Book Review: Hiding Politics in Plain Sight

cover“In a commercial social movement, activists work cooperatively with industry rather than contentiously against it; they employ market mechanisms like cause marketing and corporate-sponsored runs rather than defiant protests or marches. Necessarily conservative… it is a continuation of rather than a sharp break from the past.”

Hiding Politics in Plain Sight: Cause Marketing, Corporate Influence, and Breast Cancer Policymaking by Patricia Strach examines the politics of market mechanisms–especially cause marketing–as a strategy for public policy change. Taking breast cancer as a case, Strach skillfully contextualizes pink ribbon culture and shows how its cause marketing (and cause marketing in general) overly simplifies solutions to complicated social problems. The process of transforming advocacy into highly individualized, easily marketable products and services permeates how people (including policy makers) think about these issues, thereby limiting rather than expanding the mechanisms through which advocacy may operate.

Since there is little data on cause marketing as an industry-wide phenomenon, who participates in it, and what it achieves (positive and negative), this important book makes an original and useful contribution to the literature and to a broader understanding of commercial influence on advocacy. This book would be excellent for students in business, communications, marketing, social science, and public health as well as for anyone interested in learning about the political and other consequences of commercial social movements (of which Komen is a prime example).

Patricia Strach has a dual appointment as Associate Professor in the Departments of Political Science and Public Administration and Policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York.


Hiding Politics in Plain Sight: Cause Marketing, Corporate Influence, and Breast Cancer Policymaking by Patricia Strach. Oxford University Press (2016). 256pp. ISBN: 978-0190606855, $26.95 (Paperback).


 

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