Accepted Paper:

Toward an anthropology of worth  


Brian Moeran

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the formation of creative worlds around particular creative products, the different affordances that influence creative processes, and the different values that people bring to bear in their valuation and evaluations thereof.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines (1) the formation of creative worlds around particular creative products - advertising worlds, for example, or ceramic art worlds, or fashion worlds - and the differences (some greater, some lesser) among them in the organization of creativity; (2) the different values that people in these creative worlds bring to bear during the course of their creative engagements with products, as well as with one another, and their resulting assessments of worth; and (3) the different affordances (usually, but not necessarily, in the form of constraints) that they face when thinking on 'the edge of the box': the materials, aesthetic ideals, genres, situational contexts, personal networks, organizational structures, and budgetary demands that together influence how different people engage in creative processes and what they come up with as a result.

Because all of these values and affordances are embedded in one another in any creative world - at times one, at times another, singly or in different combinations, illuminating the whole - the social, cultural, economic and technical may be seen as constituting an 'assemblage' ⎼ ideally, because of the collaborative nature of creative work, an ensemblage ⎼ which frames and embodies what is, and is not, recognized as 'creativity'. It is because such ensemblages are made up of evaluations, values, and valuation, as well as group formations of one sort or another and the objects which act upon them, that we may regard business anthropology as an anthropology of worth.

Panel P084
Creativity in business (Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)