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The Anthropology of Coffee – More Than A Fifteen Minute Observation

Ckelty blogs at SavageMinds about a short piece in the New Yorker about studying coffee shops like Starbucks anthropologically. The article describes a researcher (an historian) traveling the world to see how people act in Starbucks. His work leads to conclusions like:

… moms predominate [in Starbucks] in late morning, teens take over after 3 p.m., and strangers who are not moms or teens must never engage one another.

My Introduction to Cultural Anthropology students embark on their fifteen minute observations of everyday life this week — and many will end up in coffee shops watching local behaviors. I hope they will look at the article for its descriptions of the historian’s research methods. I hope, too, that they will take Ckelty’s comment to heart that fieldwork usually involves more than simply counting patrons!

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2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Coffee Culture…

    Firstly, let me give my dues to FieldNotes for making me aware of a Savage Minds post about an article in the New Yorker about thinking anthropologically in Starbucks.
    I neglected catching news of this immediately from Savage Minds when I read my RSS …

  2. Erkan's field diary on Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Starbucks ethnography entry draws more attention……

    Fieldnotes and then Kambiz Kamrani from commented on coffee culture… Like McDonald’s, Starbucks entered Turkish life as a more upper class phenomenon than it is in the States. The first Starbucks branches in Turkey are all located in…