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date: 21 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In just under 150 years, societies have changed from having very few brands to having almost everything branded or brandable. How, and why don’t we know more about it? This chapter provides a much-deserved critique of extant brand thought and highlights the considerable need for a sociological conception of brands. Analyzing brands as vessels of popular meaning used for promoting things, places, people, and ideas, the chapter also questions how existing research traditions restrict and retard the development of a meaningful social science of brands. Too much attention to social psychology and to consumer culture theory, and too little to traditional sociology, has meant that the general social and political processes that generate, animate, and transform brands have been sacrificed to the priorities of these dominant research traditions in marketing departments. We offer this critique in order to identify opportunities for generating empirical research tying together society, politics, and markets.

Keywords: brands, branding, consumption, markets, politics, society

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