Fields of green: Corporate sustainability and the production of economistic environmental governance
Peter R Wilshusen
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
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This article critically examines the production of economistic fields of environmental governance in the context of global summits like Rioþ20. It focuses on the constitutive work performed by diverse actors in extending corporate sustainability logics, social technologies, and organizational forms initially enacted at the 2012 Corporate Sustainability Forum (CSF). Fields are defined as dynamic, relational arenas featuring particular logics, dynamic actor positions, and organizational forms. Corporate sustainability exemplifies how the language and practices of economics have reshaped approaches to environmental protection and sustainable development. Although numerous studies have looked at the implementation of market-oriented approaches, less attention has been focused on the constitutive processes that animate and expand economistic fields of governance over time. Our analysis emphasizes diffuse processes of economization as central to the reproduction and extension of fields. The article addresses three key issues: (1) how global corporate sustainability networks help to constitute economistic fields of governance, (2) the extent to which major events contribute to field configuration, and (3) the processes through which field elements—logics, social technologies, and organizational forms—transpose onto related fields of governance. Field configuration produces economistic environmental governance by solidifying business logics, enabling new actor-networks, launching new globalscale initiatives, and enhancing the role of UN agencies in promoting corporate sustainability. We illustrate field configuration with two examples: the Natural Capital Declaration and the Green Industry Platform. Our analysis highlights the diffuse power of field dynamics in which discursive and social entanglement and transposition reproduce and extend corporate sustainability beyond current institutional boundaries.