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Markets, consumers and society in the age of heteromation

Nikhilesh Dholakia (University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA)
A. Fuat Firat (Department of Marketing, The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 25 February 2019

Issue publication date: 12 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is not to present a crystal ball, but to outline the conceptual strands – some already evident, others only dimly perceivable in emergent forms – that might drive the coming transformations and to weave the strands into a preliminary framework. The stance (and the political perspective) of the paper is informed by critical marketing studies (Tadajewski, 2010), the subfield of marketing that is vibrant in Europe but not yet well developed in other regions of the world.


This is a theoretical contribution, relying on discursive analysis.


Before an era of full and all-pervasive automation arrives, there will be a decades-long transitional stage of heteromation. In the heteromation, machines and humans will have to coexist adaptively. The spheres of production and consumption will be affected radically by the patterns of people-machine interactions, including coexistence, cooperation, adaptation, adjustments and conflicts. As the connective tissue between the spheres of production and consumption, marketing would also undergo major transformations in the age of heteromation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper lays out the grounding concepts useful for how heteromation and the subsequent era of full automation could impact organizations and markets. It provides the stepping-stone for further work on how marketing could, would or should transform in relation to the challenges of heteromation and automation.

Practical implications

The paper offers some guideposts for public policymakers, public intellectuals and thought leaders and social activists. It also points to action options for visionary corporate leaders and for researchers wishing to explore the heteromation–automation futures from critical-social perspectives.


Using the concept of heteromation, this paper presents hitherto unexplored and critical implications of potentially epochal transformations for marketing.



Dholakia, N. and Firat, A.F. (2019), "Markets, consumers and society in the age of heteromation", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 53 No. 8, pp. 1504-1520.



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