We welcome a guest blog from Ashely Duperron (U British Columbia-Okanagan).
In yesterday’s inno-vent “Silence and Silos: The Problems of Fractured Thought in Finance”, Gillian Tett (Financial Times) questioned why anthropology does not play a better role in the country’s political policy when in fact it could be used to help predict and make sense of finance and the credit crisis.
Something I found particularly interesting during this session was Tett’s idea that major banks and their presidents create their culture and that they are in fact a subculture within our culture. According to Tett this can been seen in the fact that these corporations have created their own language, for example acronyms, words and terms that without instruction no one outside these institutions could understand. She also brought up the idea that this particular subculture has its own sets of rites and rituals which include annual meetings and business processes that are related solely to this group of people. Tett also stated that these subcultures (ie banks) should be studied and understood within their own cultural context. She had also inferred that if people had been more curious, if we as anthropologists had been out of strictly participant-observation mode, and that if we had been involved with studying these subcultures, more people might have been aware of the impending credit crisis that started in 2007 and is still going on today.
Tett also discussed how labelling and media are reasons people were unaware of the impending credit crisis. Due to the fact that many issues surrounding banking and finance are labelled boring and geeky, and many do not want to read information labelled as such, it leaves room for the possibility of a shock such as the finical crisis. As Tett said, “What better way to hide something than in plain sight?”