Corporate Activism as PCSR Communication

Anne Vestergaard, Julie Uldam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Nike’s campaign featuring the NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest against police violence and racism has very quickly become almost iconic of a new type of politicized corporate campaigns which have evoked a renewed interest in exploring business engagement in political messages. In recent years, we are increasingly seeing corporations take a public stance on social, political, and environmental issues. It is an activism that aims at influencing political, industrial, commercial or cultural agendas and takes place in social arenas such as the media instead of parliamentary institutions. This paper approaches corporate activism as a manifestation of the logic described as PCSR. It draws on advertising spots as an example of corporate activism in the media to illustrate the ways in which corporations adopt responsibilities of societal critique from social movements. On the basis of this, it argues that a new version of a politics of the self emerges. This is a commercial politics of the self to be fulfilled through consumer loyalty to the company, which decouples values from formal structures of governance and, instead, construe their realization as an individualized consumer responsibility. This may not remove the potential of corporate activism for social change. Corporate activism both entails the potential for politicization of the corporate sphere and the risk of depolitization of the political sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonja Taneja
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings


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