This chapter presents a historical overview of political consumerism in the United States and Canada, highlighting how societal and cultural shifts have influenced participation over time. The chapter begins by discussing the debatable origins of political consumerism in the Boston Tea Party to present-day examples, including fair trade and ecoconsumption. Throughout the chapter, there is an emphasis on the heterogeneity of political consumers, with particular attention to how marginalized groups, particularly women and African Americans, have used political consumerism to bring about social change. The chapter also argues that producer-consumer solidarity campaigns, including the antisweatshop movement and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food, are preferable to consumer-led campaigns. Finally, this chapter concludes with methodological considerations for studying political consumerism in North America and suggestions for future research.
This article by Meredith A. Katz is a selection from The Oxford Handbook of Political Consumerism, edited by Magnus Boström, Michele Micheletti, and Peter Oosterveer.
Featured Image: The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1773. Copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846., 1931 - 1932. National Archives at College Park, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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