Critical Realism


Markets and Marketing Relations track of the 16th Annual International Association of Critical Realism Conference, Nottingham, UK, 29-31 Jul 2013; Deadline 28 May

16th Annual International Association of Critical Realism Conference

Organizing for alternative futures
29-31 July, 2013
University of Nottingham, UK

Call for Paper Abstracts: Deadline 28th May 2013

The theme of the International Association of Critical Realism conference in 2013 asks: Is there a better way to organize for the future? We invite papers from all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities to explore questions concerning contemporary modes of organizing (whether that be in workplaces, economic systems, education, eco systems, market places, public management, communities, online, cultural legacies, or individuals) and especially those papers that provide comment on organizing for alternative futures. We particularly invite papers that attempt to suggest alternative ways of organizing for a sustainable future. The conference is primarily for scholars who use, or wish to explore the use of, critical realism within their research but we also welcome papers from authors of other schools of thought who wish to engage in a dialogue with critical realist informed research. As part of the conference, there will be a special track related to marketing relations.

Special track: Markets and marketing relations

Marketing, as a practice and a research discipline, has seen many changes in its moderately short history. From the early marketing communications messages focusing on the consumer benefits of drinking Coca-Cola for tired shoppers and Weld’s Studies in the Marketing of Farm Products published in 1915 to more modern phenomena such as consumer communities and social media, marketing researchers have sought to understand the science of marketing. However, one of the more recent, and perhaps most important, changes in marketing research has been to focus not on “what do we mean by marketing” but rather “what do we mean by science, and how might that inform our understanding of marketing”? Central to this question is the role of Critical Realism in challenging the more traditional notions of scientific discovery. Unlike Positivism (which focuses on what we perceive as an external reality and holds that the goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena that we experience), and unlike Subjectivism (which maintains that there is no external reality), Critical Realism holds that there is a reality independent of our thinking about it, and that science can study this reality. As Andrew Sayer (2004:7) suggests “Discourses are not mere reflections of material circumstances, but nor are material circumstances mere instantiations of discourses. Discourses are shaped through practice, in particular, through material and socio-linguistic contexts which have their own properties or tendencies, inherited from previous rounds of social construction or ‘structuration’.

We invite submissions that examine how taking a Critical Realist perspective may help us to redefine what we mean by marketing relations. In particular, we would welcome papers that address issues such as:

  • How might we understand the nature of marketing relationships from a CR perspective?
  • What methodological implications are there for marketing researchers if a CR perspective is taken?
  • How might the nature of marketing relations between consumers, between firms, between consumers and firms, and/or between consumers, firms, and other stakeholders be characterised?
  • How might relevant issues in marketing practice such as branding, innovation, communications, ethics, or sustainability be understood and examined from a CR perspective?

Track Chairs:

  • Linda D. Peters, Associate Professor in Marketing, Nottingham University Business School
  • Geoff Easton, Emeritus Professor in Marketing, Lancaster University Management School

Conference Website:

Please see the conference website for details on abstract submission and conference registration. Key dates are:

  • Abstract submission closes: 28th May 2013
  • Final decisions on submissions: 10th June 2013
  • Registration deadline for presenters: 6th July 2013
  • Registration closes 10th July 2013

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