This page is about boycott as a form of protest. For other uses of the word boycott see Boycott (disambiguation).

A boycott is a refusal to buy, sell, or otherwise trade with an individual or business who is generally believed by the participants in the boycott to be doing something morally wrong. It may sometimes be labelled as an "embargo" by its proponents.

This wrong can be stated in any terms, and is not always one that is widespread. A boycott may be oriented towards shaming offenders rather than punishing them economically, depending on its duration and scope. When long-term and widespread, a boycott is just one of many tactics in moral purchasing.


Origins of the word

The word boycott is derived from Captain Charles Boycott, an English evicting land agent in Ireland who was subject to a boycott organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. Boycott, an agent of Lord Erne in County Mayo, was unable to hire anyone to harvest his crops (until Irish Unionists and the British Army volunteered) and at one point needed 7,000 men to protect him. He eventually was forced to temporarily withdraw from Ireland.

Earlier practice

Although the term itself was not coined until 1880, the practice dates back to at least 1830, when the National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods. Other instances of boycotts are their use by African Americans during the US civil rights movement; the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts; the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Mohandas Gandhi; and the Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel. In 1973, the Arab countries enacted a crude oil embargo against the West, see 1973 oil crisis. Other examples include the refusal of the United States (under President Jimmy Carter) to participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics, held in Moscow that year (to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan), the retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles by most of the Eastern bloc, and the movement that advocated "disinvestment" in South Africa during the 1980s in opposition to that country's apartheid regime.

Application and uses

A boycott is normally considered a one-time affair designed to correct an outstanding single wrong. When extended for a long period of time, or as part of an overall program of awareness-raising or reforms to laws or regimes, a boycott is part of moral purchasing, and those economic or political terms are to be preferred.

Most organized consumer boycotts today are focused on long-term change of buying habits, and so fit into part of a larger political program, with many techniques that require a longer structural commitment, e.g. reform to commodity markets, or government commitment to moral purchasing, e.g. the longstanding boycott of South African businesses to protest apartheid already alluded to. These stretch the meaning of a 'boycott'.

Another form of consumer boycotting is substitution for an equivalent product; for example Mecca Cola or Qibla Cola.

Today a prime target of boycotts is consumerism itself, e.g. "International Buy Nothing Day" celebrated globally on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Another example of a modern boycott is the blacklisting of the country band The Dixie Chicks after one of the members made a derogatory political comment about President Bush. Most country music stations now refuse to play their music as a result.

See also

External links

es:Boicot fr:Boycott hu:Bojkott nl:Boycot pt:Boicote ja:ボイコット ro:Boicot zh:杯葛


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