Refinery explosions. Accounting scandals. Bank meltdowns. All of
these catastrophes-and many more-might rightfully be blamed on
corporations. In response, advocates have suggested reforms ranging
from increased government regulation to corporate codes of conduct
to stop corporate abuses. Joshua Barkan writes that these
reactions, which view law as a limit on corporations, misunderstand
the role of law in fostering corporate power.
In Corporate Sovereignty, Barkan argues that corporate
power should be rethought as a mode of political sovereignty.
Rather than treating the economic power of corporations as a threat
to the political sovereignty of states, Barkan shows that the two
are ontologically linked. Situating analysis of U.S., British, and
international corporate law alongside careful readings in political
and social theory, he demonstrates that the Anglo-American
corporation and modern political sovereignty are founded in and
bound together through a principle of legally sanctioned immunity
from law. The problems that corporate-led globalization present for
governments result not from regulatory failures as much as from
corporate immunity that is being exported across the globe.
For Barkan, there is a paradox in that corporations, which are
legal creations, are given such power that they undermine the
sovereignty of states. He notes that while the relationship between
states and corporations may appear adversarial, it is in fact a
kind of doubling in which state sovereignty and corporate
power are both conjoined and in conflict. Our refusal to grapple
with the peculiar nature of this doubling means that some of our
best efforts to control corporations unwittingly reinvest the
sovereign powers they oppose.
Subjects: Economics, Law, Political Science
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.