Brazilian buycotts, ethical voices and the benefits of middle management

Political consumerism: the case of Brazil

Like e-commerce and out-of-town superstores, political consumerism is a comparatively new phenomenon. As individuals, we used to exercise our political rights through conventional modes such as voting and support for political parties. Now, the modern marketplace and cyberspace have emerged as legitimate and highly popular terrains for activism too.

Drilling down into the mechanics of political consumerism, this paper highlights two foundational approaches: the boycott and the cleverly named “buycott”, which is defined as the act of “rewarding economic agents by endorsing and purchasing from them”. Interestingly, the paper chooses Brazil as the focus of its examination, a country where market-based activism is disproportionately high for its macroeconomic and regional content. This presents a challenge to existing scholarship, which reveals its developed-world bias in its identification of high levels of post-materialism and education as drivers of consumer action. Neither holds true in Brazil. Instead, what is off the charts in Brazil is mistrust of the political process, as riots in several large cities in 2014 prove. Yet just because people think their politicians are crooks doesn’t mean they will boycott (or buycott) consumer brands, research confirms. So what does?

The answer, it would seem,...

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