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Title: Ethical business : an ethnography of ethics and multiplicity in commercial settings
Author: Bartlett, Lucinda
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 0107
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis is a study of ethics and multiplicity as found within contemporary commercial settings. Drawing on Science and Technology Studies (STS) sensibilities and ethnographic-style research, the thesis proposes that current ethical phenomena should be understood as a user-enacted chimerical object: an object that is multiple in its ontology and as much enacted by what it is, as what it is not. This research is particularly pertinent now because the term 'ethical' has become commonplace in modern Western life, including crucially within commercial activities. In certain uses, doing ethics becomes synonymous with doing business. Despite the increasing prevalence of what is considered 'ethical business', the exploration of how the term is appropriated and enacted remains largely under-examined. Through examination of research material gathered during extensive ethnographic studies in three self-avowedly 'ethical organisations' - an ethical start-up, an ethical confectionery company, and an ethical consultancy - the thesis addresses this research gap. By focusing on the users of ethical business, the investigation questions traditional market assumptions of homogeneity within producing organisations, the supposed linear transfer of ethical knowledge, what we can know about 'users', and the genesis of novel ethical realities. Through this questioning the thesis provides new insights on the ethical object. The thesis additionally builds upon questions of how far we can push the boundaries of what we can know about knowledge, and whether it is possible to bring the mess of investigation back into the reporting. Developing previous applications of constitutive reflexivity, the research symmetrically investigates the appropriateness of my application of STS sensibilities to ethical business as a new research area, and interrogates my thesis as an ethical object in order to address the underlying question(s) of whether 'STS means ethical business?'
Supervisor: Woolgar, Steve Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business--Moral and ethical aspects ; Multiplicity ; Ethical Business ; Chimera Realities ; Ethical Trading ; Anthropology of Business ; Management Studies ; Modern Commercial Setting ; Ethnography ; Chimera Object ; Business Studies ; Multiple Realities ; Science and Technology Studies