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Marxism and Marketing

Applied to any aspect of culture, Marxist method seems to explicate the manifest and latent or coded reflections of modes of material production, ideological value, class relations and structures of social power—racial or sexual as well as politico economic—or the state of consciousness of people in a precise historical or socio-economic situation.... The Marxist method, recently in varying degrees of combination with structuralism and semiology, has provided an incisive analytic tool for studying the political signification in every facet of contemporary culture, including popular entertainment in TV and films, music, mass circulation books, newspaper and magazine features, comics, fashion, tourism, sports and games, as well as such acculturating institutions as education, religion, the family and child rearing, social and sexual relations between men and women, all the patterns ofwork, play, and other customs ofeveryday life.... The most frequent theme in Marxist cultural criticism is the way the prevalent mode of production and ideology of the ruling class in any society dominate every phase of culture, and at present, the way capitalism production and ideology dominate American culture, along with that of the rest of the world that American business and culture have colonized. (pp. 755-756)

Donald Lazere, “Mass Culture, Political Consciousness

and English Studies”

Abstract Theories of Karl Marx about capitalism, class conflict, false consciousness, and alienation in bourgeois societies are explained and the way Marxist theorists approach everyday life and culture. It is asserted the capitalism shapes cultures and this must be kept in mind when thinking about marketing and advertising in capitalist countries. It is suggested that, © The Author(s) 2016

A.A. Berger, Marketing and American Consumer Culture, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47328-4_5

until recently, marketers were able to channel alienation in the working classes into consumption and thus prevent the masses from recognizing the degree to which they were being exploited by members of the ruling class. Now that there is widespread concern about income inequality, marketers must rethink how they function in society.

Keywords Marxism • Capitalism • Class conflict • False consciousness • Alienation • Income inequality

There are thousands of books on Marx and Marxism that deal with everything you can imagine. But there are a few central ideas from Marx and Marxists (of which there are many different varieties) that help us understand the way Marxists think about marketing. In the epigraph, we learn that Marxism can be applied to every aspect of contemporary life. That is because Marxism offers us, or claims to offer us, us an understanding of the root causes of the thinking and behavior of individuals and groups. First, we have to learn how people get their ideas about themselves and their societies.

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