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Competing tactics: How the interplay of tactical approaches shapes movement outcomes on the market for ethical fashion

Philip Balsiger

No 12/9, MPIfG Discussion Paper from Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Abstract: Social movements use a variety of tactical approaches to change markets. Through a case study of ethical fashion in Switzerland, this paper looks at how the interplay between different tactical approaches pursued by movement actors shapes the growth of the ethical clothing market. Most studies on the influence of social movements look at single tactical approaches, and rarely discuss tactical competition and its role on outcomes. This paper adopts an interactionist field perspective to see this interplay at work. Three tactical approaches are identified: campaigning, collaboration initiatives, and the promotion of alternative niches. This paper points out the different cultural and social backgrounds behind these approaches and discusses their relationships with one another. It highlights how different tactical approaches may draw on one another, but also stresses instances of tactical competition. In particular, the analysis reveals how collaboration initiatives could be used by firms to sidestep more encompassing demands from the campaign. Furthermore, the analysis highlights how the specific definition of the niche, emerging as an outcome of a dynamic involving campaign actors, collaboration initiatives and firms, constitutes an obstacle to the creation of an alternative niche as advocated by its promoters.

Date: 2012
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