Subpolitics and the Campaign against Barclays' Involvement in South Africa

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  • Jakob Skovgaard
In this article I examine the context for the British bank Barclays’ decision to disinvest from South Africa in 1986, with special attention to the impact of the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s campaign against the bank. The 18-year long campaign against Barclays – the largest bank in South Africa at the time and the fourth largest foreign-owned corporation – points to significant developments within the fields of corporate social responsibility and the potential influence of social movements on multinational corporations. Applying the theoretical approach of subpolitics as developed by Ulrich Beck in combination with the later subdivision by Boris Holzer and Mads P. Sørensen into a passive and an active form, it is possible to analyse the decisions of both anti-apartheid
activists and Barclays on similar terms. The conclusions drawn in this article
emphasise the idea that economic decisions taken by multinational corporations may have unintended political consequences and, furthermore, that the awareness of this phenomenon has contributed to the development of corporate social responsibility. Finally, I suggest that the campaign against Barclays generated public attentiveness towards the social responsibility of businesses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMoving the Social
Pages (from-to)37-58
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - corporate social responsibility (CSR), new social movements, anti-apartheid, disinvestment, subpolitics

ID: 173132411