Private actors and transnational social questions. Initiatives and issues regarding codes of conduct, social labels and investment

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An abundance of unilateral or weakly coordinated initiatives regarding social ethics have been created by a multitude of actors with often competitive interests, such as corporations, consumer associations, interest groups, trade unions and NGOs. These initiatives fall under three categories: codes of conduct, social labels, and investment practices. Even if they often produce favorable results, notably for those with the security of a salary, they can also engender paradoxical or negative effects, particularly in the scope of transnational socio-economic divisions, related to the diffusion of western social norms or protectionism. The means of verification of these initiatives remain opaque but take place nonetheless in the form of simple exercises of communication and the valorization of a product or a corporation. – Summary AFRI-2001