EPIC call: deadline for abstract is June 17th

Call for Participation: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) 2005

EPIC will be Nov 14-15, 2005 on the Microsoft Campus, Redmond, WA, USA

Theme: Sociality: Are we getting enough?

Working within or with industry, ethnographers are expected to pay attention to corporate priorities and current trends. One of the predominant themes in new product development has been the focus on the individual and personalization. Although ethnography can address this issue, one that has received less attention has been on the social and collective nature of people’s interactions with products and services. Ethnographic work is often used to generate ideas about the individualized behaviors or experiences of consumers. However one distinctive contribution of an ethnographic approach is its ability to understand and translate the complexity of sociality into actionable terms. Sociality comprises the complex, dense and dynamic set of social relations within which people conduct their lives, and through which material culture comes to have meaning.

The exact nature of sociality has been a topic of recent discussion. On the one end of the spectrum is Richard Sennett (1998) provides a description of a sociality that is grounded in community, stability, coherence, strong ties, social responsibility, trust and a common history or narrative. The social bond is organizational or bureaucratic. Community sociality, Gemeinschaft, is visible in some emerging economies especially among “the next 10%.” On the other is Andreas Wittel’s (2001), as well as Sennett, a networked sociality that is fleeting, transient, based on “contracts,” with ephemeral but intense encounters. The social bond is informational. Networked sociality is most visible with the new middle class in urban areas. The nature of sociality has a direct consequence on what we study, how we study it, and the nature of corporate life in which we find ourselves. We would like the conference to explore, understand and celebrate sociality as a crucial aspect of everyday life.

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