About Me
I'm a Canadian PhD student living in Scotland, where I study music, media, and culture at Stirling University.


My Work
Current:
Curriculum Vitae
PhD Abstract

Peer-reviewed articles:
The rough guide to critics: musicians discuss the role of the music press (Popular Music 25:2, 2006)

Conference papers:
Comparing the shaming of jazz and rhythm and blues in music criticism (Experience Music Project 2006)

Was Newport 1969 the Altamont of Jazz? The role of music festivals in shaping the jazz-rock fusion debate (Leeds International Jazz Conference 2006)

Down Beat vs. Rolling Stone: the battle for authority in the American music press, 1967-1970 (IASPM Biennial Conference 2005)

Web articles:
Sounds Prohibited
Brain Machines

CD reviews:
Proffessor Undressor
Manitoba

Current musical projects: Zoey Van Goey
Maritime Rock Opera Club

Contact
m.t.brennan at stir.ac.uk
Links
Friends With Websites:
Dru (The Dominion)
Sylvia Nickerson
Inez Templeton
Inez: the blog
Clark Richards
Tara Wells
Max Liboiron
John Haney
Eva Bartlett

Musical Friends:
David Myles
Jamie (Near Earth Astronaut)
Jay (Proffessor Undressor)
Jim (Shotgun and Jaybird)
Jon (Rhume)
Kirk (Orchard Hill Road)
Mark, Mike (Barriomatic Trust)
Matt Johnston
Pat (Random Andy)
Troy (Pimp Tea)

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travel (4)
visual creativity (9)
words (1)


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January 26, 2004

Corporate Social Responsibility, or two-faced capitalism

There's a thought-provoking piece in the change in strategy among activists toward getting corporations to conduct their business ethically. As usual, however, the Economist staff end on a particularly idiotic note. Here are the last few paragraphs:

The Economist: This week Christian Aid … published a report claiming to reveal the true face of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The charity is “calling on politicians to take responsibility for the ethical operation of companies rather than surrendering it to those from business peddling fine words and lofty sentiments.” … It regards CSR as a “burgeoning industry...now seen as a vital tool in promoting and improving the public image of some of the world's largest companies and corporations.”

The report features case studies of Shell, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Coca-Cola—all of them, it says, noted for paying lip-service to CSR while “making things worse for the communities in which they work.” Shell, says the report, claims to be a good neighbour, but leaves oil spills unattended to. Its community-development projects are “frequently ineffective”. BAT, it says, claims to give farmers training and protective clothes; contract farmers in Kenya and Brazil say otherwise. Coca-Cola promises to use natural resources responsibly. The report accuses an Indian subsidiary of depleting village wells. So, “instead of talking about more voluntary CSR in Davos, government...should be discussing how new laws can raise standards of corporate behaviour.”

This is a switch. CSR was conjured up in the first place because government action was deemed inadequate: orthodox politics was a sham, so pressure had to be put directly on firms by organised protest. Ten years on, instead of declaring victory, as well they might, disenchanted NGOs like Christian Aid are coming to regard CSR as the greater sham, and are calling on governments to resume their duties. Might this be a sign … that CSR has finally peaked? If so, it might be no bad thing. If bosses are no longer to get credit for pandering to their critics, they may as well go back to doing their jobs.

The problem is, of course, that the corporate bosses never pandered to their critics - they only presented the appearance of doing so. Hence the sham. Silly Economist. Tricks are for kids, not readers.

Posted by matt at January 26, 2004 04:39 PM