Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Ashkuff. Read more posts on Ashkuff’s blog: http://www.ashkuff.com
Put simply? Sociocultural anthropologists specialize in describing one group of people, to other groups of people. Obviously, with such a broad yet elegant specialization, sociocultural anthropologists should find themselves awash in more political, business, and consultancy opportunities. So why don’t we?
We sometimes get lost in communicating with our research subjects, and forget how to communicate with our audiences. Unsurprisingly, research creates little opportunity, if nobody understands it. Take, for example, the communication habits of American sociocultural anthropologists (abbr. “anthropologists”) versus mainstream American businesspeople (abbr. “businesspeople”).
Anthropologists communicate via thick description and comprehensive ethnographies, based on extended field research. By contrast, businesspeople communicate concisely, in terms of deliverability and value generation (i.e. “the bottom line.”) Although businesspeople certainly need “other” groups explained to them — foreign labor forces, new market segments, multiculturalism within their own workspaces, et cetera — businesspeople usually cannot process what anthropologists have to say about those other groups. Therefore, it’s on us job-seeking anthropologists to understand businesspeople just as deeply as we understand our own research subjects, and communicate our research accordingly.
Remember, of course, communication breakdowns between anthropologists and businesspeople are only one example. Anthropologists also communicate with politicians, lawyers, jurors, grantors, activists, home viewers and readers. I urge anthropologists to prioritize communication with any audience, just as they prioritize communicating with their research subjects.
— Ashkuff | www.ashkuff.com | How to venture out of “armchair” scholarship and into action? One anthropologist tackles business, occultism and violence! He gets spooked and roughed up a lot.