RITA DENNY

Contributed Articles

Protesting for Change, #BLM

by RITA DENNY, EPIC We support the protesters. Black lives matter. Working at my desk in the past few days, a fairly constant thump of helicopters and aggressive wail of sirens has forced me to parse space in new ways. Here, in the US, the rights of protestors to claim space is contested by presidential rhetoric and ruthlessly cynical uses of force for political ends. We are feeling the reverberations wherever we are sitting—in cities or not, in the US or not—as we bear witness. As we act and speak as citizens, families, neighbors and cities, it is worth a moment to be thoughtful about how we, as ethnographers in industries and organizations, choose to participate. As ethnographers we observe life as lived on the ground, as it unfolds, embodied or ephemeral, with affect and purpose, in relation to material systems and systems of meaning. The ground is where change happens—is practiced, performed, and contested in acts small and large, messy and often with contradiction. Our practice is also framed within larger organizational...

Remote Research and the Challenge of ‘Being There’

An EPIC Talk with RITA DENNY, SUSAN FAULKNER, JULIA KATHERINE HAINES & LEE RYAN Overview In our goal to understand meanings and practices, logics and relationships, cultural and social phenomena, our ethnographic practice hinges on ‘being there.’ Now, the coronavirus pandemic has radically restricted our ability to share physical space with research participants, stakeholders, clients, and colleagues. As we adopt new tools and strategies for remote and virtual research, it's crucial to ask, What exactly does 'being there' mean? Ethnographers have a wealth of concepts and methods that will help us shift our practices in uncertain times. When we forego assumptions about which people and spaces are most authentic or 'real', we can position ourselves and our research participants in multidimensional ways that enrich our insights and impacts. This EPIC Talk has two parts: May 4: Panel Discussion Ethnographers with decades of experience in remote research will share frameworks for ‘being there’, consider...

Framing Brands and Markets: Consumer Culture Theory

An EPIC Talk moderated by RITA DENNY (Practica Group & EPIC) with: DAVID CROCKETT (University of South Carolina), AMBER EPP (University of Wisconsin), CRAIG THOMPSON (University of Wisconsin), & SUNAINA SCHULTZ (Grounded Insights LLC) Approx 78 minutes Description Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) looks at consumers, brands, and markets from a social and cultural vantage point. From Sid Levy’s famous 1955 HBR article, “Symbols for Sale,” to today’s thriving scholarship and practice across the globe, this research tradition offers powerful approaches to think about consumers as social beings creating meanings in and through the marketplace. CCT people have had an ongoing presence at EPIC conferences and contribute important insights about the making of markets, consumption experiences, design of products and spaces, brand strategies, and identities. This panel of leading CCT researchers will cover key CCT concepts and new frontiers in the field, as well as engage participants in conversation about the intersections...

Required Reading: Texts that Mattered

by RITA DENNY, Practica Group ded up by Rita Denny, Practica Group What texts had a profound impact on you in becoming the anthropologist or social scientist you are? I sent this query to colleagues on the anthrodesign listserv and contributors to the Handbook of Anthropology in Business. Initial responses escalated into an unexpected flood of (sometimes annotated) recommendations that, together, speak to the paths we’ve taken and the texts and mentors who mattered. Thanks to everyone who weighed in—it’s become quite a list! In parsing it, my goal was to illuminate, not definitively classify. First a few observations. If inspiration has been fueled by contemplation of geographic others (see Classics and Tales that Stuck), perspective has been honed by a gaze closer to home (see Work that Was Not So Far Afield) and by voices outside of anthropology (see Muses From Other Fields) whether in history, sociology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, even economics. And it wasn’t just tales and texts. Contributors to this list were...

Accounting for Value Salon at EPIC2014

by SIMON ROBERTS, Stripe Partners and RITA DENNY, Practica Group What's our worth? What are the rhetorics of value? This question is never far from the minds of individual practitioners and this diverse community. Value takes many forms and is denominated in many currencies. The worth of these currencies changes in time and space as business environments change, and in response to changes our own practices in and with organizations. So how do and should we talk about ourselves now into the future? In putting together this Salon, Rita and I were conscious that we were taking on tensions that sit at the heart of the EPIC world. These are tensions and questions that have arisen at every EPIC over the last 10 years. And likely for the next ten years too. Thirty diverse and brave folks attended the Salon at Fordham. They helped us think about accounting for our value. [With Chatham House rules in effect, people spoke freely!] 1. “Accounting” is retrospective justification! Attendees contested our muse from the outset:...