The consumer in society: Utopian visions revisited

Jonathan Edward Schroeder (Visiting Professor, Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 1 December 2000


Edward Bellamy’s famous 1888 best‐seller Looking Backward imagined a paradisal world where social and economic problems of poverty, strife, class, and war were eliminated through a Utopian political economy based on socialist principles. What makes Bellamy’s thought compelling for marketing scholars is his emphasis on the consumer, his focus on equality as the vehicle for societal transformation, and his analysis of the role consumer desire, envy, and greed play in generating strife and strain. Thus, his Utopian vision seems to have much in common with the mantra of the modern marketing machine – happiness is material, and your credit card is your ticket to the good life. However, his vision of the good life is largely at odds with the market economy’s version. This paper examines the man behind a uniquely consumer oriented socialist paradise and suggests that his writings have left an inspiring legacy that marketing academics might find insightful.



Schroeder, J. (2000), "The consumer in society: Utopian visions revisited", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 18 No. 6/7, pp. 381-387.

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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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