Josh Davis discusses and signs "From Head Shops to Whole Foods"

Joshua Clark Davis discusses "From Head Shops to Whole Foods" DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland welcomes Josh Marshall to the store to discuss and sign, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs, on Wednesday, August 16th, at 7:00pm.

From Head Shops to Whole Foods tells the forgotten story of activists who established small businesses to advance the goals of political transformation and cultural liberation. In the 1960s and ‘70s, a diverse range of storefronts—including head shops, African American bookstores, feminist businesses, and organic grocers—brought the work of the New Left, Black Power, feminism, environmentalism, and other movements into the marketplace.

Through shared ownership, limited growth, and democratic workplaces, these “activist entrepreneurs” offered alternatives to conventional profit-driven corporate business models. By the middle of the 1970s, thousands of these enterprises operated across the United States—but only a handful survive today. Some, such as Whole Foods Market, have abandoned their quest for collective political change in favor of maximizing profits.

Vividly portraying the struggles, successes, and sacrifices of these unlikely entrepreneurs, 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. I challenge the widespread but mistaken idea that activism and political dissent are inherently antithetical to participation in the marketplace. This book uncovers the historical roots of contemporary interest in ethical consumption, social enterprise, buying local, and mission-driven business, while also showing how today’s companies have adopted the language—but not often the mission—of liberation and social change.

Josh Davis is an assistant professor of United States history at the University of Baltimore, with a focus on capitalism, social movements, popular culture, and African American history.

Event date: 
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
5433 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780231171588
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Published: Columbia University Press - August 8th, 2017