Culture is the anthropologist’s stock in trade, the thing that makes us useful.
So naturally we want to be alert to what is happening in the culture around us. There are plenty of opportunities. Things will emerge while we are doing interviews, watching TV, wandering around in the mall or on mainstream, or listening to your spouse or your kids. There’s data everywhere.
1. How to spot a trend
As an anthropologist, you will be on the lookout for new cultural developments. This post identifies the two rules that aid in our search. See the post here.
2. Two and A Half Men: birth of a new male?
One of the engines of innovations in our culture is gender. Our ideas of how to define maleness and femaleness are changing constantly. In this post, I look at the rise of the unapologetic male. I am using the best kind of data: a very successful prime time comedy from CBS. See the post here.
3. Beauty and the death of zero sum
What is beauty? Every culture has it’s own take. (We insist on "thin," some cultures prefer "thick.") As usual our idea of beauty is in transition. One of the parties sensing and responding to this change is the Unilever brand called Dove. See the post here.
4. Celebrity culture
Thanks to PSFK, I got to attend a forum on celebrity. I got to hear Jessica Coen of Gawker and Janice Min of US Weekly, among others. This provokes an anthropological response. See the post here.
5. Pets are people too
We are a wacky culture in many ways. One of our recent stunts is confering personhood on our companion animals. See the post here.
6. The artisanal trend
Artisanal bread? In the culture that created Wonder Bread? Chocolate that used to come industrially from Mars or Nestle’s is now fashioned by skilled workers in closed shops under glass. Even some brands of beer are being called artisanal. This is very clear cultural trend. Here’s my effort to give it the anthropological treatment. See the post here.
7. Just enough
If you have ever been to Vegas or even a local Sunday buffet, you know how good our culture is at excess. But even this may be shifting. See the post here.
8. Not kinship, kidship
How people are related, this is one of the key interests on anthropology. In this post, it seems to me that in our culture there is something interesting happening here. See the post here.
9. Lil Wayne, Prince of the gift economy
The economy as imagined by Adam Smith, the one that sees value move between exchanging parties is short, clear, delimited bursts is now being joined by an economy that sees new kinds of value (especially social and cultural capital) moving in long arcs through collections of strangers. In this post, I am nominating the rapper Lil Wayne as the gift economy’s patron saint. See the post here.