CSR and the Neoliberal Imagination

Steen Vallentin, David Murillo

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This chapter challenges stereotypical depictions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a neoliberal discourse and argues that there is a need for greater awareness of the ‘varieties of liberalism’ at play in CSR. It shows how the work of Michel Foucault and post-Foucauldian studies on neoliberalism can be used to disentangle ideological strands in the CSR debate that are often jumbled together, but which differ from each other in important ways. While the chapter distinguishes between four varieties of liberalism, its main analytical focus is how understandings of CSR informed by classical liberalism are different from understandings embodying a neoliberal mindset. It argues that the foremost exemplars of a neoliberal imagination in the broad field of CSR are Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, who, with their work on strategic CSR/creating shared value, are explicitly turning social responsibility into an economic value proposition. Overall, the chapter makes a contribution toward clarifying the political language with which we can speak about different approaches to CSR.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Change : Institutional and Organizational Perspectives
EditorsArnaud Sales
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)9783030154059
ISBN (Electronic)9783030154073
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesEthical Economy


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Creating shared value
  • Critique
  • Ideology
  • Neoliberalism

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