Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America

Paperback | May 15, 2012

byLawrence B. Glickman

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A definitive history of consumer activism, Buying Power traces the lineage of this political tradition back to our nation’s founding, revealing that Americans used purchasing power to support causes and punish enemies long before the word boycott even entered our lexicon. Taking the Boston Tea Party as his starting point, Lawrence Glickman argues that the rejection of British imports by revolutionary patriots inaugurated a continuous series of consumer boycotts, campaigns for safe and ethical consumption, and efforts to make goods more broadly accessible. He explores abolitionist-led efforts to eschew slave-made goods, African American consumer campaigns against Jim Crow, a 1930s refusal of silk from fascist Japan, and emerging contemporary movements like slow food. Uncovering previously unknown episodes and analyzing famous events from a fresh perspective, Glickman illuminates moments when consumer activism intersected with political and civil rights movements. He also sheds new light on activists’ relationship with the consumer movement, which gave rise to lobbies like the National Consumers League and Consumers Union as well as ill-fated legislation to create a federal Consumer Protection Agency.

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A definitive history of consumer activism, Buying Power traces the lineage of this political tradition back to our nation’s founding, revealing that Americans used purchasing power to support causes and punish enemies long before the word boycott even entered our lexicon. Taking the Boston Tea Party as his starting point, Lawrence Glic...

Lawrence B. Glickman is professor of history at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:424 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:May 15, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226298671

ISBN - 13:9780226298672

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction: An American Political Tradition

Part I: The Birth of Consumer Activism

1 The American Revolution Considered as a Consumer Movement

2 Buy for the Sake of the Slave

3 Rebel Consumerism

4 Travels of the Boycott: What’s in a Name?

Part II: The Birth of the Consumer Movement

5 Remaking Consumer Activism in the Progressive Era

6 The Strike in the Temple of Consumption

7 “Make Lisle the Style”

Part III: Advocates and Activists: Consumer Activism since World War II

8 Putting the Postwar “Consumer Movement” in Its Place

9 The Rise and Fall of the Consumer Protection Agency: The Origins of American AntiAntiliberalism, 1959–1978

Epilogue: Consumer Activism Comes Full Circle: The Revival of Consumer Activism in Contemporary America

Appendix

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

"Lawrence B. Glickman's long-awaited volume surveys the social movements animated by and through consumer actions. Consumers today routinely ponder the ethical implications of their spending for workers, the environment, and the national or local economy. Yet the myriad movements that seek to influence spending all have long and subterranean histories. Glickman's book offers a powerful account of the ways American consumers have organized to influence spending for political and social ends from the Boston Tea Party until today."