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The structural contradictions and constraints on corporate social responsibility: Challenges for corporate social irresponsibilityPurpose - This chapter engages critically with the ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and irresponsibility (CSI) in order to examine their utility for the purposes of realizing more socially just and environmentally sustainable social and economic practices. Methodology/approach - The chapter develops Marx's understanding of the twin pressures of class struggle and inter-capitalist competition in setting the limits of agency for corporate actors. It is thus theoretical and discursive in nature. Findings - The findings of the chapter suggest that the scope for corporate agency in relation to responsibility/irresponsibility is severely limited by inter-capitalist competition and capitalist social relations. It therefore argues that those interested in social justice and environmental sustainability should focus on these structural pressures rather than theorizing corporate agency. Social implications - The research suggests that the focus of academic and government attention should be on resolving the contradictions and exploitative social relations inherent in capitalism. Without this emphasis activism, corporate agency and government action will not eradicate the types of problem that advocates of CSR/CSI are concerned about. Originality/value of paper - The value of the paper is that it contests and engages critically with the utility of the notion of CSR and the emergent concept of CSI. It asks proponents of these concepts to think seriously about the structural pressures and constraints within which business and policy makers act. Copyrightr © 2012 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.