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Green Illusions: governing CSR aesthetics


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Richardson, BJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3249-5648 2019 , 'Green Illusions: governing CSR aesthetics' , Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, vol. 36 , pp. 3-35 , doi: 10.22329/wyaj.v36i0.6065.

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This article makes a novel argument that governance of corporate environmental activitiesshould recognize that the business corporation is an aesthetic phenomenon, including theenvironmental practices and communications undertaken in the name of “corporate socialresponsibility” [CSR]. Corporate identities and CSR practices are aesthetically projectedthrough logos, trademarks, websites, the presentation of products and services, stylishoffices, company uniforms, and other aesthetic artefacts. This corporate “branding”dovetails with the broader aestheticization of our pervasive media and consumer culture.Aesthetics has particular salience in CSR for influencing, and sometimes misleading,public opinion about corporate environmental performance. Consequently, in discipliningunscrupulous corporate behaviour, governance methods must be more responsive to suchaesthetic characteristics. The green illusions of business communications createdifficulties for regulation, which is better suited to disciplining discrete misleadingstatements about retailed products or trademarks rather than tackling the broaderaesthetic character of business and the marketplace. The article suggests that non-stateactors who are more sensitive to aesthetics can help to fill some of this governance void.The “counter-aesthetic” strategies of social and environmental activist groups can injecta subversive narrative that can help to unmask these green illusions. Although the historyof such tactics suggests they probably have only a modest effect in challenging corporatedeception, the law can assist by protecting public spaces from corporate marketing andsponsorship.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Richardson, BJ
Keywords: corporate marketing, regulation, environmental standards, aesthetics
Journal or Publication Title: Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice
Publisher: University of Windsor * Faculty of Law
ISSN: 0710-0841
DOI / ID Number: 10.22329/wyaj.v36i0.6065
Copyright Information:

Copyright the author(s). Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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