In late April, Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — the controversial legislation which gives police broad authority to question the citizenship of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant — was signed into law. Since then, many groups have called for boycotts of the state. But is boycotting the best way to protest a law that many see as draconian?
To answer that question, many in the media have turned to historian Lawrence Glickman, whose book, Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America, the Press published in 2009. He was interviewed for the article “How to Make a Boycott Matter” in Colorlines magazine and on congress.org, and he was a recent guest on KPFA’s The Morning Show and KALW’s Your Call.
So what does Professor Glickman think of the boycotts? Despite the fact that boycotts rarely work, Glickman thinks this protest could prove to be very effective after all. As he explains on The Morning Show, the fact that boycotts are aimed at both the state of Arizona and businesses based there will make this action more impactful and more immediate.
In Buying Power, Glickman offers a sweeping and definitive history of American consumer activism. Examining the long tradition of boycotts as well as trends like buying green and avoiding sweatshop-made clothing, Glickman shows that the history — as well as the future — of the United States has been and will be determined by consumer activism. Last September, he commented on the proposed boycott of Whole Foods, following the CEO’s controversial comments about health care reform, for the Washington Post.