Rebels with a cause: the spiritual dimension of social marketing

Hastings, Gerard (2017). Rebels with a cause: the spiritual dimension of social marketing. Journal of Social Marketing, 7(2) pp. 223–232.



Purpose – This paper aims to explore the spiritual dimension of social marketing.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts a conceptual approach.

Findings – The greatest problems humankind faces, from non-communicable diseases epidemics to global warming, are self-inflicted. Humans are voluntarily drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and driving SUVs which threaten our health and our planet. It need not be so. Historical experience and two millennia of thinking show we are capable of better. We all have within us the moral agency to make the right choice even when it is the difficult one; we just have to reconnect with it. Indeed, it is this capacity and desire “to follow after wisdom and virtue”, to rebel against injustice and malignancy, that make us human and cements our collective identity. In the past century, this realisation was focused by the terrible events of Second World War and resulted in the formation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Originality/value – This paper argues that these ideas of agency, morality and rights have fundamental implications for social marketing. We have to move beyond mere behaviour change and start thinking about people in the round – body, mind and spirit. Our job involves more than giving diets a healthy nudge or making the ecological option easy, fun and popular; we have to foster and encourage the innate human drive to think critically and act accordingly. We are not here to edit choice but to facilitate personal growth and social progress.

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