Ontology and epistemology in political marketing: Keeping it real

Heather Savigny

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Ontological and epistemological concerns, considerations about what is real and the status of the claims to knowledge that flow in relation to that reality, necessarily underpin all areas of political analysis. As such it is important to be clear about these positions in order that (1) rigorous analysis can be developed and (2) the extent to which models and frameworks that are used can be regarded as scientific or heuristic. While scientific models function to facilitate predictions and generalisations, heuristic frameworks have the capacity to describe and provide understanding. The mainstream political marketing literature is dominated by an implicit commitment to science and positivism. This entails the use of theories, models, and frameworks to generate predictions and a truth about the nature of political reality. However, these assumptions remain largely implicit and in places, this makes for inconsistency and contradictory claims within the literature. This article highlights the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of the mainstream political marketing literature, and argues that while this literature provides a comprehensive description of political reality, thereby performing an important heuristic function, this should not be conflated with prescription for, or prediction of, political behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-47
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Political Marketing
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

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