representation

Consumer Fetish

ERIC ARNOULD and JULIEN CAYLA Commercial ethnography has become an important activity for accessing the lived experiences of consumers that are constructed as “others” that firms have to discover and manage. In organizational contexts where the necessity to accumulate organizational knowledge about markets have become paramount, the figure of the “consumer” has become a quasi-magical object bestowed with the aura of the real, a fetish that comes to stand for the market, and symbolizes the firm’s effective orientation towards the market. In this paper we demonstrate how the anthropological concept of the fetish may be usefully employed in understanding the nature of this process, whereby the voices and images of consumers are endowed with power within organizational contexts. Consumer fetish is at once a quasi object and a manifestation of analogical knowledge....

Drawing from Negative Space: New Ways of Seeing Across the Client-Consultant Divide

MICHELE FRANCES CHANG and MATTHEW LIPSON Focusing on the client-consultant relationship, well honed, but perhaps overly so, this paper aims to shed light on the conditions that at once streamline and challenge our collaborations. To do so, we borrow a page from the visual arts; namely an experimental method of representation called negative space drawing. In both its aim (to create a picture from a new perspective) and challenge (to shake off the preconceived notions that limit us) drawing from negative space reflects a similar dynamic to our own. By way of a case study commissioned by one author and conducted by the other, we sketch a framework of negative space which examines our respective biases and agendas and our endeavors to resolve them....

Verfremdung and Business Development: The Ethnographic Essay as Eye-opener

ANNE LINE DALSGAARD This paper discusses the use of essays as tools for communication and reflection in a collaborative research and development process between a philosopher, an anthropologist, and two private companies. Findings from the project “The Meaning of Work Life” will be presented along with a discussion about their relevance for the involved companies. To specify the general anthropological strategy of defamiliarization, the notion of verfremdung1 is used to detail out specific features of the analytical and representational perspective employed. The paper concludes that the meaning of research results cannot be controlled, as they will always be interpreted according to personal or professional agendas, which is why a style of representation that lays bare their status as interpretations is not only appropriate but may even – by way of estrangement - be revealing and innovative. This conclusion is not new to anthropology as such, but within the context of business ethnography (in which more and more anthropologists...

Design Rituals and Performative Ethnography

JOACHIM HALSE and BRENDON CLARK This paper proposes a course for ethnography in design that problematizes the implied authenticity of “people out there,” and rather favors a performative worldview where people, things and business opportunities are continuously and reciprocally in the making, and where anthropological analysis is only one competence among others relevant for understanding how this making unfolds. In contrast to perpetuating the “real people” discourse that often masks the analytic work of the anthropologist relegating the role of the ethnographer to that of data collector (Nafus and Anderson 2006), this paper advocates a performative ethnography that relocates the inescapable creative aspects of analysis from the anthropologist’s solitary working office into a collaborative project space. The authors have explored the use of video clips, descriptions and quotes detached from their “real” context, not to claim how it really is out there, but to subject them to a range of diverse competencies, each with...

Beyond Walking With Video: Co-creating Representation

JONATHAN BEAN This paper discusses a method I used to conduct a study of hygge, a Danish concept that is usually translated as “cosiness.” I wanted to learn more about hygge and how it related to technology in the home. The method I used builds on my experience with spatial ethnography, on Bruno Latour’s theory of representation, and on the work of visual anthropologist Sarah Pink. I asked participants to use a video or still camera to help me document their home. With participant and researcher both behind the lens of a camera, I saw a significant remapping of the power relationship between researcher and participant; we were able to focus together on the material home as the object of the research. In addition to reducing the time needed to build rapport, this method offers a way to analyze cultural practices such ashygge that are not entirely visible in the material world....

Thoughts on Representation

TONY SALVADOR I have a great job! I feel privileged to do it. In fact, my kids think my job is so great they think I go on vacation whenever I travel. Maybe it’s because I send home photos like this. I’d like to start with a rather personal story to which I will return at the end (and, since you’re going to wonder why I have told this story, it will provide a handy distraction if what I say in the middle of this talk is not to your interest…) Five years ago, I had an opportunity to walk a two week portion of the Camino de Santiago. It’s an ancient Catholic pilgrimage route starting in southwestern France and ending in Santiago de Compostela, on Spain’s western coast. As I walked, the simple rhythms of each day – rising in the morning, walking through the day, settling in the evening – immersed me deeper and deeper into the wholeness of the journey. It became less and less about making progress and more and more about being aware and present in that moment. Gradually, the journey took on a “lightness of being”;...

What are the range of ‘communicative acts’ that successfully traverse ethnography and business/insights/strategy? Is it .ppts and white papers all the way down?

Reply by Melissa Cefkin Manager, Discovery Practices, Accelerated Discovery Lab, IBM Research A great and perennial question that does not lend itself to one answer. The EPIC community is rich and varied in terms of the contexts of their work. In turn, what ‘works’ or is even feasible in these varied contexts varies. This applies…