Mag. Deniz Seebacher, Bakk.



Postal address:
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Rathausstraße 19/9
1010 Vienna


Research Focus Areas

  • Anthropology of Organizations and Institutions
  • Business & Corporate Anthropology
  • Economic Anthropology
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Sustainability
  • Contemporary Turkey

Short Biography

Deniz Seebacher completed her Bachelor in Communications and her Magister in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. After her studies, she worked for several years as a marketing, communications, organizational change and business consultant for international companies in Mexico, Guatemala, Austria, Germany and India.

Currently Deniz is writing up her PhD at the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. She is a DOCteam fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and a Research Associate at the University of Sussex. In her PhD she deploys contemporary perspectives on moral economies that call for a refocusing on moral dispositions and norms that guide economic practices.  Between 2012 and 2016 - a highly contentious moment in Turkey, marked by intense debates on the tenets of a ‘good’ society - Deniz conducted ethnographic fieldwork among corporate responsibility and sustainability personnel in the corporate headquarter of a Turkish apparel producing holding company. She discusses how the label ‘sustainability’ enables managers to recast core business activities (like supply chain management and production) in moral terms in line with national economic and societal development.

Dissertation Project

The workings of corporate social responsibility in the (re)configuration of contemporary societies.

Supervisor: Tatjana Thelen
Co-Supervisor: Ståle Knudsen
(University of Bergen)

Corporate Social Responsibility as a case of moral transformation has been celebrated as the solution to world problems. CSR departments that are officially in charge of establishing morality in businesses organizations have been implemented into upper management. The CSR managers claim, that the ability to cross-cut between the seemingly different institutional contexts of modern society (economy, politics, society) is a prerequisite to be able to do this work and push CSR forward.

This PhD project draws on ethnographic research within a major business corporation in Turkey, operating in a particularly contested and criticized business sector. It deals with the translation of these societal and moral values into practices in business organizations and the role individual CSR practitioners play in these practices. CSR is therefore conceptualized as a moral economy to reflect the continuous (re)negotiation of meanings, moralities and interests within organizations  across contradicting and manifold institutional contexts. The boundary work of actors at top management level, in supply chain audits, international project meetings and other internal CSR activities serves as a lens through which the conceptualization of society at large can be explored. The project is located the disciplinary intersection of organizational, business, economic and political anthropology, with a special focus on value studies, moral economies, gifts & rights and care studies.

The PhD project is part of the DOC-team project "Practicing Values - Valuing Practices" funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In this project, Deniz Seebacher, Barbara Stefan and Andreas Streinzer are researching renegotiations of so-called economic and moral values in three contexts (the others being the effects of austerity measures in Greece and Social Movements for Democracy and Distributional Justice in Austria) and from the perspective of three disciplines (social and cultural anthropology, business anthropology, political sciences).