Anthropologist in Advertising Agencies: Mediating Structures of Power and Knowledge Capital by Managing Relationships

Timothy de Waal Malefyt


This essay discusses how working from within an advertising agency as an anthropologist yields particular advantages in terms of presenting anthropological insights and gaining access to information that one would not have been privy to, compared to a study of advertising from the outside. Working from within an agency affords access not only to forms of objective data and consumer research documents that are less accessible from the outside, but also to forming critical relationships and subjective associations with clients that produce knowledge practices and situate information in authoritative positions of power from within. I draw on fifteen years of experience as a corporate anthropologist working within and among relationships in advertising which define, produce and sustain various structures of power and knowledge capital that orient insights and information in critical ways.


advertising; consumer research; fieldwork; frame analysis; relationship management

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ISSN: 2245-4217

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