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Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Outsider's insights and (mis)understanding Fuat Fırat
Today the journal Consumption, Markets & Culture published an interview that myself and Nikhilesh Dholakia conducted with Fuat Fırat. Myself and Nik wanted to champion a scholar that we both think very highly of and have been encouraged and inspired by throughout our careers (Nik's career, I should hasten to add, has been going on for a lot longer than mine). In 1987 Fuat, together with Nik and Richard Bogazzi, edited the seminal Philosophical & Radical Thought in Marketing which re-imagined the subject of marketing and contained submissions by such high and mighty scholars as Philip Kotler, Morris Holbrook and included Russell Belk's wonderful re-working of Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal that suggested that consumers be fitted with micro-chips so that they could function according to the marketing models that scholars had developed for them.
Eventually Fuat, Nikhilesh and Alladi Venkatesh created the journal Consumption, Markets & Culture; a journal committed to radical scholarship that calls into question all assumptions about marketing and consumption. To this day the journal remains one of the few marketing journals in which every submission is interesting and worth reading. The journal has created space for alternative scholars such as myself to find an outlet and in many ways, I see my career as that of a settler occupying space that was previously fought for and won by people like Fuat and Nik.
In 1995 Fuat and Alladi played no small role in introducing postmodernism to the field of consumer research in their paper that contributed to a seismic shift in the marketing imagination and helped bring to life the subject of marketing in an explosion of new ideas and colours.
As the interview attests, Fuat remains a vibrant personality and inspiring colleague and I hope our article will succeed in our aim of championing the Turkish scholar. Over the course of the interview, Fuat addresses a series of issues that range from recalling his radical student days in Istanbul in 1968 then moving to the Northwestern Marketing Department in Chicago and also discusses his various research interests including consumption patterns, postmodernity, theatre, new literacy and beyond. I am sure many marketing scholars will feel assured that Fuat is in Texas thinking such thoughts, much like the narrator in the Big Lebowski is assured that the Dude is out there keeping it real for the rest of us sinners.