Human Rights and the Grammar of Corporate Social Responsibility

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Corporate social responsibility reporting plays an important role in how business organisations articulate themselves both inside and out. Reports play a sense-making role, expressing organisational agency through narra- tives and accounts and from there generating patterns of self-legitimation for corporate officers. They articulate a social place for firms, ’re-embedding’ them socially without radically disrupting familiar processes and routines. This paper focuses on how human rights is put to work in social reporting. Human rights act both as moral expressions and as amenable to measure- ment, benchmarking and governance. How they are to be defined is informed by neighbouring phrases and informs other phrases in turn. As such their meaning within corporate reports is not fixed or given: meaning is clarified and developed through the textual contexts within which rights are situated. Applying text analytic techniques, I focus on the place of rights in the CSR reports of large oil and mining firms. I highlight the ways that rights are developed and the implications of narratives for our understanding of both business and human rights and of the corporate form.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016
EventInternational Conference on Business and Human Rights - Law School, University of Seville, Seville, Spain
Duration: 20 Oct 201621 Oct 2016


ConferenceInternational Conference on Business and Human Rights
Internet address


  • business
  • human rights
  • corpus linguistics

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