CSR for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction? Critical Perspectives from the Anthropology of Development

  • Rochelle SpencerEmail author
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


An anthropology of development perspective on corporate social responsibility (CSR ) seeks to unveil unintended outcomes of CSR initiatives, to unpack its discourses and the assumptions that CSR is a driver of sustainable development and poverty reduction. The central question underpinning analyses of CSR from this perspective is what the implications might be of the private sector as an agent of development. The shift in the perceived role of business as only a profit -driven tool of development to that of development agent is vividly illustrated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs ). The SDGs emphasise that governments and multilateral development agencies cannot achieve the 2030 development agenda alone and that the private sector has the capital , resources and power to take on a central role in poverty reduction. This chapter presents the anthropology of development concerns with how the CSR apparatus utilises a sustainable development discourse to support the development encounter between corporations of the global North working in communities of the global South. From this anthropology of development perspective several concerns are brought to the forefront of CSR debates: the contested nature of both CSR and sustainable development; the taken-for-granted assumptions that the private sector and poverty reduction are compatible; and the unintended consequences of CSR activities despite well-meaning intentions.


SDGsSustainable Development Goals Unintended consequencesUnintended Consequences Private sectorPrivate Sector anthropologyAnthropology Blowfield 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Responsible Citizenship and SustainabilityMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia

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