Social Movements and Corporate Personhood in the US

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Katharina LEGANTKE, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Not only have corporations learned to deal with world cultural expectations, in a certain way they are made by world cultural expectations (Bromley/Sharkey forthcoming). I assume, that the development of the actorhood of corporations is reflected in the realm of law in the legal construction of the corporate person. Therefore, I am analyzing the conflicts about the accumulation of fundamental rights of the corporate person in the US. It is the discursive arena of the law which is constitutive to a specific form of the corporate person and there is a line of Supreme Court Cases which form the center of a critical discourse around the personhood of corporations. I will present first findings from the analysis of judgments, decisions, opinions and other documents relating to those cases, above all the infamous cases Citizens United and Hobby Lobby. I will conduct a content analysis – hopefully enhanced by automated text analysis - and I am mainly interested in the conceptions of corporations which are employed in the documents. But law is not made in a vacuum: It seems to me, that social movements are instrumental to this development in the US and internationally in three ways. First, there is a movement in the US which wants to abolish corporate personhood in general, which is directly opposing the attribution of fundamental rights to corporations. Second, the conservative movement in the US seems at least to condone this development in their fight for religious liberty and other rights. And third, by demanding of firms to act as moral actors, the CSR and the human rights movement may involuntarily fuel this development by contributing to the consolidation of the actorhood of corporations which might be the base for the attribution of fundamental rights to corporations.