inequality

Can Cheaters Prosper In Cambodia?

LAUREN MARKOFSKY Ultimate Software PechaKucha Presentation This PechaKucha explores the ways in which the author navigated cheating culture, community norms, and her own biases to think through sustainable education solutions in Cambodia. Students in Cambodia's countryside are structurally disadvantaged and attempt to redress wealth and knowledge imbalances through cheating. However, cheating causes skills gaps that hinder students as they look for jobs, particularly since they are competing with applicants from other ASEAN countries. The presenter discusses how she, and her Cambodian co-teacher, sifted through their competing biases about the merits and pitfalls of cheating in their classroom, settling on ethnographic practice as a way forward. They observed student cheating behaviors, noting the tools, networks, and systems of exchange through which information passed. Instead of penalizing students for cheating, the presenter and her counterpart attempted to transform these deceptive methods into something more productive. Lauren...

Ghostly Spectres: On Ethnography and Identity

ES BRAZIEL Greenberg Strategy PechaKucha Presentation Taking Avery F. Gordon's definition of a ghost as a social figure making the unknown apparent as a departure point, the piece dives into the “ghosts” silently present in an ethnography on how parents view gender in media. Through utilizing the image of an ethnographer as a “ghost hunter,” I track what traces of the social spectral remain invisible to everyday life. Occupying the subject position of “ghost hunter” and “ghost” – the subject of research, and subject being denied research – I assert why business ethnography cannot afford to remain objective when personal and political struggles are on the line. Es Braziel is a researcher and designer working at the intersection of emerging technologies and markets. They currently explore questions around how notions of connectivity, belonging, identity formation, and community are changing in the digital age as a Strategist for Greenberg Strategy and Co-founder of Other Futures Design. hello@esbraziel.co 2017...

Doing Good is Hard: Ethics, Activism, and Social Impact Design as Seen from the Grassroots Perspective

JEFFREY GREGER San Jose State University This paper shares the experiences of two teams of design professionals working on parallel grassroots social impact design projects to address poverty and financial precarity in Silicon Valley and London. This paper explores challenges facing these teams as they channel a sense of moral outrage into the research and development of alternitives to high-risk financial services like payday loans. It charts the open, inclusive design process of these teams as they engage community partners and recognize the financial expertise of people getting by on tight incomes. The paper concludes with a discussion of how working slowly and openly through transdisciplinary communities of practice—like the two groups described here, or EPIC itself—can help keep alive conversations around power and activism in the practice of design and ethnographic research. These conversations are essential if social impact design is to reach its transformative potential while avoiding many of the pitfalls that have...

Keynote Address: Consumer Culture and Political Resistance—How Gay Entrepreneurs Sparked A Movement

DAVID JOHNSON David Johnson is a historian at the University of South Florida and an award-winning author whose research focuses on the crucial role that notions of gender and sexuality have played in American politics and consumer culture in the late 20th century. His first book, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, which has been made into a critically acclaimed documentary, explores Cold War hysteria over national security and the introduction of “family values” into American politics. He is also co-editor of The United States since 1945, an anthology of key speeches, articles, and government documents from modern American politics and culture. David’s new book project brings together the fields of the history of sexuality and business history, chronicling the rise of a gay commercial network in the 1950s and 1960s. Contesting the notion that a gay market developed only recently in the wake of gay activism, Johnson challenges conventional understandings...

Keynote Address: Racist by Design—Why We Need a New Economic System for the 21st Century

CAROLYN ROUSE Princeton University Carolyn Rouse is a professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology and the Director of the Program in African Studies at Princeton University. Her work explores the use of evidence to make particular claims about race and social inequality. She is the author of Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam, Uncertain Suffering: Racial Healthcare Disparities and Sickle Cell Disease and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment. Her manuscript Development Hubris: Adventures Trying to Save the World examines discourses of charity and development and is tied to her own project building a high school in a fishing village in Ghana. In the summer of 2016 she began studying declining white life expectancies in rural California as a follow-up to her research on racial health disparities. Carolyn is also a filmmaker: she has produced, directed, and/or edited a number of documentaries including Chicks in White Satin (1994), Purification to Prozac: Treating Mental...

Ethnography for Equity: Using the Ethnographic Lens to Improve Outcomes for Everyone

by FATIMAH RICHMOND (Google) & SAM LADNER Why did Donald Trump get elected? Because of the rage of the “working class”? Why did Brexit happen? Because “working class” Britons were angry at getting left behind? We find these explanations troubling because they whitewash events. We convened the Salon Ethnography and Equality at EPIC2017 to discuss how our community can avoid doing exactly this kind of whitewashing as we work with our clients and stakeholders. We used an ethnographic lens to understand the systems that structure inequalities in our societies and organizations. To continue the conversation about this critical topic beyond the event in Montréal, this blog post describes the Salon’s main talking points and some practical solutions (one involving an actual toilet; more on that in a moment). We explicitly told the 35 people gathered for our Salon that the discussion was to be safe. By that, we meant that there would be specific order for when a participant may speak, and that before sharing anything about...

Navigating Relativism and Globalism in Sustainability

by CAROLINE TURNBULL, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School & Maryland Institute College of Art Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor Sustainability initiatives—social, economic or environmental—can have universal value for stakeholders. But how sustainability is defined, and what successful solutions might look like, can vary dramatically among different communities, or even conflict. One particular interaction a few years ago forced me to re-evaluate my own definition of sustainability, and this experience has affected my approach to the solution-finding process ever since. ⊚ In 2014 I was working for a nonprofit organization that partnered with companies to certify their carpet supply chains as being free of child labor. I was just four years out of college, dizzy with optimism and eager to be working in a field that married my interests in products, ethics and sustainability. The 20-year-old organization I represented was doing incredible work – freeing children from licensed...

Everyday Life in Tamil Nadu, India and Its Cost to “Free Basics”

SHRIRAM VENKATRAMAN University College London NIMMI RANGASWAMY Xerox Research Centre, India This paper explores how the ‘Free Basics’ initiative in India got transformed into a national debate on ‘net neutrality’ principle and finally led to it being banned in India. Further, this paper will also use ethnographic data to analyse how this ‘controversial’ initiative was debated, the claims it made and the actual ground level reality in the state of Tamil Nadu....

Critical Jugaad

DEEPA BUTOLIYA Carnegie Mellon University Download PDF PechaKucha—This Inquiry explains how people use ingenious making practices like Jugaad as a tool for existence, subversion and criticality against colonial powers of oppression. Jugaad like practices form cultural binders and empower people to find a collective force to fight oppression while practicing creative self-expression. This practice is a nonviolent critique that provokes and questions the technoutopian imaginaries in future of such practices. Criticality is manifested through critique and criticism of the social, cultural, economic and political issues engulfing a nation, through ingenious sociomaterial practices. This research inquiry is about tapping into potential of such sociomaterial practices and the epistemology of the critical practices that happen outside the preconceived assumptions of criticality. Being critical about the functioning of states and industry is not bound by a niche design practice but a democratic right of every individual. Keywords: Jugaad,...

Mapping the Field of Social Businesses in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

MARIA FLÁVIA BASTOS UNA, Campus Liberdade & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil LAURA SCHEIBER Teachers College, Columbia University & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil ARMINDO DOS SANTOS DE SOUSA TEODOSIO Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil Social businesses are organizations aimed at addressing social problems through business and marketing strategies. Of particular concern are issues connected to poverty, social inclusion among emerging consumers and sustainable development (Travagline, Bandini, Mancinione, 2009; Márquez et al. 2010). However, due to its hybrid nature that pulls from different sectors, the notion of social businesses is generating significant debate among scholars and practitioners regarding its purpose, approaches, and identity. In an effort to shine a light on how the concept of social business is developing and playing out in a particular city in South America, this study examines the ecosystem...

What is a Sustainable Innovation? Cultural and Contextual Discoveries in the Social Ecology of Cooking in an African Slum

WILLIAM SCHINDHELM GEORG Bridgeable PETER HAYWARD JONES OCAD University This paper investigates how a close understanding of human activity can inform the design of culturally and contextually sustainable innovations for subsistence markets. Building on existing literature related to poverty alleviation initiatives and an ethnographic field study, this project attempted to understand the cultural and contextual challenges to the substitution of unhealthy and unsustainable biomass as cooking fuels by cleaner and competitive cooking alternatives in Kitintale, an urban slum in Kampala, Uganda. We share new research findings and experience from a recent ethnographic study that reveals the incompatibility of modern innovation theory with the realities of the deeply knitted everyday practices in the social ecology of slum life. As the findings of this project suggest, broad claims that disruptive innovation can shift existing practices, change demand and displace market leaders through the creation of new value networks might not fully...

Urban Mobility and “Emerging Consumers”

by LAURA SCHEIBER, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais and EPIC2016 Papers Committee, Ethnography/Emerging Consumers Curator For several decades ‘Emerging’ has been a staple prefix applied to such entities as markets, nations, democracies, cultures, and business opportunities. The term has been used to label virtually anything about “less-developed” Others deemed “new” to the world of market-led consumption, especially by corporate actors looking for new markets and consumers worldwide. Work in this area ranges from bottom-up players in the repair ecology of ICT businesses in a place like Dharavi, Mumbai, to top-down initiatives like Facebook’s internet.org, aiming to provide basic internet (framed as a human right) to disadvantaged citizens around the world. It explores topics as disparate as the dynamic worlds of micro-entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises; the desires of aspirational middle income groups in emerging contexts; or the strategies of actors near ‘the poverty line’,...

Enriching Ethnography in Marginalized Communities with Surrealist Techniques

ANDREA JUDICE Núcleo de Multimídia e Internet, University of Brasilia, Brazil MARCELO JUDICE Núcleo de Multimídia e Internet, University of Brasilia, Brazil ILPO KOSKINEN School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong This paper describes two projects, Vila Rosario and Vila Mimosa, two pieces of ethnographic research that aimed at improving public health in poor corners of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The research sought to improve public health in these two marginalized communities in Rio de Janeiro. The main objective of the paper is to explain how Surrealist techniques can be applied to enrich ethnographic fieldwork. The broader question of the paper is the tension between these imaginative techniques work with fieldwork, a tension that goes back to the disciplinary differences between design and the social sciences....

Keynote Address

LUCIANA AGUIAR, United Nations Development Program Luciana Aguiar is Private Sector Partnerships Manager of the United Nations Development Programme in Brazil. She holds a PhD in anthropology from Cornell University and has decades of experience in ethnographic research and with “base of the pyramid” populations. Over the years, she has carried out ethnographic research, impact assessment and social responsibility projects on behalf of many institutions, such as the International Development Bank, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, and Comunidade Solidária. An expert on inclusive businesses, she has worked with the private sector in the areas of financial inclusion, consumer goods, technology, retail, and communication....

Shared Ethnography of Shared Cities

ROBERT POTTS HighWire Centre for Doctorial Training, Lancaster University DHRUV SHARMA HighWire Centre for Doctorial Training, Lancaster University JOSEPH LINDLEY HighWire Centre for Doctorial Training, Lancaster University This paper aims to foreground issues for design ethnographers working in urban contexts within the smart-city discourse. It highlights ethnography's role in a shared urban future by exploring how ethnographers might pave the way for envisioning digital infrastructure at the core of Smart City programs. This paper begins by asking whether urban development practitioners can design for inclusive interaction with Smart Urban Infrastructure. The research suggests how ethnographers can work with ‘cities’ to rapidly develop diagnostic tools and capture insights that inform design processes with both utility and inclusive interaction as their key values. This involves rethinking how we consider places where space and information intersect. This work led to developing rapid means to assay a site and sensitize to contextual...