Welcome to Brandthroposophy, my new-yet-long-planned blog. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an anthropologist who is also professor of marketing at a business school, and I’ve been investigating topics at the intersection of consumer culture, entertainment, and technology for over a decade. The title of this blog derives from a weird hybridizing of consumer culture, management science, entertainment and mysticism, in keeping with the theme of much of my thinking and writing.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a prominent thinker, philosopher, and mystic who founded the Waldorf schools and biodynamic agriculture, both of which have had lasting impact. He called his spiritual science “anthroposophy” and founded it on the cultivation of thinking that transcended the limits of the senses, or in other words, that moved beyond the sphere of the material. It was an ethical and individualistic approach to mysticism and spirituality, one that struck a lasting chord with American seekers in particular.
Without getting overly esoteric, and without sounding too grandiose about it, I’d like to use this blog to try to move our thinking about branding and consumer culture in some parallel directions. I’d like to see more individualistic thinking about marketing in today’s world. Steiner wrote about how questions about the meaning of life were like a form of hunger or thirst; I’d like to see us question the meaning of consumer culture in our lives and our society: see it for all its good and all its pitfalls.
I’d like us to be agnostic and rigorous as we seek to answer some of the great questions of our time. What do we make of technology, and what does it make of us? How do we live as communities? What sources of deeper meaning do people hunger for? And how do we understand and manage phenomena such as consumer tribes, co-creating prosumers, online communities, ubiquitous entertainmentized themes, and pervasive commercial control over the myths and meaning-making apparatus of society? How do we do it in an age of potentially devastating environmental degradation, rapid technological change, increasing multiculturalism and the consequent dynamic shifts of power these three forces portend.
Moreover, I’d like to keep this blog somewhat autoethnographic. I’d like to keep the personal thread in this ongoing global story. I’d like to build on life reflections and ideas and personal experiences, not sit atop some high theoretical hill. I’m going to really try to keep it real.
And from the beginning I welcome your ideas, your content, and your feedback.
So welcome to Brandthroposophy: the new science of ethical marketing magic.