This essay advances a critique of the stakeholder concept based on the relative function of stakes and stakeholders in games of risk and reward such as roulette, cockfighting, and, if economists are right, climate negotiations. It asks what happens when corporate sustainability and other marketbased “solutions” to socio-ecological crises such as climate change and mass extinction are perceived as a kind of casino. Dispossessed stakeholders become background props at sustainability conferences and other events where dramatic doom-and-gloom narratives of catastrophe serve as a way to reinforce global geographies of power and extraction. Being honest about the effects of categorizing such diverse actors as stakeholders or, alternatively, being clear about what exactly the word stakeholder means in terms of power and responsibility, is an important step in reaffirming the agency of the communities who stand to lose the most in the anthropocene.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 4 May
- Corporate sustainability