From Ancestors to Herbs: Innovation According to the ‘Protestant Re-formation’ of African Medicine
STOKES JONES This paper argues that popular healthcare practice in urban South Africa bears little resemblance to the essentialized descriptions of ‘Traditional African Medicine’ (TAM) that abound in the literature. It defines several key transitions that have occurred in African medicine, outlining how it can be re-formed on another basis which better matches both the pluralistic-syncretistic logic of current medical practices and the less deferential ‘spirit’ of those enacting them. We present the search for ‘embedded innovation’ formulated with Procter & Gamble as a recommended approach for cross-cultural product development (in healthcare and more generally)....
Grass Roots Campaigning as Elective Sociality (or Maffesoli Meets ‘Social Software’): Lessons from the BBC iCan Project
STOKES JONES This paper is based on ethnographic research during the development phase of the BBC iCan website. It discusses how we defined the object of study that would become the focus of the site—“grass roots campaigning” and how following two stages of research we found the site’s early planning (influenced by the ‘social software’ movement) needed to recognize the deeply contextual nature of this practice—and avoid attempting to mediate the majority of a campaign online. Working with Maffesoli’s theories of ‘sociality’; we understood grass roots campaigns to be rooted in experiential “being together” and less ‘individual’ and ‘political; than commonly perceived....
STAND Where You Live: Activating Civic Renewal by Socially Constructing Big Ethno
STOKES JONES, CHRISTINE Z. MILLER and BIJAN DHANANI This paper explains how STAND Chattanooga became the world’s largest community visioning process in 2009. Behind its public success, the authors relate the underlying ‘research story’ of how 26,263 viewpoints were achieved by changing course in midstream and adopting more ethnographic methods of survey collection. For an EPIC audience, we analyze STAND’s ultimately successful outcomes as a case of following the logic of ‘social fields’ (however unintentionally). The paper furthermore argues that STAND is a paradigm example of the way ethnographic principles can be deployed at various scales to accomplish goals (such as community renewal) outside the reach of most ‘Big Data’ analytics....
Reinvention and Revisioning in an Appalachian Industry Cluster
CHRISTINE Z. MILLER and STOKES JONES ABSTRACT The theme Evolution/Revolution invites us to consider how historiographical frames are imposed on human events, and to reflect on the capacity of ethnography to both subvert and ratify dominant interpretations. We draw on ethnographic research conducted at a former mill town in the Appalachian foothills which was widely credited with surviving because it ‘reinvented itself’ after the textile era. The result was a homegrown ‘industry cluster’ where a manufacturing system for a certain product category “is organized around the region and its professional and technical networks rather than around the individual firm” (Saxenian, 1994; Porter, 1998). We found ‘innovation’ itself has an ideology that biases potential recipients leading them to expect epochal breaks with the past to be the only successful strategy and suggest how departing from ‘the tyranny of the epochal’ (du Gay, 2003) with its demands for bold programs of ‘Renewal’ or ‘Modernization’ can lead to...
The ‘Inner Game’ of Ethnography
STOKES JONES Ethnography’s external outputs such as contextual photos, process models, and personas have overshadowed the actual ‘way’ of practicing ethnography (which has remained largely immune to normative standards). This paper will argue the time has come to re-embrace a sense of craft and that renewal can be catalyzed by putting individual performance at the center of ethnographic practice. Beginning from practitioners’ typical feelings of discontent with the lost potential inherent in most ethnographic encounters, this paper will look for the embodied foundations of a more disciplined way forward. Drawing on awareness techniques from the human potential movement, (that have themselves been adapted to concentration-intensive sports like tennis) this paper proposes a turn towards the ‘inner game’ of ethnography. As this leads practitioners to tighten norms on today’s unseen ethnographic practices, it can end the double-game between inner and outer standards and increase the discipline’s authority....
Engineers “On The Ground”: Mass Observation at Moto
by STOKES JONES, PREE KOLARI, Motorola CXD Of course, EPIC has always been a ‘community of praxis’ (as much as practice) helping attendees put what they learn into action. For us at Motorola Mobility, 2013 was no exception. The company had reduced its phone portfolio to a handful of products; and knew the only way to grow market share was expanding sales outside the US. But we had not done ‘front end’ research outside American shores since 2009. Likewise, most of our newly hired designers, product managers, and software engineers had never created phones for any geography but North America. So how could we “sensitize” whole teams to the differing desires & needs of people in Brazil or India? And how could we flush out those devilish details which we didn’t yet know we did not know...the ones that make the difference between a product being “just right” vs. “totally wrong” in a new environment? We decided lone report-writing researchers could not bring product teams in tune with our “next...