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Will boycotting Whole Foods work?

August 19, 2009

From The Daily Dish:

I’ve been following the thread on the “Whole Foods” boycott on “The Dish” and other sites. My just-published book, “Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America” (University of Chicago Press), which is an examination of boycotts from the American Revolution to the present, offers some historical perspective on some of the issues raised by this boycott. I examine the question of the efficacy of boycotts and argue that two kinds of boycotts are most likely to be successful: very local efforts and national campaigns whose goal is often to score political rather than economic points. (The UFW grape boycott would be a good example.) Aside from their efficacy, I believe that boycotts are an expression of what I call “long distance solidarity” and show that American citizens don’t take consumption to be a private or apolitical zone.

Boycotts generally have minimal affect, and fail to achieve their intended result.  However, most businesses don’t know how to deal with them effectively.  So, what’s the answer?  Would you be willing to miss the salads by the pound in order to affect social change?

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