Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crimes of Hilarity: What Makes Criminal Behavior A Big Joke?

THIS JUST IN OVER A YEAR LATER: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR ANOTHER SHOCKING CRIME OF HILARITY!

Last night after a very long day of dealing with the laughable nuances of client service work, an email came through from one of my Canadian coworkers with this headline:  Canadian crime story: Police probing Quebec maple syrup heist worth up to $30-million.

The email trail between a couple of folks went this way:

Canadian team member:

“Serious journalism here guys.

From The Globe and Mail:

Police probing Quebec maple syrup heist worth up to $30-million

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/police-probing-quebec-maple-syrup-heist-worth-up-to-30-million/article4510740/

Via The Globe and Mail news app for BlackBerry”

U.S. team Member:

“This heist is on par with the 1975 robbery at Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory when 300,000 tons of chocolate was siphoned off from the chocolate river.”

Canadian team member:

“We also had an issue with the Hamburgler in the 70s. Tough up here.”

U.S. team member:

“I remember that. The judge sentenced him to 5 to 10 years in prison, whichever came first.”

…and so on.
Oh the giggles we get from crimes that seem just so ridiculous.  But WHY do crimes like a “maple syrup heist” seem so funny to us?  What are the qualifiers that make some form of deviance despicable and others laughable?  Is it because the tens of millions of dollars in stolen goods wasn’t a scarce natural resource with high monetary value like gold or diamonds or oil?  Was it because the stolen goods weren’t property of a government agency?  An item earmarked for high taxes?  Drugs?

Is it that we only associate “hard” criminals with deviant goods and violence?

Needless to say, somebody’s (or many somebody’s) livelihoods were most likely heavily affected by the loss of revenue that came from this crime.  People with families to care for and bills to pay.

But still we laugh about it.  Because it’s kinda funny even though we don’t know why.

As a sociology graduate student (yes…anthropologists and sociologists can play in the same academic pool)  my concentration was in deviant behavior.  I took many courses, read lots of books and wrote lots of papers on the subjects like juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, organized crime, the social construction of deviant behavior (like playing pool, frequenting soda fountains and listening to Jazz music!) and even hardcore stuff like serial murder.  I was going to be Clarice Starling from Silence of The Lambs before I chose a career in marketing.

My point is, I spent a lot of time examining how and why “deviant” or criminal behaviors emerge and how they get labeled as such by society based on the role they play as a part of the sustainable functioning of social systems.  But one thing we never talked about are the crimes that get relegated to the status of ridiculous and not noteworthy.   We don’t sit our kids down and say “it’s okay if you steal something nobody really cares about”.  We just say “don’t steal things”, because as a society and as humans we know it’s wrong to take things that don’t belong to you.

So I pose the question to my readers and ask them to put on their Anthropologist (from human cultural or behavioral perspective)  or Sociologist (from a human systems / organization perspective) and tell me what YOU think.  I’m really only a tongue-in-cheek narcissist (in case you hadn’t caught that yet) and really DO care about other people’s points of view.

At minimum I hope you enjoyed a few laughs.  But my sincere hope is to encourage some deep thought, because my wife would not think it was funny if someone stole her maple syrup.  It’s the only thing that makes her gluten free waffles worth eating.

Man Mows huge field, steals $4K worth of Grass!

Now that we’re getting more grassroots (but seriously folks!) , is this crime also just plain funny?

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 64 Comments

Not WIthout My Dog: Our Four Legged Family Members and Hurricaine Pet Rescues

A while ago, whilst dressing my dog to go to “grandma’s” and putting together her travel bag (which includes wee wee pads, treats, toys, food and walking supplies) I put a note down in my “blog topic ideas” list to write about how our pets have evolved in status to become legitimate family members.

I see it especially prevalent in suburban areas as well as among empty nesters, single women and of course, the gays / lesbians.  Pretty much wherever you have humans who are inclined to be nurturers but don’t have children in their lives, their pets tend to become kindred.  And you even see situations where people are on their own and impoverished but they still have pets as companions / life partners…like the odd homeless folks you see on the street with dogs at their side.

My dog, which came to me via my wife, might as well have been pushed right out of her womb…because she is absolutely her baby and there is absolutely nothing she wouldn’t do for our Ava. As a matter of fact, Ava owns more shirts than I do, visits the doctor (vet) and the hairdresser (a.k.a. “groomer) more often than I do and in fairness probably gets more walks and bathes more often than I do.  But I digress.

My point is that, as humans evolve from agrarian economy-based cultures, animals become more near and dear to us.  The further they get removed from our obvious connection in the food and labor chain, the more we empathize and connect with them.  Dogs and cats as pets in particular seem to be the strongest example and the luckiest species on the planet, in my estimation anyway.

I was inspired to write this today while half-watching CNN (a habit i should probably switch-up) as I work and hearing stories of the hurricaine resuces in Louisiana –  mostly people with dogs.  Apparently, after Hurricaine Katrina they conducted a survey to understand more about barriers to evacuation for those citizens who ended up getting stuck.  The number one answer:  people didn’t want to leave their pets.

In an article located here http://www.examiner.com/article/hurricane-isaac-louisiana-animal-rescue-offer-tips-for-evacuating-pets, Lousiana Animal rescue even offered these tips for evacuating pets in case of a natural disaster emergency:

  • Have a crate or pet taxi.
  • Take a printout of the animal’s rabies and vaccination records. Hotels that accept pets require these documents.
  • Be sure to pack enough food, water, and medication for each pet to survive seven days on. The American Humane Society of the Unites States advises this in emergency situations.
  • Use pet tranquilizers or mood stabilizers if needed. Animals are sensitive to extreme change. Hurricanes and other natural disasters interfere with their normal routine and threaten their sense of security.
  • Take toys, treats, beds, cleanup supplies, and other comfort items the pet is familiar with. This will help keep them calm in a stressful situation.
  • Have a pet disaster kit in the car. This will include cleanup supplies such as litter and scoop for a cat’s litter box and plastic bags for dogs.
  • Avoid leaving pets at the animal shelter. Workers are overwhelmed taking in rescue animals.

I think it’s an interesting conundrum of our modern times.  But I also love that as societies evolve, we start making our circle of family bigger to include animals.  It gives this anthropologist hope that we are mindful of our bigger connections…and that our relationship with other species and the planet really are a central factor in what makes us truly human.
If you are an animal level and would like to learn more about how you can help displaced pets from the storm, see info in the following article:  http://www.globalanimal.org/2012/08/30/hurricane-issacs-impact-on-animals/80707/

 

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Participant Observation, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Evolution of Street Culture To Fine Art: “You Are Not Banksy”

Banksy

Banksy (Photo credit: Mreh)

As a professional anthropologist, my focus is on consumer culture.  That’s what I get paid for.  As a sub-set of that, i am particularly passionate about “street” culture:  the cultural conversations and sub-cultures that exist on the ground in areas with more dense populations (like cities) and the dialogues that happen outside of media.  In this case, “street art” (in contrast with graffiti for the sake of tagging) is a significant reflection of the mores, values and cultural tensions experienced by city denizens.

Creativity in the form of art and music are an outlet of self-expression and a way to tackle social issues for those whose voice might not get heard by an audience of means who also have influence on society.  It is this collective voice that produces ground swells and eventually makes its way into the mainstream by virtue of persistence and discovery by those “passing through” who DO have means.

I say now and have repeated many times that “culture” is what results from our collective reactions to the constraints placed upon us by the world and society.  Street culture is thus a reaction from mostly those who are / have been disenfranchised by the current system and represents a very rich social conversation. At times i get annoyed when i see marketing and brands co-opt street culture for the sake of reaching a certain demographic or for enhancing their “relevance” without an authentic right to that point of view.

But when i see street culture elevated in a truly reverential way, I am affirmed.  In this case, I am referring to the “You Are Not Banksy” series by photographer Nick Stern   http://nickstern.com/?galleries=banksy

In this series, he recreates iconic pieces from “incognito” street artist Banksy, who is known for using his guerrilla-art installations to illustrate acute social commentary.

What Nick Stern has done is take ideas from the “fringe” and bring them to the mainstream in a way that elevates their validity through socially accepted means:  through “high art”.  This brings Banksy’s messages (and thus the message of the denizens for whom he is communicating) to a more influential audience.

I applaud the homage and share it here.

Here are a few examples:

Categories: Anthropology, Art, Art and culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, pop culture, Trends, Uncategorized, urban culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Reading Makes You Human: Some Recommendations From A Written Word Junkie

Contrary to what you expect from a self-proclaimed narcissist, I don’t just read my own writing and listen to the sound of my own voice.  😉  I have, indeed, always relied on inspiration from others to shape my view of the world and understanding of future path.  I spend a good amount of time reading non-fiction books related to my profession and passions, as well as a good amount of essential fiction.

I think having a good mix of non-fiction, “business” books, pop culture fiction and literature is important for any well-rounded consumer strategist…and really a good foundation for any well-rounded human.  Knowing the way the world operates and how it is and has been reflected in popular culture and media keeps us on our toes and grounded.   Sure, there are other forms of media besides the written word that can do that, but there is something about ink on paper (or digital ink on virtual paper) that is incredibly immersive and inspirational.  I think we tend to personalize things we read a lot more than what we watch.  Possibly because to really understand what you are reading you have to give it your undivided attention and make a point to do the work of visualization in your own head.  The mental exercise increases the strength of our comprehension.

That being said, I wanted to share some of the books that have really made an impression on me.
Fiction / literature that paint empathetic cultural portraits or present an anthropological  / sociological narrative:
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Women of The Silk by Gail Tsukiyama

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Walden Two by B. F. Skinner

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

 

Non fiction books that give you perspective on how to manage your human existence:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

True North by Bill George

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse

The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams

Sticky Wisdom by Dave Allan, Matt Kingdon, Kris Murrin, Daz Rudkin

The Five Faces of Genius by Annette Moser-Wellman

 

Inspirational business books that affirm the idea that we can make the world better through the power of consumerism:

Grow by Jim Stengle

Firms of Endearment by Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, Jagdish N. Sheth

Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken

The New Capitalist Manifesto by Umair Hauque

Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken

The Rise of The Creative Class by Richard Florida

Igniting Inspiration by John Marshal Roberts

Drive by Daniel Pink
I’ll leave out the marketing books here, but:

You can find a copy of my amazon.com reading list at the bottom of  my LinkedIn profile here:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=3402571&trk=tab_pro
Or check out some highlights on Pinterest here:  https://pinterest.com/northstarhub/books-worth-reading/
Now go out and read something else besides this blog!  🙂

Categories: Art and culture, Participant Observation, pop culture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evolving Youth Culture and What it Means For The Global Brand Marketplace

Every now and then I put content on my “professional” blog that I think “normal” folks might enjoy.
New perspectives are important. And I know a lot of people who are raising teens, have young adults in their lives either professionally or personally or who are young adults themselves that might be interested in this type of “stuff”.

So, here you go: ripped from the pages of The Brand Sherpa Blog: (www.thebrandsherpa.wordpress.com)

Youth Culture Series Part 1: The Evolving Mindset of Global Youth

In the last couple of decades, as Gen Y have come into their own in the U.S., youth culture on a global scale has shifted from a very western-focused, self-centric culture to that of a more holistic and globally unified focus on success rooted in the collective

This shift has occurred in tandem with and as a result of evolutions in communication, globalization and the spread of capitalism as well other potent macroforces that have been changing our human, cultural and consumer landscape.

In future conversations those macroforces will be addressed both as stand-alone phenomena and in connection with youth culture. But for now, lets take a look at the global youth culture and mindset shift that has been observed since the years leading in to the new Millennium:

How has culture changed on the ground?

We can see these shifts brought to life in the day to day culture of youth. For example, in the U.S. “bling” is no longer in the youth lexicon as a fashion-forward ideal of showing off financial success (or aspiration) through flashy brands and expensive shiny things.

Rather, a mindset of financial pragmatism favors fast-fashion from lower-cost retail and less focus on standing out from the crowd. Young adults aren’t flocking to expensive badge brand vehicles, either. Instead they look for life-stage appropriate rides that are both affordable and approachable.

Look to brands like Scion (scion.com) who, after a dramatic shift from their original brand messaging when they launched in 2003, focused on a very timely customization, stand-out-individualism and separatist niche-culture mindset to a more inclusivity and empowerment-based strategy. Notably, since about this time last year (when their new “look” hit the ground running) , their sales have just about doubled.

Social networks have taken the place of cliques: rather than seeking to belong to the “it” group at your school or in your neighborhood, young people can connect to like-minded teens from across town or on the other side of the world, enhancing and expanding their sense of belonging without alienating others.

Ask a recent grad in the U.S. or Canada what their career aspirations are. Chances are they will tell you they are looking for a job on job sites that allows them to fulfill a greater purpose and gives them the flexibility to pursue interests and priorities outside of work – and that they are willing to get paid less money as a trade-off. You may even find 29 year-olds who’s early onset midlife crises as caused them to shift careers entirely from something high-powered to another more down-to-earth passion based entrepreneurial venture. Take a look at quarterlives.com (http://www.quarterlives.com/) , a virtual resource devoted to helping young adults navigate their new American Reality).

Look to organizations and movements like the Nexus Global Youth Summit (http://www.nexusyouthsummit.org/) or the global Youth Action Network (www.youthlink.org) and see how young people are finding ways to benefit the greater good on a global scale and improve their local communities. More and more philanthropic and entrepreneurial NGOs and even private-sector focused communities are emerging to empower young people to create the change they want to see in the world and create opportunities for others.

How has the Global Brandscape shifted as a reaction to changing youth culture?

Forward thinking brands are beginning to take notice of the new youth dialogue. In examining macroforces as a business priority, the shift in the more and more influential culture of global youth and young adults is one that will affect mainstream culture at large.

Denizen Jeans is a new global brand from Levi Strauss targeting youth. It launched in 2010 in China and is now available in India, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore and the US.
If you look to their website (http://www.denizen.com/global_home)  you will see how they define themselves from an inclusivity perspective:
“The dENiZEN® name means “inhabitant” – belonging to a community of family and friends. Denim is in the name, the heart of the brand.”

Having worked on the strategy for this brand from a global cultural exploration perspective, it is definitely a near-and-dear-to-my-heart example, but one that rings true to the shifts we are seeing in youth culture on a global scale – especially where the emerging middle class is concerned.

You also see the increased popularity in social media game platforms like Zynga’s “ville” series (e.g. Farmville and CityVille) and Words With Friends that focus more on social interaction, collaboration and the spirit of “play” than on winning.

And you can look to the occupy movement to show how young adults have lead the charge against inequality and mobilized around a global voice for social change. See the geo-tagged Flickr Site courtesy of The Guardian UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/oct/18/occupy-everywhere-movement-flickr-map)

So what’s next? What should Marketers keep their eyes and ears on?

Platforms for democratization of entrepreneurship that empower socially minded consumers to support upstarts like Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) and Etsy (Etsy.com) are just the beginning. The next generation of young consumers will continue to develop new concepts in social empowerment to help others succeed with the support of their like-minded peers.

Global brands that target youth will require a universal brand positioning who’s marketing messages are both globally synchronized and based on a higher order ideal, but able to execute with local relevance. Brands will be required to be part of the solution from the ground up, tapping into a savvy young consumer who’s loyalty will depend on your ability to empower them to succeed…but not at the expense of alienating others.

So remember to take the time to check in with “kids these days” rather than hanging on to long-held stereotypes about youth and rebellion and self-centered irresponsibility as the dominant motivation of younger generations. This kind of old-school thinking will lead marketers down a slippery slope. It’s important to look forward, knowing that global youth are doing the same and waiting to see what brands will do next.

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Emerging Workforce, Ethnography, Generation Y, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A little picture of Brooklyn from a favorite Anthropology blog of mine

I took to my stoop

Subway stations in New York CIty are not air-conditioned. Occasionally they are drafty or far enough underground that the heat dissipates. Certain stops might have trains running through every 2-3 minutes or so, so that the air doesn’t have time to go still. But in Brooklyn, this is often not true. At my subway stop, off the A, it is definitely not true.Most trips on the subway are a sweaty and light-headed endeavor. The walk to the station itself is about 13 minutes from my house, down seven stark, sunny blocks, and then through a park where a club of men are gathered daily, playing chess.

Entering the subway requires a hike down two flights of stairs — one to get to the ticket turnstiles, another to get to the platform. I never imagined I would understand what it felt like to descend into hell, but the process of walking…

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See Your Town From A Different Perspective: Be A Tourist

Have you ever thought that you were bored with life in your city? Or that it has lost its luster? It’d magic? It’s intrigue? Perhaps with life humming along every day you forget to look around outside of your path to and from work and your usual stomping grounds. And chances are you steer clear of the more “touristy” parts if you live someplace that attracts business and vacation traffic.

This weekend, my wife and I are taking the time to be “guests” in our city (thanks to some dear friends who bid on a hotel / dining package at a charity event). What we noticed right away was how different our perspective of this place we know like the back of our hand has been, just from making a point to experience it differently.

It was surprising and lovely how The taxi ride (as opposed to driving ourselves) through my old neighborhood on the way to dinner went from an exercise in expediency to a nostalgic interlude. Instead of being frustrated by traffic and having tunnel vision to our destination we took the time to observe how the neighborhood had changed: an organic Mexican restaurant where the bake shop used to be. A line at the new nightclub down the street from my old condo. Peering down the block where a favorite lounge used to be: yep…still there. Good to know. The city seemed More vibrant and interesting and bustling with a young professional energy. Definitely a different vibe from the “gayborhood” it used to be but still looked like a fun place to hang.

And on the way back, instead of rolling our eyes at the tourists in horse-drawn carriages, my wife was transported back to her childhood as she watched the lit-up “Cinderella” carriage clop on by and thought of how much she would have enjoyed that as a little girl. (I think she would probably enjoy it even now).

And as we sat and enjoyed brunch on the terrace of the hotel, I noticed the flickering gas lamps in the new-Orleans style terrace at the business hotel across the street. I enjoyed watching the souped-up classic cars blasting era-appropriate music juxtaposed with the “Ballers” in convertible Bimmers pumping out hip-hop as they took late morning cruises along the downtown strip.

And we are looking forward to spending the day practicing the art of noticing what we likely make a point of overlooking on a normal high-stress mission to get where we are going.

Being a tourist in your own town also gives you a chance to be an anthropologist for a couple of days and really observe the culture of the place where you live with objectivity instead of self imposed obstruction.

It’s a practice we tend to forget and I think one that helps us really appreciate where we are and live in the moment. And even if you can’t afford a hotel stay you can still take the day to get off the beaten path and have an experience that might change your perspective.

20120825-115405.jpg

Categories: Anthropology, Art and culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Experiment, Participant Observation | Tags: , | 2 Comments

“Kids These Days”: A Peek Into James’ Room and His Brain

I found this young blogger this morning, who’s content I am compelled to share

Rather, he found me via yesterday’s blog on workaholism.

I do a lot of work studying youth culture and have found a good deal of pragmatism coming from their observations of their parent’s adult life.

Young adults and teenagers today grew up watching their parents work hard at their jobs to provide security to thier family:  often giving up time with their kids and conversely overscheduling and over-coaching thier kids to perform at their best so they too could get into a good school and have a leg up when they enter the workforce. Then they watched their parents lose thier jobs, mortgages, pensions, etc. when the bubble burst.  And because their parents played disciplinarians they also rebelled by taking on the role of “peer” and allowing their kids to be a part of the adult dialog of family life and adult responsibilities.  So,

The result, is that Millennials now see through the smoke and mirrors of the American dream and are keenly aware of their “American Reality”.

James is an articulate philosopher, anthropologist and cynic. His point of view is striking.  I thought I would share, lest you are one of those “old folks” under the impression that young folks just don’t care.

Like the John Mayer song says, “it’s not that we don’t care, we just know that the fight aint fair. So, we keep on waiting; Waiting for the world to change.” But perhaps if more perspectives like this permeate OUR American reality, then we will start actually doing something to change it.

http://jamesroom.org/2012/08/24/lies-my-country-told-me-the-hollow-american-dream/

 

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Emerging Workforce, Generation Y, middle class, parents, pop culture, sociology, Suburban Living, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workaholism: The Acceptable American Addiction

So, as I sit in my PJs on my couch after deciding I can’t handle being sick in bed with a cold and MUST do something productive, I started to wonder:  am I a workaholic?
This habit of mine, of not being able to sit still and using work as a way to stay busy and productive seems like a fairly normal and “healthy” way of passing the time.  After all, when I look around at the people I work with / have worked with historically, it seems like work ethic is the single most important value we can hold.  I’m not sure if it’s a service industry kind of mentality or a general American value.  But I think it has a lot to do with our mainstream knowledge economy mindset:  if we are not producing physical objects, then the value we produce is in ideas and information.  And it’s harder to pimp ideas and prove their value than it is to build something and say “here, you can touch this and it’s worth something”.

Especially in market research and creative services like marketing and advertising (not to say research isn’t creative), I think we are also ego-driven people-pleasers.  We want so much to feel our work is valuable and worthy of our pretty substantial paychecks (compared to a blue-collar wage-earner).  And the thing about ideas and information:  they don’t stop flowing when the five o clock whistle blows.

So, I think we have a hard time shutting off from work-mode and remember to prioritize the other parts of being human sometimes.  You know, things like family, friends, a social life, working out, reading fiction, cooking, etc.  And thanks to our crackberries and iPhones and laptops, we can work anywhere, anytime and are expected to do so by colleagues and clients.  But its’ our fault…we set up these expectations for ourselves.

I find myself constantly riddled with guilt about work:  even If i worked 50 some-odd hours last week, I feel guilty taking a couple of hours on a Tuesday afternoon this week to not “do anything productive”.  When I’m on vacation i have to force myself to lock my iPhone in a drawer and leave my laptop at home.  And when i’m sick, I get depressed because my brain doesn’t have the energy to get work done.  And I worry about letting my coworkers down.
Well, guess what…workaholism is actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and counts as an actual addiction.  And because it is directly tied to earning money:  which is the most prominent value in the developed world, it is an acceptable and even “respectable” addiction.  In Japan, they even diagnose deaths by overwork (about 1000 per year, 5% of stroke and heart attack deaths in workers under age 60).

See this article on workaholic addiction:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51425

 

And it’s funny, because if you ask around at my work, I’m the one who is always telling people how important it is to manage their time, take vacations and prioritize balance in their lives.  I feel like I try and walk the walk as much as possible too:  i plan my vacations months to a year in advance and make sure i use ALL my vacation days.  I let people know that they can CALL me (not email me, because my iPhone will be locked away somewhere save to check messages every now and then) if there is a “market research emergency” while I am gone (which doesn’t exist).  And I try very hard to prioritize scheduling time with friends and scheduling appointments for workouts, etc.  But I still check my email last thing before I go to bed and first thing when I wake up in the morning.  And even though i probably produce more content and actual work-value in 8 hours than a lot of people do in 2 days (not being a douche, it’s just true.  My brain works at a freakish super-speed), I still have pangs of guilt when my time sheet only adds up to a standard 40 hour workweek, when I know other colleagues are putting in 60 hours (and complaining / bragging about it to prove their commitment).

So, today is the day I  actually use my “sick” time to think about my health.  And being the Narcissistic workaholic, I felt that my blog was the perfect outlet to focus that effort.

And as they say in the 12 step programs:  the first step is admitting you have a problem.

So, now that I have publicly declared myself-awareness, I thought I would share some other resources that I found valuable in my search for affirmation and sanity:

How do you know if you YOU are a workaholic?  Check out this informative article on Yahoo Health:

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/allinyourmind/6-signs-you-may-be-workaholic

And what are some tips for  modifying  your crazy addictive behavior?  Here is a recent feature on CNN.com  about switching off work:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/12/opinion/switch-off-work-dorf/index.html

And thank you, my anonymous readers for indulging my narcissism for yet another day.  Although I have to say, from an Anthropological perspective, I can think of nothing more fascinating than a culturally created addiction.    I wonder if other species get addicted to their work.  Now the DayQuill has visions of neurotic beavers with high rise wooden-damns dancing in my congested head….

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Participant Observation, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

The Youth In Asia: Cultural Tension And Millennials in China

As a part of the work I do, I am often asked to provide a point of view on “kids these days”. Sometimes it relates to American culture but most of the time it’s a global question.
One of the ways I look at culture in the context of informing brand strategy, marketing and product innovation is using a framework for distilling insights about “deep culture” and “surface culture”: what’s the stuff that goes deep or has a longstanding history and what is more contemporary or topical.

I recently shared some insights i have learned along the way about Chinese youth / “millennials” with regard to deep culture and surface culture. And since the information isn’t “proprietary” (owned by someone who paid for it) and I gave it away for free today, I thought I would share with “y’all”.

So here’s some stuff you might or might not know about those crazy kids in china from a deep culture / surface culture perspective:

WHAT’S THE HISTORY?

  • Rich cultural and spiritual traditions rooted in Buddhism
  • Imperial rule / non democratic government
  • Communism as a longstanding economic reality
  • One-child rule in effect for decades
  • longstanding tradition of adult children caring for elderly parents at home

HOW HAS CULTURE EVOLVED?

  • Switch to capitalist economy in late twentieth century
  • Aging population  outpacing  general population due to one child rule
  • Many “only children” coming of age, actively seeking meaningful connections with others / peers and feeling the burden of caring for aging relatives
  • Evolution of communication technology has opened up new ways of communicating with peers and the world

WHAT ARE THE NO-FLY ZONES

  • It’s still not okay to question authority / government
  • Expressing individuality / uniqueness is not a goal of self-expression: they would rather be approachable and make friends

POP CULTURE TRENDS

  • Social media like Kuku (sort of like Facebook) is a popular resource for socializing and self-expression
  • Couples outfits are popular for young lovers
  • Karaoke is a popular bonding activity for all ages, but especially for males
  • Celebrities as spokespeople for popular brands is still a very effective marketing tool
  • shopping malls are curated experiences with different floors of retailers catering to different age groups and life-stages (e.g. high school, college age, young professionals)

Fun tidbits?  I hope so.  Learn something new:  betcha did.  Almost like you’ve been there, huh?  😉  Well, fortunately I have:  and have done the fieldwork / got the T-Shirt.  But it’s starting to get holes, so hopefully I can find my way back to the Jack Jones store in Shanghai sometime soon.  In the meantime, I will wear my perspective instead.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, Marketing, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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