This book narrates the integration of consumer culture into transnational human rights advocacy and explores its political impact. By examining tactics that include benefit concerts, graphic imagery of suffering, and branded outreach campaigns, the book details the evolution of human rights into a mainstream moral cause. Drawing inspiration from the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, the author argues that these strategies are effective in attracting masses of supporters but weaken the viability of human rights by commodifying its practices. Consumer capitalism co-opts the public's moral awakening and transforms its desire for global engagement into components of a lifestyle expressed through market transactions and commercial relationships, rather than political commitments. Reclaiming human rights as a subversive idea can reconnect the practice of human rights with its principles and generate a movement bound to the radical spirit of human rights.
Joel R. Pruce is Assistant Professor of Human Rights Studies at the University of Dayton, USA.