“Soft Is Hard”
This concluding chapter examines the “soft is hard” formulation which occurs in Newmont's everyday discourse. Soft and hard invoke a welter of meanings, prominent among them an assumed opposition between the “soft” terrain of uncertain and intersubjective human relations in mining and the “hard,” “technical” engineering aspects. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) experts stake a claim for the status of their work by insisting that human relations are hard in two senses: they are difficult, even intractable at times, and they generate “hard” costs. Soft and hard also have obvious gender and sexual connotations; elevating CSR issues from the former to the latter relies on the valorization of a stereotypically masculine quality. The chapter asserts how the “soft is hard” meme challenges not only the ascendancy of technical over social knowledge but also the separability of the two in the first place.
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