CANCELLED - Anthropology of Marketing and Promotion; Performance and Tricksters

Course content

This course approaches marketing and promotion (PR) as ethnographic fields, as we look into anthropological perspectives on the market and related practices of convincing, seducing and selling as socio-cultural phenomena.

Drawing upon classic anthropology and ethnographic studies we critically engage with the business field of "marketing" as a field of cultural communication and performance. We discuss the social formation of persuation in light of anthropological performance theory, drawing on ritual theory and studies in rituality and the liminoid. We work from a constructivist approach, inspired by philosophically informed configurations of reality and its construction, as well as the significance of temporary modes. In this light the course addresses how something is socially conjured and becomes real and convincing as a particular social form.

In the course, we get acquainted with theoretical discussions on the mythological Trickster figure of multiple meanings. Concerned with better understanding the role of this figure in social life (as both a dynamic force and a marker related to limits and border crossings as well as to significance and interpretation) we aim to understand phenomena related to marketing, in which performance and particular forms of sociality inform perceptions and decisions.

Whilst exploring ethnographic and anthropological perspectives on marketing and promotional practices and touching upon theories of consumption, the course is not as such an instrumental guide to the functional use of ethnography in practical marketing nor on the use of ethnography in modern, Euro-American marketing systems.This course is of interest to students who wish to explore classic anthropological theories of performance, consumption and creation, and experiment with applying these to contemporary phenomena such as sales, PR and marketing.


Department of Anthropology

Learning outcome

Upon the completion of the course, the student will be able to identify certain anthropological approaches to marketing and promotion.

The student will have reflected upon a selected number of ethnographic fields relevant to the themes of marketing, performance and tricksters.

The student will be able to integrate concepts from anthropological ritual theory and specific related ethnographic fields in the analysis of marketing as a socio-cultural phenomenon.

The student will be able to analytically engage with the concept of performance in relation to marketing.

The student will have acquired analytical knowledge of a body of concepts from classical ethnography with which to pursue marketing from new angles.

A combination of lectures and seminars

BSc and Open Education students: 500 pages obligatory literature.
MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature + 200 pages of literature chosen by students

Literature chosen by students must be relevant to the course’s subject matter.

Course literature will be available in Absalon on the course website

The course also serves as a part of the specialised track in Business and Organisational Anthropology.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, see exam plan
Written assignment

Length: Min. 21.600 - max. 26.400 keystrokes for an individual essay. For group exams plus an additional min. 6.750 - max. 8.250 keystrokes per extra group member.

The essay/portfolio assignments can be written individually or in groups of max. 4 people. Read more about the rules for group examinations in the curriculum.

The examination essay must address a relevant topic from the course and must include literature from the course syllabus.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See teaching outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 80
  • English
  • 80