More on "Hooks"

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Fri, 14 Oct 1994 22:38:31 JST

Having asked for "hooks" to sell anthropology, I feel
obliged to offer my own suggestion. What follows is
meant to apply primarily to the social and cultural
anthropology in which I was trained, and to general
anthropology in old-fashioned American four-fields
definition of the field.

When asked what anthropologists offer business, today I
would reply as follows:

*The Science of the Concrete*

Anthropology combines a particular methodology,
participant observation, with an integrative vision that
leads to deeper understanding of particular business

Psychologists study thoughts and feelings, sociologists
groups and how they're put together. Economists tell you
how people *should* act assuming a model of rational
choice. Political scientists focus on politics; architects
and engineers on physical spaces and technology. Only
anthropologists are trained to put all the pieces together
and only after we've rubbed our noses in the nitty-gritty
of what's going on in the situations we study. That's our
edge compared to practioners of other disciplines who
abstract what their disciplines tell them to look for and
are likely to overlook important things that lie outside
their professional blinkers. They may be good with words
or numbers. Reality? That's another question.

At the same time an anthropologist is a trained observer
who knows the importance of stepping back and adopting a
broad perspective. That can be a real help to business
people who are all too likely to be caught up in the daily
grind, with blinkers created by the jobs they have to get

I should add, too, that as part of their training,
anthropologists go through the process of living and
working with people unlike themselves. Others can talk
about understanding cultural differences. To get his or her
degree, an anthropologist has actually had to get along
with people from another culture and persuade them to go
along with the research the anthropologist had to get
done. People in the street. Not just other academics. For
doing business in a cross-cultural world, there's no
training like it.

The meat is on the broiler. Flame away. <g>

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)