Engendering the Company:Corporate Personhood and the “Face” of an Oil Company in Metropolitan Buenos Aires



This article analyzes the meanings and practices of corporate personhood through ethnographic examination of the changing relationship between the Shell oil company and residents of the neighborhood surrounding the company's refineries in Argentina. The article scrutinizes the Shell public relations staff's work to remake the company into a good corporate citizen and caring neighbor with a benevolent public “face.” It argues that Shell's shift from corporate philanthropy to corporate social responsibility (CSR) reconfigured the “legal fiction” of corporate personhood and the historical relations of patronage and paternalism. This reconfiguration was achieved through the regendering of the public face of the company.