Date of Award

Spring 3-20-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael Lane Bruner

Second Advisor

David Cheshier

Third Advisor

Mary E. Stuckey

Fourth Advisor

Gregory C. Lisby

Fifth Advisor

David Boje


In the years following World War II social activists learned to refine rhetorical techniques for gaining the attention of the new global mass media and developed anti-corporate campaigns to convince some of the world’s largest companies to concede to their demands. Despite these developments, rhetorical critics have tended to overlook anti-corporate campaigns as objects of study in their own right. One can account for the remarkable success of anti-corporate campaigns by understanding how activists have practiced prospective narrative disclosure, a calculated rhetorical wager that, through the public circulation of stories and texts disclosing problematic practices and answerable decision makers, activists can influence the policies and practices of prominent corporations. In support of this thesis, I provide case studies of two anti-corporate campaigns: the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union vs. J. P. Stevens (1976 – 1980) and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers vs. Taco Bell (2001—2005). Each campaign represents a typology of practice within prospective narrative disclosure: martial (instrumental emphasis) and confrontation/alliance (popular, constitutive emphasis) respectively. The former is more likely to spark defensive responses and public backlash, and the latter is more likely to sway entire market sectors and produce lasting changes in the de facto corporate social responsibility standards of global markets.