The role and function of theory in the relationship between class and capital, as well as the position of inquiry as knowledge production and political intervention in the face of basic contradictions of capitalist society, are expressed – perhaps most clearly – in a lecture given by Raniero Panzieri in 1964. On that occasion Panzieri’s contribution both helped to define the instruments of sociological survey and the theoretical, methodological and political issues subtended by the use of workers’ inquiry.
As we witness a rise in ‘ethical branding’, we should interrogate which practices could have any effect on ethical concerns. Capitalism generates the need for ethical consumption and benefits from its sale. Ethical practices must move beyond the sphere of consumption; likewise, analyses of ethical branding should address communication and networking. What we need is a concrete understanding of how brands communicate information about themselves. This can reveal that alternative ethical practices are not only possible, but are already occurring.