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Media, Mediation and the Curatorial Value of Professional Anthropologists

MICHAEL G. POWELL Shook Kelley This paper seeks to broaden the discipline of professional anthropology by considering the role of the anthropologist as a curator and a guide for the mediation of cultural symbols, artifacts and products in and among the organizations we work for or with. It employs two case studies of product curation activities, guided by strategic insights shaped in part by a professional cultural anthropologist. The paper builds on prior discussions and insights within the EPIC community to suggest potential new directions for professional anthropologists to pursue, alongside and/or outside of ethnographic research projects....

Plus Size Fashion: What Happens when Stereotypes, Fueled by Popular Culture, Creep into a Retailer’s Business Decisions?

MEG KINNEY Bad Babysitter HAL PHILLIPS Bad Babysitter Case Study—This case demonstrates the power of video as a data collection tool and a storytelling approach to the presentation of research findings. Fresh Produce Clothing specifically selected Bad Babysitter as a consulting partner for their expertise in video-based ethnography and narrative style of delivery. The case begins with contextualizing a business with an imperative to evolve and an organizational culture that was not aligned. The locus of the debate was the Plus Sized shopper – a consumer segment that put interpretation of hard data by headquarters at odds with impassioned anecdotal inputs from the field. Video offered a visceral way to get past conjecture and “bring her into the room”. The primary benefit to the brand was the immediacy for translating learning into actionable insights and consensus on the way forward. The revenue impact was dramatic: leadership took a 180-degree turn from phasing the Plus shopper out to investing in her....

Tutorial: Semiotics – A User’s Guide to Seeing Differently

Tutorial Instructors: CATO HUNT Space Doctors CLEM MCCULLOCH Space Doctors Download PDF SUMMARY Semiotic insight powerfully complements ethnographic approaches. Semiotics, the study of signs and cultural meaning, has been gaining ground in the world of commercial research. Semiotics has also been successfully melded together with ethnographic and other cultural approaches, especially in the UK and Europe. This tutorial equipped participants with the tools, techniques and hands-on experience needed to begin their own semiotic research endeavors. Opening with a grounding in semiotic theory, we then focused on building practical skills through ‘live decoding’ of a cultural theme. We began by learning how to ‘decode’ – exploring how a semiotic close read analysis can reveal a deeper understanding of what is really being said. Crucially, we discussed the chasm that often appears between intended meaning and received meaning, especially within brand communication. We then introduced the idea of codes (themes, or clusters...

Applied Semiotics: Embracing Strategic Thinking and Fostering Innovation

by LUCIA LAURENT-NEVA, Visual Signo I am an anthropologist and a semiotician. “A semio-what?” I have a set of answers to that question, ranging from ‘I explore meanings in culture’ to ‘I discover the subconscious cultural patterns we all use to find meaning around us, to understand how something makes sense to someone’. Sometimes the conversation turns to the lovely weather we’re having. But most people are interested and want to know more, because semiotics is one of the most powerful research methodologies to engage with strategic thinking and innovation. Why is semiotics, once an esoteric methodology, becoming an essential approach to innovation challenges? The insights that semiotics delivers spark radical thinking, push boundaries and provide shifting perspectives. The method is known for embracing strategic dilemmas by making sense of complex cultural data and delivering practical insights around cultural transformations. Semiotics fosters innovation by getting involved in the detection of emergent changes...

Abstract 2.0: If We Are All Shouting, Is there Anyone Left to Listen?

DAWN NAFUS, ROGERIO DE PAULA and KEN ANDERSON This paper explores notions of ‘voice’ as it relates to Web 2.0. We begin by tracing the social meanings of Web 2.0 technologies Brazil. There the notions of ‘voice’ as conceived of in the American media are absent, yet significant collective action took place online through a kind of speaking out. Next the paper describes the conflation of voice with a notion of social networks to explain how the American media misread the Brazilian action. This is achieved by an incredible plasticity and abstraction of the ‘Web 2.0’ construct, which flattens otherwise qualitatively meaningful distinctions. This puts us on some ground to raise the issue of how abstractions might become relationships. This, we argue, is evidenced both in terms of how Brazilians might interpret online relationships, and how Web 2.0 hype betrays a politics of abstraction at work in the wider economy....