Governing Corporations: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Expanding Role of Business in Society
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This thesis explores the evolving role of business in society and the recent development of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, in order to form a greater understanding of the changing nature of contemporary capitalism and the potential for new forms of corporate power. By analyzing the growth of the modern corporation and the discursive construction of its responsibilities to society over the course of the past three centuries, this study provides a historical framework to foreground a critical examination of one specific corporation – Starbucks. Applying both situational and critical discourse analyses, the study uses data collected from Starbucks CSR reports and press releases to illustrate the way in which many companies are acting out their social responsibilities today. Specifically, I ask: How does Starbucks frame and conduct its efforts? Who and what are being addressed? How does this serve to further the interests of the company? In answering these questions, the thesis illuminates the capacity for CSR to serve as a tool for corporations to gain control in areas such as global governance and sustainable development, as well as to improve their position in the market. It also discusses the various changes that have occurred alongside shifting conceptions of the corporation and its responsibilities as well as the importance of CSR in the current political climate.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- History of the corporation and its social responsibilities -- Data & Methods -- "Through the lens of humanity": enacting CSR -- CSR and the state of contemporary capitalism -- Appendix A. Critical discourse analysis themes