The Undermining of Beliefs in the Autonomy and Rationality of Consumers: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Undermining of Beliefs in the Autonomy and Rationality of Consumers

1st Edition

By John O'Shaughnessy, Nicholas O'Shaughnessy


146 pages

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pub: 2019-01-17
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This book examines modern consumption, focusing on concepts of autonomy and rationality. In recent years, conventional ideas of 'free will' have come under attack in the context of consumer choice and similarly, postmodernists have sabotaged the very notion of consumer rationality. O’Shaughnessy and O'Shaughnessy adopt a moderating perspective, reviewing and critiquing these attacks in order to work towards a more nuanced view of the consumer: neither entirely autonomous nor perfectly rational.

While the first part of this book concentrates on assailing critiques of 'free-will', the second part takes issue with the postmodernist emphasis on the non-rational. The authors situate these critiques in the context of key academic debate, examining the logic and empirical bases for their claims thus leading to a deeper understanding of 'bounded' rationality and the potential of the adaptive unconscious to affect consumer choice.


"The unbeatable father-and-son team of John-and-Nicholas O’Shaughnessy has produced another stimulating and provocative book on issues of relevance to consumer behavior, communication, and marketing. In this book, these distinguished scholars draw upon their strong backgrounds in philosophy and the social sciences to integrate ideas from two areas of inquiry – namely, bounded rationality and postmodernism. They make connections of obvious importance and profundity that have thus far remained unexplored in the literature on marketing and consumer research." Morris B. Holbrook, Dillard Professor of Marketing (Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, New York, NY)

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Renewed Interest in the Unconscious and Free Will - A Progress Report for Marketing 1. The Relegation of Free Choice and Free Will 2. The Dominance of the Adaptive Unconscious Part 2: Postmodernism: The Attack on all Aspects of Modernity and Rationality 3. The Claims made by Postmodernists 4. Central Philosophical Assertions of Postmodernism

About the Authors

John O’Shaughnessy is Emeritus Professor of Business at the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, New York.

Nicholas O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Marketing and Communications at Queen Mary, University of London.

About the Series

Routledge Interpretive Marketing Research

Recent years have witnessed an ‘interpretive turn’ in marketing and consumer research. Methodologies from the humanities are taking their place alongside those drawn from the traditional social sciences. Qualitative and literary modes of marketing discourse are growing in popularity. Art and aesthetics are increasingly firing the marketing imagination. This series brings together the most innovative work in the burgeoning interpretive marketing research tradition. It ranges across the methodological spectrum from grounded theory to personal introspection, covering all aspects of the postmodern marketing ‘mix’, from advertising to product development, and embracing marketing’s principal sub-disciplines.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General