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Marketing Memes: Antiquity and Modernity

Something we would recognize today as commodity branding can be found in much older societies including those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where the first cities and large-scale economies emerged around 6,000 years ago.... Most people are aware and talk about commodity branding on the assumption that it is the product ofmodern capitalism markets, and therefore we know quite intuitively what it involves.... There is a widespread perception that branding of things, people, and knowledge is a distinctive creation ofthe postindustrial west, which is now being exported around the world, leading to the erosion of cultural diversity and local identities in new and unprecedented ways.

David Wengrow, “Introduction: Commodity Branding in Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives”

In his attempt to construct a cultural theory of modernity, which he delineates to cover the Western World and the history of ideas, Charles Taylor introduces the concept “modern inwardness” as a salient descriptive feature. “Modern inwardness” refers to an underlying opposition in our languages of self-understanding between theinside” and the “outside,” in which thoughts and feelings are thought of as somehow resting inside, waiting the development that will manifest them in the public world.... I will argue that these aspects of Western modernity are also applicable to an analysis of products in the making, particularly as these products are metaphorically conceptualized as having a “personality.”

Marianne Elisabeth Lien, Marketing and Modernity

© The Author(s) 2016

A.A. Berger, Marketing and American Consumer Culture, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47328-4_7

Abstract This chapter argues that marketing is not a contemporary phenomenon generated by capitalism, but has a long history dating back six thousand years. It is asserted that marketing is tied to ancient and universal problems involving human interactions and networks of trust created by sellers and buyers. This leads to a discussion of the relationship that exists between marketing and modernity. A case study of marketing and medicines is offered and the role of marketing in shaping the development of new drugs is discussed.

Keywords: Modernity • Capitalism • Human interaction • Pharmaceuticals

The passage from David Wengrow in the epigraph suggests that marketing has a long history and is not something new under the sun, generated by modern capitalism and the institutions that flourish under it.

 
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