First Morris considers the contrast between the ichtyologist and the fisherman - both are concerned with studying fish but the ichtyologist studies fish simply to understand them and contribute to knowledge. The fisherman, on the other hand, wants to understand fish so to better catch them. Consumer researchers, he argues, must approach consumers as the ichtyologist approaches fishes - as a research site to study and understand because understanding is an excercise worthwhile in its own right. By contrast the marketing practicioner approaches consumers so to catch them, that is to sell them products that they don't want and this is a dubious learning excercise that corrupts the historic mandate of the university and limits the ability for wider and reflexive thinking. A further concern of Morris attends the increasingly prevalent spectacle of business interests determining what should be thought in masters programmes. For example see the rise of various accrediting bodies and agencies that endorse and regulate university programmes (usually at a hefty fee) leading some schools to pursue the heady but dubious goal of "triple accreditation". Morris comments as follows:
An ichthyologist studies fish, but we don't find it acceptable for her to be swallowed by a whale. Why, then, should we who teach in business schools cheerfully agree to submerge ourselves in business interests to the point where we lose our own identities and disappear?
In directing attention away from consumption phenomena and toward buying behavior, managerialism rejects Sir Edmund Hillary's reason for climbing a mountain ("because it's there") in favor of Willie Sutton's rationale for robbing banks ("because that's where the money is"). This observation reminds us that, whereas the Greek Hermes or Roman Mercury served as the god of commerce, he was also the patron of thieves.Morris presented these ideas at a session at the Advances of Consumer Research conference in 1985 and by all accounts the event was a very much heated affair with major scholars of the field arguing passionately and vociferously. Marketing scholars took sides between those who strongly believed that marketing's study of consumers should be even more industrially relevant and those, lead by Morris Holbrook, who called for a subject divested of managerial relevancy and a-relevant to commercial interest. Almost thirty years later the need still remains to insist upon and passionately defend space in universities for an orientation of marketing scholarship that pursues knowledge for its own sake. We ask our students to respect and support this orientation and parcipate with us in what we believe to be the richest and most intellectually rewarding and fulfililng way of approaching the fascinating brand culture and consumer society in which we find ourselves.