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Veblen and Darwin: tracing the intellectual roots of evolutionism in consumer research

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This paper charts some of the theoretical inertia in marketing theory by revisiting the contribution of Veblen to consumer research in light of recent movements towards integrating evolutionary concepts from the biological sciences. By outlining the heritage of Darwinism to the social sciences more generally, and the legacy of Veblen in particular, we aim to provide some insights into how and why evolutionism has until recently remained marginal to consumer research and how these concepts can be incorporated into the discipline through existing theoretical discourse. Our account provides some insights into the processes by which disciplinary movements become structured out of and (back) into the mainstream discourses of marketing knowledge. We discuss literatures on evolutionism and consumer behaviour focusing on the work of economist and social analyst Thorstein Veblen.
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Keywords: CHARLES DARWIN; CONSUMER RESEARCH; EVOLUTION; THORSTEIN VEBLEN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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