This paper aims to critically reflect on the growing systems orientation in marketing research and the approaches used to understand marketing systems. In response, the paper offers an integrative metatheory built on the ontic necessity and subsequently constitutive and causal efficacy of relations.
This conceptual paper is built on a logic of critique, identifying the generative absences that produce problems in the frameworks in use and attempting to rectify these problems by offering an alternative meta-theoretical structure. This paper draws from critical realism, systems thinking and relational sociology.
This paper advocates for an emergentist ontology for marketing systems built on the value of both substance and relation as co-principles of existence and the subsequent irreducible stratification derived from this. This position suggests the following propositions: the ontological premise of being is reliant on relations; the social world is constructed of stratified levels of organisation in which entities, their properties and powers emerge by virtue of these relations; these entities operate in complex and mutually modifying interrelations; stability and change is the result of this complex interplay of temporally/spatially stratified relations; and time and space are properties and potential powers of organisation.
This paper considers a number of inconsistencies in current approaches to the study of marketing systems arguing these arise based on the absence of a view of relations that supports an effective theory of emergence. In response, the paper develops a set of ontological presuppositions regarding the nature of marketing systems and a subsequent set of epistemic conditions as an integrative metatheoretical position, through which these systems are better understood and analysed. The paper argues that these improve our ability to theorise about the multi-dimensionality of these systems.
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