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A.4 Resistance to Multinationals

Volume Two -> A. Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice -> A.4 Resistance to Multinationals

Campaigns against powerful multinational companies are quite often undertaken by indigenous peoples seeking to protect their land and way of life; some of these specific campaigns are included in this section. There is also often an overlap between anti-corporate and environmentalist struggles, but resistance to specific corporations is covered here. Thirdly an upsurge of protest against multinationals was part of the Global Justice (or Anti-Globalization) Movement, but often preceded protests directed specifically against international economic institutions and neoliberal policies (see A.7. below).

Supermarket chains are a good example of extensive corporate power – driving smaller shops and traders out of business, imposing their requirements on farmers, able to exploit suppliers from poorer countries and dictate unfavourable terms to their workforce. The US retail giant Walmart has been particularly strongly criticized, evoking strong resistance in South Africa in 2011 to its planned takeover of Massmart, and a protest by farmers and retailers in Delhi in 2007, organized by the Movement for Retail Democracy. Inside the USA a campaign in Chicago in October 2004 opposed the setting up of the first Walmart store inside the city (Guardian (4 Oct 2004), pp. 6-7). Supermarkets in Britain have also been criticized, by War on Want, Action Aid and others, for driving down wages of overseas workers, for example those picking tea, fruit and flowers in countries such as Kenya and South Africa. One source of information on ongoing struggles is Corporation Watch , based in San Francisco:

There have been numerous protests at shareholders’ annual meetings of large corporations, focusing on a range of peace, environmental, economic justice and human rights issues. Protests range from questions by nominal shareholders to the platform to protest banners and disruption of proceedings.
Some general theoretical studies which include information on a range of anti-corporate campaigns are:

Crossley, Nick, Global Anti-Corporate Struggle: A Preliminary Analysis, British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 53, issue 4, 2002, pp. 667-681

A preliminary sociological analysis of the ‘recent wave of anti-corporate protest’ seeking to provide a framework and highlight important themes.

Klein, Naomi, No Logo, London, Flamingo, 2000, pp. 512

Now a classic analysis of the role of brands and sources of leverage on corporations, including extensive information on a range of campaigns, many including direct action.

Starr, Amory, Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization, London, Zed Books, 1999, pp. 268

Both documents and theorizes the growing transnational resistance to multinationals and neoliberal globalization.

Stolle, Dietland ; Hooghe, Marah ; Micheletti, Michele, Politics in the Supermarket: Political consumerism as a form of political participation, International Political Science Review, Vol. 26, issue 3, 2005, pp. 245-269