Finding common ground: mapping the nomological networks of sustainability constructs for improved social marketing

  • Harry Beachcroft-ShawEmail author
  • Debbie Ellis
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Sustainability Transitions, Management, and Governance


Sustainability is a complex challenge that social marketing can assist in achieving. However, with its multidimensional composition and immense depth, the language of sustainability could be misinterpreted and misguide interventions. Examining macro-level literature and reliable yet different sources for information is key to developing effective social marketing programmes. In search of overlapping actions to reduce misinterpretation and misguidance, literature from degrowth and sustainable development as two constructs operating in the sustainability paradigm are thematically analysed according to the internal structure of a nomological network. Maps of each construct provide an overview of the linkages between their antecedents, components, strategies, actions outcomes and end-states from which general similarities and differences emerge. From this in-depth analysis of each construct, we find several actions that show positive overlaps in composition and linkages to their respective nomological networks. Comparing actions reveals a simpler language that is less open to misinterpretation and misguidance for social marketers. It is recommended that social marketers focus on these actions in developing effective social marketing programmes and explore them in greater detail to shape society toward a more sustainable future. We believe the method could be employed to map and better understand other complex phenomena.


Social marketing Critical thinking Macro approach Degrowth Sustainable development Nomological network 



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© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Law and Management StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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