Hiding Politics in Plain Sight examines the costs of employing market mechanisms--especially cause marketing--as a strategy for change. Patricia Strach suggests that market mechanisms do more than raise awareness of issues or money to support charities: they also affect politics. She shows that market mechanisms, like corporate-sponsored walks or cause-marketing, shift issue definition away from the contentious processes in the political sphere to the market, where advertising campaigns portray complex issues along a single dimension with a simple solution: breast cancer research will find a cure and Americans can participate easily by purchasing specially-marked products. This market competition privileges even more specialized actors with connections to business. As well, cooperative market activism fundamentally alters the public sphere by importing processes, values, and biases of market-based action into politics. Market activism does not just bring social concerns into market transactions, it also brings market biases into public policymaking, which is inherently undemocratic. As a result, industry and key activists work cooperatively rather than contentiously, and they define issues as consensual rather than controversial, essentially hiding politics in plain sight.
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