Reconsidering the Relationship Analogy

Smith, Warren and Higgins, Matthew (2000). Reconsidering the Relationship Analogy. Journal of Marketing Management, 16(1-3) pp. 81–94.



Whilst many have grown weary of the claims of relationship marketing (RM) to represent a fundamental shift in marketing thought, critics remain focused upon its unfulfilled claims and, in particular, point to inconsistencies between theory and practice. Although these critiques have merit they tend to retain the assumption that the precepts of RM remain sound and that consequently the 'solution' remains attaining 'better' practice through a revaluation of and commitment to the fundamentals of relationship building. These principles involve the analogous borrowing of key notions of our lived relationships. In this paper we do not set out to dispose of the RM perspective. However we seek to examine how a more sophisticated treatment of the relationship concept in particular by reflecting ambiguities and power dynamics in the sources of the analogies, compels us to produce a re-presentation. Thus we retain the importance of 'relationships' but aim to provoke a more realistic, socially embedded characterisation of consumer engagement with marketing and marketers.

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