How Should Contested Historical Sites be Presented?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Athinodoros Chronis of California State University, Stanislaus. He recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “The Staging of Contested Servicescapes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, he reflects on the motivations and influences on this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

For many decades, debates in the United States about the removal of the Confederate flag, monuments, and memorials were both reflective of and constantly feeding major divisions among groups with divergent political views. Noticing similar conflicting perspectives during my fieldwork at Gettysburg National Military Park about the “correct” way in which the painful civil war era should be represented and remembered, inspired and motivated my research into the role that service providers should play in staging contested servicescapes.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Marketing researchers and other scholars have identified and reflected upon a large number of service environments where oppositional interpretations become the basis for contestation and, as a result, create a problem for service organizers on the way in which the site should be presented to the public. While the above scholarship identifies the presence of contestation and the struggle among opposing parties, it does not provide a focused theorization on the way in which service providers understand and work out a solution to place contestation. To this end, the present research is innovative by highlighting the politicized nature of certain servicescapes and paying attention to the performative practices of frontline employees as they guide customers through the servicescape and as they stage the place and its representation in a particular way in order to avoid contestation. The major impact of this study is the provision of a framework that can be used by the management of contested servicescapes to analyze the contestation terrain and evade marketplace controversies that can be detrimental to a positive customer experience. It also provides three groups of strategic practices that help to accomplish this goal.

What is the most important/ influential piece of scholarship you’ve read in the last year

There is a body of literature that is very relevant and influential to my current research. This scholarship is couched in humanist perspectives that highlight the politicized character of certain places and see their construction as a struggle among interest groups. Place is considered a social construction and its emergence is seen as a process through which the material environment is invested with a variety of meanings by different groups or individuals. As a result, place identities can be multiple and the dominant character of place is subject to debate and contestation. Within this unstable terrain, a number of scholars have theorized the production of “official stages” by dominant social forces in order to inculcate particular ideological positions and craft their own version of social reality and place identity (Adams et al. 2001; Ateljevic and Doorne 2002; Bender 1993, 2002; Bosco 2004; Bruce and Creighton 2006; Forest et al. 2004; Frost 2007; Gillen 2014; Goulding and Domic 2009; Hale 2001; Jeong and Santos 2004; Kong and Law 2002; Leitner and Kang 1999; Osborne 1998, 2001; Patil 2011; Sarmento 2009; Stokowski 2002; Tilley 2006; Wight 2016; Worden 1996; Yea 2002; Zhang et al. 2015).

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Macromarketing Roundtable Commentary

Alan Bradshaw, University of London, and Mark Tadajewski, University of Strathclyde, published “Macromarketing Roundtable Commentary–The Export of Marketing Education” on September 20th, 2011 in the Journal of Macromarketing’s OnlineFirst collection. Dr. Bradshaw kindly provided the following commentary on the article.

In the UK it is increasingly common for postgraduate students of marketing to be recruited from across the globe, and in particular from notionally “developing” economies such as India and China. This practice raises questions across a variety of issues; it can smuggle discourses of subalternaity into the classroom, it can construct marketing education as an agent of globalisation, it can undermine commitments to maintaining criticality in our subject areas, it can result in all manners of pedagogical challenges, it can raise huge amounts of money for universities and re-constitute marketing education as an object for export. To my mind, these are issues that get to the heart of marketing education in an age of ever-increasing commercialisation of universities and general neo-liberalism.

To explore the phenomenon, myself and Mark invited a group of inter-disciplinary scholars for a roundtable discussion in Royal Holloway, University of London. We asked the participants to construct short statements outlining their positions and together they form, I hope readers will agree, a series of fascinating accounts and analyses about marketing education not just as a subject for teaching and learning, but also as a product for export at a time of globalisation, neo-liberalism and political-economic transformations.

We hope that this commentary will be of interest to anybody who teaches or learns marketing as well as a broader audience who are interested in political economy, globalisation and the role of the university

To view other articles in the OnlineFirst collection, please click here. For more information about the Journal of Macromarketing, please follow this link.

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