A boycott is an organized economic, social or political coercion or pressure means by which a person, group of persons, a company or a country is excluded from the regular course of business. Today, the boycott is generally for a discredited explanation or ostracism by the expression of a collective denial.

The economic boycott serves in particular the elimination of competition; the social boycott as leverage of interest groups (such as in labor disputes ); the political boycott is a state sanction against other states.


The term boycott goes back to Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English living in Ireland estate managers. During the Land Wars of the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell called on his compatriots on the non-violent resistance. As a result of 1880 organized by Parnell and the Irish Land League action took Boycott no more tenants, he was " boycotted ". This first successful boycott gave all the other names.


Some examples of historic boycotts in chronological order:

  • In the German Middle Ages, the so-called " Verhansung ", that is, the exclusion of a city of the Hanseatic League.
  • The American boycott of British goods during the American Revolution.
  • The Indian boycott of goods that were partly under the trade monopoly of the British, organized by Gandhi ( " campaign of non- cooperation," 1920-1922 ).
  • Initiated by the National Socialists in 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany, called Jews boycott.
  • The activities carried out during the U.S. civil rights movement by African- Americans bus boycotts.
  • The U.S. boycott of Cuba - see the relationship between Cuba and the United States.
  • The Arab boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel.
  • The fruits boycott of consumers to draw attention to the (then) apartheid South Africa. He was popular in Europe, especially in Germany and was proclaimed by the Protestant women's work in Germany as well as the anti -apartheid movement.

Worldwide boycotted 1995 many consumers the oil company Shell, by not fueled at Shell ( " consumer boycott " = buyers' strike ). They were responding to the announcement by Shell disposal of the floating oil tanks Brent Spar. After about 100 days of Greenpeace initiated a media campaign directed shell and began the disposal of the Brent Spar on land.

2011, the EU Iran threatened to not buy more oil from him ("EU embargo "); in January, the EU decided economic sanctions. A few days later the EU threatened Iran with an immediate supply boycott.

Boycott forms

In a trade boycott one or more nations refused to trade with an outlawed state or its economic institutions. Consumer boycotts are aimed at a long-term change of buying behavior on the part of consumers. An election boycott is the refusal of a group or party to take part in an election, it is a form of informal disapproval. Olympic boycott referred to the decision of individual countries or groups of countries, not to participate in the Olympic Games. Embargo (Spanish confiscation ) is the equivalent for a boycott of the seller side, which means that the seller refuses, the buyer to hand over the goods, or refuses to sell anything.

Industrial action following a legal boycott different forms:

  • Withdrawal of labor by workers,
  • Adjustment lock by employers,
  • Paragraph barrier,
  • Customer lock.

While the first two, the internal relations between workers and employers relate and overlap with the work ordnance strikes and lockouts, the last two refer to the external relationship and draw with a third party. The adjustment lock can be directed at certain groups such as trade union activists who were detained on so-called " black lists " name.

Other examples

The S -Bahn 1961 boycott was a protest action in West Berlin against the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Legal Significance

The Federal Constitutional Court stated in a landmark judgment of 15 January 1958 established ( Lüth judgment) that the call for a boycott is a legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. However, this is only restricted in the antitrust and unfair competition law. In Germany it is forbidden to § 21 GWB " companies and associations of companies," other " companies or associations of companies with the intention to affect certain companies unfair to ask for delivery blocks or reference lock ". However, all players ( Verrufer, disreputable and addressee ) must be firms here. In Lauterkeitsrecht the boycott of § 4 No. 10 UWG is detected. Such a one can namely be a specific disability, and in the context of a balancing of interests the above Standards of the Lüth judgment must be considered. According to § 4a AWV are boycotting statements, ie statements of a resident in foreign trade (not in domestic commerce) to participate in a boycott against another state are prohibited.