Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 27–50 | Cite as

Less-told stories about corporate globalization: transnational corporations and CSR as the politics of (ir)responsibility in Africa



In the wake of transformations being ushered by globalization, figures suggest that there is a rise in the power of transnational corporations (TNCs), raising important questions about the exercise of such power and/or how to hold them accountable for it. Concomitantly, corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse has emerged as a new discursive formation; a new meta-narrative that is propagated by TNCs. It seeks to portray the actions of TNCs as oriented by such values as “responsibility,” “sustainability,” “development.” Situated within what is emerging as “an anthropological imperative to critique” the actions of corporations, this article takes a critical approach to such a meta-narrative. It argues that not only do TNCs behave irresponsibly in contexts outside the Global North where they can easily get away with doing so, but also that the CSR discourse of responsibility helps to occlude these often damaging actions by TNCs. Drawing from an overview of the often untold or less-known stories of damaging actions by TNCs in Africa in the recent past, this article illustrates the disturbing co-existence of socially irresponsible actions amidst a forceful tendency to circulate a feel-good CSR discourse of responsibility.


Africa Corporate globalization Corporate social responsibility Transnational corporations (TNCs) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Culture and Society (Anthropology)Aarhus University, MoesgaardHøjbjergDenmark

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