Business and Society

A Critical Introduction

Kean Birch, Mark Peacock, Richard Wellen, Caroline Hossein, Sonya Scott, and Alberto Salazar


Ideal for undergraduates, this introductory textbook comprehensively examines the often fraught and contentious relationship between business and society.

Corporations dominate our societies. They employ us, sell to us and influence how we think and who we vote for, while their economic interests dictate local, national and global agendas.

Written in clear and accessible terms, this much-needed textbook provides critical perspectives on all aspects of the relationship between business and society: from an historical analysis of the spread of capitalism as the foundation of the 'corporate' revolution in the late nineteenth century to the regulation, ethics and exclusionary implications of business in contemporary society. Furthermore, it examines how corporate power and capitalism might be resisted, outlining a range of alternatives, from the social economy through to new forms of open access or commons ownership.

Author Bio

Kean Birch, Mark Peacock, Richard Wellen, Caroline Hossein, and Sonya Scott teach in the Department of Social Science at York University.

Alberto Salazar teaches in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: A Critical Introduction to Business and Society
  • 1. The Emergence of Capitalism in Western Europe
  • 2. The Spread of Capitalism
  • 3. The Corporate Revolution
  • 4. Corporate Governance
  • 5. Corporate Responsibility
  • 6. Corporate Power
  • 7. Global Economy and Varieties of Capitalism
  • 8. Global Governance
  • 9. Global Environmental Change
  • 10. Markets and Economic Order
  • 11. Economics, Capitalism and Business: The Orthodoxy
  • 12. Political Economy and Critiques of Capitalism: Heterodox Perspectives
  • 13. Business, Regulation and Policy
  • 14. Ethics and Business
  • 15. Business and Social Exclusion
  • 16. Resistance and Alternatives to Corporate Capitalism
  • 17. Social Economy
  • 18. Rethinking Ownership: The Market vs. the Commons


‘The ideal user's guide to the modern world and how we got here. It untangles the thicket of politics and corporate power and gives readers an inspiring message that change is possible and already happening.’
Katherine Trebeck, Oxfam GB

‘A fresh, topical and highly engaging introduction. Every student of business should read it.’
Geoffrey Hodgson, author of Conceptualizing Capitalism: Institutions, Evolution, Future

‘With clarity and originality, the authors illuminate the role of business for shaping society both in the past and present.’
Sara Gorgoni, University of Greenwich

‘Provides students with incisive analysis and criticism. This is the antidote to the anodyne business school textbook.’
Liam Campling, Queen Mary University of London

‘A most serviceable compass, timely and effective, for a time in which we are constantly told that society should be treated as just another type of business.’
Fabian Muniesa, Ecole des Mines de Paris

'This book should be compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand how another business world is possible.'
Martin Parker, University of Leicester


Publication Date: 15 January 2017
312 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783604487
Hardback: 9781783604494
eBook ePub: 9781783604517
eBook PDF: 9781783604500
eBook Kindle: 9781783604524

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