From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs by Joshua DavisFrom Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs by Joshua Davis

From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs

byJoshua Davis

Hardcover | August 8, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 235 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In the 1960s and '70s, a diverse range of storefronts-including head shops, African American bookstores, feminist businesses, and organic grocers-brought the work of the New Left, Black Power, feminism, environmentalism, and other social movements into the marketplace. Through shared ownership, limited growth, and workplace democracy, these "activist entrepreneurs" offered alternatives to conventional profit-driven corporate business models. By the middle of the 1970s, thousands of these enterprises operated across the United States-but only a handful survive today. Some, like Whole Foods Market, have abandoned their quest for collective political change in favor of maximizing profits.

Vividly portraying the struggles, successes, and sacrifices made by these unlikely entrepreneurs, From Head Shops to Whole Foods writes a new history of movements and capitalism by showing how activists embraced small businesses in a way few historians have considered. The book rethinks the widespread idea that the work of activism and political dissent is inherently antithetical to business and market activity. Joshua Clark Davis uncovers the historical roots of contemporary interest in ethical consumption, social enterprise, mission-driven businesses, and buying local while also showing how today's companies have adopted the language-but not often the mission-of liberation and social change.

Joshua Clark Davis is an assistant professor of history at the University of Baltimore.
Title:From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist EntrepreneursFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pagesPublished:August 8, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231171587

ISBN - 13:9780231171588

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of AbbreviationsIntroduction: From Head Shops to Whole Foods1. Activist Business: Origins and Ideologies2. Liberation Through Literacy: African American Bookstores, Black Power, and the Mainstreaming of Black Books3. The Business of Getting High: Head Shops, Countercultural Capitalism, and the Battle Over Marijuana4. The "Feminist Economic Revolution": Businesses in the Women's Movement5. Natural Foods Stores: Environmental Entrepreneurs and the Perils of Growth6. Perseverance and Appropriation: Activist Business in the Twenty-First CenturyConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

In this beautifully written, elegantly conceived, and deeply researched book, Joshua Clark Davis traces the histories of 1960s era small enterprises aimed at alternative forms of capitalism. His clear prose and sharp analysis illuminates the US economy's appetite for reform under capitalism. An essential work.