chapter  2
12 Pages

Critical marketing research

The review of critical marketing research (CMR) that we present in this chapter does not aim to give a complete account of the previous research within this field (see Alvesson 1994; Alvesson and Willmott 1996: chapter five; Brownlie et al. 1999; Burton 2001; Morgan 1992; 2003; Svensson 2003: first chapter, for other reviews of CMR). Rather, our reading has been informed by three demarcating criteria. First, we have searched for texts that explicitly focus on marketing discourse. Second, we have looked for research that examines how marketing is used or is intended to be used as a management device. Third (and obviously), we have reviewed critical research. The three criteria made us structure the review according to four research streams that we identified. We have labelled the first research stream ‘postmodern marketing’. Within this stream postmodernism has been used to problematize the positivistic foundations of academic marketing discourse and to argue that marketing practices have turned postmodern. The second strand of research that we have identified is labelled ‘critical consumption studies’. This body of research provides critical accounts of marketing discourse and practices but focuses on how marketing contributes to produce consumerism rather than managerialism. The third stream of research that we have reviewed is not explicitly rooted in the marketing discipline but nevertheless focuses on examining managerial practices that have commonalities with those prescribed by marketing discourse and on analysing how they are used to manage organizations and structure societal domains. We have labelled this research ‘broader societal critique on the extension of customer-oriented managerialism’. The fourth and final stream is that which we call ‘critical studies of the managerialism of marketing’. This latter research occupies the ‘core’ space that our three criteria define.