From Head Shops to Whole Foods by Joshua Clark Davis
The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism)

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Scholarly in tone and approach but accessible and of interest to students of business history as well as to budding entrepreneurs.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In the 1960s and ’70s, a diverse range of storefronts—including head shops, African American bookstores, feminist businesses, and organic grocers—countered corporate power by bringing the work of political movements (the New Left, Black Power, feminism, environmentalism, and more) into the marketplace. Through shared ownership, limited growth, and workplace democracy, these “activist entrepreneurs” offered alternatives to conventional profit-driven business models. By the middle of the 1970s, thousands of these businesses operated across the United States—but only a handful survive today, and some, like Whole Foods Market, have abandoned their quest for collective political change in favor of the pursuit of profits.

Vividly portraying the struggles, successes, and sacrifices made by these activist business owners, From Head Shops to Whole Foods writes a new history of social movements and capitalism by showing how activists embraced small businesses in a way few historians have considered. The book rethinks the widespread idea that the work of social movements and political dissent is by definition antithetical to business and market activity. Joshua Clark Davis uncovers the historical roots of contemporary interest in ethical consumption, social enterprise, mission-driven businesses, and buying local while also showing how current companies, both big and small, have adopted the language—but rarely the mission—of liberation and social change.
 

About Joshua Clark Davis

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Joshua Clark Davis is an assistant professor of history at the University of Baltimore.
 
Published August 8, 2017 by Columbia University Press. 324 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Cooking. Non-fiction
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on May 15 2017

Scholarly in tone and approach but accessible and of interest to students of business history as well as to budding entrepreneurs.

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