Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)
Second Committee Member
big data, consumer culture theory, critical marketing, critical theory, culture industry, GAFA
Instead of the steady march of the one percent growth in ecommerce as compared to total retail revenues in the last decade (to comprise about nine percent of the industry at the close of 2019), we have witnessed leaps now to over twenty percent in just the last year. Scott Galloway marks the pandemic as an accelerant not just of digital marketing posting a year of growth for each month of quarantine but as an accelerant of each major GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) firm from market dominance to total dominance (Galloway 2020). Viewing these trends from the standpoint of critical marketing requires revisiting first-generation critical theorist reflections on the American dominance of the global culture industry. Insofar as GAFA digital marketing practices highlight their transition from mere neutral platforms to shapers, creators, and drivers of cultural content, we need to complement marketing’s praiseworthy achievements in statistical modeling (like SEM) with a sufficiently critical and theoretical contextualization. In this sense, while my investigation of big data will certainly countenance and explore its statistical (as algorithmic) innovations, what I capitalize as Big Data connotes the manners in which these large reserves of behavioral exhaust shape culture—domestic and global, home and workplace, private and public. The focus on ethics in each of these three articles follows not just moral norms, social practices, and associated virtues (or vices), but also the important ethical domains of compliance, basic rights, and juridical precedent. In the first article, I focus most exclusively on the manners in which GAFA algorithmic personalization tends to employ the alluring promise of individual tailoring of service convenience at the social costs of echo chambers, filter bubbles, and endemic political polarization. In the second article, I seek to devise a data theory of value as the wider context for my proposal to advance a new marketing mix. My tentative argument is that the classical subject as constructed by these platform domains has now juxtaposed the consumer and firm relationship. The true value creators of the workforce of the digital marketplace are its users as prosumers: an odd mixture of consumer, producer, and product. While the production era took nature as the collateral damage to its claims upon mining limited raw materials, the onset of a consumption driven economy harvests psychic and behavioral data as its new unlimited raw material with its own trails of collateral damage that constitute the birth of surveillance capitalism (Zuboff 2019). In the third article, I turn to systemic racism in American sport with the focus on the performative rituals sanctioned, censored, and sold by the NFL as its foremost culture industry. In this last article, I also seek to develop a revamped epistemology for critical marketing that places a new primacy on the voices and experiences of those most systemically marginalized as the best lens from which to advance theories and practices that can disclose forms of latent domination often hidden behind otherwise an uncritical acceptance of the NFL culture industry as fundamentally apolitical leisurely entertainment.
Bowman, J. M. (2021). Digital Marketing and the Culture Industry: The Ethics of Big Data. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/4113