Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times (Critical Cultural Communication)

By in Media & the Law on February 26, 2013

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Buying (RED) products—from Gap T-shirts to Apple–to fight AIDS. Drinking a “Caring Cup” of coffee at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to support fair trade. Driving a Toyota Prius to fight global warming. All these commonplace activities point to a central feature of contemporary culture: the most common way we participate in social activism is by buying something.

Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser have gathered an exemplary group of scholars to explore this new landscape through a series of case studies of “commodity activism.” Drawing from television, film, consumer activist campaigns, and cultures of celebrity and corporate patronage, the essays take up examples such as the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign, sex positive retail activism, ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover, and Angelina Jolie as multinational celebrity missionary.

Exploring the complexities embedded in contemporary political activism, Commodity Activism reveals the workings of power and resistance as well as citizenship and subjectivity in the neoliberal era. Refusing to simply position politics in opposition to consumerism, this collection teases out the relationships between material cultures and political subjectivities, arguing that activism may itself be transforming into a branded commodity.

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