The consolation of profit

Michael Symons, Marion Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incessant marketing generates a concomitant reassurance: nothing is asked but purchasing. The desperation of sales might be reasonably expected to protect consumers from further complications. This consolation of profit helps explain a wide range of otherwise surprising preferences – for commercially bottled over tap water, for example. As a case study, this paper investigates the success of formulaic, fast food over riskier and possibly more rewarding restaurants. Predictable food (‘Do you want fries with that?’) and stilted interactions (‘Have a nice day’) congeal into a multimodal text announcing that profit is pursued, to the exclusion of any other demands. In another example, the extraordinary growth of so-called megachurches, as other forms of organised Christianity decline, attests the power of deliberately appropriating marketing culture. The self-styled pastorpreneurs’ constant appeal for funds reassures newcomers that, only payment being wanted, these churches uniquely present no unanticipated challenge. Finally, marketing’s surreal hammering of capitalism’s simple demand helps explain how an obsessive artist of ‘the deal’ might have been welcomed as U.S. President.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-126
Number of pages17
JournalNew Formations
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • consumer society
  • marketing
  • society of the spectacle
  • McDonaldisation
  • restaurants
  • megachurches
  • Trump


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