The Anthropology of business and organization in contemporary markets

Course content

The field of business and organizational anthropology contains a multiplicity of voices, perspectives and ethnographic domains, including corporate and organizational anthropology, economic anthropology and political economy. This course addresses business and organizational anthropology as a field where global market developments, new digital technologies, political discourses and societal concerns intersect, localize, and turn into practice. The course embarks on a presentation of ‘classical’ ethnographic studies of work place organization and corporate culture, which will serve as an introduction to the field. We then proceed to examine anthropological and interdisciplinary research focusing on organizational practices and business models as both expressions of and responses to a range of contemporary market developments, societal concerns and ethical issues, including digital finance/debt, data driven markets/surveillance, sustainability, climate change and consumer activism addressing equal rights issues. Throughout the course, we will interrogate how business practices and business models may shape solutions, create new dilemmas and generally raise debates about how business should operate in society. An inherent part of this discussion focuses on the theoretical, methodological and ethical positions available for anthropologists working in the field. In one or more sessions, private corporations/public institutions will be invited to debate how they see key business challenges in light of changing market forms and political discourses.


The teaching in spring 2021 will be online until the 1. of April due to the Covid19 situation.

As soon as it is permitted and justifiable, it is up to the individual lecturer whether to transition to a blended format or wish to continue with full online teaching for the rest of the semester.

The individual lecturer will inform you of the above choice in the Absalon room for each course.

Courses with oral exams will be held online if the relevant restrictions have not been lifted at least four weeks before the individual exam. This will be notified in Absalon.

Courses with written exams will not experience any changes in relation to the normal exam form.

Learning outcome


At the end of the course students are expected to:

  • Identify key research areas and issues in business and organizational anthropology as a broad field.
  • Depict developments in markets, societal concerns and public debates of relevance for businesses and organizations.
  • Analyze how economic market forms and political discourses impact organizations and businesses as well as consumer-citizen responses.



At the end of the course students are expected to

  • Demonstrate insight into ‘classical’ as well as contemporary ethnographic research in the field of business and organization.
  • Be able to show how developments and policy concerns in global markets create new business models and practices, and how new developments are responded to by consumers and stakeholders in various contexts.



At the end of the course students must be able to

  • Identify relevant ethnographic data, methods and theory in the study of complex organizational and business processes in contemporary markets.
  • Create connections between analytical debates in the field of organization and business and analytical ideas and concepts in anthropological studies of changing markets and their social and political environments.
  • Analytically, critically and practically engage with relevant issues in the anthropological field of business and organization

The course will be based on a combination of lectures and seminars where students are expected to contribute actively through group work, discussions, readings as well as oral and written presentations.


The teaching is on campus during autumn semester 2020. However, due to the covid19 situation all classes are available online too for students who are not able to attend classes on campus because of their covid-19 risk.

Always remember to check Absalon for the latest updates.

BSc students and MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature.

The teacher will publish 200-300 pages of supplementary literature.

Course literature will be available through Absalon.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 2-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.

The assignments are evaluated together with a total grade.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 133
  • Exam
  • 35
  • English
  • 210