Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America by Lawrence B. Glickman

By Lawrence B. Glickman

Faraway from ephemeral client developments, purchasing eco-friendly and fending off sweatshop-made garments symbolize the latest issues on a centuries-long continuum of yankee patron activism. A sweeping and definitive background of this political culture, paying for strength strains its lineage again to our nation’s founding, revealing that american citizens used buying energy to help explanations and punish enemies lengthy prior to the be aware boycott even entered our lexicon.Taking the Boston Tea celebration as his start line, Lawrence Glickman argues that the rejection of British imports through progressive patriots inaugurated a continual sequence of client boycotts, campaigns for secure and moral intake, and efforts to make items extra largely available. He explores abolitionist-led efforts to eschew slave-made items, African American client campaigns opposed to Jim Crow, a Thirties refusal of silk from fascist Japan, a number modern boycotts, and rising pursuits like reasonable alternate and sluggish foodstuff. Uncovering formerly unknown episodes and interpreting well-known occasions from a clean point of view, Glickman emphasizes either swap and continuity within the lengthy culture of client activism. within the approach, he illuminates moments while its multifaceted trajectory intersected with fights for political and civil rights. He additionally sheds new mild on activists’ courting with the shopper circulate, which gave upward push to lobbies just like the nationwide shoppers League and shoppers Union in addition to ill-fated laws to create a federal customer defense Agency.A strong corrective to the idea purchaser society degrades and diminishes its citizenry, deciding to buy strength offers a brand new lens in which to view the background of the USA.

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This has been a conflicted relationship. While consumer society is the medium in which consumer activists have operated, many of them have seen its dominant values as antithetical to their own. As we have seen, consumer activists have put a high premium on virtuous sacrifice, on doing without, on abstention. To the extent they adopted an aesthetic, it was an antistyle, an overt abstemiousness that borders on the ostentatious, a fashion of the unfashionable. Yet, almost from the beginning, a subset of consumer activists has believed it possible to merge justice with pleasure, fashion, and style.

Boycotters of Japanese silk, for example, believed that their actions served to weaken that nation’s ability to make war. Their opponents did not take issue with the social nature of consumption. Instead, they argued that the most significant victims in the 26 introduction causal web of this boycott were the American workers who converted Japanese silk into full-fashioned hosiery. A final tension concerns the question of what actions qualify as consumer activism and what sorts of people should be understood as consumer activists.

The rest of the history of consumer activism is a footnote, a series of adaptations to what the historian T. H. 3 Modern consumer activism, in this view, can be understood as the unfolding of a script set in the 1760s and 1770s. This view of the Revolutionary origins of American consumer activism is incomplete. Through an examination of the forms of consumer activism developed by Americans in the 1760s and 1770s, this chapter argues that the originality of the Revolutionary generation’s consumer tactics has been exaggerated and that historians have underestimated the degree to which the Founders drew on earlier traditions of popular protest.

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