For more information about Royal Holloway, please see this promotional video. To see a promotional video for the MA Consumption, Markets & Culture see here. To see a promotional video for the Royal Holloway School of Management, click here.

For more information about the Royal Holloway MA Marketing and MA Consumption, Culture & Marketing and the application process see here.

To get an understanding of the unique values that underly the MA Marketing and MA Consumption, Culture & Marketing programme please read these blog posts: Value of Scholarly Values, Importance of Reading and Morris Holbrook and Business Interest in Education.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Rodrigo Ferreira's Review of Marketing – A Critical Introduction, by Chris Hackley

Go to a Brazilian bookstore and you will find all kinds of literature. In between communication and self-help books, a grey area will be placed, reserved for Marketing textbooks with content difficult to categorize, usually closer to a cake recipe or a medical prescription than to science. It is in the core of this discussion that Marketing – A Critical Introduction by Chris Hackley takes its place.

The popularity of the “Five steps to...” or “Twenty Five rules for...” types of books is not a perfect reflection of the marketing line of thought, but illustrates with many examples the hardest prejudices that marketing, as a science, can face from its critics. Marketing studies are constantly attacked because of the ‘problem-solving’ recipe, a sales success and also by its new normative taught courses appearing daily all over the world.

Marketing - A Critical Introduction is written for all audiences, from young students to business people trying to understand their own work from a different level. It brings a concise overview of the most important topics about the marketing field to establish the discussion between theoretical and practical studies of marketing. Hackley constructs a strong base by explaining the history of marketing studies, presenting different theories and, also, some important concepts that may be obvious for the experienced students or workers, but are fundamental to understand the whole issue. The created structure takes the reader to a higher viewpoint to evaluate the critics that put the academic marketing studies back to the wall.

Commonly, managerial marketing is perceived as a tool to achieve organizational success. A useful list of processes and behaviors that can be understood in a world in which almost everyone starts to see themselves as consumers and, logically, as part of the market. This perception made the writings about marketing a popular “to do” guide based on experiences of different companies. “Conventionally, Marketing studies is thought of as an applied discipline which consists of ways to make money (or win clients/market share/ donations) by finding out what people want and selling it to them (p.43)”, says Hackley. In contrast to this commodified discipline, the author presents a study of the social and personal implications of the research in marketing as a more intellectual work, placed as, or trying to be recognized as, a science. For Hackley and some of his references, marketing may be understood as “a social scientific and humanistic field of study oriented around the process and practices of markets, including not only the study of organizational management but also the social study of consumption and consumers, public policy and so on (p.107)”.

Chris Hackley, photographed at Royal Holloway

The conclusion is a changeable definition that corresponds to a mutable world and is related to academic and consumer experience. “Marketing is no different to any other field of thought. The educational point, if we need to state it, is to encourage and enable critical thinking, so that students learn to assimilate and evaluate competing viewpoints in order to better understand the thing itself (pg.17)”. So, Marketing – a Critical Introduction enables its readers to think in a critical way, just like Chris Hackley has set: “Critical thinking is, simply, good thinking (p. 11)”.

The book by Chris Hackley is a small and prosperous seed for those minds, which want to be opened to a new marketing discussion. An issue as real as the marketing problem-solving capsules sold all around the world. As Philip Kotler said, “marketing is all around us”. In response, the question Hackley asks us in Marketing – a Critical Introduction might be: what will we get from all this marketing that surrounds us?
Rodrigo Ferreira is an incoming student for the MA Marketing. Chris Hackley is a professor and will teaches the core module Critical Marketing for the Royal Holloway MA Marketing. With thanks to Rodrigo for giving permission to reproduce his review. 

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