Reimagining the terrain of liquid times : reflexive marketing and the sociological imagination

Hewer, Paul (2022) Reimagining the terrain of liquid times : reflexive marketing and the sociological imagination. Journal of Consumer Culture, 22 (2). pp. 293-310. ISSN 1469-5405 (

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This paper has three objectives. The first is to deliver a critical review of the work of Zygmunt Bauman on Liquid Modernity and Liquid Times. I argue that Bauman’s work can provide a useful starting point for analysing the ‘unruly’ forces of contemporary society. Bauman’s work, as I have sought to reveal, takes us to the heart of liquid modern darkness. It forces us to take seriously the import of the sociological imagination and the insight that personal troubles are best understood as emerging public issues stemming from structural processes. The second objective, is to explore how consumer culture theorists have taken and in dialogue with these ideas sought to expand upon his initial ideas. Here I review the value of the concept of ‘liquid consumption’ and the ‘fresh start mindset’. The third and final objective, is to demonstrate how reflexive marketing practitioners are responding to such liquid times through rethinking their practice and thereby extending the terrain of marketing. Here I detail how the promise marketing imagination starts not with the darkness of liquid modern times but rather with a far more hope inspired tale to enchant new markets and new audiences on the possibilities and ‘solutions’ of being future oriented and technologically savvy. Finally, it argues that the task of reimagining appears essential given the current zeitgeist, where the climate of anxiety, fear and uncertainty whether it be political, economic, environmental or social threatens to engulf us.


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