Is the title of this journal paradoxical? Isn't marketing just a practical subject, firmly embedded in the business world? The launch of Marketing Theory is further indication of the subject's continuing evolution into an academic discipline that rests on a body of knowledge of cogent theory and robust empiricism.
It would be erroneous to conclude that marketing theory has not been the subject of academic papers in the past, but this journal bears witness to the contribution that discourse makes to the discipline. The real gift to its readers is that it wrests marketing from the hegemony of empirical research and recognises that knowledge can be enhanced through theoretical elaboration.
Marketing Theory contains papers by authors known for their work into what could be described as original perspectives on marketing, for example Morris Holbrook and Stephen Brown. The former sets the tone by presenting a critically theoretical review of the dumbing-down of cultural artefacts in the entertainment economy. The latter, a regular contributor, presents - with Elizabeth Hirschman and Pauline Maclaran, now the journal's co-editor - a quirkily written paper that gives marketing history a postmodern makeover.
The nature of many of the papers means it is unlikely that practitioners will respond to them directly in their current form, but there is plenty to inspire teaching. Antonella Caru and Bernard Cova, for example, write on the consumption experience, fusing disciplines to identify economic and romantic trends for marketers to evaluate within a marketing context. This deconstructive style encourages students to think outside the straitjacket of rational consumer behaviour models.
Another paper that caught the eye was Angus Laing's work on a public services sector typology, which is relevant to post-experience students.
It would be rash to try to identify a common theme that runs through the journal, but it has remained reasonably true to its promise to develop and disseminate alternative and critical perspectives on marketing theory.
There have been four special issues to date: marketing knowledge; conceptual development in relationship marketing; social marketing; and advertising theory. Three more special issues are in the pipeline.
Marketing Theory has undeniably published some unorthodox papers that might not otherwise have seen the light of day, but this is not a comment on their quality. On the contrary, these papers have taken well-argued but unconventional perspectives, and in doing so widened and strengthened the scope of marketing. The journal presents eclectic and original viewpoints that can only add to the marketing canon. The challenge for the editors is to continue in this vein by treading the line with care between the original and the distinctive while maintaining quality.
Jillian Dawes Farquhar is reader in marketing, Oxford Brookes University.
Editor - Pauline Maclaran and Barbara Stern
Publisher - Sage
Price - Quarterly; Institutions £295.00; Individuals £44.00
ISSN - 1470 5931