Abstract

Named and developed during the Irish Land War, boycotting quickly spread beyond Ireland and became a favored tactic for labor organizers in Britain and the United States. This article traces its emergence and growth, as well as the reaction generated by the novel aspects of the practice. It argues that boycotting constituted an intellectual challenge to late Victorian-era liberals, and had profound implications for the conceptions of freedom, rationality, and individual autonomy that underpinned Anglo-American liberalism. By examining the difficulties faced by British and American legislatures and political thinkers in proscribing the practice, the boycott can be more clearly conceptualized both as a political philosophy and as democratic praxis.

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