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Journal of Marketing Management


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Green Marketing: A Theoretical


Perspective
William E. Kilbourne
Published online: 01 Feb 2010.

To cite this article: William E. Kilbourne (1998) Green Marketing: A Theoretical Perspective,
Journal of Marketing Management, 14:6, 641-655, DOI: 10.1362/026725798784867743
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Journal of Marketing Managemen~ 1998, 14, 641-655

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William E.
Kilbourne 1

Sam Houston
University,

USA

Green Marketing: A Theoretical


Perspective

State

The theoretical view of green marketing, derived from


within institutional economics, environmental politics,
and technological theory, is a multi-disciplinary
perspective suggesting that a potential environmental
crisis resides not necessarily in specific behaviours but
rather within the dominant social paradigm (DSP) of
Western industrial societies. Effective policies and
strategies then must recognize the crisis as one of
paradigms, This paper addresses the failure of
contemporary green marketing to move beyond the
limitations of the prevailing paradigm. While there are
nascent macro developments in marketing thought
that might lead to a truly green marketing considering
sustainability, holistic thought, and the limitations of
the prevailing paradigm, they remain thus far on the
periphery of the discipline. They will remain so until a
broader, multi-disciplinary approach incorporating the
multiple dimensions of the DSP is developed.

Introduction

There is little doubt that the transformation from industrial era marketing to
sustainable green marketing will be both necessary and difficult It involves a
different way of looking at marketing, its objectives, and its strategies that goes
even beyond societal marketing (Prothero, 1990; Peattie, 1995). This is
problematic since even the limited view of societal marketing has yet to be
implemented by more than a handful of firms. Can the more difficult step to
sustainable marketing be made within the context of Western industrial society?
From a theoretical perspective it is argued here that there are at least three
different substantive areas that must be examined for their effect in the
marketing/environment relationship. These are the economic, political, and
technological dimensions of the cultural frame of reference used to understand
and justify our world-views on the interplay between economic/business,
state/politics, and technology/science. These have been described as the socioeconomic dimensions of the dominant social paradigm (DSP) (Kilbourne et aI.,
1997). Before turning to their analysis, it is useful to examine the nature of green
marketing and sustainability as they have been developed thus far.
1 Correspondence to: William E Kilbourne, Sam Houston State University, Department of
Management and Marketing, Huntsville, TX 77341, USA Email mkt-wek@shsu,edu

ISSN0267-257X/98/060641

+ 14

$12.00/0

Westburn Publishers Ltd.

642

William E. Kilbourne

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Green Marketing
Green marketing is most frequently associated with the greening of the different
aspects of traditional marketing. This generally involves the production of "green"
products for sale to "green" consumers who are admonished to recycle the waste
from their consumption. It is suggested here that these activities represent the
greening of marketing and, as such, are commendable activities. They fall
considerably short of what would be considered truly green marketing since they
are primarily managerial strategies to increase sales and only secondarily green.
Since they are typically referred to as "green" marketing however, it is useful to
adopt Dobson's (I990) strategy of differentiating between green with a little "g"

signifying managerial approaches and truly Green with a large "G"that considers
the larger issue of sustain ability. The analysis that follows will demonstrate that
the implications of the difference between these two forms are considerable.
While no concise definition of Green marketing has been developed, Peattie
(1994) provides a good starting point by delineating some of its properties. These
properties include a holistic and systemic view, an open-ended time frame, a
global perspective that focuses on ecological sustainability rather than economic
efficiency, and a recognition of the intrinsic value of nature. Green marketing also
entails the recognition of the limits of nature as a source of resources and a sink
for wastes and distinguishes between sustainable growth (an impossibility) and
sustainable development (qualitative improvement in means and ends) (Daly,
1991). Because this transformation entails a fundamentally different way of
looking at the world and marketing's place in it, an expansion of the limits of
marketing inquiry is required. This means that the discipline must become more
macro in its focus and more multi-disciplinary in its methods.
However, as the literature review presented earlier in this issue suggests,
marketers have only recently begun to ask such broad and multidisciplinary
questions regarding sustainability (van Dam and Apeldoorn, 1996),
environmental values (Beckmann and Kilbourne, 1997), and the DSP (Kilbourne
et a!., 1997), much less answer them. The analysis that follows will address some
of the issues that are being raised from a theoretical perspective and offers a
rationale for the dearth of substantive critique from within traditional marketing
boundaries.
The Dominant Social Paradigm
In a much quoted article, Dunlap and van Liere (1978) frame the environmental
debate as one of paradigms rather than practices. They refer to a differen t way of
seeing the world as the "new environmental paradigm" (NEP).The implications of
this framing are supposedly far reaching but have not been well elaborated.
While they develop a measurement scale for the NEP, much like the marketing
discipline in its study of environmental problems, they fail to define the new
paradigm except as a set of scale items. As a result, the concept of a paradigm
shift and its implications remain substantially unexamined. The purpose of this

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paper is to begin an examination of the paradigmatic nature of the problem and


discuss the implications for this framing. While space does not permit a
thorough examination of all the dimensions of the problem, the paper briefly
discusses the DSP and its limitations in the amelioration of environmental
problems. It will be argued that so long as green marketing solutions to
environmental problems are framed within the DSP, little progress will be made
toward their solution since it is the DSP itself that retards the development of an
effective Green marketing alternative. In this regard, it was Einstein who once
stated that the problems we have created cannot be solved with the same
thinking that created them.
Milbrath (1984) defines a culture's dominant social paradigm (DSP) as
consisting of "...the values, metaphysical beliefs, institutions, habits, etc. that
collectively provide social lenses through which individuals and groups interpret
their social world" (p. 7). Cotgrove (1982) further adds that to be the dominant
paradigm it need not be held by the majority of people but only by the dominant
groups in society. It then serves to legitimize and justify prevailing institutions
that serve the interests of those groups. In doing so it also serves as a mechanism
through which specific social or political courses of action might be justified. The
essential aspect of this is the embeddedness of the DSP in society: Its directions
and justifications are accepted as truth requiring no examination.
While there is no consensus on what constitutes the DSP in Western
industrial societies, several elements are common to many descriptions. For the
purposes of this paper they will be categorized in a three dimensional framework
which will be referred to as the socio-economic domain of the DSP. The three
dimensions so derived are the economic, the technological, and the political.
Because research from the strategic or managerial perspective usually focuses
more on the technological dimension than the economic or political, that
dimension will be examined more thoroughly here as well.
There is a second domain that can be established pertaining to the DSP. That
is the cosmological and refers to the larger questions of existence such as the
structure (atomism-holism), relation (domination-submission), and organization
(anthropocentric-ecocentric) of nature and the significance of nature itself. The
cosmological domain
provides the background
assumptions
(largely
unquestioned and/or unexamined) against which particular values, beliefs, and
behaviours develop. The paper focuses only on the socio-economic domain as
space does not permit an examination of both domains.
Economic Dimension
There are a number of issues raised by the economic implications of the
strategic perspective that have been examined from a theoretical perspective. As
an example, when we speak of rising consumption expectations, we are referring
to the satisfaction of consumer preferences. While it is virtually a truism within
traditional marketing and green marketing that the role of business is to satisfy
consumption desires, i. e., the marketing concept, this is a highly questionable

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proposition from both econ omic and political perspectives. It is predicated on the
assumption that all consumer preferences are equally valid requiring no
justification and that the sum of individual preferences will yield the common
good. This proposition has been in dispute since Rousseau's discussion in the
Social Contract argued that the will of all (preferences based on one's individual
interest) is seldom equal to the general will Uudgements with individual interests
set aside) and that citizens must sometimes be forced to be free (Sagoff, 1988;
O'Neill, 1993).
From an environmental perspective, this idea takes on renewed significance. If
all preferences are equally valid and deserve to be satisfied by impersonal free
markets, then if consumers prefer more consumption of non-green products,
ought these preferences not be satisfied as readily as all others? Since it is
assumed that all preferences are exogenous and unaffected by market forces, i.e.,
marketers do not create needs, neo-c1assical theory suggests that such
preferences should be satisfied. If so, does the will of all summed in the market
equal the general will? Ozone depletion and possible global warming suggest not,
as no individual would have rationally chosen these consequences if collective
interests had taken precedence over individual interests. Thus we have a conflict
between green marketing efforts and the economic dimension of the DSP. Under
the traditional neo-c1assical economics view, it is not the market's function to
create preferences, only to satisfy those that exist This conflict also raises the
question of second order preferences (preferences for particular preferences
rather than products) which is avoided in economics today.
In addition to this conflict, there is another at a fundamental level. This
relates to whether there are any imperatives within the Western industrial
economic organization. Both Heilbroner (I985) and Wallerstein (I983) suggest
there are. They argued that, within the neo-c1assical paradigm, continuous
economic growth is necessary if desired levels of profitability and capital
accumulation (the essence of capitalism) are to be maintained. But continuous
growth is antithetical to sustainability (Daly, 1991). Consequently, sustainability is
not considered in green marketing. It is also suggested that capitalism exerts a
centripetal force on capital which is accumulated at the centre of the
organization. In global market development, third world markets, the focus of
growth and development, remain on the periphery of capital accumulation. This
leads to perpetual poverty on the periphery and wealth accumulation at the
centre, i.e.,continued maldistribution of wealth. The result of this maldistribution
is under-consumption in less developed areas and over-consumption in more
developed areas, both antithetical to sustainability and environmental integrity
(Gladwin et aI., 1996). Once again, green marketing efforts to achieve
sustain ability come in conflict with the economic dimension of the DSP when
they entail market expansion in some areas without offsetting decreases in other
areas. Traditional marketing efforts, now guided by globalization imperatives, fail
to consider these consequences as such considerations would offer a substantive
challenge to its core assumptions and thus to the DSP.
This is just a sampling of the conflicts between green marketing efforts and

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the economic dimension of the DSP. Others include the use of price as the
adjustment mechanism for environmental amenities and resource allocations,
cost shifting, self-interest, and economic efficiency (Swaney, 1987). These
conflicts arise from the fact that green marketing, as defined within the DSP,
maintains the character of the DSP. While it is a step in the right direction,
looking at the marketing function in an expanded way, it is still framed in the
idiom of the status quo and thereby based on the same assumptions. So long as
green marketing is framed in such a way, the strategic perspective will be in
continuous conflict with the theoretical perspective which does not question
specific actions so much as the general character of the DSP itself. This is also
evident in the sections that follow as well.
The Political Dimension
It is evident that green marketing efforts can be and are thwarted by the conflicts
of interest between different factions (Dowie, 1995). But such conflict is well
within the limits and expectations of political pluralism in Western democracies.
Consistent with the equal validity of preferences in economics, under pluralism,
or polyarchy as Dryzek (1987) refers to it, all interests are seen as equally justified
and the state is enjoined from favouring any particular interest Rather, its role is
to develop political institutions facilitating the reconciliation of competing
interests that do not favour any particular one. This is referred to as procedural
neutrality, or proceduralism, and stands in opposition to republicanism (Sandel
1996). In the latter, it is in the interest of the state and its constituent members
to engender particular values that are conducive to the "good" however it may be
defined; political, economic, ecological, etc. Thomas Jefferson, for example,
favoured values that were conducive to self-government rather than economic
growth. Pluralism and proceduralism represent two of the political constructs
derived from political liberalism (Rawls, 1993) and are a fundamental part of the
political dimension of the DSP. Both are evident from discussions of stakeholder
interests and strategic alliances and indicate that there are conflicts between the
functioning of liberalism and environmental integrity. Thus liberalism compels
the non-invidious consideration of environmentally destructive values and ends
on an equal plane with environmentally benign ones with neither being
considered superior to the other.
As in contemporary economic liberalism in which preferences are assumed
exogenous (Kassiola, 1990), in political liberalism, political preferences are
considered exogenous as well (O'Neill, 1993). This reflects the pluralist
conception of government in which the role of politics is to mediate between
competing interests, i.e., the neutrality principle of government (Rawls, 1993). In
the republican view, we again find the stamp of Rousseau because it presumes
the role of politics to be the pursuit of the common good or the general will
(Sunstein, 1985). However, contrary to the contemporary neo-c1assical economic
account of preferences, the general will is not as argued earlier, the sum of
individual wills. Contrary to this, Rousseau (1968) states,

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For every individual as a man may have a private will contrary to, or different
from, the general will that he has as a citizen. His private interest may speak
with a very different voice from that of the public interest; (p. 63-64)
In the contemporary liberal account, efficient markets define the general will
as the aggregate of individual preferences, the will of all. The general will is
logically different, however, since it is derived from what individuals would will
when separated from their private interests. Thus it cannot be concluded, as in
neo-classical economics, that the will of all is always identical with the general
will. Because they are logically different and frequently do conflict, it is the
purpose of politics to mediate between the two (Sagoff, 1988). However, so long
as all individuals in society are reduced to bundles of preferences that completely
reflect their wants, political discourse and deliberation are negated. Markets
provide the answer to all questions including those relating to environmental
value.
If, on the other hand, we do not take preferences as exogenous resulting in
the collapsing of ideals into want-regarding principles alone, then the political
domain is reintroduced through the addition of ideal-regarding principles. In this
accounting of preferences, policy debate focuses, not exclusively on the
preferences one has, but also on the preferences one ought to have (the second
order preferences eschewed in economics). Thus political process reverts to the
republican account originally intended, and the cultivation of wants becomes a
legitimate part of the political process resurrecting the citizen out of the
consumer. This re-politicization requires rational dialogue between citizens as
such and cannot be reduced to consumer preferences. There are certainly some
deliberative circumstances which can be adequately circumscribed by wantregarding principles alone, and these should remain subject to market processes.
This does not include environmental policy, however, since there are typically no
markets to defer to. While the economic perspective suggests that instances of
pollution, resource depletion, and other forms of environmental degradation are
a result of market failures, they are really examples of the failure of markets to
exist (Sagoff, 1988). This should not be surprising since environmental amenities
are matters of morality, aesthetics, and wisdom, not of exchange relations. To
reduce them to exchange relations is to conflate preferences with ethical and
factual judgements. What we want and who we are exist in a dialectical
relationship, i. e., in an interaction of conflicting ideas and forces, and neither can
be reduced to the other without irreparable damage to the subject Reducing the
citizen/consumer to consumer negates substantive rationality, the essence of
reason, deferring to formal rationality, and it redefines the subject as the locus of
preferences requiring no justification. If the citizen as such is exorcised from the
subject, then competing forms of life have no voice except the satta voce of rising
ennui. This process is effectively the outcome of the interaction of the three
dimensions of the socio-econom ic domain of the OS? and to analyze the
problem from the perspective of anyone, as is typically the case, results in an
incomplete and distorted picture of market based reality and its relationship to

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nature.
Hayward (1994) argues, consistent with this perspective, that the political is
about promoting forms of life and making substantive decisions toward that end;
it is and should be normative. It entails the choice of which ends are better than
others. Traditional marketing is again the handmaiden of economics in this
regard since the marketing concept is the focal point of strategic marketing
practices and mandates that all consumer wants (within the limits of law) should
be satisfied if they are profitable. As described earlier however, Green marketing
would consider the environmental consequences of choices and thus challenges
the foundation of traditional marketing by arguing that maybe some preferences
ought not be satisfied.
To do otherwise in environmental considerations is highly problematic since
environmental values such as aesthetics and habitat value are incommensurable
and cannot be reduced to the common metric of money as is required by the
preferred market surrogates, cost benefit analysis and willingness to pay
procedures. Both draw their appeal from pluralism and procedural neutrality
which are consistent with economic analysis but inconsistent with political
discourse, i.e., the pursuit of ideal-regarding principles. In environmental policy
considerations, value plurality is inevitable as there are multiple comparability
spaces over which evaluations must be made, i. e., there is no single dimension of
environmental valuation. Rational judgement is required to resolve such
contradictions and this rests in the political domain which cannot be reduced to
the economic. Using price as a measure of value in these considerations
conflates acts of exchange with acts containing social meaning. That one is
willing to supply a price for an environmental amenity does not reflect a rational
act It reflects a misapprehension of what these things mean (O'Neill, 1993). As a
simple demonstration that most cultures already concur on this in principle, one
can consider the international soccer world cup competition being played as of
this writing. Rather than incur all the expense of such an endeavour, why not
take a world wide internet poll to determine how much each fan is willing to pay
for her/his team to win? The team with the most dollar votes is declared the
champion. Fans would declare this strategy insane, of course, because it would
destroy the social meaning of a victory. Such activities, they would correctly
argue, should never be reduced to the market
Similarly, Green marketing would be subjected to constraints that green
marketing does not consider. It might be pointed out here as well that such
constraints in the marketing process are really nothing new as most cultures
proscribe, through the political process, the sale of some goods. This simply adds
environmental consequences to the political agenda because, like the soccer
example, it simply does not fit the criteria for marketable goods.
Technological Dimension
As suggested by Marcuse (1964) any critique of technology or, more generally,
technological rationality, is rendered irrational by the OS? So long as the only
relevant tribunal is material progress within the OS?, the paradigm is virtually

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immune to attack. The success of the technological dimension is indisputable


within this framework since all one has to do to confirm the obvious is look
around within industrial societies. Science and technology, unified with industry,
have attained a level of material development in which the material needs of
advanced industrial society have been completely satisfied (Leiss, 1972).
The one-eyed prophets of technology have failed, however, to consider the
extent to which technological advance in the contemporary world represents
improved means to unimproved ends (Postman, 1993). The imperious nature of
technology is ignored in the headlong pursuit of material gain, and new forms of
life are created in which the social and ecological consequences of domination
and control remain unexamined (Winner, 1986). As technology commandeers
language, it transforms it into its own image as terms such as freedom, truth, and
wisdom begin to take on technological meanings. This is what Postman (1993)
refers to as "culture conspiring against itself' (p. 12).
Habits of culture become transformed reflecting the ideological bias of the
confluence of technology and industry. In its wake are created new institutions
recreating its particular world view in what Goldsmith (1988) refers to as the
surrogate world. Questions of happiness, wealth distribution and justice are
defined out of the discourse on culture. In vernacular societies, technologies are
directed by cultural values and integrated within society. In technological
societies, the meta narrative of science has triumphed over the traditional
discursive forms. Truth is found in neither religion nor cultural traditions, but in
the language of technology: efficiency, objectivity, and measurement Its essence
is the reductionism that finds the meaning of life in machinery and technique, or
more specifically, their product, consumption.
While it was fully anticipated that the mastery of external nature would
coincide with the mastery of internal nature, this has not materialized. While the
technological project was an unquestionable success within external nature, it
failed completely in internal nature. As a result, internal and external nature exist
in a dialectical relationship as the "societal individual" arises out of the
antagonism of interests predicated on patriarchal social organization. This is the
outcome of Bacon's fallacy; that the control of external nature would be
contiguous with the control of internal nature.
That this fallacy has yet to be resolved is characterized by the contemporary
enchantment with the application of technology to all types of problems, both
technical and social. Within the ecology literature this penchant is referred to as
a techno-fix. We have seen its failure world-wide in population control (Irvine and
Ponton, 1988), economic development (Daly and Townsend, 1993), and the
green revolution in agriculture (Carson 1962). As Beck (1995) comments on the
technologically constructed risk society, 'The overarching feature of this epoch
is...a social one, the fundamental, almost universal, and scandalous failure of
institutions in the face of destruction" (p. 85). Thurow (1980) further adds that
political institutions necessary for a nascent zero-sum society do not exist These
copious critiques have demonstrated that every problem is not a technical
problem and cannot be solved solely by technical means. It provides further

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support for the ecological perspective that suggests we cannot continue trying to
solve problems of technology with technology since this generally results in
shifting the problems around rather than solving them (Irvine and Ponton, 1988).
Within technological rationality, means become privileged over ends which
remain unexamined. The end of material progress is established as the summum
bonum of industrial society and removed from cultural discourse or reflection
(Bury 1932). While the domination of nature in service to this end remains the
professed goal of technological advance, social domination remains internal to its
structure and is inseparable from it (Feenberg 1991). The consequence of this is
twofold relating first to the technological mediation of nature and second to the
mediation of culture. We will examine each briefly.
Mediation of nature. The intrusion of technology into everyday life is so
ubiquitous that it becomes effectively transparent We would scarcely find it
possible to separate our lives from the technologies through which we live and
interpret it The objective of science and technology was to master nature and
improve upon it (Eliade, 1962). In doing so, we effectively separated ourselves
from nature and privileged ourselves over it Lewis (1947) suggests that this
resulted in the demystification of nature. Merchant (1980) goes further to suggest
the consequence was the "death of nature." Through economic and technological
reductionism, nature has been separated and removed from the realm of
discourse. Because we have become fragmented from nature ethically (Mathews,
1991), intellectually (Merchant, 1980; Capra 1982), and spiritually (Naess, 1973;
Porritt, 1986; Fox, 1990), we no longer have an appreciation for its inherent
value (Regan 1981).
This represents a qualitative break with the past in which nature was seen as
an organic whole rather than a mechanical representation of inert matter in
motion. The attitude of stewardship characteristic of vernacular societies was
transcended when domination of nature became the overriding objective of
science and technology. Concomitant with this shift was the shift in attitudes
about the essence of knowledge. Here the shift was from the Aristotelian ideal of
wisdom to the Baconian ideal of domination with knowledge as power over
nature.
In effecting scientific/technological power, nature was deconstructed and
reduced in the Cartesian method through which knowledge of the parts could be
reconstructed yielding knowledge of the whole (Descartes, 1916). This
fragmentation was a product of the mechanical metaphor and the scientific
metaphor, both still in evidence today despite recent discoveries in physics
suggesting their inadequacy as a representation of nature. With the
fragmentation and deconstruction of nature, it was effectively demystified and
disenchanted. Within Cartesian duality lay the separation of humans from nature
that lead to their privileged position over it These processes were the
culmination of the anthropocentric project whose intent was the liberation of
humans from subjugation by nature. Unconstrained by religious or traditional
values, the Enlightenment project "...would lead to a secular millennium during
which nature and society would finally achieve their potentials, with nature as

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supplier and society as recipient of material progress" (Kilbourne 1995).


Merchant (I980) argues that the removal of animistic, organic assumptions
constituted the death of nature and opened it up to legitimate domination and
exploitation through the medium of technology.
Thus, the technologies we apply to the exploitation of nature mediate
between society and nature removing us ever further from any semblance of an
organic system of interacting parts. This is what O'Riordan (I 976) refers to as the
"technocentric" relationship to nature. Ehrenfeld (I978) further suggests that so
long as the arrogance of humanism prevails, the myths of power and control over
nature will be maintained since the paradigm selects the confirmatory facts to
legitimize its own existence disguising the limits of technology.
Mediation of culture. The suggestion here is that technology mediates
between individuals and society. In this context, technology affects social,
economic, and political relations between different interests within society.
Through the application of technical knowledge, the Enlightenment project was
to lead to the emancipation of the individual. But this technological potential has
not yet been realized as is reflected in Horkheimer and Adorno's (I993) Dialectic
of Enlightenment This goal cannot be achieved in the established technological
framework since social goals have not been established by reflective, democratic
discourse but by market processes. Rational reflection is the only means by
which the dialectic of potential and will embodied in technological progress can
be reconciled (Habermas, 1970). Arriving at an understanding of one's
relationship to society and to nature is not a technical process, and a
reconciliation between self and nature is only possible when the individual is
freed of domination from both technology and the market The traditional
marketing process has played a significant role in this process by proffering the
opaque contingencies of the industrial process as the necessary and desirable
conditions of progress. Green marketing could serve to break the re-creation of
the status quo by exposing the ideological character of progress and its
environmentally destructive logic.
So long as the market and technology are used as political weapons in the
maintenance of power, reconciliation with nature is problematic since
technological rationality, the antithesis of reason, legitimizes technical progress
as material progress. Critique is rendered irrational as the real and the potential
are conflated and offered as the only alternative. Social and technical
requirements are condensed in "".a 'regime of truth' which brings the
construction and interpretation of technical systems into conformity with the
requirements of a system of domination" (Feenberg, 1991, p. 79). And as stated
earlier, the requirements of the system are framed in economic terms proffering
economic growth, maldistribution of wealth, and liberal political values as the
solution to political, technological, or economic problems.
Within capitalist societies, the economic dimension extends to the political
and technological informing both goals and criteria of effectiveness.
Environmental degradation is inevitable in such a system when the ultimate goal
is the ma'\imization of consumption and throughput Transformation to a

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sustainable society is highly problematic without transformation in all three


dimensions of the OS? so there can be no single axis of change. Thus new
patterns of technological, economic, and political progress must be developed,
and they must be developed out of existing potential since to do otherwise would
be rejected as utopian.

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Transformation of the DSP


With the recognition that technologies are not neutral, the potential for
transformation exists if technological determinism is rejected. Once technical
knowledge is exposed as political hegemony, democratic discourse on social
goals becomes possible. With these conditions in effect, the potential inherent in
technology can be released in a non-destructive way. Environmental damage
characteristic of unrestrained technological progress will not be viewed as a
necessary side-effect of material progress. Rational democratic discourse on
substantive ends would place technological change in its proper perspective; as a
means to substantive rational ends rather than the end of formal, or
technological, rationality. The relationship between technology, economics, and
politics will be established as will their complicity in environmental degradation.
The limits of scientific-technical rationality will be better understood and can be
incorporated into a more rational definition of social and political progress. Thus,
a basis for the re-politicization of society can be established releasing the
potential for a rationalization of society and scientization of politics (Habermas,
1970). This new technological path involves "...taking into account the many
larger contexts on which technology has impacts. These

contexts reflect

potentialities - values - that can only be realized through a new organization of


society" (Feenberg, 1991; p. 195). The path to be taken, the exploitative path of
formal rationality or the emancipatory path of substantive rationality, is
essentially a political choice. The role of Green marketing becomes paramount
here since the foundations of industrial era marketing rest in formal rationality.
Green marketing has as its foundation the satisfaction of human needs within a
context of ecological constraints and thus is based in substantive rationality
considering both present and future needs. It will ultimately determine the
relationship between society and nature, and it will be reflective, not of what we
want, but of who we are.
This should not be confused with elegiac expressions of a premodern image
of nature. What has been lost cannot be recovered. The only direction available
is forward through the unrealized potential of rationally ordered technology
which considers natural and human constraints on technical development and
the ecological context in which these constraints operate. 'We shall need every
ounce of technological ingenuity and scientific understanding we can muster to
pull us back from the abyss of irremediable environmental disaster. But there is
no hope of healing so long as the illusion persists that those instruments
themselves can bring about the harmonization of human interests" (Leiss, 1990;,
p. 148). Technology alone cannot remedy the problems that technology has

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William E. Kilbourne

wrought We must consider simultaneously the dimensions of technology,


economics, and politics, and these must be considered integral to the problem.
The strategic perspective often fails to pay sufficient attention to the interaction
of the forces of the DSP, preferring to focus on the technological solution to
environmental decline.
This conclusion is consistent with the suggestion earlier that problems will be
defined and addressed according to institutional capacity in dealing with them
(Leiss 1990), and this generally entails regulation, price mechanisms, green
products, etc. These represent the relative limits of existing institutions in
effecting change without threatening the limits of established social interests
such as the distribution of wealth, economic growth, or repoliticization of society.
When we further consider the global nature of environmental problems, the
institutional constraints are compounded geometrically. Because the political will
has few modes of expression other than the aggregation of preferences, Gutmann
and Thompson (1996) argue that deliberation is denigrated and this effectively
weakens institutional structures, domestic or international, for the reconciliation
of conflicting interests or the reconciliation of humans and nature. And, in the
end, it inhibits the development of Green marketing.
Conclusion
The development of Green marketing is a necessary condition for the
reconciliation of human needs and nature. Because of its inchoate character
however, Green marketing and its potential are not yet fully understood. Recent
developments in green marketing thought do reflect a growing recognition of the
imminent failure of the DSP and research has begun to incorporate more diverse
perspectives. However, paradigm issues raised in the theoretical perspective
appear only infrequently in the strategic perspective. While these issues change
the structure of the debate where one exists, the questions raised within the
strategic perspective are no less relevant, only incomplete. Conflicts of interest,
power, economic growth, and the greening of technology are issues in the day to
day progress toward sustainability. What is missing in the strategic approach is
the political, economic and technological context of the issues and this is what
the theoretical perspective offers. It is argued here that either perspective by itself
is insufficient Effective environmental policy requires both strategy and theory.
When theory and practice are presented in competing rationalities, or
alternate paradigms, they can only be reconciled when proponents of each
recognize the value of the other. This is most likely in times of epistemological
crisis (MacIntyre, 1988), and such a crisis is imminent As environmental
problems become more and more intractable as they seem to be doing,
traditional DSP approaches will consistently fail from a global perspective.
Economic growth, political reformism, and technological rationality are
insufficient to the task of remedying the problems that they have engendered.
New conceptualizations and new modes of political and economic expression are
required which cannot be resurrected from the DSP. Reconciliation of the DSP

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and the NEP is a necessary condition for Green marketing and effective
environmental policy. Such a reconciliation is not yet at hand however. As
indicated in the literature review in this issue, the approaches to the
marketing/environment still focus on rnanagerialist issues. Because of this, the
richness and complexity of the environmental critique is inadequately
problematized and constrained within the DSP. It is also indicated however, that
positive signs are developing as more interdisciplinary research is undertaken
which considers the more macro related issues within the marketing ambit This
expansion of the domain of inquiry could serve as the catalyst for a Green
marketing that challenges the socio-econom ic and cosmological domains of the
DSP in their own tenns, a necessary condition for the reconciliation of competing
rationalities. Without such an expansion that incorporates the essential concepts
of both the DSP and the NEP, the discourse on the marketing/environmental
relationship will be as effective as what Porritt (1986) refers to as a "discourse
between Tweedledum and Tweedledee."
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