How is hope a driver of change? This paper explores hope in two cases: rural Cambodia, through the adoption of drip irrigation by subsistence farmers, and an urban center in Minnesota, through the planning of infrastructure improvements for a freeway corridor. It also explores the argument that, with the rise of neoliberalism and global capitalism, the capacity of societies to distribute hope is shrinking (Hage 2003) and thus, in both cases, as people envision possible futures, they seek other agents of hope. Associations of hope with tangible things (e.g. drip irrigation kits, bridges, roads) drive change in the lived experiences of farming and transportation planning. For practitioners, this type of ethnographic work challenges their role regarding the value of skills in non-western and non-welcome marketplaces, the ethics of design, and their own participation in designing agents of hope....
by ED LIEBOW, American Anthropological Association & EMILIE HITCH, Rabbit; EPIC2016 Papers Committee, Ethnography/CSR Curators
Business interests often claim that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is ‘the right thing to do’ and that acting responsibly is ‘good for business.’ Multinational firms have come together to create international conventions and business associations that establish and abide by audit standards for fair wages, safe working conditions, and they support the development and maintenance of public facilities and services necessitated by the additional local demands created by local operations. Out of an enlightened sense of self-interest, small and medium-size enterprises may also look out for their employees and suppliers, invest in their communities, protect the environment, and pave the way for a sustainable future.
Yet many skeptics place firms’ CSR activities in a broader historical and cultural context, and argue that these firms have prospered greatly in lax compliance regimes, where they...
Thinkers & Makers and The Humphrey School of Public Affairs, UMN
In multiple cities and countries, ethnographic research unfolded in local ice rinks, Subway sandwich shops, high-school parking lots, and family homes. The objective was for a major hockey equipment company to learn more about their customers “off the ice” – challenging assumptions about consumption patterns, media choices and concepts such as authority, legacy, brotherhood and even the game of hockey itself. The researcher became an agent of transformation for the very way that the brand understood its place in the culture of ice hockey. Corporate marketers engaged this project in the middle of a yearly planning cycle - disrupting the allocation of resources for media spend and creative content and setting the company on a path to re-design their approach to customer communication. Returning from the ethnographic practice, the research team made recommendations for how to shift hundreds of thousands of dollars from celebrity, magazine and television...