The Prize Committee is delighted to announce that the article by Claire Parfitt, “ESG Integration Treats Ethics as Risk, but Whose Ethics and Whose Risk? Responsible Investment in the Context of Precarity and Risk-Shifting,” published in the journal Critical Sociology, has been voted the winner of the 2020 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize.
In her article, Claire Parfitt considers “the relationship between precarity and financialization by applying Randy Martin’s concept of the social derivative to the phenomenon of responsible investment”. This is a novel approach to take to an important topic, and her article therefore makes an important contribution to contemporary debates about the social responsibility of business. This is because we live in a time when corporate leaders are professing their rejection of Milton Friedman’s 1970 dictum that the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. Instead, they profess concerns for society, for protecting the environment, for addressing forced labour, and generally performing the role of democratically elected governments. The business of business is no longer business, but governance. This is apparently what investors want too. Nothing less than a struggle over the locus of governance is in play, raising the central question in politics of “who governs?” Claire Parfitt puts it more technically and sophisticatedly than this though, and not through rehearsing the usual debates about neoliberalism. Instead, she shows that there “is not a straightforward move from public to private, but rather a dispersion and reorganization of risk and more porous relations between risk-managing entities”. Rather than socially responsible and ethical investment being a form of dissent, she shows that ethics have been effectively turned into profits, and that “a narrow frame where there is little possibility for contest” is the result. Deftly employing debates around disintermediation and precarity, she draws out both the theoretical and real world implications, and the result is an outstanding article that will be valuable in teaching, research and public debate. The Committee congratulates her.
The prize will be awarded at a future AIPEN workshop and Claire Parfitt will be invited to write a PPE post on the winning article.
Winners of the AIPEN Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize
2020 – Claire Parfitt, ‘ESG Integration Treats Ethics as Risk, but Whose Ethics and Whose Risk? Responsible Investment in the Context of Precarity and Risk-Shifting’, Critical Sociology, 46:4-5 (2019).
2019 – Linda Weiss and Elizabeth Thurbon, ‘Power Paradox: How the Extension of US Infrastructural Power Abroad Diminishes State Capacity at Home’, Review of International Political Economy, 25:6 (2018).
2018 – Maria Tanyag, ‘Invisible labor, invisible bodies: how the global political economy affects reproductive freedom in the Philippines’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 19:1 (2017).
2017 – Samanthi J. Gunawardana, ‘“To Finish, We Must Finish”: Everyday Practices of Depletion in Sri Lankan Export-Processing Zones’, Globalizations, 13:6 (2016).
2016 – Gareth Bryant, ‘“Fixing” the Climate Crisis: Capital, States and Carbon Offsetting in India’ (co-authored with Siddhartha Dabhi and Steffen Böhm), Environment and Planning A, 47:10 (2015).
2015 – Ainsley Elbra, ‘Interests Need Not be Pursued if They Can be Created: Private Governance in African Gold Mining’, Business and Politics, 16:2 (2014).
Image: Map of massacres of First Nations people in the frontier wars. Judy Watson, Angus Hooper, Jonathan Richards, Greg Hooper, ‘The Names of Places‘.