Corporate law coasting in neutral: from egalitarianism, to sustainability, to extinction?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Critique of capitalism emerged almost contemporaneously with the latter’s advent as a dominant social system. In fact, it has been suggested that capitalism evolves by absorbing this critique to reproduce itself. The argument in this paper starts from the premise that corporate law is a central component of capitalist organisation. As such, it has been directly and indirectly influenced by critical perspectives of capitalism and has grown to represent those perspectives through adaptations of corporate purpose. It will be shown that, for as long as the focus of social critique has been on the distributional failings of capitalism, corporate law has had little difficulty in accommodating that critique. More recently, however, social critique has been shifting away from distributional egalitarianism and towards humanity’s existential concerns instigated by economic growth. This paper will argue that this existential critique can morph into a purpose that cannot be accommodated and sustained by corporate law. This constitutes a real threat for the latter’s perpetuation as the primary law of business organization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Research Agenda for Corporate Law
EditorsChristopher Bruner, Marc Moore
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781800880443
ISBN (Print)9781800880436
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023


  • corporate law
  • corporate purpose
  • sustainability
  • capitalism
  • post-growth


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