Restoring phronesis and practice: marketing's forgotten p's

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Kavanagh, Donncha
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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of marketing’s philosophical conversation over the past 120 years, focusing on the emergent meaning of the notion that marketing should become more “scientific”. Design/methodology/approach – This paper focuses on the US academic marketing literature, primarily journal articles and books published in the first half of the 20th century. Findings – The Aristotelian distinction between techné, epistemé and phronesis provides a rich basis for framing philosophical discussion in marketing, and should supplant the art-science debate and Anderson’s distinction between science1 and science2. Prior to 1959, the marketing journals provided a forum for phronesis, though this diminished as the academic marketing community largely abandoned the inductive, contextual approach in favour of a deductive, “scientific” methodology. The Ford Foundation played an important role in effecting this change. Practical implications – The paper highlights the importance of forums where practitioners can reflect on the ethical and social implications of their practices and then work to enhance these practices for the greater social good. Social implications – Questions the value of distinctions between marketing theorists and practitioners and the consequential focus of marketing journals. Originality/value – Advances the concept of phronesis in the marketing literature and distinguishes it from epistemé, which has dominated academic marketing discourse over the past 60 years.
Marketing history , Ethics , Epistemology , Phronesis , Critical marketing , Critical history
Kavanagh, D. (2014) 'Restoring phronesis and practice: marketing's forgotten p's', Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 6(3), pp. 331-350.
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