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social sciences

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Measuring the Success of Boycotts

One of the fundamental necessities of a successful boycott is that a group must either include or attract enough regular customers to have an impact. Since virtually no group is sufficiently large by itself, enlisting the support of sympathetic allies is essential. Thus, publicizing the boycott is crucial. Coverage by the news media can raise awareness of the boycott and its rationale.

Proponents can make participation in a boycott directly known to the target organization by having supporters picket or send letters or other messages such as the PFLAG slips, but it is ultimately impossible to state with precision how much money the boycotters have withheld.

Sponsor Message.

Alexandra Chasin has stated that she has "never seen published evidence of a corporation's interpretation of reduced sales as a recognition of protest," adding that "whenever corporations admit that boycotts are having an effect, they always say that the effect is one of 'public relations,' consistently refuting boycotters' claims that a boycott's impact has been directly financial, and also refuting the logical inference that bad public relations would hurt sales."

Chasin observes that "whenever corporations do admit to reduced sales while a boycott is ongoing, they tend to give other accounts" for them. She points out that boycotts often, however, have "great symbolic value" and can cause serious public relations problems for an organization.

Boycotts can be very long campaigns and may or may not be acknowledged as a contributing factor if and when a company or institution decides to change its offending policies. They can, however, be regarded as a useful and often successful strategy of protest.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  American Television, Talk Shows

For glbt people, television talk shows have been both promising and problematic; they have brought glbt issues to public awareness, but until recently they have also presented glbt people as stereotypes and freaks.

social sciences >> Overview:  Anglicanism / Episcopal Church

The Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. is a part, has dealt with issues of sexuality in complex ways, not all of them favorable to its glbtq membership.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay and Lesbian Bars

The centrality of gay and lesbian bars to glbtq culture has been reduced in recent years, but they continue to fulfill important functions; and, in many areas, they remain the most visible manifestation of glbtq presence.

social sciences >> Overview:  Miami and Key West

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social sciences >> Overview:  Organized Labor

Early in the gay rights movement activists challenged organized labor to broaden its struggle against discrimination to include sexual identity; consequently labor unions became some of the first mainstream organizations to call for equal rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Salvation Army

An Evangelical Christian sect founded in the nineteenth century, the Salvation Army has recently become an arm of right-wing conservatism.

social sciences >> Overview:  Southern Baptists

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social sciences >> Bowers v. Hardwick / Lawrence v. Texas

Two of the most significant Supreme Court decisions regarding constitutional liberty for glbtq people are Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

social sciences >> Bryant, Anita

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social sciences >> Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

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social sciences >> Goodstein, David

Publisher David Goodstein transformed The Advocate into the leading American gay newsmagazine.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

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social sciences >> Kight, Morris

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literature >> McKuen, Rod

The poems and songs of the amazingly prolific Rod McKuen express a bittersweet, aching tenderness that has endeared him to millions of fans.

social sciences >> Milk, Harvey

Harvey Milk, among the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, was assassinated in San Francisco's City Hall, making him the American gay liberation movement's most visible martyr.

social sciences >> National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)

The oldest continuously operating national glbtq interest group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has played a significant role in the development of the glbtq movement for equal rights.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Robinson, V. Gene

The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be consecrated a bishop of the Episcopal Church, has earned strong support from members of his diocese, but has become a lightning rod for conservatives within the Anglican Communion.

social sciences >> Romer v. Evans

Romer v. Evans (1996) marks the first time in its history that the U. S. Supreme Court recognized lesbians and gay men as worthy and deserving of equal rights.


Anderton, Bryan, and Joe Crea. "Site Urges Va. Boycott over C. U. Law." Washington Blade (May 7, 2004):

Bly, Laura. "Colorado and Alaska Battle Tourism Boycotts." Chicago Sun-Times (December 13, 1992): Travel, 3.

Bull, Chris. "Out of the Brewing Storm: As the Openly Gay Son of William Coors, Patriarch of the Famously Conservative Family, Scott Coors May Be the Beer Company's Best Weapon against a 24-year Boycott." The Advocate 850 (November 6, 2001): 24.

Cauchon, Dennis. "High Court to Take up Gay Rights." USA Today (February 22, 1995): 3A.

Chasin, Alexandra. Selling Out: The Gay & Lesbian Movement Goes to Market. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Florio, Gwen. "Coors Boycott Revived; Candidate's Stance Has Gays Protesting Brewery." Rocky Mountain News (Denver) (June 26, 2004): 5A.

Heredia, Christopher. "Gay Group to Call for Boycott of Exxon Mobil; Nondiscrimination Policy, Partner Benefits Are at Issue." San Francisco Chronicle (June 13, 2001): A3.

Johnson, Dirk. "Colorado Justices Strike Down a Law against Gay Rights." New York Times (October 12, 1994): A1.

Lowe, Peggy. "Cheney's Daughter Draws Notice; Bush Aides Welcome Conifer Woman on Campaign Trail." Rocky Mountain News (Denver) (July 28, 2000): 4A.

_____. "Coors, Brewery Part Company on Gay Rights; Activists Appreciate Corporation's Efforts, but Can't Back Pete." Rocky Mountain News (Denver) (June 26, 2004): 4A.

Mathews, Jay. "At Coors, a Brewing Dilemma over Gay Rights." Washington Post (September 16, 1995): A1.

O'Keefe, Mark. "Salvation Army Fears Growing Gay Rights Protests over Health Benefits." Beliefnet (2001).

Podmolik, Mary Ellen. "United Gives Benefits to Same-Sex Couples." Chicago Sun-Times (August 3, 1999): 43.

Scholl, Mary. Personal communication. (July 12, 2004).

Tobin, Thomas C. "Bankruptcy, Ill Will Plague Bryant." St. Petersburg (Florida) Times (April 28, 2002): 1A.

Walsh-Sarnecki, Peggy. "Protest Gets Attention of Secret Service." Detroit Free Press (December 28, 2001).


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Boycotts  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 19, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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