Utopian Spaces, Dystopian Places?: A Local Community-Based Perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Hebrew University of Jerusalem zedbray@gmail.com
  • 2 Hebrew University of Jerusalem christian.thauer@mail.huji.ac.il
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ABSTRACT

In this article, we explore how corporate social responsibility may serve to mitigate the conflict between the utopia that many people—particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds in emerging markets states—associate with globalization and, on the other hand, the detrimental effect this globalization often actually has both on the quality of life of people and on the environment. Empirical data is drawn from field research on firm and local community relations in South Africa and China. We consider the extent to which corporate social responsibility may be a means to move beyond both utopian hopes and the dystopian reality of globalization.

Contributor Notes

Zoe Bray is Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since Autumn 2014. Previously, she was Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Reno. She earned her PhD from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy in 2002. Her research interests cover identity politics and ethnographic methods. Key publications include Living Boundaries: Identity in the Basque Country, second edition published by the Center for Basque Studies Press (2011), and “Ethnographic Methods” in Methods and Approaches in the Social Sciences (ed. Michael Keating and Donatella della Porta, Cambridge University Press, 2008). Address: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Forum, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. E-mail: zedbray@gmail.com.

Christian Thauer is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Previously, he was Assistant Professor in International Relations at the Freie Universitat Berlin and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, with a grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (2012–2013). His PhD thesis at the European University Institute in Florence was awarded the International Studies Association International Political Economy (ISA–IPE) Best Dissertation Prize 2010–2011. Main research interests include issues of governance and globalization, with a particular focus on the politics of emerging markets countries and firms as political actors. He is author of Internal Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility: Managerial Dilemmas and the Spread of Global Standards (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and coeditor of Business and Governance in South Africa: Racing to the Top? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Address: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, DAAD Center for German Studies, Department of International Relations, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. E-mail: christian.thauer@mail.huji.ac.il.

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