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The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility

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Volume 18


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The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility

Edited by Catherine Dolan and Dinah Rajak
Afterword by Robert J. Foster

274 pages, 2 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-071-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78533-750-5 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (November 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-072-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Each chapter in this important book, in one way or another, interrogates the slippery and shady partnerships forming between transnational corporations, international development agencies, and NGOs to further augment and implement CSR programmes…If you think critically about corporations, add this to your collection.” · Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“This is an insightful and original compilation of research on the novel ways in which 'market and society', and underlying dynamics of accumulation and sociality, get entangled and transformed through contemporary corporate practice. The wide range of empirical terrain traversed – in terms of the chapters' diverse ideational, social and regional settings – sets the stage for an illuminating comparative inquiry, on a timely topic of wider importance.” · Jens Kjaerulff, Aalborg University

“This volume deals with what I would consider to be one of the most important issues of our time: the “ethical turn” of global capitalism, what it means, and what its possible effects might be.” · Andrea Muehlebach, University of Toronto


The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility explores the meanings, practices, and impact of corporate social and environmental responsibility across a range of transnational corporations and geographical locations (Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa, the UK, and the USA). The contributors examine the expectations, frictions and contradictions the CSR movement is generating and addressing key issues such as  the introduction of new forms of management, control, and discipline through ethical and environmental governance or the extent to which corporate responsibility challenges existing patterns of inequality rather than generating new geographies of inclusion and exclusion.

Catherine Dolan is on the faculty of anthropology at SOAS, University of London, and holds fellowships at James Martin Institute, Green Templeton College and Said Business School, all at University of Oxford. Her research centres on contemporary forms of moral capitalism, including Fair Trade, inclusive development and bottom of the pyramid business, in Africa. She is a co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development (

Dinah Rajak is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and International Development at the University of Sussex.  She is the author of In Good Company. An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility (Stanford University Press 2011) and the co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development (

Subject: Anthropology (General)


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Towards an Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility
Catherine Dolan and Dinah Rajak

Chapter 1. Theatres of Virtue: Collaboration Consensus and the Social Life of Corporate Social Responsibility
Dinah Rajak

Chapter 2. Virtuous Language in Industry and Academy
Stuart Kirsch

Chapter 3. Re-siting Corporate Responsibility: The Making of South Africa's Avon Entrepreneurs
Catherine Dolan and Mary Johnstone-Louis

Chapter 4. Power, Inequality and Corporate Social Responsibility: The Politics of Ethical Compliance in the South Indian Garment Industry
Geert De Neve

Chapter 5. Detachment as a Corporate Ethic: Materialising CSR in the Diamond Supply Chain
Jamie Cross

Chapter 6. Disconnect Development: Imagining Partnership and Experiencing Detachment in Chevron’s Borderlands
Katy Gardner

Chapter 7. Subcontracting as Corporate Social Responsibility in the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline
José-María Muñoz and Philip Burnham

Chapter 8. Collective Contradictions of Corporate Environmental Conservation
Rebecca Hardin

Chapter 9. Engineering Responsibility: Environmental Mitigation and the Limits of Commensuration in a Chilean Mining Project
Fabiana Li

Chapter 10. Global Concepts in Local Contexts: CSR as ‘Anti-politics Machine’ in the Extractive Sector in Ghana and Peru
Johanna Sydow

Afterword: Big Men and Business: Morality, Debt and the Corporation: A Perspective
Robert J. Foster


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