Place and politics

I-Hsien Porter

Against a backdrop of continuing ‘Occupy’ protests in major cities in the Global North (see Sarah Mills’ earlier article, below), the Guardian recently reported one multinational company’s concerns for the future.

Starbucks is one of a number of global companies pushing for action on climate change. The effects of climate change are already being felt by coffee growers and have the potential to disrupt global supply chains.

It is easy to question whether Starbucks’ motives for encouraging action on climate change are altruistic. However, many companies now promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), an idea of ‘doing good’ either to offset their negative impact on local environments and societies or simply because they are in a position to do so.

In a recent paper in Geography Compass, Trinia Hamiliton explores how CSR practices affect topics typically studied by geographers. These include local development, access to political processes and the interplay between different scales of economic and social processes.

While CSR has the potential to influence business decision making, there are many conflicting processes at work. Geographers are well placed to offer a deeper understanding of some of the issues.

The Guardian (19 Oct 2011) Starbucks concerned world coffee supply is threatened by climate change.

  Hamilton, T. (2011) Putting corporate responsibility in its place. Geography Compass 5 (10): 710-722

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