MRK 3534 Economic Anthropology

MRK 3534 Economic Anthropology

Course code: 
MRK 3534
Communication and Culture
Course coordinator: 
Steffen Johannessen
Gillian Warner-Søderholm
Course name in Norwegian: 
Economic Anthropology
Product category: 
Bachelor of International Management- Programme Courses
2017 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Ethnic and cultural diversity have become part of people’s everyday experience in most parts of the world. At the same time, transnational communication is increasing, and physical distance is becoming less important in many spheres of life. A globalized and constantly changing business world, increasingly affected China and other emerging economies outside the western world, brings about new social, cultural, economic and political challenges. This demands a heightened sense of understanding anthropological issues of culture and identity-formation in a global economy.

The course will offer anthropological and sociological perspectives for understanding and analyzing culture, identity and social relations, with a focus on economic issues and international business. It will focus on how social practices of trade, reciprocity, tourism, consumerism and shopping contribute to form, confirm and re-shape identity, cultural meaning and social relationships in a globalized world. Through anthropological theory and practice, including fieldwork, students will gain an insight into how cultural values, norms and traditions in a society impact the way people interact and communicate, trade, and relate to one another. They will also gain insight into how people understand themselves and others in a consumer society much influenced by marketing, where successful marketing is much dependent on knowledge about target groups' cultural ideas.

Geographically, the course will include examples from many parts of the world, but it has an empirical focus on studies of China and Scandinavia.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • Be familiar with anthropological understandings of culture
  • Be familiar with an anthropological understanding of identity
  • Be familiar with anthropological theories of economic exchange
  • Understand how we are affected by the region in which we live, and how our cultural background influences our understanding of other groups and regions
  • Be familiar with different approaches to understanding people from other cultures, such as cultural relativism and ethnocentrism.
  • Understand qualitative anthropological research methods, and how cultural meanings and practices can be studied by means of participant observation.
  • Be familiar with social and cultural differences between Scandinavia and China, and the importance of this with regard to politics and business behavior in modern China.
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • Be able to explain central concepts and theories within anthropology and sociology, and to be able to apply these concepts and theories for understanding, discussing and analyzing cultures, sub-cultures, identity and different forms of social interaction within a contemporary world.
  • Be able to use qualitative interview and observation techniques to gain knowledge about other peoples' cultural perspectives and understandings.
Learning Outcome - Reflection
  • Develop increased awareness and sensitivity in respect to ethical issues that concern inter-cultural encounters.
  • Acquire modesty, understanding and respect in the approach of other groups’ cultural ideas and practices.
Course content
  • Qualitative research methods and fieldwork
  • Culture and cultural change
  • Anthropology and ethics
  • Cultural translation and context
  • Globalization and the glocal
  • Trade, reciprocity and integration
  • Media and visual culture
  • Tourism
  • Identity, ethnicity and nationalism
  • Consumption, shopping and meaning making
  • Introduction to Scandinavian and Chinese cultures
Learning process and requirements to students

The course is comprised of a combination of webinars and practical and theoretical assignments (individual and groups).  

During the semester students will work on a term paper. The term paper will be based on qualitative methods, and students shall conduct a short anthropological field-work during the semester. The term paper is to be completed individually or in groups up to 3 students (based on the same campus). The students must hand in a project proposal early in the semester, and must also be prepared to present parts of their term paper to the lecturer at a later stage in the course. The term paper will be given at semester start. Feedback and supervision will be given individually to the student / groups.  

Additionally, students are expected to discuss the various course topics in discussion groups. The discussion groups may be the same as the term paper groups or they may vary.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

The course is offered in autumn 2017 only for those students who apply directly into the 2nd year Bachelor in International Marketing. The phasing of the course from the 1st to the 3rd semester means that it will not be conducted as an ordinary course in autumn 2017. A common implementation for students at all campuses (Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim) will take place, so that teaching will be digital, while tutoring can take place locally.


Higher Education Entrance Qualification.

Required prerequisite knowledge

No particular prerequisites.

Mandatory courseworkCourseworks givenCourseworks requiredComment coursework
Voluntary For feedback on the project assignment, students are responsible for submitting a project proposal and to meet the agreed supervision time.
Voluntary Students will be asked to present their term paper work and their findings in the second half of the semester.
Mandatory coursework:
Mandatory coursework:Voluntary
Courseworks given:
Courseworks required:
Comment coursework:For feedback on the project assignment, students are responsible for submitting a project proposal and to meet the agreed supervision time.
Mandatory coursework:Voluntary
Courseworks given:
Courseworks required:
Comment coursework:Students will be asked to present their term paper work and their findings in the second half of the semester.
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group (1 - 3)
1 Semester(s)
Term paper, 10 - 15 pages, excluding attachments.
In connection with a re-sit exam, the project paper can be completed in groups up to 3 participants or on an individual basis.
Exam code: 
Grading scale: 
Examination every semester
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Support materials: 
  • Bilingual dictionary
4 Hour(s)
Both exams must be passed in order to receive a grade for the course.
Exam code: 
Grading scale: 
Examination every semester
Exam organisation: 
Ordinary examination
All exams must be passed to get a grade in this course.
Total weight: 
Student workload
10 Hour(s)
Group work / Assignments
40 Hour(s)
Work on term paper, including individual group-supervision
Student's own work with learning resources
146 Hour(s)
Self-study and (online) discussion groups
4 Hour(s)
Individual examination
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 7,5 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 200 hours.