Anthropology - Other

The Office Anthropologist

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"The Office Anthropologist"
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Even though many graduates in Anthropology find themselves in other fields of work, it is a natural process to view the workplace as a collection of humans who come together to meet a collective goal and who have a sense of community.  There is the overall community in the large corporation, and there are departments. Within departments there are specialties and fellowships of certain professions. There are union, professional, private, and other organizations that give employees a sense of belonging in multiple groups.

The interactions between employees in the large corporation can be complex and complicated, as departments may come to work against each other. The Engineering department may develop a fellowship that is different from the operational, maintenance, and logistics departments of a major airline, for example.

As a result, there is a rich field of study for the anthropologist who is interested in how profession determines departmental and other affiliations, disputes, formal and informal rules, morals, values, norms, rituals and socialization.

There can be working relations, friendships and personal relationships that cross departmental and professional boundaries. Such relationships develop between engineers and personnel managers; buyers and mechanics; the leadership and the clerical worker. The anthropologist can examine the ways in which these departmental barriers are crossed,  and the ways in which such interrelationships affect the norms, values, formal and informal rules, socializing and rituals.

The Anthropologist can examine the ways in which the overall corporate culture develops, is passed down to all employees, and becomes the norm.  Or, the Anthropologist can examine the ways in which subcultures develop and are incorporated into department cultures. Then, there are those who work in ways that cause them to avoid or to not adapt to the corporate or departmental culture.

There are ways in which some rise to leadership positions; ways in which some leave, are demoted, or are fired; and ways in which some engage in legal disputes with the corporation.

The humans who represent the external forces and entities that affect the profits and the mission of the corporation are worthy of study in their own right.  There are regulatory, competitive, criminal, customer, supplier, and other entities who impact the working culture.

Then, there are the corporate rituals of holiday, birthday, and other celebrations. There are annual events, ways of recognizing accomplishment and contribution, and the localized rituals and events that the departments have developed.

In summary, there are who worlds of human enterprise, behavior, relationships and activity that can be studied by the working Anthropologist who does not need to feel that their education is not being utilized. Such study can be of great use in a host of areas, and there is a call for the same techniques and standards for work which are used in any other anthropological endeavors.

More about this author: Elizabeth M Young

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