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Protest Politics in the MarketplaceConsumer Activism in the Corporate Age$
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Caroline Heldman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501709203

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501709203.001.0001

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Who Rules?

Who Rules?

Corporate Power and Models of Democracy

(p.189) 7 Who Rules?
Protest Politics in the Marketplace

Caroline Heldman

Cornell University Press

This chapter applies participatory, deliberative, and economic models of democracy to consumer activism to determine whether it is an effective check on overbearing corporate power. This chapter begins with an analysis of when and how corporate power has grown in the U.S. It concludes that consumer activism strengthens participatory democracy by increasing rates of citizen participation and fostering self-governance; improves deliberative democracy by encouraging public discussion of policy issue; and strengthens economic democracy by democratizing the corporate sphere. Compared to traditional forms of participation, consumer activism is easier to engage, but limited by its episodic, reactive nature.

Keywords:   consumer activism, participatory democracy, deliberative democracy, economic democracy, citizen participation, self-governance, corporate power

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