Gaining a toehold, losing your balance and regaining control: Investigating community strategies for countering corporate power.

Prof Fiona Haines1

1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

This paper interrogates different strategies deployed by communities in the control of corporate crime. It builds on previous work that explores the problems with understanding law and law enforcement as constituting the rules of the game governing business practice whilst also appreciating that both can provide useful strategies for communities countering egregious business conduct. In this paper, I explore the role played by communities claiming social authority over business conduct through an analysis of the social licence to operate. In this analysis, and drawing on data that analyses the protests against coal seam gas in New South Wales, I show how claims to a social licence reflect a similar problematic to that of law. That is, it can both provide a way for communities to assert their authority, but at the same time it can provide a lens through which companies discipline and shape community expectations. This work provides a useful complement to analysis that understands crime as a social property through interrogating the social licence as social property.


Fiona Haines is Professor of Criminology at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University. She has extensive expertise in white collar and corporate crime, globalisation and regulation. Her current projects include research in Indonesia and India analysing local grievances against multinational enterprises for human rights abuse, research in Australia analysing community protests against coal seam gas and analysing the intersection between social and environmental justice.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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