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e-Commerce as a sign: The diffusion of electronic commerce in the UK ceramic industry


  • Thea Hinde

    (SCEME, University of Stirling, UK)


‘E-commerce’ is conventionally understood to refer to a discrete set of Internet-related business practices, with discussions focused on their potential to improve the efficiency and reach of business. However, there is evidence that in practice, the term ‘e-commerce’ is applied to a wide range of activities often bearing little or no relation to the Internet. Reporting from the ceramics industry, this paper argues that despite involving significant cost and sometimes adversely affecting the business, ‘e-commerce’ activities are often pursued unquestioningly and largely enthusiastically. Through a series of case studies, it reviews the range of these ‘e-commerce’ activities, and identifies the implicit strategies to use e-commerce as a way to alter the way that the company is experienced or perceived. Thus conceived, we cannot continue to consider ‘doing e-commerce’ as a purely technical endeavour: it is also intimately connected with managing impressions and expectations. Drawing on the work of Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’ (1957), the paper explains how e-commerce can have associations that are not directly linked to its conventional or literal meaning.

Suggested Citation

  • Thea Hinde, 2007. "e-Commerce as a sign: The diffusion of electronic commerce in the UK ceramic industry," SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology 015/2007, SCEME.
  • Handle: RePEc:sti:wpaper:015/2007

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    More about this item


    electronic-commerce; ceramics-industry; Roland-Barthes; myth;

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • L61 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Metals and Metal Products; Cement; Glass; Ceramics
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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