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Introduction

Ethnographies of corporate ethicizing

Catherine Dolan and Dinah Rajak

As the global community confronts increasing economic, social, and environmental challenges, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement has demonstrated a powerful capacity to offer itself up as a solution, circulating new ethical regimes of accountability and sustainability in business. This article introduces five contributions that explore ethnographically the meanings, practices, and impact of corporate social and environmental responsibility across a range of transnational corporations and geographical locations (India, South Africa, the UK, Chile, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In each of these contexts corporations are performing ethics in different ways and to different ends, from the mundane to the ritualistic and from the discursive to the material, drawing a range of actors, interests, and agendas into the moral fold of CSR. Yet across these diverse sites a set of common tensions in the practice and discourse of CSR emerge, as the supposedly “win-win” marriage between the social and the technical, the market and morality, and the natural and the cultural becomes routinized in global management practice. By tracing the connections and conflicts between the local micropolitics of corporate engagement and the global movements of CSR, the collection reveals the ambiguous and shifting nature of CSR and the ways in which social and environmental relations are transformed through the regime of ethical capitalism.

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Derek Edyvane and Demetris Tillyris

‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing’. -Archilochus quoted in Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox, 22

The fragment from the Greek poet Archilochus, quoted in Isaiah Berlin’s essay ‘The Hedgehog and the Fox’, serves as a metaphor for the long-standing contrast and rivalry between two radically different approaches to public ethics, each of which is couched in a radically different vision of the structure of moral value. On the one hand, the way of the hedgehog corresponds to the creed of value monism, reflecting a faith in the ultimate unity of the moral universe and belief in the singularity, tidiness and completeness of moral and political purposes. On the other hand, the way of the fox corresponds to the nemesis of monism, the philosophical tradition of value pluralism, to which this collection of essays is devoted. This dissenting countermovement, which emerges most clearly in the writings of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, Bernard Williams and John Gray, is fuelled by an appreciation of the perpetuity of plurality and conflict and, correspondingly, by the conviction that visions of moral unity and harmony are incoherent and implausible. In the view of the value pluralists, ‘there is no completeness and no perfection to be found in morality’ (Hampshire 1989a: 177).

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Christine Daigle

This article shows that Sartre’s theatrical works offer a reflection on morality, in particular The Flies, The Devil and the Good Lord, and The Sequestered of Altona. The ethical reflections that we find in his plays fill a philosophical gap left after Being and Nothingness. The plays offer an exploration of freedom’s rootedness in situation which complements the more theoretical notes of the posthumously published Notebooks for an Ethics. Additionally, I link Sartre’s ethics and Nietzsche’s ethics showing that both thinkers rest their philosophies on a strict atheism. Further, their elaborations on morality follow a similar path by emphasizing individual freedom and thus subsequently the responsibility of the individual as the creator of values.

Cet article fait la démonstration que les œuvres théâtrales de Sartre, plus particulièrement Les Mouches, Le Diable et le bon dieu et Les Séquestrés d'Altona, tiennent lieu de réflexion morale chez Sartre. La réflexion éthique qu'on y retrouve comble un manque laissé par les écrits philosophiques suivant L'Être et le néant. Les pièces et leur exploration de l'ancrage de la liberté dans la situation offrent un complément aux notes plus théoriques des Cahiers pour une morale, publiés à titre posthume. En plus de faire cette démonstration, cet article explore les liens entre la morale des pièces sartriennes et la morale nietzschéenne. Il ressort de cet examen que ces deux morales s'appuient sur un athéisme pur et dur et s'élaborent de même façon en mettant l'emphase sur la liberté de l'individu et son rôle en tant que créateur de valeurs.

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Local Laughter, Global Polemics

Understanding Charlie Hebdo

Jane Weston Vauclair

Charlie Hebdo became a global name following the tragic events of 7 January 2015 in Paris. Following this, two competing, somewhat reductive forms of commentary on Charlie Hebdo rapidly emerged in the global media. Could Charlie Hebdo effectively be sidelined as a case of egregiously irresponsible and offensive satire, even if the attacks per se were inexcusable? Or could its cartoonists instead be championed as martyrs to free speech, having proved to have a backbone of conviction and courage that had been lacking elsewhere in the media? This article argues that a dual set of tensions have come to the fore through Charlie's vertiginous global exposure. These are tensions between the local and the global, and between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility. It looks to highlight how Charlie Hebdo's contributors have been engaging with these tensions, both in the 'survivor's issue' of 14 January 2015 and in other spaces of commentary.

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Timely Meditations on the Use and Abuse of History

Léon Werth's Déposition: Journal de guerre 1940-1944

Nathan Bracher

This article studies the question of history during the dramatic moments recorded in Léon Werth's Déposition: Journal de guerre 1940-1944. Analyzed in reference to Nietzsche, Descartes, and Lévinas, Werth's journal approaches history in a manner timely for then and now. Probing his own knowledge of and relation to France's unsettling defeat and Occupation by Nazi Germany,Werth undertakes his own version of a Cogito that leads not to some linear chain of syllogisms, but instead to an acute sense of implication in and even responsibility for history. Werth's lucidity, engagement, and ethics constrast favorably with Nietzsche's elitist, exclusionary vitalism as well as with the rationalist solitude of the Descartes' Discours de la méthode. His probing reflexions on his relation to historical events offer significant parallels to the philosophical project of Emmanuel Lévinas.

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Massimo Borlandi

This introduces and discusses the background to a virtually unknown text - Durkheim's speech at the funeral of his colleague and friend, Frédéric Rauh (1861-1909). The two men had known one another for some time, and had much in common. But a disagreement had arisen between them, over the individual's role in social life, and came to the fore in their exchange with one another during the debate on Durkheim's 'The Determination of Moral Facts' (1906). This traces the development of Rauh's career and of his views on ethics, outlines the argument of his main book, Moral Experience (1903), and indicates how his work increasingly referred to Durkheim, Lévy-Bruhl and the Année sociologique. But it is above all in an effort to pinpoint what was at stake. For it can seem more of a divergence of perspectives, generating disagreement over the questions it is important to ask, rather than over precisely the same issues.

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W. S .F. Pickering

In Durkheim’s time, Gustave Belot was an active, well-known participant in debates on social issues. Nowadays he is a marginal, largely forgotten figure. This essay aims to provide an introduction to his life and work, in which he was in many ways sympathetic with Durkheim’s project for a social science but was also highly critical of it. The discussion concentrates on Belot’s position on ethics and religion, to bring out where he supported Durkheim and where he attacked him on these two areas of central concern to them both. In particular, it focuses on Durkheim’s critique of Belot’s Etudes de morale positive, then in turn on Belot’s critique of Durkheim’s Formes élémentaires.

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Afterword

For a New Materialist Analytics of Time

Laura Bear

How might we construct a reinvigorated materialist analytics of human time that pushes beyond Marxist approaches? Here, I suggest that anthropology contains rich resources with which to achieve this aim. In particular, it can help us understand the qualities of secular and capitalist ‘modern’ time. An emphasis on time-tricking is especially useful in revealing the technologies of imagination, the ethics and the inequalities of such a temporal orientation. This concept brings into view the materialist ethic, ludic and aesthetic practices, and misrecognitions characteristic of current forms of ‘modern’ time. In addition, ethnographies of time-tricking provide the foundations for a reworking of Marx’s model of free and disposable time by focusing on informalized, social reproductive, excessive and domestic labour. A re-centring of our theories on these significant activities within capitalism is long overdue.

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Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested?

Anthropological knowledge production in question

David Mosse

This article draws out some of the implications of the fact that what anthropologists claim to know, or want to say, is unavoidably and in complicated ways bound by the ethics of involvement, detachment, and institutional location. I will first consider the increasingly common practice of circulating the output of anthropological research within the social context of its fieldwork, among the various research participants and interlocutors. Second, I will try to account for the sometimes negative reception of ethnographic accounts, especially where the research has focused on organizations (e.g., NGOs), activists, or others professionally concerned with public representations of their work. Third, I will reconsider the notion of “speaking truth to power” by pointing to the unacknowledged power of ethnographic description. Finally, I will suggest that ethical concerns are generated as much by the theoretical framing of research as by fieldwork practice, and that these are matters of choice rather than inherent in the ethnographic method.

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Claudia Mitchell

There is probably no topic associated with doing fieldwork with girls and young women that evokes more concern than the issue of ethics. For many members of university research ethics boards (REBs) the very term girls in the title of a project sets off alarm bells, and when the work is participatory and visual there is often a heightened concern in relation to what girls might be talking about, screening, photographing or drawing, There are, of course, good reasons why researchers need to be vigilant in seeking to do most good and least harm in all research involving human subjects. At the same time, however, this heightened concern about working with girls and young women should also cause us to reflect on what our vigilant attitude does and some of the potentially harmful outcomes some attitudes may have. For example, do we see girls as victims or agents? When? At what age? Under what circumstances? What harm might we do if we refuse to see that girls can be both?