Edited by Russell W. Belk
Terrence H. Witkowski and D.G. Brian Jones Introduction Historians are generally disinclined to commit themselves to descriptions of their work, its goals and methods. A few notable exceptions among marketing historians have focused on scientiﬁc–quantitative methods of doing historical research (e.g. Savitt, 1980; Golder, 2000). Traditional western historians argue that their task is to trace and interpret the internal relations of human aﬀairs (Collingwood, 1956). They describe the process as an imaginative reconstruction of the lives of people in other times (Dray, 1974) or as ‘creatively thinking one’s way a body of information’ (Bailyn, 1963, p. 98). It is a process not easily reduced to description (Goodman and Kruger, 1988; Savitt, 2000). This chapter describes qualitative historical research methods as applied to marketing. It is worthwhile at the outset to note that history is a subject, not a research method and, as just noted, not all historical research is conducted using qualitative methods. The fuzzy boundaries between diﬀerent approaches and the diﬀerent methodological assumptions of historians are perhaps captured by Abelson (1963) who described it as ‘art and science, poetry and journalism, explanation, narration, and criticism; it is epochal and parochial, holistic and individualistic, materialistic and spiritualistic, objective and subjective, factual and normative, practical and theoretical’ (p. 167). In this chapter we will describe some of those aspects of historical research in marketing. The subject of history can be subdivided into many topics, including marketing history which has a parallel topic usually referred to as...
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