Edited by Nina Boeger, Rachel Murray and Charlotte Villiers
Chapter 10: Engaging Individuals
Sally Wheeler INTRODUCTION In this chapter I want to consider the relationship of the individual citizen to CSR initiatives and NGO activism. My starting point is the popular disenchantment with traditional political structures that is evident in many national democracies. In that disenchantment I see an opportunity, if not an obligation, for the individual to adopt a position of political and ethical responsibility towards those who find themselves less advantaged and to give effect to that opportunity or obligation, with some caveats, through an interaction with and a subsequent shaping of CSR and NGO activities. The chapter falls into four sections. In the first section I examine the decline of traditional political participation and speculate as to why this might be. In the second I look at ways of inspiring personal political and ethical responsibility. I draw on the work of Iris Marion Young, Paulo Freire and Emmanuel Levinas to construct these ideas of political and ethical obligation. I see it as essential that individual citizens engage and determine the nature of CSR and NGO activity and I explore the reasons for this in the third and fourth sections. There my concern is with the democratic deficit that occurs in both CSR policy and NGO activity if there is mere passive endorsement of these activities and not positive citizen engagement. My theme throughout this chapter is that despite their apparent power, corporations are merely instruments of the will of the wider public in which they are situated. Political commitment at...
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