Meaning of Boycott


The actions of the English civil servant Charles Cunningham Boycott (1832 – 1897), who served in Ireland, led to the development of the boycott concept.

In 1880, Boycott was hired to manage fields on Achill Island. Faced with the overexploitation he made of his subordinates, the peasants refused to pay the rent. In time the farmers decided to no longer work for Boycott and also refused to sell and buy products from him.

Due to this situation, Boycott hired a group of Protestant workers and asked the police for help to protect the crops. The peasants then terminated all their contracts with Boycott simultaneously, a decision approved by the Irish Agrarian League, which gave them the possibility of not doing business with him. The action carried out by the agricultural workers was named by The Times newspaper as boycotting, which came to our language as “boycott”.

Boycott, therefore, is an act that is carried out against an organization or an individual with the aim of preventing the normal development of an activity. For example: “A consumer association called for a boycott against supermarkets in protest at the increase in prices”, “I am going to promote a boycott against the clothing store that is in front of my house: yesterday its owner discriminated against me because of me skin color ”, “ They call for a boycott against an American company that gave millions of dollars to an African dictator ”.

The boycott, in short, is a legal practice that seeks to punish those who act reprehensibly from an ethical perspective.

It is worth mentioning that this practice did not necessarily begin when the term boycott and its respective verb, boycott, were coined, but there were already antecedents in history dating back at least half a century before. More precisely, in the year 1830 a movement took place on the part of the National Negro Convention Movement to put an end to the exploitation of slaves in the industry.

The National Negro Convention Movement was launched by black leaders in the state of Philadelphia, United States, where there was one of the largest concentrations of African-American people in the country. The objective of this movement was to fight against the discrimination, hostility, violence and exclusion suffered by these residents by the whites of the northern cities.

Another memorable example of boycott, although much later, took place in India when Mahatma Gandhi called in 1915 a boycott against all products from Great Britain with the aim of revitalizing local manufactures. This was the first of his steps in his peaceful struggle and he allowed his country to regain independence in 1947. Among his decisions, he highlighted weaving his own clothes with the loom and the spinning wheel.

At the end of the 1940’s, Argentina had to face a boycott led by the United States that sought to weaken its economy in order to have less competition in the export of national products.

In 1955, a black seamstress named Rosa Parks wrote one of the most important pages in the history of the United States, which would have a worldwide impact on the eternal battle against racism. While traveling by bus, she decided to refuse to give up her seat to a white man, something that by law she should have done; Faced with her attitude, the driver reported her to the police and Rosa was arrested. Then Martin Luther King led a boycott of the carrier.

The boycott was successful, as the bus company and merchants in the area suffered considerable losses of money. However, in retaliation they decided to bomb the home of Martin Luther King and Jo Ann Robinson, among other leaders.