Standard Article


  1. Mary Lyn Stoll

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee369

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Stoll, M. L. 2013. Boycotts. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


A boycott occurs when one or more parties ask that consumers refuse to patronize an organization in order to achieve some goal. The goal of a boycott may be primarily instrumental, i.e., designed to effect policy changes, or the goal may be fundamentally expressive, i.e., an expression of moral disdain. Most boycotts involve both. The term “boycott” originates in disputes between British estate manager Charles Cunningham Boycott and his Irish workers. After years of leaving workers in deplorable living conditions, Boycott paid tenant farmers to bring in the harvest at a fraction of their normal wage. Workers who refused were evicted; they vowed to ostracize Boycott completely (see Economics and Ethics).


  • business ethics;
  • ethics in economics