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SASB and Integrated Reporting
Claire Parfitt

This chapter employs a critical reading of the Integrated Reporting framework and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards, methodology and guidance documents. The analysis explores how key concepts like materiality, value, capital, accountability and risk are deployed in these frameworks, to understand the function this form of reporting plays in the speculative moral economy. Guided by historical accounting research and recalling the propositions developed in chapters one and two of the book, this chapter develops an understanding of how ethics are rationalised and made ready for commodification.

in False profits of ethical capital
Claire Parfitt

The production of ethical capital, and the capacity of firms and investors to leverage their speculations about which ethical claims will be the most profitable, and which ethical risks are most profitably minimised, depends on information from labour. This chapter reveals some of the ways in which labour, and specifically labour in its role as consumer, informs markets about ethical risks. Branding strategies are co-creative dialogic processes through which consumers and firms produce images, meanings and emotional responses. The acceleration of digital technology supports the expansion and intensification of these processes through which labour co-produces brands, including their ethical dimensions.

in False profits of ethical capital
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Risky politics
Claire Parfitt

Drawing together the preceding arguments about the contemporary moral economy, the function of ethics as risk in the context of financialisation and the alienation of ethics from the human being, this chapter highlights the productive nature of ethical capital, but also the political potential it generates.

in False profits of ethical capital
Claire Parfitt

This chapter explores the recent consolidation and concentration of the ESG information segment of the financial sector, and the emerging regulation of this sector in the context of political contest over defining the limits of ESG. As the economic significance of ESG investing grows, these debates become more intense and have led to new rules and proposals from securities regulators defining ESG and setting disclosure requirements. These regulatory processes, often positioned as a mechanism to standardise and clarify ESG practices, are exposing the limits of the responsible capital imaginary and creating new platforms to contest the accumulation of ethical capital.

in False profits of ethical capital
The derivative logic in action
Claire Parfitt

This chapter uses value theory to understand how ethics are produced through contemporary responsible investment practices, and in particular, the integration of ESG issues into investment decisions. The chapter offers an interpretation of value theory that is specific to understanding how ethics are translated into financial decision-making frameworks. This theory is then applied to empirical evidence about ESG integration in practice, to develop the argument that ESG integration produces a derivative logic of ethics, which then has implications for the organisation of capital, labour and nature.

in False profits of ethical capital
Finance, labour and the politics of risk
Author:

False profits of ethical capital analyses several dimensions of sustainability capitalism, to expose not only its inadequacies as a vehicle for social and political change, but also the ways in which it is productive for capital. Positioning ESG investing, sustainability reporting and corporate branding initiatives as part of a speculative moral economy, False profits shows how ethics are alienated from the human being and incorporated into the accumulation process. Engaging literatures of moral economy, financialisation, value theory and critical accounting, this book reveals that the accumulation of capital via ethical claims also generates points of contestation that exacerbate its contradictions.

Claire Parfitt

Chapter one develops a selective survey of different moral economies throughout capitalism’s history, interwoven with a discussion of speculation and risk. This chapter establishes the materialist approach to ethics that the book adopts, anchoring a discussion of the moral economy in key moments of ethical and political struggles. From establishing the liberal philosophical foundations for capitalist accumulation, to the socialisation of capital via joint stock companies, to the monopolistic endeavours of the early twentieth century and the welfare state of the post-World War II era, this history focuses on the dynamic manifestations of moral economy and the politics of speculation, articulating the grounded and contested nature of ethics.

in False profits of ethical capital
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A more responsible and resilient capitalism?
Claire Parfitt

Locating the emergence of ethical capital as a capitalist realist response to overlapping social, ecological and political crises, this chapter sets out the theoretical frame and core concepts of the book. It explains what ethical capital means in the context of this book, why it has emerged alongside a responsible capital imaginary, and what the consequences of this may be.

in False profits of ethical capital
Claire Parfitt

Chapter two, following on from the argument in the previous chapter which uses the moral economy concept as an analytical tool, argues that the contemporary period is characterised by a “speculative moral economy”. This moral economy has two key, contradictory features. First, it is underlaid by the responsible capital imaginary, insisting that it is possible to simultaneously “do well” (make profits) and “do good” (be ethical). Contemporary business ethics asserts that profit-making and social justice are not merely compatible but mutually beneficial. Second, this moral economy is operationalised through risk management, generating a derivative logic of ethics. Ethical questions are treated as risks and are managed, like other risks, through financial mechanisms. Ethics become capital, but at the same time, capital accumulation produces a particular market-compatible ethics.

in False profits of ethical capital
Florina Cristiana Matei

This chapter explores the policy and institutional transformations associated with interagency cooperation and coordination among the various components of the Chilean security sector (armed forces, police, intelligence agencies), as well as between these agencies and their foreign counterparts. The chapter argues that Chile’s transition to democracy has brought about considerable changes in civil-military relations, including improving interagency processes within the realm of defence and security – domestically and even more prominently, internationally – yet there is still room for improvement. The current main roles of the Chilean armed forces – which include safeguarding national sovereignty, preserving territorial inviolability, and ensuring the safety of the national population – have been devised with an interagency context in mind, whereby, domestically, the military indirectly supports the Chilean security and public safety institutions, whereas internationally, the Chilean military cooperates with international coalition forces. The chapter concludes that policy instruments, such as the Defence White Book, providing an overview of the defence sector’s legal basis, policies, and capabilities, have set the stage for military support to civilian authorities. Civilian and military leadership remain committed to investing in interagency cooperation in the field of security and defence in the short run, due to the increasingly interconnected and network-centric nature of the security threats and the subsequent call for more network-like security institutions, which the Chilean civil-military elites equally prioritise.

in Governing the military