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Democratizing InequalitiesDilemmas of the New Public Participation$
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Caroline W. Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward T. Walker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479847273

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479847273.001.0001

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Legitimating the Corporation through Public Participation

Legitimating the Corporation through Public Participation

Chapter:
(p.66) Chapter 4 Legitimating the Corporation through Public Participation
Source:
Democratizing Inequalities
Author(s):

Edward T. Walker

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479847273.003.0004

This chapter explores how corporations mobilize public participation as a strategy to enhance their sociopolitical legitimacy with the help of grassroots lobbying consultants. In particular, it considers how corporate interventions in the public sphere are related to corporate interests in maintaining their legitimacy when faced with societal controversies and protest. The chapter begins with an overview of grassroots mobilization programs aimed at enhancing corporate legitimacy before discussing research on the sources of social legitimacy among firms as well as the political implications of such societal relations. It then examines how firms respond to protests and shows that they are most likely to hire grassroots lobbying consultants when they are facing concerns about the legitimacy of their community relations or environmental practices. The chapter concludes by arguing that corporate campaigns reinforce inequality by mobilizing participation almost exclusively in line with company interests.

Keywords:   corporations, public participation, sociopolitical legitimacy, grassroots lobbying, grassroots mobilization programs, corporate legitimacy, protests, grassroots lobbying consultants, community relations, inequality

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