The making of marketing knowledge

Shona M. Bettany, 2005

This thesis develops an approach to understanding the making of marketing knowledge by undertaking a feminist critical anthropology of the cultural milieu it implies.  This anthropology is wrought by following the important concept of relationship marketing and the paths it has traced in the multiple locales of this milieu through research undertaken in the UK, US and Finland.  A number of theoretical approaches from sociological and cultural studies of science and knowledge are reviewed in terms of developing  understanding of contemporary knowledge making endeavour in marketing.  Bringing these approaches into confrontation with this specific project it develops an approach based on the work emerging from the latter stages of the Actor Network Theory era in the anthropology of knowledge. 

A key theme is the development of the dialogue between ANT and its feminist critics, articulated here by the introduction of new analytical metaphors of performativity, multiplicity, ambivalence, marginality and reflexivity into the lexicon of ANT research.  This dialogue is extended in terms of the utilisation of the post feminist literacy of figuration, which, it is argued, counteracts the tendencies in ANT to slippage towards the primacy of the humanist, intentional, ‘Western’ subject.  In this research issues of ambivalence and cultural myths of possibility are unpacked around the three key post humanist figures of the scientist, the enterpriser and the guru that emerged from the ethnographic research encounters.  The analysis of these figures and their generative and constitutive worlds is developed into a model of the cultural dynamic of the making of marketing knowledge.  The development of this model mobilises critique through the logic of interference, by providing an alternative representation to current dominant formulations of the making of marketing knowledge and by making explicit the cultural processes of  the production and reproduction of this ‘culture of no culture’ which render it coherent and obdurate in the face of critique.