Corporations and Citizenship


  • Paddy Ireland



Political Economy


Corporations are currently attracting more than the usual amount of attention from the Anglo-American left. At first glance, this might appear simply to be a product of "downsizing," stagnating wages and growing job insecurity coupled with spiraling profits, remuneration of top executives, and share prices. Markets cheer as jobs disappear. But on closer examination it is clear that there is more to it than this, for corporations are being presented by some on the left as potential vehicles for progressive social and economic reform. The principal manifestation of this phenomenon has been the emergence of the "stakeholding" conception of the company, an idea which originated in the United States but which has since risen to prominence in Britain. More recently, it has also taken the form of growing support for the notion of "good corporate citizenship." The arguments are simple. Companies, it is said, need not and should not be operated solely in the interests of their shareholders.

This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full.

Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.