Between Transparency and Censorship: Discursive Struggles in the Extractive Industries

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    Internet technologies have been celebrated for their potential to help civil society actors expose discrepancies between companies’ words and practices (Bennett, 2005). Recent reporting on dangerous and unethical business practices gestures towards an increased visibility of corporations vis-à-vis stakeholders and wider publics (Fleming and Zyglidopoulus, 2011). On closer inspection, however, this is a two-way street. In response, companies have tried to protect and repair their reputation. This paper examines two of the ways in which companies respond: (1) their participation in voluntary initiatives and sponsorships, typically under the heading of transparency, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (Livesey, 2001; Palazzo and Scherer, 2006) and (2) their attempts to contain activists’ attempts to unveil discrepancies between companies’ CSR discourses and practices. In doing so, it focuses on the extractive industries and draws on the case of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and examples of oil companies’ surveillance of individual activists’ online communication. We draw on media theory, on theories of hidden organizing and theories of post-political regulation to discuss the ethico-political implications of these practices of management of visibility.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2014: The Power of Words - Philadelphia, United States
    Duration: 1 Aug 20145 Aug 2014
    Conference number: 74


    ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2014
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    Internet address

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