I read with interest via Anthrodesign that Hormel, makers of Spam and other gastronomic delicacies, are seeking to employ a cultural anthropologist. Thus goes the job description
"As a Cultural Anthropologist, you will be responsible for developing insights and points of view about the emotional underpinnings of observed consumer behavior. You will also help understand the gap between what people say and what they do in order to form actionable conclusions, develop recommendations regarding consumer problems, desires, and aspirations and assist in the company’s innovation process."
Quite apart from the all too obvious chortles that this advert produces, I also note the use of the (by now) received wisdom as to the benefits of the anthropologist in the corporate world. They can locate the difference between what people do and what they say they do (and turn this into strategic value for their paymasters). On one level it is almost as if people mask the disjunctions between the two to make innovation hard for companies until, riding in from the distance, comes the mighty ethnographer to reveal the truth and set the business on the right path again. On another, this ability to distinguish between accounts of activity and what people actually do seems to be used most regularly, (almost exclusively) as the USP of anthropologists who work in the private sector. It is a descriptor rarely employed by anthropologists located in the academy. Their descriptions of themselves, lacking the need to state the value proposition to themselves or others, are much more diverse.