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Broadening the Scope of Social Marketing Theory, Application and Practice

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Social Marketing

Special Issue in Association with the ISM-OPEN and ESMA Conferences: Broadening the Scope of Social Marketing Theory, Application and Practice – See more at:

Social marketing shoulders the responsibility of connecting individual behavioural change with social good, collective well being and societal value. With many interventions delivering narrow impact and insufficient reach, (Langford and Panter-Brick, 2013) success at producing sustainable social change depends upon “a sound theoretical framework, combined with the use of consumer research to help translate theoretical constructs into acceptable and persuasive interventions, is an important pre-requisite for effectiveness” (Stead, Gordon, Angus and McDermott, 2007, pp. 34-35). The increasing dynamics of social issues makes this all the more challenging for social marketers. Social marketers, driven by problems with complex causations and the inadequacy of once off or single domain behaviour change interventions, are being urged to be innovative in what and how they use theory, as well as its application and how they practice social marketing.
Broadening the scope of social marketing theory, application and practice is clearly sought. Theory wise, integrating/extending theory and introducing/adapting theories is called for. Wymer captures this expansive conceptual debate (2011, p.26) noting “it is ironic that, while marketing is a multidisciplinary field that includes ideas from economics, psychology, communication, sociology, and so forth, social marketing scholars have, in effect, attempted to define social marketing as a unitary discipline”. A multidisciplinary orientation is a strongly supported stance, whether it is exchange theory (Rundle-Thiele et al, 2013, Hastings and Domegan, 2014) or theories from other disciplines (Alves, 2010; Spotswood et al. 2012; Carvalho & Mazzon, 2013; Brennan et al, 2014). From an application perspective, boundary blurring is occurring with new products (e.g. e-cigarettes) or issues broadened to new segments (e.g. problematic alcohol consumption by older drinkers consuming alcohol at home and obesity spreading to younger age groups - with about a third of children aged 2-15 years in the UK being overweight or obese in 2012, according to the health surveys for England, Scotland and Wales) (Chang, Kotler, Lee, 2011; Gordon, 2011). In social marketing practice, new approaches, techniques, and channels are weaving their way into programmes and interventions to scale out and scale up change and in some cases challenging prevailing practice (Brennan et al, 2014; Hastings, in press).
With social marketing at “a critical turning point in driving personal behavior and social change around the world” (Beall et al, 2012, p.103), it is this combination of theoretical development and propensity for practical application which gives social marketing its potential to achieve important social good. This special issue calls attention to, highlights, critiques and debates the broadening scope of social marketing theory, application and practice.

‘Broadening the scope’ was the theme of the 2014 ISM-Open Conference on social marketing and socially responsible management at The Open University. ‘Broadening the scope’ also connects with the European Social Marketing 2016 conference theme, Social Marketing as a driver for effective social action. Authors of a selection of the highest quality conference papers from these conferences will be invited to submit full papers for this special issue. Other high quality manuscripts not associated with the conferences, but that address the special issue theme, will also be considered. Manuscript submissions are encouraged but not restricted to the following topics:

- Developments in behaviour and social change
- New challenges in health
- Advancing sustainability
- The role and impact of new media
- Targeting concerning children
- Technology and transport
- Decision making and inclusion/exclusion
- Addressing stakeholders (civil society) and policymakers as well as citizens
- Systems-thinking social marketing
- Counter marketing to combat the negative effects of commercial marketing
- Building critical capacity to act

The closing date for submission is 30th September 2016 for publication in Volume 7, Issue 2.


Manuscripts submitted to this special issue must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Social Marketing; available at

Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Social Marketing ScholarOne site (

New users are required to create an account. If you have previously registered with another journal on ScholarOne Manuscripts but wish to submit to Journal of Social Marketing, you will need to create an author account on Journal of Social Marketing to do so. You can use the same username and password.

When submitting please select the ‘BROADENING THE SCOPE OF SOCIAL MARKETING THEORY, APPLICATION AND PRACTICE’ issue rather than the regular issue. Submitted papers should not have been previously published, nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere.

If you have any queries you can direct these to the guest editors:
Informal queries regarding guest editors’ expectations or the suitability of specific research topics should be directed to the Special Issue Editors, Dr Christine Domegan: [email protected] and Dr Fiona Harris: [email protected]

Alves, H. (2010), “The Who, Where, and When of Social Marketing”, Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp.288-311.
Beall, T., Wayman, J., D’Agostino, H., Angie Liang, A. And Perellis, C. (2012), "Social marketing at a critical turning point", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp.103 – 117.
Brennan, L., Binney, W., Parker, L., Aleti T., and Nguyen, D. (2014), Behaviour Change Models: Theory and Application for Social Marketing, Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham UK.
Carvalho, H. & Mazzon, J. (2013), “Homo economicus and social marketing: questioning traditional models of behavior” Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 162-175.
Chang, H., Kotler, P., and Lee, N. Eds (2011) Social Marketing for Public Health, Global Trends and Success Stories, Jones and Bartlett Publishers LLC.
Gordon, R., (2011), "Critical social marketing: definition, application and domain", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 82 – 99.
Hastings, G. and Domegan, C. (2014), Social Marketing: From Tunes to Symphonies, 2nd Edition: UK, Routledge.
Hastings, G., (in press). “Public health and the value of disobedience”. Public Health, doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2015.03.010
Langford, R. And Panter-Brick, C. (2013), “A health equity critique of social marketing: where interventions have impact but insufficient reach” Journal of Social Science and Medicine, April 83, pp.133-41.
Rundle-Thiele, S.R., Kubacki, K., Leo, C., Artli, D., Carins, J., Dietrich, T., Palmer, J and Szablewska, N. (2013), “Social Marketing: Current Issues – Future Challenges” Contemporary Issues in Social Marketing, Kubacki, K. and Rundle-Thiele, S.R. eds. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK.
Spotswood, F., French, J., Tapp, A. and Stead, M., (2012), "Some reasonable but uncomfortable questions about social marketing", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 163 – 175.
Stead, M., Gordon, R., Angus, K. and McDermott, L., (2007), “A systematic review of social marketing effectiveness”. Health Education, Vol. 107 No. 2, pp. 126-140.
Wymer, W., (2011), "Developing more effective social marketing strategies", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 17 – 31.


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