Supplementary Material

There’s an App for That: Telecom, Children’s Rights, and Conflicting Logics of Corporate Social Responsibility

By Leigh M. Campoamor

ABSTRACT This article examines how a Spanish telecom giant legitimizes its market expansion through a corporate social responsibility (CSR) narrative that links generic notions of technological innovation and children’s rights to projects of development and democracy. At a broad level, I explore how the neoliberal privatization of the telecommunications industry has involved a reconfiguration of corporate-state relations rather than an erasure of the state in corporate discourse. I trace how Telefonica accrues currency as a digital pioneer and provider of a social good by incorporating consumers, state actors, and other corporations into its moral apparatus. My point of entry is a smartphone application that the company’s Colombian subsidiary developed and subsequently gamified to empower consumer-citizens to end street-based child labor. Within a digital economy of “instant gratification” and national context of securitization, the process whereby consumers are interpellated as citizen-activists highlights the thin line between profiling techniques and humanitarian action, and between surveillance and activism, while disguising the limits of the state bureaucracy and the company’s own distance from its purported beneficiaries. Ultimately, I show how the company maintained its narrative about its innovative and sustainable commitment to children even when explaining the failures of its CSR strategy. [digital activism, corporate social responsibility, children’s rights, corporate–state relations, urban Latin America]

See the commercial for the app discussed in this article.

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