Environmental contest at the interface between CSR and social movements: international capital meets environmental activism on the Black Sea coast of Turkey
Ståle Knudsen (University of Bergen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the interaction between environmental activism and the corporate ethics of a trans-national corporation in a study of the way a large power plant on the Black Sea coast of Turkey was established and contested.
Paper long abstract:
Trans- national corporations have increasingly tried to address local populations' and environmental activists' concerns about environmental impact by incorporating such issues into the companies' 'corporate ethics'. While social movement theory to stress the creativity of activism, anthropological approaches to CSR, on the other hand, tends to emphasize the way corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes the moral high ground, establishing a hegemonic frame for a 'universal' morality that focuses on citizen responsibility, partnership, entrepreneurship and vision. I explore the interaction between environmental activism and CSR policies in a study of the way a large power plant on the Black Sea coast of Turkey was established and contested. Initially the power plant, owned and constructed by the Austrian OMV, was met with opposition by environmental activists. However, partly due to the CSR policies of the corporation, opposition to the construction was gradually diffused. I argue that neither the social movement theory nor the CSR theory fully explain what happened in this case as the protests quickly became embedded in local politics and national identity figurations, and the CSR work by the company was transformed and domesticated by local factionalism, corruption, identity politics etc.
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