Wal-Mart Wars: Moral Populism in the Twenty-First Century

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NYU Press, Mar 25, 2013 - Social Science - 256 pages
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Wal-Mart is America’s largest retailer. The national chain of stores is a powerful stand-in of both the promise and perils of free market capitalism. Yet it is also often the target of public outcry for its labor practices, to say nothing of class-action lawsuits, and a central symbol in America’s increasingly polarized political discourse over consumption, capitalism and government regulations. In many ways the battle over Wal-Mart is the battle between “Main Street” and “Wall Street” as the fate of workers under globalization and the ability of the private market to effectively distribute precious goods like health care take center stage.  In Wal-Mart Wars, Rebekah Massengill shows that the economic debates are not about dollars and cents, but instead represent a conflict over the deployment of deeper symbolic ideas about freedom, community, family, and citizenship. Wal-Mart Wars argues that the family is not just a culture wars issue to be debated with regard to same-sex marriage or the limits of abortion rights; rather, the family is also an idea that shapes the ways in which both conservative and progressive activists talk about economic issues, and in the process, construct different moral frameworks for evaluating capitalism and its most troubling inequalities. With particular attention to political activism and the role of big business to the overall economy, Massengill shows that the fight over the practices of this multi-billion dollar corporation can provide us with important insight into the dreams and realities of American capitalism.
 

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Wal-Mart Wars: Moral Populism in the Twenty-First Century

User Review  - Elizabeth Winter - Book Verdict

Massengill (writing program, Princeton Univ.) uses Wal-Mart as a case study in political discourse. She aims to help readers understand how the words social commentators and activists choose when ... Read full review

Contents

PART 2 COMPETING FRAMEWORKS FOR MARKET MORALITY
43
PART 3 MARKET MORALITY IN MEDIA AND POLITICS
151
Methodology
189
Notes
195
Bibliography
205
Index
215
About the Author
225
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Rebekah Peeples Massengill is Lecturer in the Writing Program at Princeton University.

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