SnO events

14 March 2017

SnO Monthly Meeting March 14, 2017

We welcome two guest speakers.


1) Presentation by Prof Guido Palazzo (Université de Lausanne) of "Institutional silence – The unexpected lack of discourse and change resistance of harmful practices. The case of illegal toxic waste dumping in South Italy"


Since more than 25 years, billions of tons of toxic waste from all over Europe have been illegally dumped in Campania province in South Italy. This form of waste recycling is the second most profitable business of the Camorra. This waste is carcinogenic, mutagenic and eventually lethal. Over the years, it has resulted in increasing levels of dioxin in the blood of people living in the region. Cancer rates today are sky rocking and especially children die in high numbers. The illegal dumping of toxic waste is a practice for which we would assume, as Noelle-Neumann formulated that someone would “kick the topic…into the social field of play” (Noelle-Neumann, 1993: 153). However, more than two decades after the Anti-Mafia commission of the Italian parliament wrote its first report on the toxic waste problem in Campania, the discourse on the issue has not advanced much and the regulator has not been able to stop the dumping. The protests of some experts and victims did not resonate much beyond some local pockets of resistance or some small circles of experts and victims. The harmful practice seems to be discourse resistance and thus does not even take the first step of a process of deinstitutionalization. Instead of a vibrant debate, we find institutional silence. We define institutional silence as the systematic, long-term and counter-intuitive absence, distortion or marginalization of text that would potentially build a critical discourse through which a dominating practice could be challenged. Counter-intuitive refers to the fact that the particular practice at stake is harmful to humans and the environment, repressive or otherwise problematic and the absence of criticism and resistance is surprising. Institutional silence does not assume the absence of communication, but rather the failure of critical voices to resonate with a broader public, to mobilize a broader interest and to eventually deinstitutionalize the harmful practice. Our paper theorizes the concept of institutional silence and examines the discursive process which makes it difficult to deinstitutionalize harmful practices.

2) Presentation by Marcello Palazzi, BSc MSc MBA Co-Founder & Board Member, B Lab Europe,, Founder President, Progressio Foundation for human progress, Chairman, SIX, The Worldwide Social Innovation Exchange, "B Corps & Benefits corporations: a Global Movement of 6000+ companies to transform capitalism"B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit compagnies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

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