Anthropology books


It’s an interesting time to be watching our society. If we hadn’t chosen fashion as a career (or become chocolatiers), The Woman’s Room would have quite liked to have been anthropologists. After A level Sociology we were all ready to be Margaret Mead and set off into the wild unknown to watch people from exciting tribes and log their behaviour. What probably would have happened is we would have found a tribe, loved the clothes/beadwork/baskets/tribal headgear and tried to negotiate purchasing and exporting. Not very politically correct, even for the eighties

Instead we ended up in fashion, which has its own fascinating tribal and social behaviour, so we didn’t really miss out and we have plenty of interesting people to watch and study. For some reason, fashion attracts, how can we say this politely, creatively eccentric individuals who don’t always subscribe to what is ‘normal’ either in dress or behaviour. We of course, love this whole element and it only serves to feed our interest and we consider ourselves just as daring as sweet Bruce Parry and his trips up the Amazon, plenty of scarey tribal chiefs and weird rituals around planet fashion.

With recession shopping behaviour all over the place we feel we should be taking notes for future generations. Last week alone we learnt that older generations are reeling in horror at the giant size debt mountain we’re now encumbered with and swear never again to pay full price for anything, where as the young, who shop at Topshop, Topman and other Arcadia brands are completely unaware of there being a problem (many of the brand directors we spoke to last week at the Arcadia press day, are slightly concerend at how little they are being affected by the downturn, sales are high).

So we have our ‘observation note books’ by our sides wherever we go at the moment, and to help us we are reading Martin Lindstrom’s Buy.Ology, now out in paperback. With the help of neuromarketing it has been discovered that shopping makes us feel fantastic. To be honest Martin we could have told you that without all the brain diodes being attached to our heads, but it’s nice to have a scientist write it down officially and it’s well worth revisiting some of the areas this book covers, such as why a smile helps persuade us to buy and how we are likely to buy more if the room smells nice..

To keep our anthropology skills up to scratch tho, we return time after time, to the truly wonderful Kate Fox book, Watching the English, which is a priceless study of why we do what we do, written as if it’s a novel and there’s a great chapter on clothes. Compelling reading at this time and a must for all amateur anthropologists.


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