International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 18 - 20 July 2016
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The nature of Marketing knowledge and the quest for social justice: Locating Social Justice in Close-Up Research in Higher Education

Kevin Ncube, Cape Peninsula University of Technology


This article is a close up investigation of the extent to which the Marketing curriculum in the South African Universities of Technology is positioned to address issues of social justice in the country. The social injustices, which have resulted in South Africa being one of the most unequal countries in the world, can be attributed to the apartheid segregationist ideology. In 1994, when apartheid was outlawed, the South African higher education system consisted of 36 higher education institutions which exhibited deep divisions along multiple lines Singh (2008) including race, ethnicity, language and geographical location. Institutions were further differentiated by access to resources in the form of budgets, infrastructure and academic and professional staff. While access to all universities was legally opened to all some institutions took in more previously excluded students than others. Access to resource and the demographics of staff, students or both still bears the mark of apartheid in most institutions. Despite the increase in physical access, success is also still skewed along apartheid racial lines, highest for White students and lowest for Black students (Cloete 2016; Cooper 2015). This presentation asks the questions of how an inclusive higher education can be developed in an unequal society and it asks the specific questions about whether knowledge within Marketing programmes is suitably structured for addressing such inequalities. As per McArthur’s call (HECU Thinkpiece 2016), this presentation uses the close-up perspective on a particular curriculum to ask far away questions about social justice. This article investigates the extent to which the Marketing curriculum affords what Young (2010) calls powerful knowledge. It uses Bernstein’s (1999) notions of vertical and horizontal discourses, and Maton’s (2014) expansion of the theory to encompass knowledge and knower structures to understand what is valued in the curriculum. Using this theoretical framework this presentation analyses three year Marketing diploma prospectuses of 11 South African institutions. Based on the analysis of the materials made available online the article raises concerns about the structure of knowledge in the Marketing curriculum and subsequently the value and power of the diploma if a prospectus does not give sufficient insight into what a prospective student could expect to learn in field of study. The findings suggest the need to develop curricula which affords learners access to powerful knowledge giving them the capacity to participate competitively in their field of study and thus allow success despite social backgrounds.


Social justice, curriculum, Marketing curriculum, powerful knowledge

Link to Full Paper (If submitted)


Conference Organisers

Paul Trowler
Lancaster University, UK

Alice Jesmont
Lancaster University, UK

Malcolm Tight
Lancaster University, UK

Paul Ashwin
Lancaster University, UK

Murray Saunders
Lancaster University, UK

Chrissie Boughey
Rhodes University, South Africa

Suellen Shay
University of Cape Town, SA

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