Anthro-Vision: Using anthropology to understand business behaviours

Written by Gilllian Tett Wednesday 21 September 2022
Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett explains Anthro-Vision: a new way to understand the behaviour of businesses using the scientific field of anthropology
A woman looking at a human skull through a magnifying glass

This is an edited extract from Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life, longlisted for CMI’s 2022 Management Book of the Year award

To embrace anthro-vision, first, we need to recognise that we are all creatures of our own environment, in an ecological, social and cultural sense. Second, we must accept that there is no single ‘natural’ cultural frame; human existence is a tale of diversity

Third, we should seek ways to immerse ourselves, repeatedly, even if only briefly, in the minds and lives of others who are different to gain empathy. Fourth, we must look at our own world through the lens of an outsider to see ourselves clearly. Fifth, we must use that perspective to actively listen to social silence, ponder the rituals and symbols that shape our routines, and consider our practices through the lens of anthropology ideas such as habitus [socially-ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions], sense-making, liminality, incidental information exchange, pollution, reciprocity and exchange.

Lessons from looking inward

If more people embraced anthro-vision, the implications could be radical. If adopted by corporate executives, they would pay more attention to social dynamics inside companies and recognise that social interactions, symbols and rituals matter. 

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