This article looks at corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a discursive social practice that attempts to interrogate the global market economy and its neoliberal underpinnings and that reflects as well as frames and shapes domestic and global politics and institutions. Drawing upon Karl Polanyi’s notions of reciprocity and redistribution while also emphasizing the normative content of the concept, the article inquires into the position that the CSR discourse occupies in addressing the corporate transnational risks derived from social tensions and conflicts and more generally, in answering social expectations for justice. The Polanyian perspective highlights the CSR discursive quest for a missing conceptual consistency and implicitly, for a constructive “critical” core. From this perspective, the article shows CSR to reside within controversial conceptual boundaries; a discursive social practice that engages with the social aspiration of embedding market economy in society while it is also in need of reclaiming its critical core and its potential for social change.
The author would like to thank the participants to the workshop “Socializing Economic Relationships: New Perspectives and Methods for Analysing Transnational Risk Regulation” at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford, where an initial draft of this article was presented. The author is also indebted to the two anonymous reviewers from Studies in Law, Politics and Society as well as to Grazia Necsutu and Bettina Lange. Any errors and inconsistencies remain the author’s.
Voiculescu, A. (2013), "“Etiquette and magic”: Between embedding and embedded corporate social responsibility", From Economy to Society? Perspectives on Transnational Risk Regulation (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 62), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 189-216. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1059-4337(2013)0000062008Download as .RIS
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