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Without a doubt, the number of boycotts has risen dramatically in recent years. Every day, televisions, publications, and social media outlets display boycotts motivated by legal, fiscal, or political concerns. Notably, boycotts had occurred since 617, when the Quraysh tribe boycotted the Banu Hashim tribe in order to force the latter to withdraw its support for Muhammad. Such notable boycotts include one that began in 1977 in response to Nestle's promotion of baby formula in developing countries, which is more expensive and less nutritional than breast milk. Most recently, in 2017, Americans boycotted against corporate that supported Donald Trump and his administration (Samuelson n.p). Additionally, Palestinians living in Israel boycotted over Hyundai for failing to speak against rebels and government forces using its heavy machinery equipment to destroy Palestinians homes. Noting that the list of past and current boycotts are inexhaustible, different analysts and scholars have critically analyzed the impacts of these boycotts. On February 7, 2017, Americus Reed published the article “Social Media Boycotts Succeed When They Reflect a Movement” in “The New York Times” (n.p). In his report, Reed stated that the motive of a boycott determines its success. He noted that boycotts that aim to establish movements are more efficient than those that merely seek to impact on company sales adversely. Additionally, the author highlighted the different boycott dynamics and the multiple factors that influence the effectiveness of a course. Given the ubiquity of boycotts today, it is essential to analyze the opinions of sociological theorists such as Michael Foucault, Peter Michael Blau, and Patricia Hills Collins on this critical public concern.
Michael Foucault’s Opinion
Arguably, the best approach to understanding Reed’s article on boycotts is by applying the concepts of power, knowledge, and resistance. Naturally, as the author notes, the primary reason why people boycott is to show the degree of their ability and to resist against the influence of a particular source power such as a company or a leader. As Americus Reed alludes in his article, boycotts tend to show power by either reducing a company’s sales or undermine organizations that challenge the birth of a movement. Either way, as my theory of power states, different parties can hold power at different times. In this case, power shifts between companies and the boycotting consumers. In the contemporary high-tech era, social media plays a critical role in determining the changes of power and resistance. As Reed notes, social media can either facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of a boycott. In regards to my theory of power, social media distributes power to different sources by empowering multiple users on diverse social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others make it costless and convenient platforms for people to show their power in support of boycotts. However, while these many platforms give power to many people they also present multiple sources of resistance. Notably, many boycotts on social media do not last long due to multifaceted resistances. More specifically, given that power is relative, different people use social media to circulate information that may hinder the effectiveness of a boycott. Additionally, people have busy lives, and personal problems which they must first address before supporting boycotts may compromise themselves. Overall, the success of a boycott depends on its purpose and leaders’ management. A boycott whose leaders’ goal is to establish a movement has higher chances of succeeding in its course than one who leaders want to reduce a company’s sales. As I stated in governmentality and biopower, the art of governing people’s desires, thoughts, and conducts played a critical role in the formation of social movements.
Peter Michael Blau’s Perspective
In my theory of social exchange, I stated that personal interactions between persons play a critical role in shaping society. Every social development or movement is a result of interpersonal relationships in the community. While contributing to the social exchange theory, I emphasized that all forms of human relationships stem from a critical, covert and subjective cost-benefit analysis involving thorough comparisons of alternatives. In other words, these interactions are influenced by the reciprocal exchange of rewards, whether intangible or tangible. While advancing Simmel’s perspective, I noted that people engage in relationships and activities that are capable of developing their statuses whether socially, economically, or politically. Based on my social exchange theory, there are three assumptions which one can use to analyze Reed’s article on social media boycotts. Firstly, it is imperative to acknowledge that all social actors engage in activities as a strategy for gaining desired goals. As a result, people will only join and partake in a social media boycott is they have something to learn. As Americus Reed notes, even after the commencement of a boycott, its leaders must establish a way of sustaining the effort. Admittedly, as Reed notes, it is more lucrative to be a member of a movement that champions for certain ideology than to be a group whose sole objective is to affect a company’s sales. Secondly, my social exchange theory states there are costs integral to every social activity. These costs may be in the form of time, energy, or resources. Consequently, the number of participants in social media decreases over time since people has limited time dedicated to their busy lives and solving their problems. Thirdly, during social interaction, actors aim to minimize costs while maximizing profits. As Reed notes, people engage in social media boycotts because it is convenient and cheaper compared to participating in demonstrations. Overall, the social exchange theory explains the different challenges inherent in social media boycotts and why they rarely succeed.
Patricia Hills Collins’ Views
Most of my research focuses on the confluence between nationality, sexuality, class, gender, and race. A primary theme in the “Black Feminist Thought” is that is impossible to separate the issue and structure of thought from the material molding the lives of people. In other words, people’s social conditions and the structure of their communities play a critical role in shaping how people think. People boycott and revolt if the structures within the society trigger or facilitate such sentiments. As Americus Reed notes in his article, a boycott must be triggered by issues that are valuable to people. The extent to which an awareness of a boycott spreads depends on the importance of its concepts to people. Although different parties may record the unfolding of a boycott, it is the people who trigger the resistance. The theory assumes that a high number of participants in a boycott hold similar standpoints on a specific issue.
Americus Reed of “The New York Times” presents a highly controversial issue, which elicits a paramount public concern. The author expounds on the dynamics of social media boycotts, their challenges, and their outcomes. He states that sanctions that have a movement-appeal are more successful than those whose goal is to damage a company’s sales. Michael Foucault argues that boycotts are a platform to show the dynamics of power and resistance while Peter Blau opines that people initiate social activities to gain rewards. Finally, Patricia Hill Collins affirms that social structure dictates peoples desires, thoughts, and actions.
Blau, Peter Michael. "Social exchange theory." Retrieved September 3 (1964): 2007.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge, 2002.
Foucault, Michel. "The subject and power." Critical inquiry 8.4 (1982): 777-795.
Reed, Americus. “When Do Consumer Boycotts Work?” Room for Debate, February 7, 2017. Web. 17 Dec. 2017.
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