Surviving the Supermarket Shuffle What and How, Not Why Focus on what a set of items means and how it means. Example: Condiments. In the HEB, the set of condiments centers around ketchup and mustard (central category members) with a second tier of items focused around relish (peripheral members) and barbecue sauce. Mayonnaise is kind of between the condiments and salad dressings. What and How, Not Why Example: Condiments. This category structure suggests that the idea of condiments in the HEB is associated with the hamburger and the hot dog. This observation could lead to a thesis that examines the role of “fast food” in the context of national identity, and how that role might or might not persist across contexts of class and culture. What and How, Not Why Example: Condiments. We don’t care so much about: • How easy it seems to find the ketchup. • If shelf space for the condiments is large because condiments are profitable for the market. • If the market made its decisions because the people in there seem like they would eat a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs. What and How, Not Why Example: Condiments. We might want to say something about the difference between mustard and ketchup at the fancy market; e.g., mustard IS fancy while ketchup is kind of for kids. How can we say that? • We can look at the range of varieties of mustard, their prices, their origins, etc. compared to ketchup. • We can look at the different shapes of the containers. We are essentially saying that the characteristics of interest for mustard are different than for ketchup. We can say that these different characteristics imply a different audience (adults vs. kids). What and How, Not Why Example: Condiments. But we aren’t interested in saying things like: • The market has really responded to the demographics of the neighborhood in prioritizing the ketchup. • The placement of the ketchup is successful because it encourages parents to buy it for their kids. What and How, Not Why Example: Condiments. We aren’t interested in supermarkets as such! We aren’t in marketing class. We don’t care about “best” or “good” ways of arranging items. We just want to know what the items say and how they say it. Similarly, your observations should be tied into a deeper analysis of category structure, meaning, and (conceptual) motivation. Don’t get distracted by irrelevant details. Readings Help With What and How Example: Condiments. Lakoff is good for determining category structure and conceptual motivations that underly that structure. Basso, Watson, and Orr demonstrate how different concepts can exist for the same category (in “American” markets the condiment is focused on the sandwich; in Asian markets this will not be the case). Ereshevsky illustrates different means of defining identity equivalence, as does the various ideas of works, texts, and documents that will will be reading about next week. Etc. Basics Write in a clear, professional style. First person is fine. I don’t care what citation format you use (no need to “cite” class readings, just note pages if you quote something). I don’t care what words you use. A well-organized paper will serve your ideas better than ornate language. You can have some fun with it, but keep the jokes to a minimum. My favorite papers are the ones that surprise me by thinking about something differently, even if they don’t entirely succeed. Rules of thumb Write a paper that is interesting to you and that makes sense for the context of this class. The instructions on the syllabus are supposed to be helpful, and I recommend reading them.