This Year's Events
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February 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
New Parent Decision Making in a Culture of Choice Overload
Amber Epp, University of Wisconsin, Department of Marketing and Tandy Thomas, Queen's School of Business, Department of Marketing


In this presentation, Amber will discuss how new parents make choices in a context marked by too many decisions, conflicting advice from credible sources (including institutions, social networks, and the marketplace) and overwhelming feelings that each decision is consequential.  Amber and her co-author contend that in this cultural environment, traditional decision heuristics may fall short. Using a longitudinal design, they conducted multiple in-depth interviews with approximately 25 couples over a one-year period. Their findings document a temporal decision making process that is embedded in a network of discourses and material realities. Through this process, expectant parents build an idealized assemblage composed of discourses, sources, materialities, decision strategies and capacities. After the baby is born, parents often experience betrayals within their assemblages, where elements of the assemblage (e.g., products; feeding practices) do not work as intended. In response to these betrayals, parents reconfigure their assemblages and revise their network of sources—by moving new sources in, misaligned sources out, and managing contentious sources—to create a new assemblage that reflects the current realities of their families. These findings provide implications for how companies’ actions might differ as parents gain experience over time.
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Amber was selected as our 2014-15 "drive-in" speaker--someone who does not live in the Chicago area but who lives within reasonable driving distance and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. Thanks to Alan Malter and his committee (Ashlee Humphreys and Michelle Weinberger) for choosing this year's speaker!

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March 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
"What's That You Say?" How On-Line Word-of-Mouth Providers Cultivate Audience Engagement
Andrew Smith, Merrimack College, Department of Marketing, Eileen Fischer, York University, Department of Marketing


Word-of-mouth (WOM) in online contexts can differ in important ways from WOM in offline contexts for many reasons, not least of which is that providers of WOM are competing fiercely for the attention of online audiences. Using theories of sensegiving and sensemaking, and drawing on research conducted in the context of an online investment community, Eileen Fischer will explore why some word-of-mouth providers are so much more effective than others at engaging their audience members. She will describe five word-of-mouth strategies (framing, cuing, connecting, action facilitating, and unsettling) that she and her co-author identified, as well as distinct types of audience responses. She will also discuss propositions regarding the relationships between particular sensegiving word-of-mouth strategies and the volume and type of audience engagement they elicit. This research contributes to our theoretical understanding of word-of-mouth processes, and offers important insights for entrepreneurial WOM providers, for managers who want to promote WOM online, and for public policy makers who want to facilitate collective sensemaking processes.


Eileen was selected as our "fly-in" speaker for 2014-15--someone who does not live within driving distance of Chicago and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. As is true every year, nominations and voting for the "fly in" speaker were open to everyone on the C4 mailing list. Thanks to all who participated!

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April 10, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Anthropology in Business: A Situation Report
Rita Denny, Practica Group LLC, Chicago, IL


Rita Denny will join us to give an up-to-date overview of the vibrant and sometimes problematic intersections between anthropology and business, and what the current state of affairs might mean for those using anthropological methods for academic research on business and marketing. Her discussion will be based in great part on her experience co-editing (with Patricia Sunderland) the recent Handbook of Anthropology in Business, a book that illuminates the theoretical perspectives, practices, and muses that fuel incursions.

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May 8, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
The Bricolage of Death: Jewish Possessions and the Fashioning of the Prisoner Elite in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1942-1945
Noah Benninga, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of History


Between spring of 1942 and January of 1945, nearly one million Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Packing as though for resettlement, they brought with them whatever concentrated wealth and material goods they could. These goods were taken to the Effektenlager (‘Kanada’) to be sorted and shipped ‘back’ to the Reich, but in reality ‘leaked’ to all those involved. The Nazi authorities in fact allowed their limited circulation within the prisoner population for a variety of reasons, where they provided the material basis for the prisoner aristocracy and ‘middle management’ – totaling 15-20% of a population which at its high point approached 150,000. For this relatively thin stratum of prisoner functionaries, life in Auschwitz regained a ‘semblance of normality’, even becoming – at the highest positions – opulent. Using published accounts by survivors I examine the uses to which the privileged elite put their wealth: the creation of a bricolage economy and the extent to which it merited the use of the term ‘fashion’.

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