Specters, Inc. The Elusive Basis of the Corporation

Jeroen Veldman*, Martin Parker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we discuss the political and economic consequences of the contemporary legal theory of incorporation. We argue that incorporation has developed historically in a way that makes it internally inconsistent, but that this inconsistency is useful for the powerful because of its legal and economic effects. The corporation can "shape shift," which is very helpful for claiming some rights and disavowing certain responsibilities. Of course this flexibility comes at the expense of consistent concepts and this leads to the creation of what we term an "ideal-type reified singular representation." We go on to show the far-reaching effects of this representation for legal studies, economics, and political theory, and show it worked in the pro-corporate decision in the recent Citizens United case. We conclude by providing several alternative ways to think about the nature of corporate organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-441
Number of pages29
JournalBusiness and Society Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


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