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Business and the uses of 'civil society' : Governing Congolese mining areas

DOI zum Zitieren der Version auf EPub Bayreuth:
URN to cite this document: urn:nbn:de:bvb:703-epub-5810-6

Title data

Hönke, Jana:
Business and the uses of 'civil society' : Governing Congolese mining areas.
In: Gabay, Clive ; Death, Carl (ed.): Critical Perspectives on African Politics : Liberal interventions, state-building and civil society. - London : Routledge , 2014 . - pp. 91-107 . - (Routledge Studies in African Politics and International Relations ; 5 )
ISBN 978-1-138-21490-3

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Not only development agencies, international organisations and international NGOs intervene in postcolonial societies but also multinational companies. These companies are today expected to promote the building of liberal states and civil societies. Some of them in fact do engage in activities that follow this demand and engage in participatory community development and capacity building. In some areas in Africa, they are in fact amongst the most active promoters of what some refer to as ‘global liberal governmentality’ (Sending and Neumann, 2006). These are business spaces, and in particular areas of extraction that have received investment by large multinational mining companies, such as the Niger Delta in Nigeria or the Copperbelt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. These companies often refer to the people living adjacent to their operations as ‘their communities’ and in engaging with them draw on the discourse of civil society. This chapter analyses companies’ practices in adjacent communities, using the case of mining companies in copper and cobalt–rich Southern Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It looks at large and medium-sized multinational companies that have committed themselves to standards of corporate social responsibility. These are for this chapter the American company Freeport MacMoRan, Canadian First Quantum and Australian Anvil Mining. Examining the everyday practices of these companies allows to show ambiguous uses and effects of the idea of civil society and participatory community engagement. Drawing on case studies from the early twentieth century and the post-2000 period, this chapter shows, firstly, that companies have always been comprehensively involved in ordering practices in adjacent communities. However, the participatory management of today is different from the coercive and disciplinary paternalism used to control local communities a century ago. However, despite this shift to a new liberal governmentality (Rose 1999), which emphasises the participation of the population in its own governance, there are also striking similarities between early colonial and contemporary corporate ordering attempts. Participation operates in concert with powerful techniques of coercion and indirect rule. While dominating official discourse, calling on self-responsible citizens coexists with fortress protection and older practices of paternalistic cooptation and indirect rule (Hönke 2013). In addition, participatory community engagement and recourse to the discourse of liberal civil society takes place selectively. Technocratic problem-solving-oriented cooperation and service-delivery is encouraged whilst other, contentious activity is silenced. The liberal claim of self-determination is in fact compromised by the recourse to indirect rule and coercion in order to secure stable working conditions, as well as managerial approaches to participation. After an exploration of the literature on participatory community development and corporate-community relations, the chapter analyses continuities and changes in corporate community practices in the early twentieth century and the post-2003 period in Katanga, DRC. It examines how Western donor agencies join in with companies in building a service-oriented ‘civil society’ while excluding more critical voices. It also criticizes the lack of sustainability of corporate participatory community programs such as in times of economic crisis.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a book
Additional notes (visible to public): This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in "Business and the uses of 'civil society'" on 2016 available online:
Keywords: Civil Society; Business; Congolese mining areas
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences
300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Sociology of Africa > Chair Sociology of Africa - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Sociology of Africa
Language: English
Originates at UBT: No
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:703-epub-5810-6
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2021 10:35
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 10:35


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