This panel seeks to advance the anthropology of corporations by discussing ethnographic work on the nature, constitution and purpose of corporations in society.
Processes of globalisation and privatisation have moved corporations to the centre of people's social, economic, and political lives. This panel seeks to advance the anthropology of corporations by discussing ethnographic work on the nature, constitution, and purpose of corporations. The corporation is an elusive social form. It is an assemblage of capital, labour, resources, and institutional arrangements. But it is also an entified 'person' that can act on its own. How do anthropologists make sense of the ambiguous nature of the corporation? We invite papers that examine the people, practices, processes and institutional arrangements that constitute corporations, and study corporations in their multiple manifestations - from the boardroom to their local entanglements with the social, political, legal, and cultural environment. We also invite papers that discuss the insights the anthropology of corporations can provide to our understanding of the purpose of the corporation in society. How are its responsibilities understood, inside and outside the corporation? And how do those understandings fit in, or clash, with the political and legal definition of the purpose of the corporation? The anthropology of corporations is the study of large and often powerful institutions, which suggests a parallel to the anthropology of the state. Should and/or can we apply the theoretical and conceptual insights developed in the analysis of the state to ethnographic research into the nature, constitution, and purpose of (private) corporations? With this panel, we seek to bring together anthropologists studying corporations, to take stock and further this emergent field of anthropological enquiry.