Grassroots for Hire: Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy (Business and Public Policy)
By: Edward T. Walker (author)Hardback
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Although 'grassroots' conjures up images of independent citizen organizing, much mass participation today is sponsored by elite consultants working for corporations and powerful interest groups. This book pulls back the curtain to reveal a lucrative industry of consulting firms that incentivize public activism as a marketable service. Edward Walker illustrates how, spurred by the post-sixties advocacy explosion and rising business political engagement, elite consultants have deployed new technologies to commercialize mass participation. Using evidence from interviews, surveys and public records, Grassroots for Hire paints a detailed portrait of these consultants and their clients. Today, Fortune 500 firms hire them to counter-mobilize against regulation, protest or controversy. Ironically, some advocacy groups now outsource organizing to them. Walker also finds that consultants are reshaping both participation and policymaking, but unethical 'astroturf' strategies are often ineffective. This pathbreaking book calls for a rethinking of interactions between corporations, advocacy groups, and elites in politics.
Edward T. Walker is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His scholarly interests include social movements, organizations, public participation, and the political mobilization of firms and industries. His research has been published in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Business and Society, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Sociological Association. His commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Contexts magazine.
Acknowledgements; Part I. Sources: 1. Grassroots from the top down; 2. Defining the field and its implications; 3. The formation of a grassroots industry; Part II. Structure: 4. Methods for mobilizing the public; 5. Corporate grassroots; 6. Outsourcing advocacy? Consulting for associations; Part III. Outcomes: 7. Participatory and policy impacts; 8. Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography.
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