enters into social movements, is demonstrated.


Negative social constructions of anger reflected in corporate strategies for managing anger may serve important political functions, including suppression of moral agency and judgments of injustice among those who are disfranchised.

Practical implications

In order to validate citizen claims to moral equality, worth and community membership, managers should engage in authentic dialogue to openly evaluate and either agree on or challenge claims of injustice. Managers should also proactively involve peripheral (disfranchised) stakeholders in order to understand and incorporate their perspectives into sustainable and just business models.


Although anger has long been recognized as a central feature of anti‐corporate activism, it has received almost no scholarly attention. The false distinction often drawn between anger and rationality is described and, based on this, the adequacy of common corporate strategies for managing activist anger are questioned.



Simola, S. (2009), "Anti‐corporate activist anger: inappropriate irrationality or social change essential?", Society and Business Review, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 215-230.

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