Monday, August 30, 2010

Ethnography Beyond the Ivory Tower

©2006 BusinessWeek

Looking for images to use in my presentation for the first lecture of the semester, I came across this older but still very relevant article in Business Week about the (then) growing use of ethnography in the private sector. The article provides a bit of the history, appeal and spillover of using ethnography for business & consumer market research, as well as a brief but interesting discussion of some of methodological & ethical questions that arise. For instance:
Practitioners caution that all the attention ethnography is getting could lead to a backlash. Many ethnographers already complain about poseurs flooding the field. Others gripe that corporations are hiring anthropologists to rubber-stamp boneheaded business plans. Norman Stolzoff, founder of Ethnographic Insight Inc., a Bellingham (Wash.) consulting firm, says he has worked with several companies that insist on changing the line of questioning when they're not getting the answers they need to justify a decision. "There's a lot of pressure to ratify decisions that are already being made," says Stolzoff, who holds a PhD from the University of California at Davis in cultural anthropology.
Of particular interest to INF1240 students will be the short slide show featuring products and/or campaigns that were launched around findings derived from ethnographic research, which you can skip ahead to here.

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