We need to talk about … Sexism, Harassment, Bullying, Discrimination and Othering in Marketing Practice and Academia
There is often a tendency in the marketing discipline to view the social world in largely positive ways. The problem is that we don’t necessarily live in the sterile and perfect world and workplace that we depict in our textbooks, journal articles and conference presentations. Exchange relations are not always equal (Kenny, 2018); marketplace power relationships are frequently skewed (Veer & Golf-Papez, 2018; Yagil, 2017) and we have been selective about the groups and topics we study, preferring to focus on those that keep us firmly within our intellectual and political comfort zones (Hein et al., 2016; Tadajewski et al., 2014). Put simply, epistemological convenience and the practical needs of scholarly life have led us to focus our energies on middle class, white, heterosexual individuals whose affordances ensure they have few problems negotiating the market, working within marketing, retailing and sales organisations or pursuing an academic career (Maclaran, 2015; cf. Grove, 2016; Huopalainen & Satama, 2018). We ignore the vast world of experience outside this narrow realm (Maclaran & Catterall, 2000). We are not alone in approaching society in this way. Other academic specialisms are quick to avoid topics that they deem taboo (Pullen, 2018). But like those currently pushing the boundaries in our sister disciplines, perhaps it is time to stop censoring, editing and cleansing our writing of practices that we find uncomfortable (Pullen, 2018).
This special issue is a call for more realism in marketing theory, practice and discussions of academic labour and performativity. Put slightly differently, we need to talk about the sexism, harassment, bullying, discrimination and othering found in marketing practice and academia; issues that have been largely marginalised as they ostensibly form part of the ‘private’ lives of individuals (Maclaran & Catterall, 2000). This has led us to avoid engaging with such important, yet disconcerting issues. They involve aspects of our physiology, sexuality and mental health that marketing – including critical marketing – has bypassed (Maclaran, Miller, Parsons & Surman, 2009). If we do not ask difficult questions about the sexism, bullying and discrimination that permeates the marketplace, that regularly confronts practitioners, consumers, academics and students (Baker & Kelan, 2018; Cantrell, 2018; Dizikes & Asimov, 2018; Elraz, 2018; Fischer, 2015; Greenberg, 2018; Houpalainen & Satama, 2018; Larsen, 2017; Martin, 2016; Martin, Woods & Dawkins, 2015; Mclaughlin, Uggen & Blackstone, 2017; Pullen, 2018; Robin, 2018), then our disciplinary outputs telegraph their irrelevance. Confronting these issues, rendering them visible, is the first step in overcoming them. As Maclaran, Miller, Parsons and Surman (2009, p. 724) remind us, ‘it is the cloak of invisibility which allows the dominance of one group over another’ (see also Elraz, 2018).
So, by realism, we simply mean that the discipline better connects with the experiences of those working in industry, academia, or affected – positively or negatively – by marketing writ large. After all, not all people are recognised as warranting respect and equal treatment by marketing organisations (Kenny, 2018; Maclaran, Stevens & Catterall, 1997), by the consumers they serve (Hamilton, Redman, & McMurray, 2017) or the institutional edifice of academia (Martin, 2016). Arguably, this has been compounded by the growth of nativism, racism and movements away from liberal views that have accompanied the rise of Trump and Brexit (Grey, 2018). Maclaran puts it well when she writes that ‘A new sexism seems to be stalking us’ (2015, p. 1736).
Possible research questions include:
- Exploring the experiences and reactions marketers (both practitioners and the marketing academy) have had and continue to have to the #MeToo, #TimesUp and similar socially driven movements?
- How have changing working practices in academia (e.g. precarious workers, short-term contracts, metrics-driven performance measures) impacted employees’ health and wealth-being?
- How can marketing contribute to social, sexual and gender justice?
- How have practitioners noticed, exacerbated or reacted against the sexism, nativism, racism and discrimination witnessed in recent years? If not, why?
- Other subjects have signalled their recognition of harassment, bullying and othering based on sexuality, gender, race, religion and mental health, but what should we do about these and related issues in marketing?
- Furthermore, how can action and justice be enacted in marketing practice and academia?
Since the editors do not wish to be overly prescriptive beyond the broad topics outlined above, we encourage all submissions that deal with – in whatever way and form – issues related to those discussed in this call for papers. Thus, we encourage contributors to submit traditional academic papers, but also encourage other dissemination forms too – for example – essays, personal introspections, poems. Ultimately, we are looking for diversity in terms of content, methodology and the presentation of ideas. For the sake of orientation: topics may include those that deal with harassment, bullying and othering includes practices between employers and employees, students and staff, employee relations, along with staff and external stakeholder interactions to name just a few.*
An extended bibliography is provided at the end of this call to illustrate the range of topics the Editors had in mind when conceptualising this issue, although this is by no means an exhaustive list.
* Please note, the Special Issue is not a forum to air personal grievances or make accusations against specific individuals or institutions, and the Special Issue will not accept any such papers into the review process.
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–12,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management.
Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site. New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”.
To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of #MeToo and beyond in the text field provided.
Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office.
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