Sustainability marketing: An emancipatory critical realist perspective
Sustainability marketing largely focuses on consumer behaviour, organisational marketing strategies and macromarketing perspectives. These approaches are guided by either positivism or interpretivism to address the so-called ‘wicked problems’ that arise from a myriad of unsustainable practices. Yet despite significant achievements in understanding (un)sustainability, the field alongside other disciplines has failed to systematically deliver the social changes necessary to halt and reverse the current status quo. With rapprochement in mind, this paper positions critical realism (CR) as an alternative paradigm. Towards this end, it ontologically elaborates how CR’s understanding of reality as structured, stratified, differentiated and changing could enable effective systems thinking, involving interacting micro-meso-macro levels. Furthermore, its resolution of the agency-structure debate could unite the field. It further enables a whole systems approach by expanding its scope to non-human entities that have largely been empirically overlooked. With this approach, this paper lays the foundations for a CR guided sustainability marketing to deliver the necessary systematic theories of change to both understand, and potentially emancipate society from ‘wicked problems’.
Citation : Thomas, N.J.R. (2017) Sustainability marketing: An emancipatory critical realist perspective. Academy of Marketing Conference 2017.
Research Institute : Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes