Beyond a Corporate Social Responsibility Context Towards Methodological Pluralism in Social Life Cycle Assessment: Exploring Alternative Social Theoretical Perspectives
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The UNEP/SETAC guidelines have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as the underpinning theoretical perspective. However, studies on CSR suggest that the companies have benefitted more than society. We explore two alternative theoretical perspectives: the theory of ecologically unequal exchange (TEUE) and the actor-network-theory (ANT). By analysing case studies informed by TEUE and ANT, we identify their contribution to social life cycle assessment. The analysis shows that the perspectives enable description and identification of issues otherwise uncovered by the UNEP/SETAC approach: the unequal balance of health effects over a production and a consumption system and the presence of multiple and sometimes conflicting interests across actors in a production and consumption system, respectively. We point out characteristic methodological differences and conclude that S-LCA would benefit from greater pluralism.
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