Thursday, January 11, 2007

This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics - Grant McCracken

The trail takes a turn to stop at This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.

An anthropologist who studies America is struck by the fact that there are some people in this culture who believe they know better than other people in this culture. It's not always a delusion and when indeed they do know better, we are well served. Smart, thoughtful people give us the benefit of their advice.

But too often the critics act as if they are they only ones who "get it," that without them the rest of us wander without light, unable to see what is wrong, unable to see that something is wrong, and certainly unable to put wrong things right.

Read Grant's full posting here.

Grant writes in his About page:

In the First World, culture is constantly formed and reformed by commerce.

Back to school for the anthropologist: in my case, to economics and complexity theory. I hold a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago and I have taught at the Harvard Business School.

The places that culture and commerce, anthropology and economics meet most often: marketing in general, branding in particular, popular culture, Hollywood, advertising, television, magazines, and, increasingly, blogging.

Grant had lunch with Tom Guarriello (who had previously appeared here)

... innovation is the buzz term of the moment and that it is now a untrustworthy term, over used and under thought.

Tom G. and I fell to thinking, "What if he's right?" What if the problem is not innovation? I think Tom and I decided that the real problem is probably dynamism, specifically that the world has got more various, more changeable, more discontinuous, and therefore harder to stay in sync with. (Tom will forgive me, I hope, if I am misrepresenting him.)

In this view, innovation is a symptom of a larger problem. Innovation matters because dynamism is upon us and the corporation is in danger of falling out of sync.

Read the full posting to find out what else they discussed.

I watched heroic quantities of TV over the holidays. And I was struck by how much comedy now comes from characters who are self interested, self serving, self aggrandizing.

I'm thinking of Charlie Harper played by Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men, and Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother. Both Charlie and Barney are in it for themselves. They have no empathy. They have no principles. They have no shame. They are serene in the knowledge that they are without moral reflex of any kind...and that that's ok. The rest of us a struggling to live a good life (more or less, give or take) and these guys just couldn't care less.

There are British origins to this character, let's call him the unapologetic male. John Cleese's character on Fawlty Towers, Martin Clunes' character on Men Behaving Badly, and Rickey Gervais' character on The Office all made a contribution. It is worth pointing out that these British tokens of the type were just as likely to make us cringe as make us laugh, whereas the American instance is appealing even when appalling.

Read the full posting on The Birth of the New American Male

Assuming these teasers have wet your appetite, add this site to your RSS Reader to read what else happens in the future at This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics


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