inequality

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...

Rethinking Financial Literacy with Design Anthropology

by MARIJKE RIJSBERMAN (FAIR Money; Coursera) Marietta is 61 years old. She takes care of her adult son (unemployed) and her daughter-in-law (disabled), both of whom live with her in a simple 3-bedroom house on the wrong side of the freeway. Her rent is sky-high, because in Silicon Valley rents are crazy on both sides of the freeway. Marietta also contributes to her mother’s care. She is trying to keep up payments and insurance on three cars, one of which is currently non-operational, and she has title loans on the other two. And she has a set of payday loans outstanding. Small-dollar subprime loans like the ones Marietta has are marketed only to those who have few choices. Payday loans are meant to tide you over until your next paycheck, so they run at most for a period of two weeks. In California, you can borrow up to $300, but a fee of $45 is immediately withheld, so you end up with $255 in hand. You owe the full $300 in two weeks or less. If you can’t pay it back in full, you “roll it over.” That is, you get a new...

Digital Favelas: What Cities of Tomorrow Can Learn from the Slums of Today

by DAVID NEMER, Indiana University Favelas are the urban slums of Brazil. Slums—the image is already filling your mind—are marginalized areas of society without state investments, without basic needs: infrastructure, sanitation, road systems, health, education. They also lack access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Why, then, are they important places for studying “advanced” topics like technology, knowledge economy, and sociotechnical practices? What could they have to teach us? Outsiders often see favela residents as “untamed” and digitally illiterate. But during eight months of ethnographic fieldwork in the slums of Brazil, I saw people challenging the notion of “resource poverty,” appropriating ICTs and skill building in innovative ways. Favela residents critically engage with artifacts designed for advanced industrialized contexts and have to develop their skills of bricolage to survive in a broken environment where repair was a constant socio-technical practice. Favelas are considered...

Everyone’s Trash: Recycling in China

MOLLY STEVENSGoogle, Inc. Are we really connected to the steps and act of recycling and reuse? Is the modern American vision for recycling too clean and removed from the reality of our waste? Images are a series of observations about a single example of community, value-based recycling from Shanghai. The images challenge us to reflect on what we can learn from other approaches....

Consulting against Culture: A Politicized Approach to Segmentation

MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN Because market segmentations are a familiar managerial artifact, it is easy to overlook the assumptions teams make as they construct these representations. Segmentations have become entrenched within companies because they are useful in navigating the complexity of the real world, but this generalizing tendency can also lead to stasis and misguided decision-making. As ethnographers we encounter additional limits in how the language, categories, and beliefs embedded in a segmentation affect our work. Anthropological theory on culture and representation offers a means by which to further assess our engagement with these artifacts. Based on emerging practices in two case studies, this paper argues for a politicized approach to segmentation – a critical stance to how and why they take on power as they are circulated within organizations....

Community Centered Design: Evolving the Mission of the Creative Industry

JACQUELINE WALLACE Focusing on the mid-20th century, this paper explores the relationship between design and economics. Then, through the postwar emergence of user-centered design, it explores the positive and negative outcomes that this dominant approach has had on larger social relations, specifically asking: How are the motivations influencing user-centered design processes inherited by its products and their users? Using case studies and insights from design theorists, historians and practitioners, the paper calls for a new approach to industry lead design research and practices that evolves the question “how does this work for me?” to include “how does this work for us?”  ...

Reflections on Positionality: Pros, Cons and Workarounds from an Intense Fieldwork

EDUARDO GONÇALVES and MARCELO FAGUNDES During a project an ethnography team immersed itself in the lifestyle of lower socio-economic class women. From the different worldviews between these groups, we discuss positionality and access to data, i.e. the ways characteristics such as socio-economic, education, social status, and gender influence the research. The idea is not to set ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’, but to ponder on how successful (or not) were our attempts and reflect on unforeseen effects of our own work....

Framed by Experience: From User Experience to Strategic Incitement

ARVIND VENKATARAMANI and CHRISTOPHER AVERY Ethnographic and other related practices in industry focus - for a variety of historical reasons - primarily on studying the experiences of individuals/institutions as consumers/users. We suggest that this framing limits our work to descriptive forms of knowledge, and renders invisible larger social and institutional changes that nevertheless have an impact on the domains we study, and whose invisibility curtails the forms of innovation we can support. While a variety of practitioners are indeed broadening the range and scope of their work, we contend that for this expansion to succeed sustainably in our community it must also incorporate a discourse on values, and engage with other forms of knowing outside the frame of consumers and users, by encompassing context and engaging in a values discourse....

Shining a Light on Agency: Examining Responses to Resource Constraints to Uncover Opportunities for Design

EMMA J. ROSE and ROBERT RACADIO People employ creative ways to overcome the challenges of daily life. The construct of agency is a productive area of inquiry when considering how people respond to these challenges. Exploring moments of agency provides an embodied understanding of people’s motivations and helps reveal the structural and technological barriers they encounter every day. We propose a framework of agency and three corresponding categories: resourcefulness, resilience, and powerlessness. This framework was developed while working with data from two design ethnographies: one in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and the other in Seattle, Washington....

ICT4D => ICT4X: Mitigating the Impact of Cognitive Heuristics and Biases in Ethnographic Business Practice

TONY SALVADOR, JOHN W. SHERRY, L. WILTON AGATSTEIN and HSAIN ILAHIANE With more than five billion people, large corporations have expressed non-trivial interest in “emerging markets” as potential future sources of revenue. We in this community of ethnographic praxis, are privileged to move with some ease between corporate board rooms and people’s living rooms around the world. Yet, our messages and meanings that might lead to positive action are hampered by both our own language – that of development – and the ways in which people hear our language through specific cognitive heuristics and biases. In this paper, we specifically unpack the prevalent business interest concerning the “digital divide”. We discuss how that particular framing, i.e., digital, divide, essentializes upwards of 85-90% of the global population as simply poor and living in developing countries limiting business engagement. We argue that these predilections are further magnified by specific cognitive heuristics and biases we all posses but which are...

Navigating Value and Vulnerability with Multiple Stakeholders: Systems Thinking, Design Action and the Ways of Ethnography

MELISSA CLIVER, CATHERINE HOWARD and RUDY YULY A growing cadre of organizations, corporations, NGOs and philanthropic foundations seek to address difficult global problems like poverty using social innovation and technology. Such problems are multivalent, deep-rooted, ever changing and culturally specific. Amid this complicated terrain, ethnographic tools and methods are uniquely suited and key to successfully addressing these large-scale dilemmas. In our project, we use dynamic combinations of research, strategy and creative thinking to develop scalable financial service prototypes designed to promote financial inclusion for the world’s poorest individuals. Fostering holistic solutions in this arena requires new ways of conceiving, designing and delivering innovation. In this paper we describe our process and vision for navigating these complex environments with hybrid strategies and an embrace of systems thinking1. We conclude with six imperatives for success in global social innovation projects....

Representing the Non-formal: The Business of Internet Cafés in India

NIMMI RANGASWAMY It is our contention that small businesses of information and communication technologies are deeply embedded in a context of non-formal business relations and practices in developing economies. Cyber cafés in the city of Mumbai, the subject of our study, operate in and through an unregulated grey market of non-formal business practices. In this paper we explore the fit of ICTs into this ‘area’ of commercial practices. We do this by profiling café managers, business strategies and contextualizing these in the broader culture of non-formal business relationships pervading every day transactions. With regulatory discourse of information technologies centered on piracy and illegitimacy, informality of business practices in emerging economies provide an alternate premise to understand its nature and function. These challenge received notions of visualizing IT in emerging economies as simply piracy and illegality. It also implies coming to terms with markets shaped and structured by para-legal and non-formal processes...