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'We Are All Customers Now . . .' Rhetorical Strategy and Ideological Control in Marketing Management Texts


  • Chris Hackley


This paper critically appraises the rhetoric of marketing management texts. Its interpretive frame is informed respectively by critical management and discourse analytic theoretical traditions. Its main data set is drawn from popular textbooks written for taught university courses but it also draws attention to similar rhetorical strategies in leading academic marketing journals. In addition, parallels are drawn with other popular management and consulting fields. In this way the paper attempts to mark out an initial topology of the ideological influence that is enabled and mobilized by marketing's rhetorical strategies. Marketing rhetoric often escapes critical attention precisely because it is platitudinous. Marketing management axioms have become slogans and the slogans have become clichés regularly employed in organizational, educational and political settings. But the prevalence of platitudinous rhetoric in management consulting schemes does not necessarily hinder their popularity or inhibit the deployment of their rhetorical/ideological strategies in other settings. Popular marketing management rhetoric is a special case because it positions itself not only as a prescriptive management-consulting framework but also as a legitimate academic field. It is in the latter guise that the success of managerial marketing's rhetorical/ideological strategies has proved most striking. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Hackley, 2003. "'We Are All Customers Now . . .' Rhetorical Strategy and Ideological Control in Marketing Management Texts," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(5), pages 1325-1352, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:5:p:1325-1352

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael B. Beverland, 2005. "Crafting Brand Authenticity: The Case of Luxury Wines," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(5), pages 1003-1029, July.

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