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Grassroots for Hire
Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy

$34.99 (P)

Award Winner

Part of Business and Public Policy

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107619012

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Although 'grassroots' conjures up images of independent citizen organizing, much mass participation today is sponsored by elite consultants working for corporations and powerful interest groups. This book pulls back the curtain to reveal a lucrative industry of consulting firms that incentivize public activism as a marketable service. Edward Walker illustrates how, spurred by the post-sixties advocacy explosion and rising business political engagement, elite consultants have deployed new technologies to commercialize mass participation. Using evidence from interviews, surveys and public records, Grassroots for Hire paints a detailed portrait of these consultants and their clients. Today, Fortune 500 firms hire them to counter-mobilize against regulation, protest or controversy. Ironically, some advocacy groups now outsource organizing to them. Walker also finds that consultants are reshaping both participation and policymaking, but unethical 'astroturf' strategies are often ineffective. This pathbreaking book calls for a rethinking of interactions between corporations, advocacy groups, and elites in politics.

    • Examines the role of business in the mobilization of public opinion
    • Calls for a rethinking of the role of elites in politics, as well as how social movement tactics are used by major corporations and advocacy groups
    • Brings together systematic data to bear on the controversial topic of 'astroturf' participation
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2015 Charles Tilly Award, Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section, American Sociological Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Using a mix of sociological and political science literature and sophisticated methodology, Walker provides numerous cases studies and empirical evidence that many seemingly citizen-initiated campaigns are really orchestrated by funding from corporations and interest groups seeking to benefit … The examples and data are current and help "pull back the curtain" to expose a political marketplace in which many ideas and measurements of support receive significant subsidies. The next time an advocate says "the people have spoken", some skepticism should emerge … Summing up: recommended."
    S. E. Frantzich, Choice

    "Walker's focus on a specific set of actors playing a specific role in the political process enables him to make meaningful policy assessments and recommendations. His advice on how to strengthen and enforce existing laws, especially those related to financial disclosure are both insightful and practical, not to mention possible if citizens can press their legislators to adopt them. In this way, his book deploys solid empirical social science in a way that contributes constructively to political discourse. In an age of big money campaigns and facile political cynicism, Walker's book offers a refreshing reminder that citizens still have an important role to play."

    "This book offers an important theoretical contribution to social movement theory and political sociology more generally."
    Brayden G. King, Social Forces

    'Walker’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in changing patterns of collective action in the twenty-first century.' Interest Groups and Advocacy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107619012
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus. 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Sources:
    1. Grassroots from the top down
    2. Defining the field and its implications
    3. The formation of a grassroots industry
    Part II. Structure:
    4. Methods for mobilizing the public
    5. Corporate grassroots
    6. Outsourcing advocacy? Consulting for associations
    Part III. Outcomes:
    7. Participatory and policy impacts
    8. Conclusion

  • Author

    Edward T. Walker, University of California, Los Angeles
    Edward T. Walker is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His scholarly interests include social movements, organizations, public participation, and the political mobilization of firms and industries. His research has been published in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Business and Society, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Sociological Association. His commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Contexts magazine.


    • Winner of the 2015 Charles Tilly Award, Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section, American Sociological Association

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