This article analyzes the phenomenon of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR; specifically: social private regulation) in light of two sociological paradigms of globalization: “world-culture” and “world-capitalism.” The study treats three analytically
distinct features of CSR: the political contestation over its meaning, the role of business studies in transforming it into a managerial model, and its consolidation as a market of authorities. The study finds that (1) while CSR may be theorized as a emergent “world cultural” model,
the culture paradigm does not take sufficient account of the role of corporations in shaping it, and (2) while both paradigms recognize the transition from political contestations over the character of CSR to its deployment by means of private regulation, the world-capitalism paradigm offers
stronger tools for theorizing the mechanisms of change that mediate between political agency and institutionalized regulatory outcomes.