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Charismatic Capitalism

Direct Selling Organizations in America

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.

231 pages | 5.50 x 8.40

Economics and Business: Business--Business Economics and Management Studies

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work

Table of Contents

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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