Is the activist economy good for social change? | The Stream


These days, social justice activism seems to be everywhere, from celebrity social media posts to corporate advertising. But is all of this mainstream exposure a good thing, and who really benefits from it?

Fighting for social change – or the appearance of it – sells, as many businesses recognise the need to take political stances on issues like Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ rights. However, some forms of activism can be described as performative or “woke-washing” – gestures that require little commitment and do more to improve a personal or corporate brand than in making substantive social change.

While a social justice statement to millions of followers can be positive in making progressive ideas mainstream, critics say shallow celebrity- or corporate-driven social activism can trivialise the actual work of activists and community organisers.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the commodification of social justice activism and ask: Who is it really helping?

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