Posts Tagged With: Social Sciences

Lessons From Corporate America on Humanizing Poverty

I originally wrote the post below for my company (Culture) blog and also set it here on linkedin

Hope you enjoy the inspiration.

Last year we completed what ended up being an intensely inspiring project…

Our client identified a customer group that they realized they hadn’t been serving to their fullest potential because it is a “target” that they knew very little about. Not only were they profoundly aware of this knowledge gap, but also that their ethnocentric point of view as a corporate culture was definitely going to be a road block on the innovation journey.

This set of humans our client sought so deeply to understand are American families and older adults living at or near the poverty line.

These are people who struggle to provide for themselves and their families and rely on “the system” to help them subsist. These are their customers and potential customers who spend their money from the bottom rungs of the hierarchy of needs and who typically get screened out of market research studies because their income falls below “acceptable” levels.

They are still on their journey and developing empathy every day that is fueling a rampant momentum in the socially forward activation of a newly invigorated corporate mission. And one big lesson they learned about this customer group is that money is not at the root of a person’s inability to break free from the grips of poverty, but it’s the degree to which our cultural views of poverty and social services systems are preventing meaningful relationship-building and provision of resources to allow people to do the work of living to their potential.

The reason they began to understand this (how most people begin to understand one another) is because they made a point to be present in the worlds of these customers, asking questions that go beyond the transactional nature typically used in market research to unearth the principles and behaviors that bring the highest common denominator values that these humans share to light. They unearthed a number of insights from this work which inspired a broad swath of innovation opportunities that, as it turns out, are acutely aligned with their corporate purpose.

This approach of developing empathy through values alignment is what has fueled Culture’s success in giving our corporate clients permission to grow their businesses by being more human.

While this may be an unusual target for consumer brands company to focus on, it is an approach to understanding that many big (and small) businesses are beginning to prioritize; aligning company and ultimately brand values with customer values to create “love connections” that inspire and motivate meaningful actions.

 But this approach is not one often seen applied (beyond the academic space) in the social services realm.

Why? This kind of work is not necessarily feasible for a public sector agency – for a number of systemic reasons that go beyond money. But perhaps the most obvious of which is that recipients of social services are not seen as “customers” but as burdens to the system and therefore not entitled to being understood on a human level in order to design more efficient and effective social services systems.

And delivering any kind of relevant product or service comes from making meaningful human connections. But that’s an easy thing to say. In order to innovate what is widely agreed-upon as a broken system, we must seek first to understand the human needs, rooted in the deepest-held values that unify this distinct cultural group within our American culture. We do this by understanding the context of the lives of the customers we serve.

It is important in Cultural Strategy work like this to address the anthropological challenge of cultural relativism (as we do here at Culture).

This theoretical guideline allows the story of that culture’s context and values system to be told from the perspective of the humans being served – in this case, customers of social services like SNAP (food stamps). Because nobody living outside their context can tell them anything about who they are, what they need and what their “problem” is unless they have lived on their block, in their lives, with their paycheck.

It is one thing to exist on the policy-side and use data to guide decisions. It is yet another to be on customer-service-facing end of social services and only see the tired, frustrated, impatient, sometimes unorganized and often seemingly “unmotivated” people rushing to get their benefits and get out the door. But if we take a moment to step in to the shoes of this set of struggling Americans, like teachers, bakers or nurses, that’s why we recommend nursing shoes at ShoeFinale.
From them we learn a few things about why empowerment to lift one’s self out of poverty is lacking.

For example: when you spend all your time and energy working long hours for little pay (often in service oriented professions that most middle and upper class Americans couldn’t do without), managing tedious transactions with government agencies and also dong your best to care and provide for a family – there is little time to connect with yourself and your highest order needs, let alone make meaningful connections with others that inspire and motivate progress.

So how do we get “the system” to start realizing what at least our clients and many other businesses out there are already embracing – that people should be the bottom line and that meaningful progress comes from building relationships? What are the ways we can learn from the lives of people living in poverty – the values that motivate their behavior and ultimately what their unmet human needs are above and beyond physiological ones?

What if the system were easier to navigate? What if customers could spend less time filling out / following up on piles of paperwork and more time focusing on work and family? What if – once they got a better job and made just a little bit more money they were allowed to keep their benefits for a while to build a savings instead of having their benefits cut and ultimately falling behind (newsflash –a $5/hour salary increase doesn’t make up for having $700 a month in family food benefits cut). What if the experience of going to a social services office to apply for benefits was simply a more loving and less demoralizing experience?

It’s a hierarchy of needs issue. Subsistence is a basic human need. But when we don’t have what we need to survive and feel like the system doesn’t care, we don’t feel the sense of love and belonging that ultimately allows us to develop self-esteem and empower our move upward.

Perhaps government agencies can take some time to examine the value Cultural Strategy can bring to innovate social services.

If social science can be applied to innovate consumer products for the middle class, certainly it can be used to lift people out of poverty – helping our economy and our society to grow and thrive by creating a culture of belonging.


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Categories: Anthropology, Business and Culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

From The Mouths of Millennials: Why They Are Awesome!


Since the day I walked into my first job as a consumer culture researcher and brand strategist,  the number one “target” for the roster of companies on my client list was Millennials.  Then:  tweens and teens ready to enter the working world and start driving cars –  but influencing the spending of their parents in a big way all around.   Now:  a final generation of teens all the way through a bustling populace of full-fledged adults, many already in their early to mid thirties.

This is a generation that has been pined over,  studied and marketed to for over a decade.  Brands have been coveting their share of wallet, and HR departments have been scrambling to figure out what to do with this workforce who by most counts is vastly different from their boomer predecessors.

On the flip side – Millennials are not immune to the scrutiny they have been receiving, growing up under a digital, big-data  microscope.  Many Millennials have taken on the task of examining themselves and relaying the blogosphere their impression of the world they have been raised up in and points of view on their place in it.

Some of my favorite Millennial-authored blogs include:

So Called Millennial , written by Rachel Gall, who is also the editor in chief of Life of a Mom-ennial  for Monogram Magazine .

James’ Room  and American Males  for a Millennial male perspective.

Entitled Millennial , a blog that started as a project geared at examining and redefining the term “entitlement” – one often used by boomers and older adults to describe what they see to be the main “fault” of this up and coming generation.

And yet another, which I am showcasing today:  Working Self – a blog by Millennials for Millennials dedicated to conversations about creating meaningful work.

In the article I have re-posted below, the conversation is an empowering Millennial perspective on whats shapes their attitudes toward life and work – an essential read for any employer seeking to lead with empathy in their attempt to grow a happy and productive Millennial workforce:

7 Habits of Awesome Millennials: A Guide to Understanding Gen Y


Today’s guest post in the Millennial Perspectives series comes to us from Debashish Das of Quit, Be Free. I had the good fortune of being placed in a triad with Debashish during Jenny Blake‘s Build Your Business course last May and we’ve been supporting each other ever since!

The world knows us as millennials, yet there’s no clear definition of who is or is not a part of Gen Y. Depending on who you ask, millennials are born somewhere between 1977 and 2003, but no one can agree where to end or begin.

In any case, millennials are a recent addition to the society, and everybody is trying to get their head around the puzzle that is Gen Y.

Why are they so unhappy? Why are they always glued to their phone? Why can’t they stick to one job? Why do they want to leave everything behind and travel the world? The truth is that we are different, as is our way of looking at the world.

Millennials are no longer the future, we are already here, now. And we cannot be ignored.

If you’d like to know what makes us the in-your-face, world-shaking, agents of chaos, read on.

1. Global Connectors

Anyone who is familiar with Gen Y knows we are addicted to social media. There’s a reason for that. We were right there when internet changed social interactions. While other people complained about the way the world was changing, we took to social media like fish to water, embracing a digital world that was free from the prejudices of society.

Without the barriers of language and culture, we shared our thoughts, ideas, and lives with people from across the globe. Millennials became the first true global citizens. Our food, hobbies, work, and lives are a colorful kaleidoscope of influences from around the world.

Millennials have truly shrunk the world. Social media is our connection to this new world.

2. Defiers of Status Quo

Never ones to take things at face value, millennials are accused of being rebels, a charge we readily confess to. If no one was out there doing things differently, sticking to the known ways, we would still be living in the dark ages. We push the boundaries to see what’s possible. We’re forces of social change.

Even though we are not the victims, we feel for humanity. We believe in a world without discrimination and accept all people as one. We defy status quo because we believe there is better future for all of us.

3. Serial Experimentalists

On the surface, our behavior might not make sense:  jumping jobs, buying gadgets every few months, or pursuing a new project every year. To the world, we might seem like overgrown five-year-olds. Underlying the behavior, however, is a belief in the power of growth. We do not live by the time-tested rules because we believe in living our dreams today.

We seek new things because new is the symbol of progress, an indicator of growth. And growth never comes from the known or the comfortable. It comes from exploration, making mistakes and learning from them. We are willing to fail to be able to learn something new.

We experiment to fulfill our desire for growth, because that is what makes us truly come alive.

4. Fearless Artists

Creativity is our middle name. With the power of the internet and the ready audience of a digital society, we do not hesitate to unleash our creative potential.

Sharing creative gifts with the world is no longer limited to a privileged few. Millennials know the value of their own creativity and are not ashamed to share it fearlessly with the world. Kickstarter funds books and products; Youtube sponsors individual video creators; smartphones and DSLRs make traditional photo studios defunct; not to mention the collapse of record labels and the publishing industry.

All proof of the fact that creativity is appreciated when it is authentic and original. We believe in the creativity that resides within each of us and are not afraid of showcasing our hidden talents. Being a millennial means not letting the world tell us that we are being stupid for wanting to be a writer, singer, or a painter. It means embracing our inner artist and creating our own unique art every day.

5. Real Life Explorers

World travelogues are blossoming all over the web. Some of the most jaw-dropping Youtube videos are captured by personal digicams. Blogs about breaking free from the routine of nine to five and traveling the world are gaining followers like crazy.

For millennials, the whole world truly is an oyster, and one that we seek to explore every inch of, whether by bungee jumping in Queensland, getting lost in the grand bazaar of Istanbul, learning to cook Thai cuisine in Bangkok, or riding a motorcycle on the world’s highest motorable road in Leh, India.

Our thirst for adventure is insatiable. We live for experiences. Especially the ones that take us outside our comfort zone. We do not plan for vacations after retirement. If we want it, we go and do it. It is one of the defining traits of a millennial.

To us, life is not about making bucket lists, it’s about going out there and living them.

6. Economic Revolutionaries

Venture-funded start-ups are old news. The new age of entrepreneurship is here, heralded by the small online businesses and bootstrappers, and millennials are leading from the front.

We want to be rich, and are not afraid to say so. Selling our soul in exchange for chump change is not our style. We want to do things we want, whenever we want, and provide for people we care about while not being slaves to a paycheck.

If we do the same thing that our parents did, and their parents did, how can we expect to live life differently from them? Big dreams require big money. And we want those disproportionate results.

To us, being rich means living life on our terms. Money is not a motivator, but nor do we call it the source of all evil. We seek to make money because it gives us the power to choose how we live. Living a millennial lifestyle is about living with passion, doing what we love, and making money along the way.

7. Freedom Fighters

Underlying all these traits and connecting all these habits is our deep-rooted desire for freedom.

Freedom has no common definition and is absolutely individualistic but it is what lies at the very core of being a millennial. We define our own freedom and take responsibility for it. It’s also the source of our greatest fears. Living a life defined by society, not being able to explore who we truly are, conforming to social rules, and becoming part of the system frighten us to the core. A millennial will fight till the dying breath to avoid anything that is a threat to freedom.

The simple truth is, if you seek freedom in life (whatever its meaning for you), you are a millennial at heart.

This is not a manifesto for why millennials should rule the world. Nor is it a plea for understanding our plight. This is a statement of facts and an effort to show what makes Gen Y tick.  We know we have faults, entitlement issues, and an attitude problem. But we’re also ready to change and adapt.

We’re willing to meet the world halfway. If only the world understood the language we’re speaking.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Marketing, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Culture, Pushing Boundaries and Change


Recently in my professional career I have been yet again posed the question of “why study cultural context” – not so much from a “prove your value” perspective but from a “help us sell this stuff” perspective.

I got to thinking about the connection between “values” (broad term for not-so-easy-to-measure sociocultural “stuff”) and value (the “dolla bills”) and how the way we (at my company, in my profession) help create meaningful change by solving human-centric problems.

Essentially it really all comes back to identifying the need for and efficiently managing the process for change.  Change is what helps us grow – both socially and  – in business terms, financially.   And it all comes down to understanding the boundaries so you can bust them.

It took me back to my go-to explanation of the meaning of culture:  what happens when humans collectively respond to constraints (the big stuff on a social, environmental, economic, etc.  scale).

So what’s the connection?  It’s about understanding what the boundaries are by way of the underlying human and cultural context so you can create the change.

You must push against boundaries to understand the deep underpinnings that are reinforcing them. This understanding helps you empathize to facilitate meaningful and necessary change and ultimately growth .  Empathy is, after all, the energy that allows us to motivate others.

Essentially, the hypothesis is that growth can only come from pushing the boundaries.

But there is an art and science to this which is why the study and application of insights regarding human and cultural context is so important: anthropology, sociology, worldview science (shout out to my buddy John Marshal Roberts), etc.   I knew that concentration in deviant behavior for my MA in Applied Sociology had a purpose.  🙂  My graduate coordinators would be so proud.

By the way, there is a rub here.  That being, this definitely applies on a macro-scale but it also  implies that we have to push our own personal boundaries in order to push the social ones.  Reminds me of a quote from a book I read recently called Fascinate that said something along the lines of “you can be extraordinary or comfortable but not both”.  Dammit.  😉

This is the most narcissistic thing I’ll write all week. Glad I decided to find an appropriate venue for it rather than the notes file on my iPhone that  I typed while driving (apologies to my wife).

I am thinking this might be a frame for something bigger – maybe “the book”.

Any feedback or research direction from my peers?  I have a reading list started as well as a list of “stuff” to go back to with more of a focused eye, but would love any direction my intelligent and talented peers and colleagues have to give.

Categories: Anthropology, Culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Joy And Mike’s Place: An Ethnographic Southern Comfort Snapshot

Yesterday I spent an afternoon with Joy and Mike and their daughter (my wife) and son and his wife.

We were having a get-together to share some Korean delicacies sent as a gift from the Son’s in-laws and to celebrate the Birthday of Joy’s mother who passed a few years ago.

My wife often fondly reminisces about her relationship to her grandmother (referred to as Mama Gran) and what a strong influence she was in how she curates her home, her penchant for entertaining and a general sense of nurturing that she has carried with her through her adult life.

This predisposition seems to also have rubbed off on her Mom (Joy) as well. There is a certain literal gentility that translates into a cultural aesthetic seen in and around the home she shares with her husband and two dogs.

Joy and Mike have been married over 44 years and have built a home together. They both come from a rural upbringing:  working class with American dreams of upward mobility.

Their home is filled with collections and mementos. In it you see the fruits of their creative pursuits, travel keepsakes and carefully curated collections of antiques that seem to pay respect to subsistence-oriented simplicity merged integrated with emerging middle class consumer culture .

The context of their rural south upbringing woven in with the mainstream middle class life they created for themselves has led to  a very homey aesthetic that always makes me feel at ease when I visit. Here are some highlights of a brief photo walk through their indoor and outdoor space to show you some of the artifacts that make a house a home, inspired by 40 some-odd years of participation In consumer culture.










To the other Anthropologists (and particularly, the Archaeologists), I would love to hear about what else you see here – the cultural communication evoked from what you see in these images that elaborate on my analysis or even refute / enhance it.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, sociology, southern culture, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Context for Restoring Faith In Humanity: A Little Bit of Kindness Can Make a Huge Impact

I thought this one was worth the share. It made me tear up, anyway. I think too often we look at people as “us” versus “them”. It’s basic Sociology: Conflict Theory. It states that in order for society to function in an orderly fashion, we need to have a common enemy. A bit misguided perhaps but based on observed scientific fact.

Lately I feel like we have been to focused on conflict and not focused enough on having the conversations we need to create solutions.

I believe and have observed that when we draw our “us” circle just a bit bigger, the world changes for the better. It may start small: on your block, in your community or on a walk home from work – but the impact can be beyond measure.

I really enjoyed this video I got to via a friend’s Facebook page today. I didn’t necessarily need my faith in humanity restored, but it is sure nice to be affirmed sometimes.

Pass it on….

“real, honest good”….


Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sociology of Style Shout-Out to The Class of 2013: The Changing Course of The American Dream

Today’s blog is the latest taken directly from Sociology Of Style


Bling My Dream:
The Changing Course of the American Dream


The class of 2013 recently threw up their hats. Now, as they polish their resumes and transition into the workforce, some employers are less than enthusiastic about the current crop of recruits, characterizing them as entitled, overly confident multi-taskers with a poor work ethic. Ouch.

We love to lament the perpetual “decline of civilization.” Some blame media, while others blame materialism (not that the two are mutually exclusive). But does having “too much” make for a society of depraved citizens? Sure, we have “more” than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations — but so did they. That’s the American Dream, right?

Traditionally, the American Dream included owning a home, going to college, giving your children more than you had (or general upward mobility). To some extent, that vision persists — only it’s starting to look and operate radically differently.

The very notion of “ownership” has been revamped into a growing preference for a shared economy, with consumers engaged in a culture of co-ownership with everything from cars and dogs to homes and handbags. The value of a 4-year university education is in question, as the higher education bubble seems destined to burst. And now, even virtual goods can build your Klout score. So how do we mark and recognize upward mobility in a college-optional world of shared consumer possessions? How is status established and rewarded if traditional indicators are subverted and reimagined? Does this mark the end of the American Dream as we knew it?

It’s not that the U.S. has become one big commune. Far from it. The recent reappearance of Gatsby is a tricked-out reminder of our continued fascination with opulence and class, and the blurrily bedazzled line between superficiality, greed, and success. We know that purchasing designer, luxury goods has been linked to insecurity, but that does not mean it isn’t also socially rewarded.

And that’s to say nothing of the irresistible beauty of abundance: “One of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s points is that beautiful things in abundance can produce a powerful aesthetic response, akin to the sublime.” Humans — and Americans in particular — gravitate toward abundance. It is both a survival mechanism and a socio-visual proclamation that “I have arrived.”

So while the class of 2013 may present a new set of challenges to future employers, they also embody a compelling twist on our traditional values. The American Dream is alive and well. Its current incarnation is a peculiar hybrid of narcissism and a flourishing collective consciousness.

For the rest of this article, including how to “reimagine and acquire your own version of the American Dream, click here to go to this article on

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millennial medium chill: What the screwed generation can teach us about happiness

I always love a good perspective on the Millennial generation, especially when it’s written from a Millennial perspective. There are a number of studies, articles and other points of view from people like me who take an active interest in the culture and sociology of this generation that currently represents everyone from teenagers to those in their early thirties. This piece comments on a number of them. I’m particularly excited about the Millennial Geography project they mention and will likely use it as a data set in my ongoing research on Millennials from a consumer culture perspective.
I will say that this author is a big more contrary than most in that she presumes those of us who are actively seeking to understand this generation are misguided or still hanging on to stereotypes. . But on a positive note, it brings up a lot of points that at least affirm my perspective on cultural themes I have observed and used to educate my clients on how to engage and empower this generation poised to change the world! 🙂


About a year ago, during a cross-faded conversation that felt profound but probably sounded more like this, a friend told me about Strauss-Howe generational theory, a scholarly take on the somewhat narcissistic assumption that each generation has a signature personality that leaves a unique mark on world culture and history. Strauss and Howe identify four archetypes — prophets, nomads, heroes, or artists — that can define an entire generation based on the societal conditions they grew up in.

Humblebrag alert: Millennials comprise a Hero Generation. This means we were born “during a time of individual pragmatism, self-reliance, and laissez faire” (in other words, the Reagan/Bush Sr./Clinton years) and are coming of age “as team-oriented young optimists during a Crisis.” If that all sounds too conveniently perfect, remember that Strauss and Howe came up with this back in 1991, when Barack Obama was still fresh out of law school…

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is A Hipster?

Keeping on the hipster theme, i thought this was an interesting example of cultural discourse. A pretty objective dialogue that really frames the public opinion about “counterculture” and the sociological concept of “us” versus “other”. Whether you are a hipster lover, hater or are one yourself (whether you assume the label or not) it’s an interesting and informative read…

Thought Catalog

The other day I was called a hipster because I like drinking tea. (I’ve been drinking tea for as long as I can remember.) Then the person also said I eat more as a vegetarian so I am definitely a hipster. (I don’t particularly care for the flesh of land animals so I don’t eat them much. But I do love fish.) They then went on to tell me that because I plan on attempting to bike this summer, all I’m really missing is the hipster “look.” (Skinny jeans are not my thing. I might be thin enough but I’ve got an African derriere and jeans are not my first dress choice.) Lastly, they told me because I write on here — Thought Catalog — “the ultimate hipster website,” I am unequivocally a hipster.

I died laughing. Okay, obviously I didn’t die. But the person was a random acquaintance I happen…

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, Generation Y, hipster culture, pop culture, sociology, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sociology of Style on The Procreation Debate

The topic of procreation is one that , as a woman in her thirties, has been a front and center in my world the last several years.  Friends having babies, my wife feeling like, even though she would have loved to have children, that she is too old and has too many potential health risks to do so and gets all weepy every time she sees a toddler.

We talk about how, maybe, I could carry a child (if you are “new” to the blog – it’s time to catch up – your narcissistic anthropologist is also a narcissistic lesbian) if we really wanted to have a family. We have even talked to near and dear male friends about the idea of insemination and co-parenting.

It brings up all kinds of issues, however: the physical trauma, the impact in my / our career, the change in lifestyle (for better or worse or just plain different), the lifetime commitment to another human being and on and on.   And the more friends of ours (gay and straight couples) that have kids the more we think we should “get on it” so our child can have an instant peer group and we can have that support group.   And the more we talk instead of doing, the older we get and the panic sets in and we revert back to planning a beach vacation and buying a new car and vowing to “talk about it later”.

I really appreciate this article from the sociology of style on the modern debate around procreation: the physical, psychological and sociological implications. And I think many of my friends and readers will appreciate the perspective as well.

Your Bumpin’ Body:
The Procreation Debate



Samantha: Frankly, I think it’s sad, the way she’s using a child to validate her existence.

Carrie: Exactly. Why can’t she just use sex and a nice cocktail like the rest of us?

–Sex and the City

I don’t currently have children, but I hope to someday.  I have several female friends, however, who don’t have and/or don’t want children. Marie Claire recently did an article on Jen Kirkman, a happily child-free comedian who wrote a book on the topic, and whose decision is often greeted with antagonism (and answered with humor: her response to strangers who ask who will take care of her when she’s old? Servants!)

Why do people care so much about the reproductive lives of others? Why are the childless guilted about their decision?  When a single woman “decides” not to have a child, it is sometimes socially “forgiven,” but when a couple decides to forgo pregnancy, they are often looked at with suspicion.  What’s wrong with them? Why don’t they want ‘more’? (And are/will same-sex couples be looked at with equal suspicion?)

Just as there’s a strong argument for having children (i.e. difficult-yet-rewarding, companionship-building, a biological urge), many women choose not to have children for equally compelling reasons: Some simply don’t want the responsibility or lifestyle adjustments (newsflash: they’re expensive and time-consuming); others prefer to focus on their careers; some make the “decision” by default, due to timing and partnerships; still others may make a more political statement with their reproductive choices — avoiding childbirth in an effort not to contribute to our growing global population crisis.

One other looming factor many women consider (perhaps less openly) involves the major transformation of their bodies, not just during pregnancy, but after: Large, full breasts due to the milk production (this may seem like a dream for some, but can also be uncomfortable), an expanded uterus (that should shrink back after about 6 weeks), a larger belly that doesn’t bounce back as easily, especially after multiple pregnancies, and (most devastatingly?) no longer fitting into your coveted footwear (this can be permanent). As Susie Orbach puts it in Bodies, the post-pregnant body is marketed as a body “in need of restoration, conveying a sense that the body is damaged by reproduction.” An ironic image for a life-giving process.

While we like to think that once you make the choice to have a child, EVERYTHING becomes about the child, many women feel that until they lose their “baby weight” and look “normal” again, they aren’t really themselves — which can have significant psychological and emotional consequences. (Fortunately, our bodies are pretty amazing: breastfeeding can be a near miraculous weight-loss plan, not only while you’re actively breastfeeding, but residually, for decades to come.)

Not every woman laments the body transformations of pregnancy.  Some women actually become addicted to pregnancy as a means of seeking attention, feelings of insecurity, or to compensate for parental abandonment. Being pregnant can literally fill a void. It’s even been dubbed the “Octomom syndrome” after the infamous, eponymous example.

FOR MORE on this, including tips on dealing with the physical and mental ramifications of the pregnancy topic or to share your experience (as well as other great content from Sociology of Style click here

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Internetiquiette 101: Social Media Boundaries

I have to admit that being an active social media participant-observer is exhausting albeit gratifying work.  Being a good anthropologist and narcissist, I find myself frequently assessing my reactions others’  social media behavior as influenced by the collective of digital compatriots whom I also have occasion to see in real life from time to time. I also find myself actively working this empirical data into my own staus-updating, connection-requesting, tweety-posty-picture-sharey activities.

While having a conversation with an ex-stranger at the bar of a restaurant where I was about to meet for an intimate  thought-leader-netowrking dinner thingy” – the topic of social media came up.  In particular, I was in the middle of looking up the LinkedIn profiles for a couple of the new people I was about to meet to see If I recognized any other of the bar-lingerers as said people, when I saw a pair of newcomers having a seat a few stools down.   They both looked eerily similar to the pictures I had just viewed, although just different enough for it to be likely they weren’t the people I was looking for. My new drinking buddy agreed with me that it would be kind of creepy for me to walk up to someone and basically say, “Hi.  I know we’ve never met, but I just stalked you on LinkedIn and am pretty sure you’re one of the people I’m supposed to meet”.  So I skipped it altogether.  Turned out they weren’t the new friends in question but it made for  a really funny “get to know you” story amongst like-minded nerds.

So, I decided I would put some of the implications for social media boundaries that I I have gleaned from my observation of this very modern consumer culture phenomenon.

Facebook:  Don’t friend the people you work with.  If you do friend the people you work with, categorize them as “acquaintances”  and restrict what they see in your feed to posts from GoodReads. Otherwise, don’t paste photos of yourself doing keg stands or mooning anybody.  I would say keep all the ridiculous drunken photos off altogether.  You don’t need your next employer seeing that crap…and they will look.  Also, don’t check-in at the: strip club.  Don’t be friends with your Mom on Facebook.  It will only encourage her to ask questions she doesn’t want the answer to.  It also appears that there are rules about photo posting limits:  If you are a new mom you get a free pass for the first few months and then it’s important to limit your baby pictures to about 3 a day and eventually one a day.  And when it comes to your profile pictures, you should make sure that they are not all pictures of you taking a picture of yourself in the mirror with your cell phone.  It makes you seem like you have no actual friends to take your picture, which, even if it’s true, is not a perception that will win you new friends.

Twitter:  tweeting things that are newsworthy.  Tweet things that add value to other people’s day.  Tweet your friends where you are all going to meet up later. I will even go so far as to say that inspirational quotes – as long as they are not abused and you aren’t a Jackass in real life – are okay.  Tweet about stuff that makes you seem knowledgeable about your job or that you have an informed point of view on current events. Do not tweet what you have eaten for breakfast, your opinion about that Bravo reality TV character’s weave, or that you just checked in at the gas station on FourSquare.  (Side note:  don’t check in at the gas station on FourSquare – that’s an “over-share” and nobody really cares).   Also, if you can tweet a haiku – you’re kind of a nerd-aliscious bad-ass and people will dig that.  Also, tweeting Sh*T your crazy relatives say is still funny even though it’s sooooo three years ago.

Instagram:  apparently Instagram was designed for food porn and you are supposed to post pictures of the things you are eating.   Posting things that you have cooked is also a great way to pat yourself on the back and immortalize the accomplishment of cooking something for yourself.  Millennials especially like to be told “good job” for being self-sufficient. I’m not being sarcastic here.  I am not quite Millennial (more of a “bubble” girl) but I absolutely use Instagram  for myself like many parents use the refrigerator to post their kid’s crappy art class drawings and spelling tests.  Instagram is also a way to show off all the cool places you go and show people how interesting and fun you are.   People also like to post pictures of themselves with friends to show that they actually have friends that are alive in the “real world”.  But Instagram is also great for the slacker-artist at heart:  the ones who have an eye for beauty but no time to practice learning the skill of photography.  I again, as a proud narcissist, put myself in this category.   You are permitted to experiment with your “framing” skills and vision with all the fun exposures and washes.  It appears that there are a couple of big rules here, however.  First:  you have to be selective about which / how many instagram photos a day you simultaneously post on Facebook – as not every single one of your friends might have the same appreciation forpictures of the insides of flowers, kitschy garage-sale items and your dog as you do.  Second:  remember the first rule and also make sure that you don’t over-post pictures you took of yourself with the camera turned around facing you.   People will call you a narcissist.  But i suppose it’s up to you whether you take that as an insult.  😉

LinkedIn:  It’s okay for Facebook to be all party, but LinkedIn is all business.  You shouldn’t post your tweets or Facebook status updates to LinkedIn – nor should you share your LinkedIn updates on Facebook unless your work really is your passion and your friends would give a sh*t about how great that conference is or the latest supply chain management journal article that caught your attention.  Don’t send connection requests to random people whose title look interesting just to expand your business development network.  Ask to be introduced to people if they know someone you know but you know you don’t really know them.  It’s only courteous.   If you are going to post discussions in groups you also have to reply to other people’s discussions or people will just think you are a discussion-spamming narcissist.   You can only post your blog on linkedIn as a status update if it is actually business related.  You shouldn’t post updates on your linkedIn more than once or twice a week. People will think you must not have anything better to do at work or that you are otherwise slacking off when you should be working.

That’s all the brain dump I have for now.  For the record: brain dumps and verbal diarrhea are totally acceptable in blogs.  Nobody has to read your blog.  It’s their own fault if they want to subject themselves to your meandering drivel.

I am most certain that there are other bloggers and readers out there who have other observations and opinions they can share about social media boundaries.  I am still noodling over the Pinterest rules, am yet unfamiliar with Tumblr and many other of the many more social mediat apps out there.  I encourage you to share them here and have your data contribute to what I consider a mission of mercy-by-way-of-socializing important survival-relevant cultural norms as well as a data set for this anthropologist who really seeks to understand in spite of her occasional snarky-ness.

And yes – Narcissism and social media go hand in hand.   Because all of us want to believe that our observations and opinions are important.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret.  They are.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Ethnography, Participant Observation, pop culture, Rituals, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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Being a popular kid isn't easy,you have to be cautious about every move of yours because you know that all eyes are on you.Not just the eyes that look up to you but also the eyes that love to see you in pain.You might have your own list of followers but with this list there exists the "popularity starved crowd" who wants to replace you.But when reality bites these morons and they're back to square one,hurt and angry with themselves they try to make you the victim of their moment of high adrenaline,just to make you suffer because you're better.They try to clean their head by ruining your perfect life.What's more is right then you realize that none of your "friends" are what they appear to be.You're broken,depressed .You feel the need to talk to someone of your own kind,someone who won't judge you and that's when you can find me at thepopularitébug,I promise to do anything and everything to help you out of your problem!Amen.

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