Mass Appeals for the Rights of Others

  • Joel R. PruceEmail author
Part of the Human Rights Interventions book series (HURIIN)


Human rights campaigns assert controversial arguments about the importance of human dignity in the face of the arbitrary exercise of power. The history of human rights is indeed a history of confrontation between forces seeking to preserve the status quo and those acting in defense of marginalized underdogs. Yet, a new tradition was created when human rights advocates designed platforms that are in tension with—or even antithetical to—the radical history of human rights. The critical theory of the Frankfurt School warns of the political risks for movements that rely on commercial transactions and marketized relationships. Today, elements of consumerism and popular culture are integral to human rights movement-building efforts, but this new direction poses risks for the long-term viability of the movement.


Human rightsHuman Rights NGOsNon-governmental Organizations Critical theoryCritical Theory advocacyAdvocacy Consumer capitalismCapitalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adorno, Theodor. 1989a. “Lyric Poetry and Society.” In Critical Theory and Society: A Reader, edited by Stephen Eric Bronner and Douglas Kellner. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1989b. “Perennial Fashion—Jazz.” In Critical Theory and Society: A Reader, edited by Stephen Eric Bronner and Douglas Kellner. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Benjamin, Walter. 1968. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, edited by Hannah Arendt. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  4. Bob, Clifford. 2002. “Merchants of Morality.” Foreign Policy, March 1.
  5. Bronner, Stephen Eric. 2004. Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, Wendy. 2004. ““The Most We Can Hope For…”: Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 103 (2): 451–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carla Winston. 2017. “Nonprofit Product Placement: Human Rights Advocacy in Film and Television.” Atlantic Journal of Communication 25 (1): 17–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chouliaraki, Lilie. 2012. The Ironic Spectator. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  9. Cmiel, Kenneth. 1999. “The Emergence of Human Rights Politics in the United States.” The Journal of American History 86 (3): 1231–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conroy, Meredith, Jessica T. Feezell, and Mario Guerrero. 2012. “Facebook and Political Engagement: A Study of Online Political Group Membership and Offline Political Engagement.” Computers in Human Behavior 28 (5): 1535–46. Scholar
  11. Cox, Robert W. 1981. “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory.” Millennium—Journal of International Studies, no. 10: 126–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cress, Daniel M. 1997. “Nonprofit Incorporation among Movements of the Poor.” The Sociological Quarterly 38 (2): 343–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Waal, Alex. 2015. “Rethinking Activism: Social Movements and the State over the Longue Dureé.” In The Social Practice of Human Rights. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Delaney, Eamon. 2015. “The ‘Human Rights’ Industry Has Lost All Sense of Proportion.” Independent.Ie, June 16.
  15. Eckel, Jan, and Samuel Moyn (eds.). 2013. The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  16. Falk, Richard A. 2009. Achieving Human Rights. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Fawzy, Farida. 2016. “Ice Bucket Challenge Leads to Gene Discovery.” CNN, July 27.
  18. Gladwell, Malcolm. 2010. “Small Change.” The New Yorker, October 4.
  19. Granovetter, Mark. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78 (6): 1360–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Habermas, Jürgen. 1991. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Sixth printing edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hassan, Budour. 2015. “How the Human Rights Industry Undermines Palestinian Liberation.” TeleSur, December 10.
  22. Henningsen, Patrick. 2016. “Smart Power and ‘The Human Rights Industrial Complex’.” Global Research, March 15.
  23. Hopgood, Stephen. 2006. Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2013. The Endtimes of Human Rights. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Horkheimer, Max. 2002. Critical Theory: Selected Essays. New York: Continuum Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Cultural Memory in the Present. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (ed.). 2009. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-profit Industrial Complex. Unknown edition. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  28. Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn A. Sikkink. 1998. Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  29. King, Samantha. 2006. Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, 1st ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  30. Kovalik, Daniel. 2012. “Amnesty International and the Human Rights Industry.” November 8.
  31. Kracauer, Siegfried. 1995. Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays. Translated by Thomas Y. Levin. [S.l.]: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lettinga, Doutje, and Lars van Troost (eds.). 2015. Can Human Rights Bring Social Justice? Strategic Studies. Amnesty International Netherlands.
  33. Marcuse, Herbert. 1989. “Philosophy and Critical Theory.” In Critical Theory and Society: A Reader, edited by Stephen Eric Bronner and Douglas Kellner. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. McCarthy, John D., and Mayer N. Zald. 1977. “Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory.” The American Journal of Sociology 82 (6): 1212–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Minkoff, Debra C. 1999. “Bending with the Wind: Strategic Change and Adaptation by Women’s and Racial Minority Organizations.” American Journal of Sociology 104 (6): 1666–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moyn, Samuel. 2010. The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Park, Chang Sup. 2013. “Does Twitter Motivate Involvement in Politics? Tweeting, Opinion Leadership, and Political Engagement.” Computers in Human Behavior 29 (4): 1641–48. Scholar
  38. Perugini, Nicola, and Neve Gordon. 2015. The Human Right to Dominate. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. 1979. Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail. Vintage.
  40. Pruce, Joel R. 2015. “The Practice Turn in Human Rights Research.” In The Social Practice of Human Rights, edited by Joel R. Pruce. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Richey, Lisa Ann, and Stefano Ponte. 2011. Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  42. Rieff, David. 2003. A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  43. Singer, Peter. 1972. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1 (3): 229–43.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 2011. The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress. With a new afterword by the author edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Stammers, Neil. 2009. Human Rights and Social Movements. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of DaytonDaytonUSA

Personalised recommendations