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Power and politics of CSR engagement and exclusion: A critical discourse analysis of the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Juukan Gorge

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posted on 2022-11-11, 03:34 authored by Sarah HoleySarah Holey

This thesis presents a case study of corporate power embodied in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Corporations are increasingly expected to behave in socially responsible ways with growing demands for accountability to the community. The resources industry in particular has faced sustained pressure from social activist groups, ethical investment advocates, governments, individuals and others for both ongoing and improved CSR endeavours and outcomes. The sector has responded with a dramatic increase in corporate efforts and deployment of resources to CSR programs, creating a growth industry of professional CSR consultants and the development of self-regulated CSR standards and codes. Recognition of the political role of multinational corporations has demanded ethical stakeholder engagement in an environment where there is a significant power disparity with the local communities in which they operate. The Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia reviewed the impact of the mining industry on Traditional Owners and Indigenous cultural heritage and recommended legislative changes. I use critical discourse analysis (CDA) to examine implicit power relations as revealed and reinforced in industry submissions to the Inquiry which depict socially responsible Indigenous engagement and protection of cultural heritage. Using the frame of political corporate social responsibility and deliberative democracy in community engagement, I explore the implications of self-regulated CSR on the power dynamic between the resources industry and Indigenous stakeholders. In presenting the case study I demonstrate through CDA that corporate self-regulation of social responsibilities and stakeholder engagement serves to distance CSR and Indigenous engagement from the regulatory environment and delineates the structure, exercise and sustaining of corporate power in the resources industry in Australia. Through a close examination of power imbalances, this thesis offers theoretical insights into the relationships between the resources industry and Indigenous communities which exclude the possibility of consensus through deliberative democracy, and exacerbate and entrench power imbalances.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Context and Literature Review -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Findings -- Chapter 5. Discussion -- Chapter 6. Conclusion and future research -- References -- Appendix

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Macquarie Business School, Department of Management, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alison Pullen

Additional Supervisor 1

Hector Viveros Tapia


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68 pages

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