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The brand as a social system of interpenetration: conceptualizing brand through communications

Gur, Oymen (2012) The brand as a social system of interpenetration: conceptualizing brand through communications. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In this thesis I address oversights in the socio-cultural understanding of the brand by demonstrating the failings of three prevailing views. First, the brand is commonly captured through two dimensions: the functional and the symbolic. This conception results from an oscillation between two distinct worldviews: the material and the communicative. Second, the brand is conceptualized as the direct result of the motives of individuals, who are not reflexive of broader socio-cultural formations. Third, the brand is portrayed as a commercial entity that is coupled with a single ideology for competitive advantage. However, the multi-dimensional brand is neither essentially economic nor culturally one dimensional. Using Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory, I observe communications media and the brand as self-reproductive social systems. Merging his methodology of functional analysis with Michel Foucault’s archaeology, I analyze the relevant academic literature and subject an actual brand to empirical examination. Herein I show how communication technologies and media make up ‘the communications system’, through which the society is not simply communicated but is created. Like all social phenomena, the brand as a social system (and its meanings) arises within the communications system by observing itself in relevant communicative events. The self-reproductive brand system exists within society by differentiating itself from its environment comprised of disparate social systems. The brand interpenetrates and then differentiates from each of these environmental systems via a particular distinction. The plurality and the interplay of these diverse distinctions enable the brand system. In turn, the brand as a social system of interpenetration fulfils its macro function in society by translating and synchronising these otherwise detached social systems. By understanding this broader societal function of the brand and its resulting dispositions, marketers can elevate their micro perspective in relation to a long-term macro view and thereby better guide the brand.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Oymen Gur
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Liebenau, Jonathan

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