Motel Detroit 1
08 Festival

Globalization and the Role of the Power of the Citizen


by Rik Pinxten

In the world we are living, power relations are changing in the process of globalization. The old counterbalances of the political and union organizations are increasingly losing influence. No forceful alternative to the multinational corporate power is materializing so far. However, Human Rights and the UN organization continue to have authority. Moreover, the local social worker and intellectual have an important role here.

A Bird's Eye View of Recent Power Shifts

It is my conviction that over the past three decades the world has changed profoundly. I go along with E. Castells' (1996) analysis and subscribe to his view that information technologies have altered industrial and financial realities (with dislocation of production to the cheap labor countries, international financial conquests in stock markets, etc.). I also share his idea that such developments have changed labor relationships deeply: meritocracy comes first, at the expense of solidarity, and the collapse of the cold war power balance triggered a new type of ‘wild capitalism' which has been supported by various sorts of neo-liberal ideologies. Finally, and relevantly for this contribution, I agree with Castells that political or societal structures are under attack here and there and have become visibly powerless vis-à-vis the economic-financial sector. On the other hand, at the bottom level of society, all sorts of identity movements have been manifesting themselves. These movements often turn against governments (e.g., the Patriots in the USA, or the Zapatistas in Mexico), or disregard them (e.g., the Arab European League). They sometimes focus on one issue only (e.g., Greenpeace or the Animal Rights Movement). Others manifest themselves as broad political movements (e.g., Christian Identity in the USA protestant churches, or Opus Dei in the Catholic Church, but also the Zapatistas in Mexico or the extreme right parties in Europe).

I want to dwell here on the issue of power shifts in the era of globalization, looked from the point of view of the citizen in the West. In the past century and a half, the power relationships in the nation states of North America and Europe acquired a clear ideological profile. The reactionary politicians tried to hold on to Ancien Régime power relations, with hereditary privileges and inequality between classes or strata of the population. In Western Europe and North America, this ideology did not gain a majority, nor could it hold on to real power in the established nation states. A second group of political formations, the conservative circles and parties, aimed at holding power in the hands of few, who would decide for all. Election systems were often efficient in playing this out, but to my knowledge there are no examples of lasting and uninterrupted success of this ideological group. Over the past two centuries, though, these political groups got massive support from industrial and financial circles as well as from some churches (e.g., Christian conservatives were supported in Italy, France and Belgium up to the ‘50s of the twentieth century by church and industrials, see Cardinal Daneels in Schmidt 2000), and hence primarily promoted the interests of their supporters: the Christian parties of the 19th century explicitly preached the subordination of the masses, in opposition to the then progressive liberal parties which defended the new ideology of free enterprise.

A third political perspective was that of radical democratic thinkers, who played a role in the power game through socialist, communist and anarchist groups. They tried to represent the interests of all people in principle, and consequently landed up in the opposition against the conservatives and the reactionaries. When the Third International of Socialist Movements was convinced by social democratic leaders such as Huysmans (then President of the organization and later Prime Minister of Belgium) to take leave of the radical and revolutionary aspects of the ideology, they became eligible for governmental power. Over time, this radical group thus either shared a lot of territory with the conservatives (e.g., in the USA where Democrats and Republicans grew ideologically closer to one another) or agreed on compromises with them (the typical Western European model: workers' parties seized power through coalitions with the conservatives). Both moves implied taking a more conservative position, without acquiring the same privileged relationships with the important industrial and financial circles: they remained upstarts, non-bourgeois or (later on) ‘petits bourgeois'. One might appreciate the totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia as either reactionary systems (the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Czar Empire) or as monolithic conservative regimes (e.g., the communist rulers); although I will not make any further point of this (see Karnoouh 2000). In any case, they can not be appreciated as ‘radical' or ‘liberal' democratic groups to my mind.

With the loss of importance of the old industries (steel, coal, but also household electric devices and automobiles) and the advent of the new information technologies (since the ‘70s of the past century), all relationships between industrial circles and power groups were severely challenged: the globalizing economic circles did not need the national politicians anymore, let alone that they would care to be bothered by any non-conservative politician, who would try to coerce them to compromise or share. With the new information technology, the consumer could now be reached directly through the media as well as via small segments of society or even individually (with mobile phones, advertisements, etc.). As long as consumption can thus be guaranteed at a sufficiently high level, political leaders threaten to become superfluous from the point of view of the corporate capitalists. The national structures of power (the nation-state) and the sectorial redistribution of revenue or benefits become obsolete. Sometimes, they are even viewed as a hindrance for the interests of the globalizing groups. The international meetings of multinational industrial groups (e.g., at Davos in Switzerland) rapidly become the centers of worldwide decision making, and the meetings at the international political level of the G7 and the WTO are initiated in their wake.

Looking at the political level, no powerful representative body has been developed so far to constitute a counterbalance against the economic power concentration in multinational corporations: the conservative WTO defends the interests of international capitalism in terms of ‘the common good'. In the latter organization, the very idea of power balance and of compromise in view of everybody's interests (e.g., the shared democratic perspective in Europe) is absent and considered to be replaceable by ‘the laws of the ("free") market'. In fact, I would claim that those politicians who still have real impact at the turn of the century are the spokespersons of (one or more groups of) the multinational corporations. In my view, this is how presidents like Reagan or the Bushes, and prime ministers like Blair and Chirac can best be understood: although they are elected through democratic procedures they rule in order to ‘free the market' (so-called) from political constraints. Hence, they prove to work primarily and certainly in the short run, for the benefit of the multinational corporations. When deregulations and other market-friendly decisions are made the ensuing loss of jobs and of wellbeing for the wage earner is invariably explained as a short term effect which the market will correct at a later stage in the development. The economists who question this ‘faith' in the salutary role of the market (e.g., Sen 1992) are the exceptions.

Looking at this recent institutional development and comparing it with the century that preceded it, I claim that a remarkable shift in power relations has taken place: at the national level (in the rich North, to be sure) the economic power groups were more or less balanced by political parties and both of them combined efforts over the past fifty years to guarantee maximal consumption for the largest possible section of the population. In other words, the industrial world and the political representatives understood their interests to overlap and to reside in mass consumption in the countries of production (i.e., the West). Political groups of conservative denomination and circles of ‘liberal' ideologies fought together to guarantee a more or less balanced redistribution of consumption opportunities for all. In the present era, the economic and financial groups see greater profits in new markets and in new production areas: low wage countries are actively opened to harbor production sites which are progressively withdrawn from the western countries (through dislocation of factories), and new markets of consumers are gradually created in these newly developed countries (especially Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America). Typically, the counterbalance of power against ‘wild capitalism' is absent in these newly explored markets.

All this is happening on a global scale, disregarding national interests and national power groups to a large extent. I think it can safely be said that multinational corporations are globally organized in this process (Korten 1995). Politicians who go along with the corporations structure their own nation-state in a way that is beneficial for them (e.g., the Chilean government privatized education to a very high degree, but also the Western European countries and the United States governments actively downplay the democratization of education and reorganize the schooling system in view of the interests of big industrial circles). The once famous debate about ‘Bildung' or general education for all in the canon of Western civilization has died out: the creed of democratization of education is progressively substituted by a market-oriented differentiation in schooling (Bourdieu 1980).

Moreover, and in contrast to the national level of the former century, the political forces, which could ‘correct' or counterbalance capitalist interests are not equally well organized. No powerful labor union can be pointed at on a global level, and neither is there a world government of any importance to complement the economic global powers. Saying that, in fact, implies opting for one of two possible definitions of citizenship or societal agency: either the citizen becomes a mere individual who has the freedom to defend his interests all by himself in the new world order (i.e., the neo-liberal ideology). Or the citizen will be seen as a disconnected agent who does not possess any relevant or powerful means to counteract the proliferation of corporate interests, which progressively disregard or even run against the interests of that citizen (i.e., the view of counter-movements like the anti-globalists or the new radicals carrying the icon of Che Guevara with them in demonstrations).

However, the more the corporate interests dictate the societal agenda, the less the equal distribution of goods and services seems to be guaranteed. Neo-liberalism claims that old political powers should be abolished, and preaches that the ‘free market will regulate for the benefit of all'. Of course, this comes down to a belief, rather than a fact. Hence, invoking the ‘free market' should be identified as part of an ideology, rather than as factual statement. The former head of a multinational corporation, Korten (1995), wrote a revealing book about the role of corporations in the globalized world: the short term interests of such global firms (often expressed in the quarterly business reports and financial balances) more and more dictate what decisions are made in terms of closing down, dislocating or expanding plants and offices. The net revenues every three months prevail over long term vision or industrial planning (let alone long term investment in skills or knowledge). In that tendency, neither the local or national social partners (unions and so on), nor the national governments are recognized as important forces in the decision making process. This is in clear contrast with the practice of negotiation and social peace for the long run policy of production and consumption for all, which grew out of a century of social struggle in the twentieth century capitalism of the West (roughly since the First World War, and certainly after the Great Recession of the ‘30s). For the time being, the citizen of the West in the 21st century appears to be taken in by this neo-liberal ideology, at least to the extent that individualism is recognized as an intrinsic feature of the new, so-called post-industrial order (Touraine 1992; Pinxten et al. 2003).

The only countermovement I hardly mentioned so far is that of the so-called ‘anti-globalization' groups. They were front page news when they started protesting against the World Trade Organization in its subsequent meetings, and especially since the Genoa meetings, where the Italian police killed one of the protesters in a crude exemplification of the ‘law and order' view. For the first time, the opposition between the interests of the new corporate capitalism and those of democrats, ecologists and labor forces became a headline of worldwide news broadcasting. However, notwithstanding the insistence of small groups to be present at the subsequent WTO meetings, they did not become a counterforce over time, nor do they appear on the political fora of the West as an ideological alternative to the new ‘wild capitalism' so far. Maybe time will show whether the present anti-globalists are just the forerunners of a mass movement, but in the present era they do not count as such.

The wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, but also the regime changes in Congo, Rwanda, Liberia and other resource countries since Bush might indicate that, at least in the short run, some Western governments are successfully acting as the political and military defenders of multinational corporate capitalism: any interests in natural resources (oil, water, diamonds, etc.) are secured through political or military dominance. Interior markets are protected against invaders (both in the USA and in the EU, and on some issues against one another: meat, media, etc.) and potential markets in other countries are aggressively conquered (e.g., the biopiracy on DNA material and on organs for transplantation, see Nader 2003). Competitors in the profit game are either made into allies (e.g., the expansion of NATO in former Eastern Europe) or else forced to adopt the rule of the hegemonic power, lest they would be excluded from potential growth. The latter was illustrated in the way China was coerced into obeying the (mostly American) demand to subscribe to the Human Rights policy of the USA as a condition for membership of the WTO. That is to say, the (Western) market excluded China from participation and from profit making as long as it refused to comply. In 2003, China gave in, thus jeopardizing the claims for renegotiation of the (Western based) Human Rights it held in the past, and short-circuiting the plans in that sense of Asian allies (notably of Malaysia).

What Happens to the Rights of the Citizen in this Arena?

It is generally agreed that the project of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a post-war emanation of the well-meant intentions of a club of Western thinkers and politicians who wanted to prevent the kind of horror of the Second World War to ever happen again (de Gaay Fortman 2002). Hence, it became an instrument which had to prove its universal validity. It proved to be a well-built instrument with a sound juridical logic. Over the past half century, Human Rights have known an intriguing history, together with the political organization they inspire, i.e. the United Nations Organization. At regular intervals the UN organization was threatened in its existence: Third World countries have protested that it defends most of all the interests of the rich northern countries, but notably the USA have claimed that it did not enough of this (e.g., lobbying successfully to prevent Boutros Ghali's re-election as secretary general). On the other hand, the UN has complied with the mostly implicit demand of its most powerful members (with the right of veto in the Security Council) to stick to the interpretation of Human Rights as the rights of individual citizens only. Thus, the demands of ethnic minorities in the large states (the USA, the USSR and China, for example) never found strong supporters in the UN, although the discriminations against these minorities can not be defended in any way in terms of Human Rights.

In the light of this history, it is easy to focus on the deficiencies alone and declare Human Rights and the UN organization as false pretences or charades. However, in that light the diplomatic skirmishes between the USA and the three ‘defectors' in the EU (Germany, France and Belgium) in the 2003 Iraq war are interesting: these three countries voiced their resistance to support American military deployment and refused to ‘help out' Turkey as a possible ally of the USA in the war. The three countries demanded that the UN would issue a resolution on military action in this area. Immediately, at a meeting in the military headquarters of NATO near Brussels, Belgium, the American minister of Defense (Rumsfeld) threatened to move the headquarters to a ‘more friendly' allied country. In the American media, President Bush and other high officials repeatedly said that these European dissenters were wrong, disloyal, etc. A net result was that Prime Minister Blair from the UK managed to divide the EU over this issue by forming a ‘pro American war on Iraq' alliance with Spain, Italy and some other countries, stressing their solidarity with President Bush's strategy and by-passing the UN and the EU altogether. A few months after the official ending of the war on Iraq (November 2003), the press reported American deaths in Iraq every day, bombing and retaliations from both sides and an appeal by President Bush on a series of countries (with the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain and so on visiting the President) to send troops in order to install peace in the area. Again, the unilateral attempts of the President were countered by these same countries with their recurring demand that the UN should be recognized as a mediating partner in this war: a UN resolution as the minimal condition was voiced by these countries against American ill-negotiated military action.

What I want to stress with this example is that, however virtual Human Rights may seem at times and however frail the power of the UN may look in some instances, history seems to indicate so far that they do count at other times and do play at the least a mediating role. It is important to understand that the power of the UN is indeed fully dependent on the respect of all the member states. The organization has neither the money nor the military power to impose anything on its members. It can only stand for its authority and its function as a forum. Neither real military powers, nor terrorists can be made to submit to, or even respect this body. Hence, that this organization has impact regardless of its demonstrable lack of financial or military power is an intriguing phenomenon. For me, it indicates that so far no power in the world feels invulnerable or strong enough to do away with this mediating organization. In a way this reasoning meets the criticism on ‘Realpolitik' (Rubinstein 2000): materialistic political analyses preferably point to the economic and military power present in opposing partners to predict the outcome of a conflict. However, neither guerrilla warfare (e.g., the success of the Vietcong), nor organized resistance (e.g., the victory of resistance movement during the Second World War), nor the occasional success of ideological or religious movements against manifest military superiority (e.g., the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Czech revolution) can be explained in this way.

I mean to say that not only terrorist military actions as the direct counter movement in materialistic terms can be a successful enemy to a superpower, but demonstrably others can, such as the materialistically insignificant power of peace movements, churches, ‘crazy mothers' and other groups with merely symbolic power. It is in this realm that the materialistic or so-called ‘realistic' theory of power is failing to do its job. Governments have experienced the force of these ‘soft' powers over and over again: in the USA the anti-Vietnam demonstrations had a tremendous impact; in France the very powerful President General De Gaulle (who had ordered tank divisions around Paris to finish the May ‘68 revolt) had to resign because of insistent non-violent protests by students and workers. These examples only offer data to sustain the thesis that no regime or government in the modern world, however powerful it seems from a materialistic perspective, is all-powerful or invulnerable as yet. It is in that niche that the UN's symbolic power is operating at the international level. This does not mean that the forces that want to diminish the democratic rights of the citizen are not powerful; I only stress that they are not almighty. Why this is so is not my topic. But that they have to deal with the opinion of the conscious consumer-citizen is a fact, I claim.

What Can Be the Role of the Civil Servant and the Local Democrat?

Here is where I see an important role for the citizen in general, and for the civil servant in particular. In my view, most of the analyses about economic shifts can have a doomsday ring about them because they are stuck with old and partially obsolete categories of analysis. Two major changes have occurred, in my opinion, at the level of the citizen:

1. The western citizen is better educated and her or his higher qualifications and knowledge skills matter for the profit of the corporations. Although the factories for basic industrial production progressively move to low wage countries (not only steel and textile, but also chips and serial products), the design, the sale and the research is, in the present era, only sufficiently developed in the rich countries. The gap of Third World countries will not easily be narrowed, because this would imply such elaborate facilities as a good societal and public administration, good schooling and a mentality of never ending research and development, all of which seem rather difficult to plan and develop in the short run. Even if university output is forthcoming (like e.g., in India and Brazil) this will not automatically yield a better level of wellbeing in these countries. At the same time, brain-drain from the better situated Third World countries towards the West is still a fact, and may be on the increase. To be sure I do not appreciate brain-drain as a positive good, since the unfairness of the distribution of wealth is unjust for the present generations and will continue to yield conflicts in the future. My only point is that in the present era the Western citizen has the bonus of education, which is for a lot of them a beneficial asset in the global job situation. Since the traditional wage labor jobs are heavily under attack (because they are either done much cheaper in other countries, or taken up by refugees and immigrants in the West: see Castells 1996), a large group of less schooled citizens in the West end up in a condition of poverty and for them the local society should device solutions. But a large portion of Western citizens is in a privileged position in the emerging knowledge society in comparison with their counterparts in the non-western countries (e.g., in Belgium we have reached some 40% of people under 30 with college or university education since 2000).

2. The citizen has become a consumer over the past half century. Mass production is a necessity for international corporations to survive. The production cycle is not easily controllable anymore, and shifts on the job market will be the rule rather than the exception in the future. But all these products of mass production will have to find their consumers, lest the system stops short. The consumer is more and more dependent on the corporations to acquire the goods. The other side of this coin is, of course, that in this configuration the consumer is in a position of power: except for basic goods for survival the consumer buys secondary and tertiary goods, which are not strictly necessary for survival and therefore could easily become an object of negotiation for the consumer. For the time being, in the political arena, this fact does not really seem to be perceived in all its potentiality by the political elite and common citizen alike: the consumer can refuse, postpone or otherwise negotiate the acquisition of these goods, because they are not or less vital for survival. Furthermore, the citizen-consumer can take control over the production of basic goods (food, energy in the rich north: e.g., energy is produced and distributed locally, per neighborhood, in parts of Denmark), thus realizing a revolutionary shift in the dependency relationships. At present, no political party in power in the USA or in Europe seems to have thought this through (except for some small alternative groups like VIVANT in Belgium, ATTAC in France, etc.) and all political groups continue to lament on the fact that the control of the production site is beyond their reach in the post-industrial era we live in.

Some of the Green parties are at least conscious of the global changes, but most of them want to share power in the present era (in Belgium, France, Germany, etc.) and hence tread in the same obsolete political economic analysis of the established parties. Nevertheless, the power of self-determination and self-control that lies dormant in mass-consumership is tremendous: if citizens refuse to buy a particular brand or get supplies from a particular firm, in a short time the producers and providers can get in to trouble. Indeed, the weak spot of the mass consumption system from the point of view of the producer and distributor is that consumption must by all means be continued. Keeping supplies in stock is costly, but generating products that the market will not buy is a nightmare for any firm in the present age and time. We have witnessed the dormant power in the hands of the consumer on some occasions: the refusals of even a small percentage of the consumers to buy a certain brand of bananas, or the boycott of Shell products called for by Greenpeace, were notable examples. The corporations involved agreed to negotiate after a very short time, owing to the costs involved in stocking goods and the drop in direct profit for the stockholders. Even the import of Cuban goods and the opening of regular tourist packages by European individuals and governments (notably Danielle Mitterand) meant a great difference for Cuba, notwithstanding the long term and severe boycott against that country by the USA. My point here is that the power implied by the consumer position in the present predicament of international capitalism in the mass-consumption perspective is substantial. For the time being, mostly volunteers and social-cultural groups are stressing this point, but no great institutional structures stand for this line of thought. Governments, political parties and unions are still focusing mainly on the (problems with) control of the production and distribution aspects of economic life, when seeking to counterbalance international capitalist power.

In yet another way, Western consumers have a dormant power in their hands. A considerable group of them (differing according to the country they live: most in the USA, less in southern Europe) have themselves become modest stockholders. A great part of them own shares in retirement funds (enthusiastically launched by banks and by government agencies some three decades ago), and a growing number became ‘small capitalists' with modest investments in private stock and foreign bonds. Finance ministers of the EU reckon that approximately one out of five citizens in Western Europe can live off the interests of their capital since the past decade (communication of Minister Tobback of Belgium in 2000). One of the ‘new problems' emanating from this situation is that too much capital is thus in the hands of mainly older citizens, who are not taking many risks in investment by creating jobs (for the younger generation), but rather live comfortably off the interests of their savings accounts and safe long term bonds. But, apart from this particular problem it is a fact that more and more citizens are becoming shareholders. Again, the potential power involved in this new type of ownership is not fully clear to them, although it is considerable. But the growth in consciousness with the small shareholders is slow. One very recent incident illustrates this point: in an investigation on the involvement of Belgian banks in the military industry (OXFAM), several banks reacted that their involvement was minor and that their offer of bonds and stock for ‘ethical banking' has risen to some 10% over the past decade.

It is without doubt that in this realm as in that of consumption of food and industrial goods, the go-between is the woman or the man who performs the ‘little services'. That is to say, I am speaking here of the social worker, the cultural middleman, the civil worker, the lower employees of private firms and of public offices. Even the teachers in schools and in adult education services are of crucial importance here. They can make the system work for the benefit and glory of the few mighty suppliers and finance groups, or for the population at large. In their position lies a potentiality of information and of interaction which has the nature of a power relationship: without their action as go-betweens potential consumers will be reached far less easily by the corporations and the political class. But also, without appeal to them, the population at large will have more difficulties in knowing and defending their rights and their potential negotiation space with the producers and providers. In other words, the go-between may be used as a means to reach the potential clients by the corporations, but he is also a translator and an ally for the consumer (since he is earning a living through this job). Notwithstanding the growing direct sale of products and services through the internet, the go-between is and remains an important figure in the present global capitalist system. The consumer organizations should become aware of the power potential which is intrinsic in this go-between position of social workers, teachers and other middle-persons in order to consciously draw on this power, in order to develop a counterbalance to the emerging global ‘wild capitalism'.

In the reasoning I developed, I stressed the factor of the potential power in the hands of go-betweens (the ‘little services' done by the civil servant, teacher and social-cultural worker) when looked at from the point of view of the consumer. The fact that consumers are better educated than the workers class of a generation ago, because modern capitalism needs higher qualified employees, should certainly be recognized as an asset in this perspective: the knowledge the consumer has, should be consciously interpreted as a source of power and set to use in the struggle to gain control over the field now occupied by corporations and rather docile governments. In still other words, the citizen of today may be less and less powerful as far as his status of (co)producer of goods and services is concerned (Baumann 2002), but can gain more control and develop a counterbalance in power by consciously using the potential dormant in the consumer position: the vulnerable point of the global power of the corporations (and of the governments facilitating for them) resides in the need to secure consumption. The middle-persons have an important role in this structure and it would be foolish to consider them dispensable or superfluous. The latter view stems from a production-focused perspective, which was so dominant in the economistic ideologies of the past two centuries, but is now obsolete. To be sure, I only stressed one point of analysis in this short contribution, since that point is often forgotten in the literature. At least as important as this point, is the fact that in the information society of today the producer of knowledge may be differently powerful as producer than the industrial worker and capitalist. That type of analysis has been the subject of abundant studies (most of all Castells 1996).

A final example may illustrate the potential of such a shift in power consciousness once more. In the cultural sphere, it is fashionable now to speak of ‘culture consumers', and to call those who have an appetite beyond the traditional canon ‘omnivores' (Laermans 2002). However, a remarkable shift, which denies the status of ‘passive consumers' as the common or progressively common status to the cultural citizen, is that to a participating cultural consumer. For the first time in history, and through the development of the new information technologies, the audience can now communicate and interact directly and massively with the producer or provider. The producer does not merely make the cultural product which is then simply passively digested by the consumer, but an interaction is set up by one or both of them. The ‘product' is then altered or adapted on the basis of that interaction. For example, David Bowie ‘publishes' his new album via the internet in 2003 and millions of fans log in and react to it, whereupon Bowie can adapt the release. Similarly, more and more books are first published in an on-line version by way of try-out and only later released in print. It is obvious that the ‘consumer' is drawn into the process here to become co-producer, critic, communicator, etc. This process is launched occasionally now, but to me its potential is enormous: we will move away from director-shaped productions for the passive culture consumer to an active arena of co-productions, potentially in co-ownership of cultural goods. Technology allows for this and middle-persons who recognize their power potential in this field are rapidly exploring it by means of small independent production and distribution houses, workshops and the like (Pinxten 2003).


My major point in this contribution is to recognize that the power situations in the globalized world are changing: corporations control production and distribution of consumer goods, buy up smaller competitors and try to realize a monopolistic market position. Governments and policy groups are increasingly powerless against these corporations and lose out in the combat for control on the production and distribution processes. However, the power which is intrinsic to the status and position of the consumer is not consciously explored and put to work in an efficient way. It is at this level that the ‘small services' of the middle-persons (between corporations, political structures and consumers) can make a great difference.

| Meer