Announcing the Release of a Special Theme Issue on Practicing Anthropology in the Private Sector

I’d like to announce the release of a special issue of the journal of Practicing Anthropology dedicated specifically to the practice and application of anthropology in business settings. The special issue was co-guest-edited by Amy Santee and me.The authors who contributed to the issue are Jo Aiken, Greg Cabrera, Jen Cardew Kersey, Alicia Dornadic, Giles Harrison-Conwill, Marc Hébert, Allison Hennie, Marlo Rencher, Beth Schill, and Amy Santee.

The theme of this issue focuses on what it means to be a practitioner of anthropological theory and methods in a business context – specifically from the perspectives of newer practitioners (to complement the existing literature produced by veteran practitioners.) It provides a glimpse into the work lives of 10 professionals with anthropology training (BA, MA and PhD levels) and how they made their way from academia to business.The issue’s main topics of discussion include:​

  • What it’s like to work as business anthropologists in the role of freelancers/consultants, at agencies, in and for corporations, and at start-ups

  • How anthropological skills are relevant to clients and employers, and how to create demand for this skill set

  • Reflections on how academic training does/does not prepare one for applying anthropology in business

  • Recommendations for students or others considering careers in businessThe importance of networking, creating a web presence, and expanding one’s notions of “doing anthropology”

  • Professional identity and misconceptions of anthropology in non-academic settings

  • Finding meaningful work, multi- and trans-disciplinarity, and organizational culture

  • Implications for the preparation of future business anthropology practitioners and anthropology’s influence in the private sector

Ultimately, we wanted these personal stories to open up a dialogue about the future of practice in this field and encourage the discipline to think more about how to create value, establish influence, increase relevance, and expand opportunities for anthropology in the private sector. We think this collection of papers provides meaningful insight into issues relevant for those who are interested in business anthropology, including students, professors, and those who are considering transitioning from academic to industry.

We are very interested in any feedback or thoughts on the issue as a whole or on individual articles. Please use the contact form to reach me, or comment!

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what people do,

and what people say they do

are entirely different things.

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