|Is corporate sponsored research really |
anthropology? I don't think so.
Image courtesy of NeighborhoodLink.
by douglas reeser on February 26, 2013
Anthropology is back in the national U.S. news, and yet again, the coverage does not cast the most flattering light on the field. New books by infamous anthropologist, Napoleon Chagnon, and naturalist-turned-geographer, Jared Diamond, have been framed by the national press as igniting long-standing conflicts among anthropologists, about issues that include the role of science in anthropology, and the search for universals of human behavior and evolution. My experience within the discipline tells me that this framing by the national media is mostly overblown, although the attention has caused a good deal of discussion and hand-wringing among anthropologists.
My own attention at the moment is consumed with writing my dissertation (and teaching), and so I have not found the time to read either of the new books. And while I have read much of what people are writing about this latest splash of attention, without actually reading the new books, I have reserved my comments here and elsewhere. Still, one piece that I think is mostly missing from this latest discussion, has to do with ethics - the ethical considerations of not only how we conduct ourselves in the field, but also why we're in the field in the first place, and how and what we write about our work.
In the middle of this scrutiny, yet another piece came out in the Atlantic, Anthropology Inc., about the rise of corporate anthropologists. Again, the ethics of such work are left unexplored. The article details the approach of ReD, a market research firm that has incorporated the skills of anthropologists into their attempt to better understand consumer habits.