Understanding Affluence through the Lens of Technology: An Ethnographic Study toward Building an Anthropology Practice in Advertising
Description: This thesis describes a pilot study for a new cultural anthropology initiative at Team One, a US-based premium and luxury brand advertising agency. In this study, I explore the role and meaning of technology among a population of affluent individuals in Southern California through diaries and ethnographic interviews conducted in their homes. Using schema theory and design anthropology to inform my theoretical approach, I discuss socioeconomic and cultural factors that shape these participants' notions of affluence and influence their presentation of self through an examination of their technology and proudest possessions. I put forward a theory of conspicuous achievement as a way to describe how the affluent use technology to espouse a merit-based model of affluence. Through this model of affluence, participants strive to align themselves to the virtuous middle-class while ascribing moral value to their consumption practices. Lastly, I provide a typology of meaningful technology artifacts in the affluent home that describes the roles of their most used tech devices and how each type supports conspicuous achievement.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Garcia, Steven R.
Partner: UNT Libraries