Psychoanalysis and Marketing Theory


Psychoanalysis and Marketing Theory, Special issue of Marketing Theory, Edited by Robert Cluley and John Desmond; Deadline 29 Mar 2013


Call for Papers – Special issue of Marketing Theory ‘Psychoanalysis and marketing theory’

For readers of Marketing Theory it should come as no surprise to learn that psychoanalysis has been instrumental in developing marketing practice and marketing thought. It is a key theoretical foundation of public relations, depth psychology and motivation research. It should also come as no surprise for readers of this journal to learn that psychoanalysis has long since been cast out of the clan by more sanitized but well-funded consumer psychologies, with their black boxes and reactive synapses marginalising the ambivalent, violent and sexual subject of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, we might say, has long been repressed within marketing theory – only returning occasionally in myths describing its mendacious powers of manipulation as in Adam Curtis haunting yet hyperbolic The Century of the Self.

In spite of the obvious merits of this narrative it would be a shame if the only story told about psychoanalysis within marketing theory was a mythical tale of its manipulative powers and defeat to more scientific psychologies. Recent contributions from sociologists, organisation theorists, literature and cultural theorists as well as social psychologists show us that psychoanalysis offers a powerful theory to make sense of marketing practices, consumer behaviours and the vicissitudes of marketing theory. Indeed, while marketing and consumer issues are increasingly discussed outside of marketing academia through the lens of psychoanalytic theory, it is the fundamental premise of this special issue that it is about time that the opposite happens. The purpose of this special issue is, then, to mark the return of the repressed within marketing theory. An intervention that is especially prescient in regards of the recent re-translation of Freud’s writings and the growing interest in psychoanalytic theory as a way of studying the economy and organisation.

We invite submissions that approach psychoanalysis as a marketing theory capable of offering more than practical toolkit for propaganda or a historical oddity providing humorous anecdotes about our infantile early days. Bearing in mind that psychoanalysis has always concerned itself with observation, we are open to empirical investigations but we are especially supportive of analyses which use marketing and consumption to make a contribution to psychoanalytic theory or, alternatively, use psychoanalysis to develop marketing and consumer theory. We encourage submissions that deal with the full range of psychoanalytic theories covering not only Freud’s work but the potentially rich literatures of object relations and Lacanian theory.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Desire
  • Freedom-repression
  • Hysteria, contagion
  • Applied object relations
  • Commodity fetishism and sexuality in consumption
  • Projection and repression
  • Narcissism, envy and greed
  • Archetypes
  • Idolatry and religious consumption
  • Hypnosis, mastery, freedom and ethics
  • Death
  • Critical appropriations of psychoanalysis such as marxism and feminism
  • Psychoanalytic methods in marketing research
  • Theorising marketing history through psychoanalysis

All papers will be double-blind peer review process. Papers should be sent electronically to Robert Cluley at The deadline for submission of papers is Friday, 29nd March 2013. For further information please visit To discuss a possible submission, please contact one of the guest editors: Robert Cluley ( or John Desmond (

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