Introduction: The Economic, Political, and Ethical Challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility
This introduction provides a broad historical overview of how different institutions (religious, political, civil) have claimed responsibility for collective and public goals and how corporations are now increasingly seen as a social location for the assertion of value claims. The combination of the business case for CSR with this new interest in the social value of corporations on the part of civil society means that both economy and polity have become shot through with concerns about values and ethics. This development is a paradoxical consequence of the neo‐liberal turn in political economy with its commensurate insistence on the autonomy of the market from any critique other than that based on shareholder value maximization. The state is now being challenged as the leading location for debates over values. The potential ambiguities of different corporate positions on issues of social responsibility are also mapped out, depicting the range of potential approaches.
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