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of these issues:
Commerce, philanthropy, and the culture of
should be more creative in thinking about how we reward people for
what they've done."
Rich Rothenberg, Professor
of Family and Preventive Medicine
I'm going to accept [the Sloan Foundation's] money in good faith,
I have to minimally carry out their agenda."
Bradd Shore, Professor
License income, patents, start-ups, and research expenditures for
a selection of eleven institutions
sees the money?
Emory's recently revised intellectual property ownership policy
Shore directs the Center for
Myth and Ritual in American Life (marial), supported by the Alfred
P. Sloan Foundations Program on Dual-Career Working Middle
Class Families. The marial Center researches the functions and significance
of ritual and myth in dual wage-earner middle class families in
the American South.
How did your relationship with the Sloan Foundation first develop?
(BS): I got to know Sloan because they came
to me. The program director called out of the blue and explained
what they were interested in, and I said, Thats interesting,
but I do ritual and myth and psychological anthropology in the South
Pacific. But she told me they wanted to set up a research
center in a major southern university, and the topic they were interested
in was ritual and myth in American family life. Most people who
worked in American family sociology or anthropology didnt
really know how to think about ritual and myth in an interesting
way, so they decided to take a gamble and go to somebody who had
worked in ritual and myth and have them reorient their work toward
American families. I began to think how interesting this could be,
so I wrote a grant proposal, and it was accepted..
the Sloan Foundations agenda became your agenda?
Actually, thats been the
biggest area of negotiation weve had. The issue is always
what they call staying on track. They had a vision of
what they wantedwho these families were and what the problems
wereand theyre very policy-oriented. Anthropologists
are often not policy-oriented. Thats been an interesting tension.
I have to understand what their agenda is, and they have the responsibility
to make it very clear to me at the beginning. And then if Im
going to accept their money in good faith, I have to minimally carry
out their agenda. I think weve moved closer to the work-life
issues theyre interested in, and they have given us breathing
room to explore some areas where the direct connection with policy
for working families may not be obvious.
Theres an intrinsic tension between the open-ended research
mind of the anthropologist who goes in not sure what theyre
going to find and wanting to go where the really interesting threads
lead them, and the policy-driven research, which presumes that we
already know; it just wants to collect data to support policy.
are you managing that tension?
Its a tightrope walk in which I am held responsible for making
sure that the research we fund has a serious component that foregrounds
the issues of work and home. The Sloan Foundation wants reviews,
to see what youre publishing, and periodically theyll
come and have everyone talk about their research. It took me about
a year and a half to get the research on track. Its the least
pleasant part of my job. I had to recruit faculty whose work was
already fully developed in a certain area, and I had to promise
them funding and support if they would move their research slightly
in one direction. The research had to be close, but very little
of it was on target because issues of myth and ritual and routine
in American middle-class working families are not normal research
subjects. So for example, two of our researchers are studying family
conversational patterns and storytelling, and they were interested
in that for a long time, so thats not a problem. But weve
had to get them to make sure their sample had a certain percentage
of working families versus non-working families, where there was
a stay-at-home parent, and they were going to compare the styles.
They were not going to originally do that.
Have you ever had to cut someones
Yes, we have. You begin to get research that goes into areas
that are too far off. Scholars dont like to be told what to
research; we cant breathe if were too tightly constrained.
And were primarily scholars. Were not servants of public
policy. In most cases, weve been able to compromise. The research
may go into areas that go beyond Sloans interests, but they
know that. As long as we can focus on areas that are of potential
use to them, we can do other stuff as well.
Do you think philanthropy is becoming more
like investment and demanding a return?
I think it always was; I just think it didnt want to
acknowledge it. These are business models theyre applying.
And theres no question about it; Sloan is the same way. But
they have been very open and direct with us. They do not pretend
theyre just funding pure research. They are very big on influencing
policy. They work with the labor department to get childcare laws
changed. The trouble with anthropologists is they come up with insights
that you couldnt have predicted and that may actually go contrary
to the policy goals