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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

How and why do more social movements use consumer-oriented strategies to promote their causes? This chapter penetrates these questions by focussing on four consumer practices—boycotts, buycotts, discursive actions, and lifestyle commitments—included in social movement action repertoires and mobilizing campaigns. Illustrations come from the African–American civil rights movement, Nestlé boycott, gay rights’ movement, and the movement against the Israeli occupied territories. The chapter also examines how consumer strategies evolve over time in the examples of the organic food and anti-sweatshop movements. Two recent developments discussed are commercialization (targeting primarily emotions), and “triangle of change” solutions (reflecting partnerships based on the enhanced role of individual choice, looser governmental regulation, and general globalization processes). Consumer strategies are now a standard repertoire of social movements, but they also come with some criticism and limitations.

Keywords: political consumerism, consumer practices, movement strategies, organic food movement, anti-sweatshop movement, feel-good activism, commercialization, triangle of change, recognition struggles, problem-solving potential

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