Publication Type:Conference Paper
Source:XVII. World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden (2010)
Keywords:Carbon, carbon management, corporate environmental protection, Ecological Modernisation, environmental management
By way of scrutinising the construction of carbon emissions by the environmental managers of a multinational corporation, the paper introduces how the multinational relates getting the atmosphere right with getting their carbon emissions right. The hegemonic take on greening capitalism, i.e. ecological modernisation, assumes corporations to be the prime drivers of ecological innovation and, thus, salvation. Then, a study of the concrete management of the 'natural order' - by corporations - seems apt. This paper is concerned with the natural order of the atmosphere and the corporate practices explicitly aimed at managing the carbon load.
Drawing on ethnographic research over a period of ten months, the paper explores the environmental and carbon management of one of the world's largest financial services providers, employing more than 10,000 workers and serving more than 1,000,000 customers. This paper focuses on the everyday work practices of agents of ecological modernisation, i.e., environmental managers, to understand how order is produced at two levels: First, the multinational assumes that climate change is happening, and, thus, the 'natural order' is officially abandoned and through that, implicitly, accepted. Second, carbon emissions constitute the destructive relation between multinational and climate. From the point of views of members in the field, the construction of these emissions takes place orderly. At the same time, however, controllability is lacking: Although members both have to aim as well as actually aim at orderly managing the multinational's carbon emissions, lack of control is a significant issue.
The paper aims at explicating hidden and implicit assumptions about the multinational's carbon management: how and why corporate members enact the 'management' as well as how it is meaningful to them. Thus, I aim to understand how the human management of the target non-human (atmosphere) is practised, and in the course of this problematise the role of various non-humans, taken-for-granted too much to be actually managed. This, I hope, allows to better grasp the members, the management contexts, and through that, corresponding room for manoeuvre.
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