John F Sherry, Jr / A Profile

Author: Paul Otto

Jsherry

I caught up with Dr. John F. Sherry, joint professor in Marketing and Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, in late spring, right after exams. John has had a prolific career in ethnography as a practitioner and theorist, with 10 books, over 100 articles, and numerous consulting engagements to his name. He is a collaborative scholar, and quick to point out others’ influence on his work—Sidney Levy, Joel Cohen, William Wilkie, H. Russell Bernard, Marvin Harris, and more.

In addition to his work on brand strategy and consumer behavior (among his many distinctions, John is past president of the Consumer Culture Theory Consortium), John has had “a long term investment in placeways—retail, atmospherics, that kind of thing,” which he says resonates with the work of more traditional anthropologists.

“It's like a hologram. You do this long enough, and it all starts to kind of blend together, intertwine." And at the center of it all is ethnography:

“Ethnography is basically fundamental to the way that I operate. It’s a source of data and insight for the research and teaching that I do; it's a source of inspiration for creative work that I do; and overtime it just becomes a way of life. You start out kind of focused on individual projects as a novice, and you move from one project to another, and the longer you're in the field, and the more your skills refine, you kind of shift from a project-based focus to more of a systematic one.”

Read the entire story on the EPIC website