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Citizenship and Power: Containment of Critical Voices in the Public Sphere

Fri, May 22, 10:30 to 11:45, Caribe Hilton, Tropical B


Internet technologies have been celebrated for their potential to help civil society actors expose discrepancies between companies’ words and practices. Recent reporting on dangerous and unethical business practices gestures towards an increased visibility of corporations vis-à-vis stakeholders and wider publics. On closer inspection, however, this is a two-way street. In response, companies have tried to protect and repair their reputation. This paper examines companies' attempts to contain activists’ criticism of discrepancies between oil companies’ CSR discourses and fossil fuel extraction.
In doing so, it draws on the case of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and examples of oil companies’ surveillance of individual activists’ online communication. We draw on media theory, and theories of the post-political and radical citizenship to discuss the ethico-political implications of practices of management of visibility.