The Debate over Corporate Social Responsibility

By Steve May; George Cheney et al. | Go to book overview

1

Why Corporate Social Responsibility?
Why Now? How?

JILL J. MCMILLAN

There may have been a time when “social responsibility” meant truly caring in both symbolic and material ways for one's fellow human beings—across the backyard fence, at the community center, in church, or at the bowling ally—but a realistic review of history suggests that those communal ties have been uneven and unstable now, and in fact, we may simply be witnessing what Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, and Tipton (1985) describe as the “latest phase of that process of separation and individuation that modernity seems to entail” (p. 275). Certainly, America was colonized by those who had “come loose” from the old European structures, and yet the colonists brought with them notions of social obligation and group formation that served to ground communal life in the new land. Bellah et al. argue that only gradually did it become clear that “every social obligation was vulnerable, every tie between individuals fragile” (p. 276). So it should not have surprised us as it appeared to when Robert Putnam's (2000) exhaustive research revealed that Americans at the start of the new century were essentially “bowling alone”—that slowly, inexplicably, we had in large measure abdicated many of our responsibilities to one another. Of particular interest to the readers of this volume, and for reasons that I develop in this chapter, the institution that stepped into that vacuum of social responsibility was the modern business organization.

It was an uneasy fit from the start, like a rambunctious youngster in uncomfortable, dress-up clothes. Business, which historically has traded in financial and human capital, suddenly found itself as the chief repository of social capital (Hanifan, 1916; Putnam, 2000)—the connection, reciprocity, and trust that bind society rather than separate it through power, hierarchy, and competition (Kohn, 1986). It is not clear that it was a job that the corporate world wanted or ever knowingly signed on for (Marchand, 1998), although there are many cases of corporations and other business organizations assuming the role with a variety of motives. Today no CEO worth his or her salt would fail to recognize the moniker corporate social re- sponsibility (CSR), or business social responsi- bility, and most have a plan for it. And yet the paradoxical, even oxymoronic quality of this assignment for social stewardship remains.

We have gathered together in this volume explorations of that paradox, and in this chapter, I address these questions: Why corporate social responsibility? Why now? And how? To that end, I argue (1) that the modern corporation has accepted a role of social responsibility that it is ill-suited to enact, (2) that the shared traits of corporate discourse are inappropriate to promote CSR, and (3) that a reconsideration of ethos as participation and place offers a more appropriate frame for corporate credibility and voice.

-15-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Debate over Corporate Social Responsibility
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 490

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.