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Anthropology of Everyday Life

Thanks so much to Anne Galloway at Purse Lip Square Jaw for alerting me to the recent article by Gillian Tett in the Financial Times. The article is about anthropologists studying ‘office culture’ … things like email and computer use. As Anne says:

Anyway, [the article is] worth a read. It’s supportive of anthropological research in technology design and development. It sees the value. It’s looking in the right direction. The key is to not stop asking questions.

I intend to read some of it to my classes this week. As they continue to think about what anthropology is and how anthropologists do it, there’s lots in here for them to consider. And, as they begin looking for cultural scenes of everyday life to describe, they may be relieved to read that I am not the only one who thinks anthropologists spend some of their energies looking at their own societies. From Tett:

… many anthropologists are turning their gaze to western society instead. For the real value of anthropology lies not in its ability to gather data, but in its ability to look at everyday life with fresh, neutral eyes and to spot cultural patterns. The insights produced by that process in western cultures can be as interesting as any exotic jungle-tribe study.

(With apologies to ‘exotic jungle-tribes.’)

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3 Comments

  1. orange. wrote:

    “..they may be relieved to read that I am not the only one who thinks anthropologists spend some of their energies looking at their own societies.”

    Be sure of that. Everybody listens, “when Black Elk speaks”.
    In February–in german language only though– Ute Metje`s (german anthropologist from Hamburg) ethnographic study on homeless girls` and young womens everyday lifes at Central Station Hamburg has been published.

    Monday, May 23, 2005 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  2. Administrator wrote:

    I’ll see what they say in class tomorrow!

    Monday, May 23, 2005 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  3. Gillian wrote:

    Anthropology of Everyday life – some excellent anthropological observations about the English can be found in Kate Fox’s book – Watching the English. It’s full of keen observational commentaries, and has a wonderful sense of humour. It would work well with your 15 minute assignment.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 11:34 am | Permalink