Corporate social responsibility as cultural meaning management: a critique of the marketing of 'ethical' bottled water

Business Ethics 20 (3):233-252 (2011)
Abstract
To date, the primary focus of research in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been on the strategic implications of CSR for corporations and less on an evaluation of CSR from a wider political, economic and social perspective. In this paper, we aim to address this gap by critically engaging with marketing campaigns of so-called ‘ethical’ bottled water. We especially focus on a major CSR strategy of a range of different companies that promise to provide drinking water for (what they name as) ‘poor African people’ by way of Western consumers purchasing bottled water. Following Fairclough's approach, we unfold a three-step critical discourse analysis of the marketing campaigns of 10 such ‘ethical’ brands. Our results show that bottled water companies try to influence consumers' tastes through the management of the cultural meaning of bottled water, producing a more ‘ethical’ and ‘socially responsible’ perception of their products/brands. Theoretically, we base our analysis on McCracken's model of the cultural meaning of consumer goods, which, we argue, offers a critical perspective of the recent emergence of CSR and business ethics initiatives. We discuss how these marketing campaigns can be framed as historical struggles associated with neo-liberal ideology and hegemony. Our analysis demonstrates how such CSR strategies are part of a general process of the reproduction of capitalist modes of accumulation and legitimation through the usage of cultural categories
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8608.2011.01626.x
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,300
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Prisms.Theodor W. Adorno - 1983 - MIT Press.
L'Archéologie du savoir. [REVIEW]M. Foucault - 1970 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 75:355.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Marketing's Consequences.C. B. Bhattacharya - 2010 - Business Ethics Quarterly 20 (4):617-641.
Feeling Off Balance? Need an Alignment?Linda C. Rodríguez & Ivan Montiel - 2008 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 19:162-171.
Added to PP index
2011-06-21

Total downloads
41 ( #129,929 of 2,193,222 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #290,278 of 2,193,222 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature