Social and environmental reporting in the UK : a neo-Gramscian critique
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis explores the practice of stand-alone Social and Environmental Reporting (SER) in the UK. This exploration encompasses a detailed description of SER practice as it currently is perceived in the UK. SER is conceived ideally as a means of making organisations accountable to wider society by rendering transparent the conflict inherent in commercial activity, in turn empowering wider society. However, in practice this goal remains elusive. It is within this context that a detailed investigation of corporate motivations to SER was undertaken. The thesis reflects upon what these motivations imply for a more accountable SER in the UK context, and generally. A qualitative methodological approach was taken in the study. Corporate motivations were explored through a series of in-depth interviews with corporate SER managers. In addition to exploring motivations, the interviews were also framed in a way that allowed the ideologies of managers to be interrogated. This represents an attempt to build upon the insights of the SER fieldwork of recent years. The study was also informed by a critical theoretical perspective. Fieldwork that is critically informed in this manner is largely absent from the literature. The results of this study indicate that SER is driven by a variety of motivations. These motivations are presented as complex and multifarious, manifesting themselves in different configurations across companies. However, the overwhelming majority of these motivations may be understood as forming part of a business case for SER. The thesis is less concerned with dissecting the complexity of the business case than it is with understanding the dominance of this business case per se, and what such a dominance implies for SER. This is reflected upon using Neo-Gramscian theory where it is suggested that, given present societal arrangements, companies will always try to render SER as an ideological tool that obfuscates, rather than exposes the conflicts inherent in commercial activity. However, the thesis concludes by suggesting that even this somewhat disappointing state of affairs does not necessarily imply that SER is without emancipatory potential.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosopy
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.