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The Marketing Era: From Professional Practice to Global Provisioning [Paperback]

Kalman Applbaum

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Book Description

30 Oct 2003
Marketing has situated itself as an indispensable tool in today's business world-an unavoidable step in the process from production to consumption. This book is the first of its kind to map out the organizing principles and cultural logic of marketing, and trace the profession's ascent to global domination. Applbaum argues that marketing can be seen as a particular set of cultural practices that surfaced in reaction to the affluence of Western society, and not the answer to the call of inherent human needs and wants. In order to understand globalization, transnational corporations, and the spread of consumer culture, one must understand the logic of marketing.

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"In this ambitious and provocative work, Kalman Applbaum offers us an anthropological confrontation with nothing less than the "animus of bourgeois society's self-conception" (8): marketing. At stake, ultimately, is an opportunity for us to understand how we came to be what we are. Or more exactly: how we came, so much of the time, to understand ourselves as consumers. In the grand old tradition of Boasian or Meadian public cultural intervention, Applbaum's confrontation with the cultural logic of marketing promises to defamiliarize the categories that unobtrusively—and therefore all the more insidiously—have come to structure Euro-American common sense, and are now, in the name of globalization, in the process of being exported to the four corners of the world…"--William Mazzarella, University of Chicago, Anthropological Quarterly.

"Kalman Applbaum can lay claim to being an insider in two academic professions—anthropology and marketing. The intellectual and practical benefits of this dualism become immediately apparent to the reader as the argument unfolds… Marketers’ shared vision of what constitutes consumer culture, along with the profession’s shared practices of manipulating consumer wants and desires, not only is globalizing and totalizing but also is self-enabling and self-fulfilling in its ambition. Such positivist and non-relativist claims will continue to raise persistent questions about an antinomy between marketing and anthropological practices of a science of culture."--American Ethnologist

"Applbaum lève magistralement le voile sur la logique interne culturellement déterminée du marketing, sur cet agent de marchandisation croissante du monde. Il pave la voie pour une anthropologie du marketing, avenue dont on peut dire, à la lecture de cet ouvrage, qu’elle demandait résolument à être dégagée afin que d’autres s’y engagent." --Anthropologie et Sociétés

"Marketing has been largely overlooked by critical social science because it has become totally habitual as an accepted category of experience. This particular set of cultural practices is borne out of the affluence and abundance of Western society and is the driver for globalization, transnational corporations, and pervasive consumer culture… Applbaum's analysis challenges the idea that the market is a universal, natural phenomenon and shows that the notion is a way of thinking—a powerful, underlying guide to commercialization. Is Applbaum successful? I say yes. He reconnects marketing with everyday life and culture and shows how the marketing of marketing has installed consumption as the way of life. He analyzes marketing's theory of practice, reveals the mechanisms and assumptions, and explains why it has ascended to an assumed category of contemporary life…. This is accomplished without resorting to alarmist judgments about conspiracies to exploit or to the minimization of marketing's agency and responsibility to that of mere reaction… A thorough reading of his work offers some fascinating insights and many pauses for thought as apparently familiar concepts (consumption, identity, economy, globalization, and marketing) are re-presented in an alternative critical framework. I recommend that anyone who believes that they understand the purpose and effects of marketing should read and reflect on this analysis." -- Journal of Marketing

"Applbaum’s informants are enormously powerful, senior marketing managers in largeconsumer goods corporations, and the cadres they employ: a pool of management consultants, ad-men and -women, and elite business school professors among whom Applbaum was for some time a bona fide member. Applbaum’s informants are located, very specifically, in the United States. Their placement forms a central trope in Applbaum’s historically deep and intellectually sophisticated analysis of…the invention of marketing… the dynamic expansion of marketing as a profession accompanying American industrialization, and marketing’s quasi-hegemonic, global future... Such comparative insight may be especially relevant to those anthropologists who are increasingly taking on the very complicated ethnographic task – demonstrated in Applbaum’s compelling research experience – of attempting to make sense of the societies in which they are themselves modern persons." --Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"A provocative, intellectually stimulating, and original book...Applbaum has brought marketing itself, alive and breathing, into the sphere of anthropological theory and argument. He leaves me convinced-I now think that capitalism is distinguished not only by the plenitude of products and services that it produces, but also by its success, through marketing, in inscribing consumption as a unitary way of life onto the very brains of its supporters." -- - Sidney Mintz, author of Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Power, and the Past
"This work addresses skillfully and with a rich trove of material a critical missing gap in the vast wave of research on the culture of contemporary capitalism. Applbaum describes not only one of the key origins of the idea of globalization but also one of the main articulating structures of capitalism that reveal markets to be more than abstractions, but the result of human design and agency." -- -George E. Marcus, author of Ethnography Through Thick & Thin
"This book constitutes an important departure from the standard paradigm of economic anthropology. The ethnography presented by Applbaum will be of use to everyone who works on globalization, marketing, and consumer cultures." -- -James L. Watson, editor of Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia
"This will delight and stimulate anyone interested in how modern mass consumption operates. Applbaum has pulled off some difficult tricks-the result obliges those who think they know about consumption and identity, economy and globalization, to think again." -- -James G. Carrier, editor of Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture


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