Help make new jobs by studying different cultures, identifying their wants and needs, and advocating new solutions (i.e. new products, services, and ventures).
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.
For example, I decided to try a social experiment — by starting my own boxing club, and using my business anthropology skills to grow it. I filled out paperwork, rented gym space, conducted ethnographic customer research, designed a service, and applied my own marketing tactics. I also did the dirty work, like hand-cleaning the sweat from workout gear, breaking down, and reassembling heavy equipment for each workout. I eventually earned rooms full of customers. In the process, I experimented with several tactics, and I learned a lot.
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.
WORKS CITED ——————————–
American Anthropological Association. (2009). What is anthropology? Retrieved October 2011, from American Anthropological Association: www.aaanet.org/resources/teachers/upload/2009BrochureDVD2.pdf
American Marketing Association. (2011). Resource Library. Retrieved October 2011, from Marketing Power: www.marketingpower.com/_layouts/Dictionary.aspx?dLetter=R
Obama, B. (2011, September 8). President Obama Presents American Jobs Act. Retrieved October 2011, from The White House: www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/09/08/president-obama-presents-american-jobs-act