Date of Completion

2015

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Anthropology

Type of Thesis

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Benjamin Eastman

Second Advisor

Abigail McGowan

Third Advisor

Luis Vivanco

Keywords

anthropology, economics, economy, Burlington, Vermont, culture

Abstract

This thesis explores the interplay between culture and economy within the Burlington, VT web tech industry in an effort to understand how and why this area has emerged as a growing hub for these types of businesses. Vermont presents a particularly attractive place of study as it promotes values of both individual freedom and communal citizenship, a dichotomy that has fascinating sociocultural and economic implications. An ethnographic study comprising interviews and participant observation provided the foundation for this research, offering an intimate glimpse into the lived experiences of individuals working at two particular Burlington web tech companies: Dealer.com and CPA Site Solutions. In doing so, this project sheds light on the complex dynamics at play in the development of Burlington as a site of web tech growth and begins to question generalized narratives about the experience of capitalism today, incorporating economic anthropological theory as a guide. Indeed, upon close examination, Dealer and CPA attempt to redefine the meaning of “success,” striving to balance Freedom and Unity. This, however, is neither an easy nor simple process; rather, it is dynamic and difficult, requiring active work and adaptability. Furthermore, this study begins to reimagine Max Weber's idea of the “iron cage,” suggesting it might be time to determine a more useful and appropriate metaphor to describe the varied experiences of contemporary capitalism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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