Charismatic Capitalism

Direct Selling Organizations in America

Nicole Woolsey Biggart

Charismatic Capitalism
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Nicole Woolsey Biggart

231 pages
Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9780226047867 Published March 1990
E-book $7.00 to $22.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226227269 Published December 2014
Tupperware Home Parties, Shaklee Corporation, Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics—theirs is an approach to business that violates many of the basic tenets of modern American commerce. Yet these direct selling organizations, fashioned by charismatic leaders and built upon devoted armies of door-to-door representatives, have grown to constitute an $8.5 billion a year industry and provide a livelihood for more than 5 million workers, the vast majority of them women.

The first full-scale study of this industry, Charismatic Capitalism, revises the standard contention that the rationalization of social institutions is an inevitable consequence of advanced capitalism. Nicole Woolsey Biggart argues instead that less rational organizations built on social networks may actually be more economically viable.
1. Introduction
2. The Economic History of Direct Selling
3. Changing Conditions of Work and the Growth of DSOs
4. Family, Gender, and Business
5. The Business of Belief
6. Charisma and Control
7. Economic Uses of Social Relations
A Note On Methods
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