Chapter

2. 2. The Uses of Use Value: Marketing, Value Creation, and the Exigencies of Consumption Work

Robert J. Foster

in Inside Marketing

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199576746
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724916 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199576746.003.0003
2. 2. The Uses of Use Value: Marketing, Value Creation, and the Exigencies of Consumption Work

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What is at stake — conceptually and politically — when the roles of producers and consumers converge? What does such convergence imply for the place of marketing techniques in value creation? These questions are approached through a consideration of how persons and things qualify each other inspired by Marcel Mauss's treatment of gift exchange. Taking up the idea of an “economy of qualities” recently proposed by Michel Callon and his colleagues, this chapter argues that the use value of things that people realize as consumers has become a source and site of surplus value extraction. That is, the premise of Marx's political economy that only producers (labor power in use) create surplus value invites reconsideration. The argument engages with recent critical work in marketing and anthropology that suggests a new role for consumers in value creation and highlights the challenges presented to marketers in managing the creativity of consumers. It emphasizes the fundamentally exploitative aspects of the consumer's new role while at the same time suggesting the possibilities for political action that inhere in “putting consumers to work.”

Keywords: consumption work; political action; marketing techniques; consumers

Chapter.  6625 words. 

Subjects: Marketing

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