SlideShare verwendet Cookies, um die Funktionalität und Leistungsfähigkeit der Webseite zu verbessern und Ihnen relevante Werbung bereitzustellen. Wenn Sie diese Webseite weiter besuchen, erklären Sie sich mit der Verwendung von Cookies auf dieser Seite einverstanden. Lesen Sie bitte unsere Nutzervereinbarung und die Datenschutzrichtlinie.
SlideShare verwendet Cookies, um die Funktionalität und Leistungsfähigkeit der Webseite zu verbessern und Ihnen relevante Werbung bereitzustellen. Wenn Sie diese Webseite weiter besuchen, erklären Sie sich mit der Verwendung von Cookies auf dieser Seite einverstanden. Lesen Sie bitte unsere unsere Datenschutzrichtlinie und die Nutzervereinbarung.
The Powdermaker Problem
Why Business Ethnographers Should Read Industry Trade Press
John McCreery, The Word Works, Ltd.
The Author & The Book
In 1950, anthropologist Hortense
Powdermaker published what Wikipedia
describes as “the ﬁrst and still the only
substantial anthropological study of the ﬁlm
An anthropologist's coolly scientiﬁc and thoroughly documented analysis
of the transient, illusionary world of Hollywood which shows the
interaction of the dreams it manufactures on our society-from which-in
turn-they stem. Believing that Hollywood is not a reﬂection but rather a
"caricature of selected contemporary tendencies", this book analyzes
prevalent types and techniques as well; the accent on sex and money; the
impermanence and instability of the life there; the power of the front
ofﬁce, of censorship, of monopolies of production and distribution;
producers, writers, directors, and the rewards which are ﬁnancial rather
than occupational; the star system—and the publicization of private
lives; and the whole inclination of this society towards the totalitarian
rather than the democratic. Facts as well as faces brighten the
examination which is not too seriously angled to catch popular interest.
"Hollywood as 'Dream Factory' just Nightmare to Femme
Anthropologist”—so runs the headline over the Variety review of
this book. The Variety reviewer, Herb Golden, goes on to call it a
"dull and tedious tome," remarks that it gets "downright silly" at
times, and says that most of it could have been put together by
any hep Hollywood correspondent in two weeks." He dismisses
the author as naive and the book as a gimmick. Mr. Golden, no
dope, has hit the nail squarely on the head.
University of Illinois
American Sociological Review, vol. 17. 1951
Thus, The Problem
Why was one review so positive, while the
other was so negative?
• The difference between the two reviews suggests
important lessons for business anthropology.
• One of the most important is that business
ethnographers should read industry trade press.
Our World Today
“Anthropology no longer operates under the ideal of
discovering new worlds like explorers of the ﬁfteenth
century. Rather we step into a stream of already
existing representations produced by journalists, prior
anthropologists, historians, creative writers, and of
course the subjects of study themselves.”
George E. Marcus and Michael M.J. Fischer
Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, p. xx.
• “The subjects of study themselves” are business
• What we see as interesting, they may see as
• Our analysis may thus seem shallow.
• It may also seem insulting.
A Useful Hint
From Howard Golden’s review in Variety
“Most of it could have been put together by any hep
Hollywood correspondent in two weeks.”
Industry Trade Press
• Newspapers, magazines, and other publications
that cover industry news and analyze industry
• To which we can now add blogs and websites
Identify Current Issues
What industry insiders think is important and what
they see as pressing problems
Add Historical Depth
• Trade press publications are archived, making it
possible to see current issues in historical context.
• Demonstrating knowledge makes interviews more
• References to industry history make insights more
• Speak the client’s language
—Reading the trade press will teach you that language
• Have something unexpected to say
—Reading the trade press from an anthropologist’s
perspective may suggest useful insights
• Leave room for further development
—Remember, you’re working with others who will also want
to have a say