JMM Special Issue Call for Papers: Deadline for submissions has now passed

Critical Social Marketing: Towards Emancipation

Guest Editors: Professor Ross Gordon, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, Dr Fiona Spotswood, University of Bristol, UK & Professor Sally Dibb, Coventry University, UK

This call for papers encourages submissions that adopt critical perspectives and contribute to the development of critical social marketing scholarship. Gordon (2018, p86) explains that: “Critical social marketing examines the impact of commercial marketing and business on society and/or critically analyses social marketing theories, concepts, discourses and practice, to generate critique, conflict and change that facilitates social good”. Importantly, critical social marketing work adopts an emancipatory social justice agenda. It eschews approaches that simply manage or reproduce the existing social order. Instead, critical social marketing seeks to not only critique social marketing, but to change it into becoming a more ethical, inclusive, representative, and reflexive approach to behaviour and social change. A key objective for critical social marketing scholarship is to consider how social marketing as a behaviour and social change approach can help support and uphold people’s human rights (Szablewska & Kubacki, 2019).

While critical perspectives in social marketing have been around for a long time (see Lazer & Kelley, 1973; and Goldberg, 1995), it is only in recent years that a nascent stream of critical social marketing scholarship has begun to emerge. Indeed, the failure to engage in critical debate has witnessed social marketing being critiqued by scholars in the marketing, and a range of other social science disciplines for being unethical, lacking reflexivity, neoliberally oriented, culturally insensitive, imperialist, and responsibilising the individual (Crawshaw, 2012; Laczniack & Michie, 1979; Moor, 2011; Tadajewski et al., 2014).

Earlier work in critical social marketing largely focused on critiques of commercial marketing, both in terms of its deleterious impact on health and society, and the competition it created for social marketing’s socially-oriented goals (Goldberg, 1994; Gordon, 2011). However, critical discourse about and within social marketing are now emerging. Issues of gender politics, stigma and gender equality (Gurrieri et al., 2013), power (Brace-Govan, 2015), ethnocentricity (Martam, 2016), and non-Western voices (Badejo et al., 2019) are now emerging. Critical social marketing has also started to consider issues such as ethics and morals (Spotswood et al., 2012), human rights (Gordon et al., 2019), unintended consequences (Peattie et al., 2016), and divergences across social marketing paradigms (French & Gordon, 2019). Reflexivity (Gordon & Gurrieri, 2014), how the socio-cultural realm shapes behaviour and social change (Spotswood & Tapp, 2013) and the use of interpretive and participatory methods (Kariippanon et al., 2020) have also been explored.

However, critical social marketing is still in its infancy and further work is required to develop the field. Such critique is not an end in itself, but it offers the potential to inform more ethical, critically reflexive, inclusive, and polyvocal social marketing theory and practice. Critical scholarship can help social marketing to reach its potential as an approach to behaviour and social change for social good (Dibb, 2014). This call for papers invites the submission of high quality conceptual and empirical work that advances the emerging critical social marketing agenda. Importantly, we strongly encourage submissions that not only adopt a critical stance, but which also offer ideas regarding how social marketing can be improved and better support people’s human rights, and protect flora, fauna, and planet.

Submissions examining, but not restricted to, the following topics are encouraged:

  • Power in social marketing
  • Issues on reflexivity in social marketing
  • Critiques of the impact of commercial marketing on people, health & well-being and society
  • Competition in social marketing
  • Corporate social marketing and the commercialisation of behaviour and social change
  • Gender issues, feminist, and alternative masculinity perspectives in social marketing
  • Bringing voices from the South/non-Western voices to the fore in social marketing
  • Ethnocentricity, postcolonialism and social marketing
  • Social marketing work using critical theory including Marxist, Frankfurt School, post-structuralist, and post-modern perspectives.
  • The use of non-normative and non-representational theory and methods in social marketing
  • Social-materiality and acknowledging more-than-human entities in the social marketing sphere
  • Critical systems thinking in social marketing
  • Questions about ethics and morals in social marketing
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Inclusivity and diversity
  • Acknowledging different cultural perspectives in social marketing
  • The relationship between neoliberalism and social marketing
  • Unintended consequences associated with social marketing practice
  • The core values and ways of thinking guiding social marketing
  • Moving beyond a focus on behaviour change in social marketing

Submission Requirements:
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. These are available at:

Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site ( New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”. To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Critical Social Marketing in the text field provided.

Video Submissions are also welcome – please see the webpage for detailed instructions

Informal queries regarding guest editors’ expectations or the suitability of specific research topics should be directed to the Special Issue Editors,

The closing date for submissions was 30 June 2021.

Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office:


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