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America’s economy suffers, it’s on the people to fix it, and anthropologists can help.

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Ashkuff. Read more posts on Ashkuff’s blog: www.ashkuff.com

America’s economy suffers, it’s on the people to fix it, and anthropologists can help. Here are my notes on how.

The United States of America finds itself facing “an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless.” (Obama, 2011) More technically, we’re in a recession, an economic cycle “characterized by dropping production and increasing unemployment.” (American Marketing Association, 2011) Recessions create feedback cycles, wherein reduced spending reduces demand for labor, which causes wage cuts and unemployment, which causes further reduced spending. Of course, more variables play into it, but that’s the basic mechanism I’ve observed.

Hypothetically, breaking the cycle merely requires increased spending. Of course, who wants to risk spending today, when they fear losing their jobs tomorrow? Our leaders have explicitly placed responsibility back onto the people — entrepreneurs and businesspeople, in particular — to increase spending and create new jobs. (Obama, 2011)

This begs the question, how can anthropologists help? Well, generally, anthropologists study humankind. More specifically, “business anthropologists” help businesses gain a better understanding of their customer bases. (American Anthropological Association, 2009) Of course, competing for preexisting jobs, to help preexisting businesses, won’t fix the recession. Instead, business anthropologists should consider creating new jobs by studying different communities (i.e. customer research), identifying communal discontents (i.e. market pains), and advocating new solutions (i.e. new products, services, and ventures).

I speak from experience. I left UF with a degree in anthropology, some business electives, professional marketing experience, and a job offer to conduct customer research at The Disney Co. However, I had to decline the offer to help a loved one with surgery, and subsequently found myself crushed by a shrinking job market. Thus, I’ve had to create new job opportunities from scratch. Most recently, I’ve applied my business anthropology skills to successfully pitch a horticultural development program, and to successfully market a boxing fitness club.

Learn more about my research in business anthropology in my free e-booklet, BLOOD, SWEAT & ANTHROPOLOGY: a Tactical Guide for Aspiring Fitness Club Owners and Business Anthropologists. Think of this e-booklet as my gift to the anthropological community. I’m not charging a penny. Heck, I don’t even ask for credit card info. So click here, and learn more.

— Ashkuff | http://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.


WORKS CITED ——————————–
American Anthropological Association. (2009). What is anthropology?

Retrieved October 2011, from American Anthropological Association:


American Marketing Association. (2011). Resource Library. Retrieved October 2011, from Marketing Power:


Obama, B. (2011, September 8). President Obama Presents American Jobs Act. Retrieved October 2011, from The White House:


3 Responses

  1. I really wish there were more jobs. Sometimes I get really frustrated with the company that I am with, because I feel like they take less risks and go for the “safe” route that doesn’t allow for any expansion or growth. We’ve ended up losing a lot of great employees because of it.

  2. I feel your pain. Recessions discourage risk taking, even though risk taking is the only way out.

  3. If often become a question of how do we respond to fear. Even though its risky this can also be a good time for lots of new ventures for people, yes schooling has picked up, but this also the time to challenge ones self on seeing what you can really live with out also.

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