Market Research and Socio-Political Consciousness in the Twentieth Century

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferencebidrag i proceedingsForskningpeer review


Purpose – This paper investigates the case of the eminent British market researcher and social scientist Mark Alexander Abrams (1906 – 1994). Abrams’ career as a researcher spanned the six decades between the late 1920s and the late 1980s, and it bridged the gap between commercial market and consumer research on the one side and governmental social research on the other. By focusing on Abrams’ research strategies and career moves over these six decades, the paper establishes an alternative historical narrative to those that privilege the impact of capitalist market structures on the making of marketing as a professional field and academic discipline in the twentieth century.
Design/methodology/approach – Based on archival research, the paper firstly establishes the biographical details of Abrams’ life and work. Secondly, the paper uses methodological and theoretical tools of historical sociology in order to investigate whether Abram’s biography was indeed typical for
that of an entire generation of British and émigré-American market and consumer researchers. Thirdly, the paper searches for similarities in the biographies of these researchers and points out to what extent the collective biography of this generation harbored a specific socio-political consciousness which thus contributed to the making of modern marketing.
Research limitation/implications – The implications of this research are twofold. The paper provides for the first time a fuller insight into the social-generational and intellectual mechanisms that formed the backdrop to the emergence of modern market research in Britain. Secondly, the paper provides the corner stones of a collective social and intellectual biography of early market researchers. Both steps provide implications which challenge the lack of a meta-narrative of twentieth-century marketing.
TitelVarieties, Alternatives, and Deviations in Marketing History : Proceedings of the 16th Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM)
RedaktørerLeighann C. Neilson
ForlagCHARM Association
StatusUdgivet - 2013
BegivenhedThe 16 th Biennial Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM) - Frederiksberg, Danmark
Varighed: 30 maj 20132 jun. 2013
Konferencens nummer: 16


KonferenceThe 16 th Biennial Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM)
SponsorCopenhagen Business School


  • Market Research
  • Consumer Research
  • Marketing History
  • Consumer Empowerment
  • Socialism
  • Biography
  • Milieu
  • Generation
  • Narratives