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Brand local: Consumer evaluations as commodity activism on

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This project explores consumer evaluations on as "commodity activism" – the politicization of market activities for the purposes of social change and/or cultural resistance. A textual analysis of consumer evaluations (n = 1972) and interviews (n = 18) reveal that commodity activism on Yelp most commonly appears as a positive bias toward localism. Consumers discursively construct an aesthetic of authenticity around localism that functions in accordance with the logic of corporate branding; in turn, "brand local" is appropriated by reviewers as part of their own authentic "self-brand" grounded in the civic duty to one’s community. The implications of this logic are critiqued against commodity activism’s commitment to individual, personalized forms of self-empowerment over identification with larger collective and community struggles. In this sense, Yelp is favorable to neoliberal discourses of consumer capitalism, where consumption serves as a stand-in for citizenship and localism’s political potential reconfigured in market terms.