What is social boycott


1. Concept and classification

The word B. takes up historical events around the behavior of the Irish land manager Charles Cunningham Boycott at the end of the 19th century, which was perceived as unethical and contrary to norms. As a result of his permanently repressive administrative practice and his rejection of land reform in accordance with the common good, tenant farmers and agricultural workers agreed to stop interest payments and to exclude C. C. Boycott by refusing to work, breaking off business relationships and rejecting all contractual legal relationships. The unyielding attitude of the peasants, as well as a broad protest directed against C. C. Boycott by tenants, citizens and entrepreneurs, forced him to give up all offices and to emigrate.

Subsequent to this, B. is understood to be a diverse organization set in motion by a systematic declaration of disrepute and ostracism, through which the boycotteur calls for the termination of economic, social or other relationships with a third party with the aim of forcing the boycotted person to change his behavior in a certain way . Primarily initiated as a collective measure by individuals, a group of states (state) or private or state international organizations, this ban is a means of pressure, coercion or combat, as well as an instrument of punishment or protest. General characteristics of a B. are:

a) the will-influencing request brought about by the B. initiator in accordance with his power, authority and communication skills as well as his information advantage to shut off or marginalize the B. goal by a group of boycotters who, in the case of a public B. good, are often non-participants join as so-called free riders ("freeriders"),

b) the degree of legitimacy, effectiveness and popularity of the action (e.g. during mass protests) depending on the B. situation or in relation to the scope, scope and goal of the B.

c) a predominantly structural power dispersion in the field of social and economic relations, which determines the scenario between the boycotters and the B. goal (including companies, ruling elites, states, ethnic or religious minorities, political decisions, laws) in the form of asymmetrical power relationships;

d) the violation of moral emotions, convictions or standards as affective action impulses, mostly caused by an outrageous misconduct or through dismay triggering and compassionate humanitarian or environmental and health-damaging crises or disasters;

e) Avoiding interpersonal acts of violence in the sense of counter-violence (violence), which, despite his form of resistance (right of resistance), usually characterizes the B. as non-violent action.

2. Forms of boycott

Forms, terminology and understanding of B. are fluid. A typology is therefore difficult to create. A classification into types of social, political and economic, in a broader sense also ecological and religious B, is suitable for the systematization of real manifestations, each comprising overlapping sub-types of B (including work B., Consumer B., Choice B ., Trade B., Olympia B., Press and Media B.).

2.1 Social boycott

Social B. is a form of economically or politically motivated social actions against unpopular people, elite groups close to the rule (elite) or political measures. The classic means of union-initiated labor B and the protest-like B, carried out as direct, non-violent action (e.g. Montgomery Bus B of the US civil rights movement [[[civil rights movements]]] in the 1960s) can also be used are counted as consumer B, which is developing as a modern phenomenon. Violations of environmental standards (e.g. the disposal of the Brent Spar oil platform) or the manufacture of products under inhumane working conditions increase the willingness to participate, depending on the level of indignation, which ultimately leads to the “unheard-of” behavior of a company or a public Organization in the form of a conscious, politically or ethically motivated, collective purchase decision or purchase refusal becomes visible. Within the social B. practice, further differentiation criteria of B. types are possible: 1. socially motivated B. (e.g. in the case of unethical corporate practices or when price increases are outlawed), 2. instrumental, behavior-changing and expressive, reform and change in values initiating e.g. (e.g. Oscar-B.), 3. interest-oriented B. (e.g. fees-B.), 4th academic e.g. as well as 5th internet-based e.g. through campaign or protest networks (e.g. Blogs).

For the legal assessment of a social B, which is requested in the opinion battle by press release or internet access in the (social) media, it is decisive that it is covered by the fundamental right of freedom of expression and freedom of the press (GG Art. 5 Paragraph 1, freedom of expression) can, if the B. motive lies in the concern for concerns of the general good (common good) or in a question that affects the public significantly.

2.2 Political boycott

Political B. is understood as a means of punishment or the enforced change in political behavior, whose expressive, politically motivated campaigns are aimed at companies, states, political or religious communities that have fallen into disrepute by targeting social minorities (e. G Jews-B. The National Socialists, National Socialism) or goods from foreign countries. Elective B initiated by individuals, groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but mostly by (opposition) parties. As a politically motivated action, it represents a form of deliberate discrediting or protest against a government in predominantly authoritarian regimes and democratizing transition states (democratization). He actively protests against the inadequate guarantee of free and fair elections as well as against state obstruction of parties through intimidation and limited media access or a lack of security of voting rights. In the case of boycotting parties, the effectiveness and reach depend essentially on their size and organizational structure, depending on whether it is a competing mass party, a movement or framework party, a “single issue party” or a party coalition. Politically intended e.g. Olympic Games (e.g. Olympic Games in Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984) or international sporting events generate a lot of attention worldwide.

2.3 Economic boycott

The economic B. is a more private-sector passive B.-Form against persons, companies or states that is widespread both in the domestic area and in the global space of interaction and action. Within the economy of a country, this includes coercive measures that are taken in the context of a labor dispute by employers or employees as well as through order or delivery bans against manufacturers or dealers. With regard to lockouts or strikes, B. is a permissible means of industrial action if it complies with the principle of proportionality and does not violate morality (Sections 823 (1), 826 BGB; Section 1 UWG). A B., which can violate the competitiveness of a competitor by calling for a blockade or isolation from normal business transactions as well as unreasonably impairing a third party by means of purchase or delivery blocks and thereby contribute to the market strengthening of the boycotted competitor, is legally an inadmissible means There is agreement on the general B. prohibition under antitrust law (Section 21 (1) GWB) that a B. request intended for competition purposes is to be viewed as an unfair competition measure under Section 1 UWG.

The most common form of international economic coercive measures is the ordered prohibition of the interstate trade in goods through a boycott-like embargo. That i.a. The embargo objective pursued through export and import bans, goods restrictions, suspension of existing economic relations, credit freezes, confiscation of foreign state assets or the refusal and interruption of financial aid is to react with pressure to the disapproved or illegal behavior of a state, be it because of the violation of moral standards and international rules or because of its economic strength as a decisive market competitor. In most cases, the instrument of economic and social isolation of a state serves the purpose of forcing a change in behavior on the part of the government concerned through the expected consequences (e.g. embargo against Iran's nuclear weapons).


MM Kobierecki: Boycott of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games as an Example of Political Play-Acting of the Cold War Superpowers, in: Polish Political Science Yearbook, Vol. 44, 2015, 93–111 • PS Koku: On Boycotts Organized Through the Internet, in: Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness 5/6 (2011), 83–93 • M. Frankel: Threaten but participate, Policy Paper 19 (2010), 1–12 • EA Beaulieu / S. D. Hyde: In the Shadow of Democracy Promotion, in: Comparative Political Studies 42/3 (2009), 392–415 • J. Lindenmeier / D. K. Tscheulin: Konsumentenboykott, in: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft, 78/5 (2008), 553-580 • SI Lindberg: Tragic Protest: Why Do Opposition Parties Boycott Elections ?, in: A. Schedler (ed.): Electoral authoritarianism, 2006, 203–223 • JG Klein: Why we boycott: consumer motivations for boycott participation, in: Journal of Marketing 68/3 (2004), 92–109 • KC Schwartzman: Can International Boycotts Transform Political Systems? The Cases of Cuba and South Africa, in: Latin American Politics and Society 43/2 (2001), 115–146 • M. Friedman: Consumer Boycotts: Effecting Change Through the Marketplace and the Media, 1999 • DE Garrett: The Effectiveness of Marketing Policy Boycotts, in: Journal of Marketing 51/2 (1987), 46-57.

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A. Wilhelm: Boycott, Version 10/22/2019, 5:30 p.m., in: Staatslexikon8 online, URL: https://www.staatslexikon-online.de/Lexikon/Boykott (accessed: May 20, 2021)