AANA18121U The Anthropology of business and organization in contemporary markets

Volume 2020/2021

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.

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

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.

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.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 133
  • Exam
  • 35
  • Total
  • 210
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

1st re-exam: An essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

2nd re-exam: A new essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

Essay length: 21,600–26,400 keystrokes for an individual submission. 6,750–8,250 keystrokes per extra member for group submissions. The maximum number of students who can write an essay in a group is four.

For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes