Is Marketing (Academia) Lost?

emancipatory marketingRecently I’veĀ  been trying to reflect more on the disconnect between research & teaching and real-life marketing. I have stumbled between giving out positivism based advice in the form of “how to measure” something, while discussing post-positivism in the post about “why he don’t know that we are right”. The image above is an attempt to represent my thinking of why traditional marketing research and teaching often appears to be reflective and reactive rather than applied, challenging and progressive. In other words, why much of what we (as marketing academics do) is not challenging or indeed advancing marketing as a(n applied) field, but focuses on interpreting what we see. For example, as academics, we are struggling to explain social media marketing beyond the descriptive “how to” and by borrowing from theories that are antiquated and frequently simplistic. Now, I’m not trying to negate the usefulness of reductionist approaches to explain complex situations – but I’m starting to wonder if not much of what we do is really based far to much on a positivist framework, which traps us in a functionalist, or at best interpretative, paradigm. I’m equally worried, that a potential answer to this would be a post-modernist paradigm, which while I think it serves as a good way to challenge the status quo, it frequently lacks engagement with the participants and has the danger of becoming obsessed with critiquing and challenging, rather than empowering, leading and engaging.
Thus, trapped between the reductionist, positivist and functionalist view and a postmodernist, challenging view, neither of which I find completely satisfactory, I’m thinking that there is an empty spot in the framework that is both advancing and empowering, which I call in the above image emancipatory. In other words, this would be a point at which research and teaching emphasises the diversity of marketing, embraces application and tries to advance real-life application.

I’d be really interested to know what you think of this idea! Please, comment below.

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