We can use our private buying power to serve a political purpose. We can do this by actively boycotting, or supporting, specific companies, products or people.
Every day we make many small buying decisions over which we can exercise choice, from the food we eat, to the entertainment we purchase, to the places where we go on holiday.
Exercising purchasing choice for a political purpose can be immensely satisfying. It is a way to regain a sense of power in a world where the individual can be plagued with feelings of powerlessness.
When we exercise this purchasing choice in co-operation with others, it can send a powerful political message of disapproval, or support, to the companies or individuals concerned.
Remember that it is just as important to let a company know it is doing something right, as it is to tell a boycott target why you are withdrawing custom. Here are some ways you can exercise purchasing choice for a political purpose.
EXERCISING THE POWER IN YOUR PURSE
- Try to buy local goods, and buy British where possible.
- To the extent that one is able, try to be aware of the political causes which large companies are supporting with the money they are making. Do you approve or disapprove?
- Note the political beliefs of actors, musicians, writers and comedians who are interviewed in the press. If they are using their art as a vehicle for their political cause then you need to decide if you support them. If you do not, then ensure they don't see a penny of your money.
Alternatively, if you like something an actor, or musician, or writer, has just said, or if someone you are sympathetic towards is coming under attack from the critics, then consider going right out and buying his new CD, or book, or going to his new film.
- If you find certain TV programmes offensive, then note who is advertising in the commercial breaks. By boycotting the products of these companies you are making a clear statement that you oppose their corporate decision to support a certain kind of television.
- Observe the way companies swing during times of national crisis. It can be highly instructive. For example, when the BSE scare hit in 1996, both Burger King and MacDonalds tried to outdo each other in proclaiming that their burgers were not made of British beef. Iíve boycotted both ever since.