Social science professors launch new collaborative book for Business & Society

Five York University professors in the Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, have worked together to produce a new collaborative and comprehensive text for students studying business and society.

Business and Society: A Critical Introduction is authored by York Professors Kean Birch, Caroline Shenaz Hossein, Mark Peacock, Sonya Scott and Richard Wellen, as well as former York Professor Alberto Salazar from Carleton University’s Department of Law & Legal Studies. All the authors have taught in York’s Business & Society (BUSO) program.

The text was written with undergraduate students in mind, particularly those enrolled in first-year BUSO classes. The book focuses on the often troubled relationship between business and society, and mirrors much of what students can expect to learn in the program overall.

“Most books dealing with the relationship between business and society usually deal with ways to ameliorate the worse impacts of corporate capitalism through notions like corporate social responsibility,” said Birch, who is the lead author. “Our book is an attempt to go beyond these approaches and consider alternatives to corporate capitalism.”

Alternatives to corporate capitalism “are taking place all over the world and we are showcasing this in our new book for BUSO students,” said Hossein, BUSO coordinator.

“People are showing economic alternatives are possible, such as co-ops, self-help groups and social enterprises, and others  simply co-opt business to have a moral conscience, to show how business people can think about community and the social life first,” she said. “We locate capitalism’s immoral history. We also expand on the various ways business or capitalism unfolds in our world today. For example, in parts of Europe we see very different cultural approaches to the Anglo-American business model. I am currently in Ghana and I would be hard pressed to say big corporations dominate the everyday lives of the majority of people here. They simply do not. People are organizing business in new and exciting ways that includes sharing, bartering and pooling resources.”

Though free markets have had a growing role in our society, “business, whether profit-driven or socially-driven, has been relatively sidelined as a social issue over the last few decades,” said Birch. “A growing chorus of voices are questioning the power and dominance of multinational corporations on our economies, societies and policies. Our aim with this book is to highlight the continuing relevance and importance of studying business as an important organizational entity and social institution.”

Business and Society: A Critical Introduction will launch this fall and will be available for sale in the York University Bookstore.