Our practices of research, design, and strategy create landscapes of possibility. Anticipation, an approach that has informed much of the recent ethnographic work on the future, is shaped by how these symbolic and material landscapes, and the forms of agency they make possible, are distributed. This makes anticipation politically significant, prompting an empirical question of when and with respect to whose experience broader future visions occur. Seeking to bring attention to processes of future-making that capture these disparities, we ground anticipation in lived experience. Drawing on two long-term fieldworks, we recognize significant variability in how the future manifests in the course of practical and reflective engagements in everyday life. To explore these engagements, we turn to “future senses” of memory, foresight, voice, optimism, and yearning. We then demonstrate how “future senses” can be productively integrated within conversations about advancing not only more diverse...
Instructors: REBEKAH PARK (Director of Strategy, Gemic), ABBY FIFER MANDELL (Professor of Entrepreneurship, USC Marshall School of Business), LOUIS ELTON (Strategist, Gemic)
Learn concepts and mindsets of business culture to make your work more intelligible and influential.
This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2021. Exercises and discussions have been omitted to protect the privacy of participants.
Ethnography and social science bring value to business, but we often struggle to articulate that value in business terms. In this tutorial you’ll become more fluent in the vocabulary and mindsets of business culture, and practice using this fluency to make your work more intelligible and influential.
We will review basic terms that have currency in corporate spaces (B2B/B2C, ROI, revenue streams, market sizing…) and what it means to frame researchers as consultants operating within business cultures and industry paradigms (whether our “clients” are internal or external). The tutorial will be strongly interactive,...
This 2019 project conducted in the US and the UK sought to understand which conspiracy theories are harmful and which are benign, with an eye towards finding ways to combat disinformation and extremism. This case study demonstrates how ethnographic methods led to insights on what “triggered” conspiracy belief, the social and emotional roles conspiracy theories played in believers’ lives, and how conspiracy belief was often a reflection of a person's general sense of societal alienation. We discovered that any extreme version of a conspiracy theory could be harmful. The findings of this project changed how the client—and by extension engineers behind major tech platforms—understood harmful conspiracy-related content, and led to a refinement of the algorithms defining the discoverability of this content. The aim of this project was to scale and amplify through algorithmic interventions the work of individual debunkers.
Keywords: Conspiracy theories,...