Political economy approaches to transnational commodity markets

An application to the case of the global palm oil market

Authored by: Martin Fougère

The Routledge Companion to Critical Marketing

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138641402
eBook ISBN: 9781315630526
Adobe ISBN:


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Mainstream academic marketing has rarely explicitly engaged with political economy approaches. This might seem rather odd since the interest in markets could be expected to warrant a broader political-economic understanding, that is, one that would take into account questions of production, trade, regulation and government, with an emphasis on the power of different associated institutions and its consequences in terms of distribution of income and wealth. The most visible applications of a political economy perspective in mainstream marketing journals were published in the 1980s. Arndt’s (1981, 1983) articles on a suggested ‘political economy paradigm’ for (both micro- and macro-) marketing, stand out, as do the works by Dwyer and colleagues (Dwyer & Welsh, 1985; Dwyer & Oh, 1987) on the political economy of marketing channels. In relation to micromarketing, a key characteristic of the political economy approach is claimed to be that it “views the business firm (or organizations in general) as a political coalition of internal and external stakeholder groups” (Arndt, 1981, p. 40). When moving to the macro level, Arndt argues that a political economy lens leads us to focus on “the structure and functioning of the social and economic control system”, with particular interest in “the interplay of the three sets of institutions, markets, politics, and hierarchies” (ibid.).

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