University of Twente Student Theses


What markets do: from marketing to postphenomenology

Pauli, C.A. (2016) What markets do: from marketing to postphenomenology.

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Abstract:Life in contemporary society is riddled by the word “markets”. This word is not only used in popular media, but also emerges as a key term in several scientific disciplines. However, this terms is rarely defined and explained. Marketing can be understood as the scientific discipline most concerned with markets. As a discipline, marketing is characterized as ostensive rather than descriptive, meaning that it forms definitions through practice. I argue that this ostensive approach to marketing results in a dualistic approach to categorizing actors, i.e. in terms of consumers and the environment surrounding these consumers. These dualistic categories enable the illusion that relevant actors can be understood as stable entities in the world. I refer to this problem as “the maze of the market”. To further explore this maze, my primary research question is: ‘what are markets in society and what do markets do to societies’. I respond to this question with an extensive literature review. In this, I construct three major conceptual angles and numerous conceptual tools using Actor-network approaches and hermeneutic phenomenology. The first conceptual angle allows for a description of markets as groups of actors forming distinct social relations surrounding a calculative device, using the actor-network approach (ANT). The second conceptual angle explores the yield of viewing markets as, in themselves, technologies, using insights from phenomenology. In questioning the role of technology in the being of markets, a third conceptual angle appears, concerning the individual actors and their relation to technological devices. This is explored through the lens of postphenomenology. Together, these three angles form a description of what markets are and do. I illustrate the three conceptual angles and their respective tools through application to the Dutch PV market. The case describes both the collecting and stabilizing of a society of producers, consumers and other actors surrounding a technological artefact (PV systems) and the effects these artefacts on the actors. The findings of the case yield several implications for each of the disciplines employed in the thesis. First, it brings together three major approaches in different disciplines, allowing for communication of ideas and a broader discussion of what markets do in society. Second, the conceptual framework encourages the study of technologies in marketing by placing technological artefacts as central to market understanding. Lastly, the conceptual tools allow for questioning of how humans act and perceive the world using calculative market devices.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:02 science and culture in general, 70 social sciences in general, 85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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