Caring for Corporate Sustainability
Abstract: Corporate sustainability comes in a variety of shapes and the boundaries defining what can be called sustainability are disputed. This thesis explores the making of sustainability at a medium-sized company in Sweden, in this study called HygieneTech, that actively works with sustainability. Inspired by theories from science and technology studies (STS), the author discusses how different versions of sustainability are created in practices. The study is based on a theoretical approach, actor network theory (ANT), which understands reality as performed rather than observed, and since reality and its objects are enacted differently in diverse situations, reality and objects are considered multiple. Moreover, inspired by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, “thinking with care” enables the study to tell new stories about how companies work with sustainability. This view of the actors as doing sustainability through care practice in a corporate setting paves the way for a caring analysis, exploring the different versions of sustainability as different matters of care. The enactment of sustainability is studied through participant observation, interviews and document studies.The most frequently enacted versions of sustainability are sustainability as saving resources, sustainability through standards/labels, sustainability as caring for people, and sustainability as a conscious choice. The study shows how some versions of sustainability in one setting can clash, such as when the employees at HygieneTech have to decide between caring for saving resources or caring for labelled products. Even so, in other settings versions of sustainability can be added together and thus enable the employees to care for sustainability both as a marketing device and as a conscious choice. Furthermore, the thesis shows that sustainability is sometimes made absent in relation to other matters of care, such as cleanliness and economy, while in other settings economy and sustainability can be added together. Finally, the thesis shows how sustainability, while enacted in several versions, still can cohere though professional tinkering.
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