In this episode, Xinyan Peng interviews Dr. Mike Prentice, who is currently a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. Dr. Prentice has been trained as a linguistic and cultural anthropologist, and his research broadly focuses on genres and technologies of communication, organizations and corporations, and work and labor cultures in contemporary South Korea. Dr. Prentice’s book Supercorporate: Distinction and Participation in Post-Hierarchy South Korea, examines a central tension in visions of big corporate life in 21st-century South Korea: should corporations be sites of fair distinction or equal participation? As South Korea distances itself from images and figures of a hierarchical past, Dr. Prentice argues that the drive to redefine the meaning of corporate labor echoes a central ambiguity around corporate labor today.

03:32 The Study of Supercorporate
08:43 Hierarchy and Distinction
19:31 Powerpoint Cultures
25:10 Infrastructures of Distinction
34:50 Methodology of Corporate Fieldwork
47:57 Socialization, Shareholder Meetings, and Golf


Irvine, J. T. (1989). “When talk isn’t cheap: Language and political economy.” American ethnologist, 16(2), 248-267.

Janelli, R. L., & Yim, D. (1995). Making capitalism: The social and cultural construction of a South Korean conglomerate. Stanford University Press.

Host: Xinyan Peng
Guest: Dr. Mike Prentice
Research Assistant: Wenzhao Chen
Audio Editor: Seyma Kabaoglu

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Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA)

SEA’s podcast, Mergers and Acquisitions demonstrates how anthropological and other perspectives can enhance and complicate understandings of economic life and contemporary events. Mergers and Acquisitions hosts interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provides reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serves as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other. Recognizing that the best ideas and insights are rarely generated alone, Mergers and Acquisitions offers a collective mind-hive for furthering the study of economic life.