Dissertation Abstracts

Genealogy of Marketing: Consumer Capitalism between Rationalization and Reenchantment

Author: Silla, Cesare
Department: Department of Sociology
University: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Italy
Supervisor: Massimiliano Monaci
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Italian

Keywords: Consumer capitalism , Historical sociology , Weber , Genealogy
Areas of Research: Historical and Comparative Sociology , Economy and Society , Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change


The thesis is a sociological study of the birth of marketing between 1890 and 1930 in the United States. Following the Nietzsche-inspired genealogical method Weber presented in his 'Objectivity' essay and which he used in his work on the Protestant ethic, I considered the present-day relevance of marketing within consumer capitalism. Consumer capitalism is usually taken for granted as an obvious fact, as the research problem and I delved into a study of its conditions of emergence. The analysis shows how marketing tools at first developed separately and were eventually joined together to reinforce the specific logic of marketing that both answers to social needs and stirs and spurs desire. The Weberian theoretical framework of rationalization and disenchantment explains why this logic could become victorious. There was an elective affinity between the aim of the consumer as the emerging type of man and the logic of marketing. The consumer's ongoing longing for experiences and for the play of the Self through lifestyles, resulting from the disenchantment of the world, was in a relation of reciprocity with the marketing promotion of consumption as the adequate means to satisfy the everchanging desire. Since its birth, marketing has been producing forms of aesthetic-affective re-enchantment by means of rationalization.

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