SP Seminar Series

Detlev Zwick,
York University,
"Marketing as Bioproduction:
The Customer Database as New Means of Production",
Tuesday, November 20th,
12:30pm to 1:30pm.

Detlev Zwick
Associate Professor
Department of Marketing
Schulich School of Business
York University

Marketing as Bioproduction: The Customer Database as New Means of Production

Tuesday, November 20th
Location: Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D411
Time: 12:30pm to 1:30pm

This presentation uses data collected during an ongoing ethnographic study of a small customer intelligence company to argue that new forms of database marketing are best described as customer production process that rely on the exploitation of consumer life. We suggest that the work of such firms to visualize consumption, or rather consumer life phenomena, at the microscopic level leads to a reorganization of the gaze of marketers and the way marketing practice configures and controls spaces of operation and forms of capitalization. Therefore the fundamental question we pose in this article is how should we understand marketing in the age of the information machine?

Observing customer intelligence workers in action, we find that the unfolding of increasingly powerful data-mining techniques onto the massive repositories of digital customer profiles increasingly reverses the Fordist articulation of production and consumption. Instead of flexibly adjusting production regimes to shifting consumption patters, marketers working within the logic of information capitalism collapse the production-consumption dichotomy by manufacturing consumers. In the final analysis we propose that database marketing becomes a form of biopolitics that acts economically because it is above all pursuing the extraction of surplus value - or as Waldby (2000) calls it, 'biovalue' - out of the purification of life itself.

Everyone welcome!