Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser (2012). “Introduction: Commodity Activism in NeoLiberal Times” in Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser (eds), Commodity Activism, New York: New York University Press, pp. 1-17.
- In this introduction to their edited collection of essays on commodity activism, Mukherjee and Banet-Weiser highlight the growing prominence of discourses of social activism in advertising and promotional couture. “Social activism”, they write, “may itself be shifting shape into a marketable commodity” (1). What do they mean here and what evidence do they cite to support the claim?
- In considering what they call commodity activism, Mukherjee and Banet-Weiser argue the need to avoid “an either/or logic of profit versus politics” (3). Why and what alternative framings do they advance?
- In order to develop a more historically-informed account of consumer activism, the authors trace formulations and shifts in the United States around categories of “citizen” and “consumer” from the C19th to the present. What main points do they raise in this context?
- Finally, Mukherjee and Banet-Weiser consider how the political economies of neo-liberalism in late modernity have encouraged a shift from collective social movements to a focus on the individual as “entrepreneurial self”. What is the pith of their argument here and how does it influence their evaluation of activist politics in the contemporary context?
Sarah Banet-Weiser, “Free Self-Esteem Tools?: Brand Culture, Gender, and the Dove Real Beauty Campaign” in Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser (eds), Commodity Activism, New York: New York University Press, pp. 39-56.
- In this article, Banet-Weiser reads the popular Dove Beauty marketing campaign in terms of “commodity activism”. How does the campaign indicate the normalization of intersections between brand culture and social activism?
- Contemporary brand culture, writes Banet-Weiser, functions “as a kind of lifestyle politics for consumers” (44). What does she mean?
- The Dove campaign has attracted its fair share of criticism, especially from detractors who accuse it of duplicity and opportunism. What are some of the critical responses to the campaign outlined in the article and do you agree or disagree?
- Banet-Weiser considers the way in which new media technologies and the participatory cultures of online marketing are blurring boundaries between “production and consumption, labor and culture” and forging new hybrid mods of the “consumer/producer” (49). How does she illustrate this idea through the Dive campaign?