Some of my pupils will be viewing The Corporation. Here are some of the issues presented in the video, as delineated by the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education in its teacher resources for the film (available on the Web site for the film):
- Labour practices in developing countries – while some argue that paying workers pennies a day to manufacture goods for export actually benefits developing countries and their citizens, others feel that this practice is unfair.
- Ownership of “commons”– some argue that natural resources such as water or air should be publicly-held (i.e., by governments and citizens), others argue that privatizing them (i.e., shifting ownership to private companies) will actually contribute more to their care and protection.
- Advertising to children – while some argue that advertising to children is taking advantage of their lack of cognitive development, others feel it is fair game to help them satisfy needs and wants.
- Social responsibility and accountability – some argue that corporations who do not act responsibly will be “punished by the market” (i.e., consumers will not make purchases if they act unethically), while others feel that governments or citizens should regulate industries and businesses.
- Corporate involvement in government – some argue that corporations are legitimate stakeholders and citizens who are entitled to their say in the democratic process, while others feel that corporate involvement can lead to unfair influence.
- Advertising and public space – Naomi Klein expressed concern that certain forms of advertising and promotions compromise public space, while others (specifically branding) are “invasive.” Others feel that advertising is fair game, and even desirable to consumers.
- Influence of corporations on society – some (Chomsky, Klein) have charged corporations, through years of advertising and public relations, with defining people’s social roles as consumers and creating beliefs that corporations are responsible for prosperity. The concern is that people are disassociated from one another, and preoccupied with fulfilling needs and wants at the expense of democratic participation, human development, interaction, etc. Those who dispute this claim feel that it is either inaccurate, not a result of corporate actions, or both.