I have been teaching Consumer Behaviour at Kwantlen Polytechnic University since 2013 and really love this course. At our university, Consumer Behaviour is offered in first year whereas in many other universities, it’s usually a third year course. Sometimes the terms and concepts can be quite heavy, but when we contextualize them using marketing references, everything makes more sense. To do this effectively, I show documentaries in class – these have proven to be a good way to bring the course concepts to life.
Gradually our discussions and examinations of these concepts uncovered deeper and more concerning issues in marketing: colonization; racism; stereotyping; green/pink washing; toxic masculinity; materialism/consumer capitalism; and ,cultural appropriation, to name a few. Before long, I developed a new nickname for my course: the dark side of marketing. Students responded favourably to this over-arching themes and continued to inspire (and push) me to find content that provoked more critical thinking and an awakening, of sorts.
The dark side of marketing grew so much that I needed a new resource – one that students could see themselves in and could better reflect their lived experiences. They desired updated examples that were more relevant and relatable and void of stereotypes that under-represented diverse consumer groups.
In 2018, I decided I would assemble all of this in an open textbook and make space for students voices. As you will see in the following chapters, students have written essays in the form of opinion-editorials (“op-eds”) and have created H5P content that shines a light on some of marketing’s least flattering practices.
My hope for marketing students is that they leave my course with a profound understanding that –
- Marketing is a responsibility, not a right
- Marketing can (and does) real harm when it’s not handled with care
- As marketers we can and need to do better in how we reflect society and culture in our work
I have featured content contributors in the textbook – students, faculty, and Indigenous scholars – to broaden the perspectives and provide rich and meaningful perspectives so often erased from academia. I am particularly honoured to have content contributed by Martin Heavy Head and Mariah Gladstone who have ever so generously shared their life experiences and knowledge around the erasure of Indigenous knowledge and cultural appropriation. While we have a long way to go in decolonizing education, I will do my best to include and feature the stories traditional educational resources carelessly omit.
In chapter 7 I have also shared with readers how this book contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As an open textbook, or OER, it speaks to SDG #4, Quality Education. As a free textbook, I am hoping to reduce barriers to education and reduce inequalities represented in SDG #10. I have edited or removed content that reinforces gender stereotypes and used gender non-binary pronouns throughout the book in response to SDG #5, Gender Equality. By featuring Sustainable Consumption and Production (and disposal) in the book, I endeavour to address the peril of consumer capitalism and support SDG #12.
Many students have contributed to this book, so please be sure to spend time on their contributions. Open pedagogy has transformed my relationship with students and I am eternally grateful to have the opportunity to learn from them and share their creations.
At the end of textbook I have included additional readings & resources from content contributors and from my own collection. I have also included assignment outlines and templates which can be further modified and revised by anyone.
This project is by far the most ambitious undertaking of my career. The majority of it has been created on the unceded territory of the Musqueum First Nation, in what is currently known as Richmond, British Columbia. And while I acknowledge these lands and express my gratitude to the Musqueum, this does little to address the ongoing colonial acts of violence, by all levels of government, to the land and waterways that have been under the stewardship of Indigenous people across what is known as Canada. From 1492 Land Back Lane, to the Mi’kmaw fishing rights, to the Wet’suwet’en land defenders, justice needs to be served, treaties and agreements honoured, land returned, and restorations paid.
Reconciliation may begin with an acknowledgement, but it doesn’t end there: I am committed to further decolonizing my own spaces, in particular the ones I share with my students, so learning and healing can co-exist respectfully.
This book represents my own small radical act of social justice. May it ignite many more along its way.