We’ve had enough of ‘experts’. The ‘mainstream media’ is lying to us. You can’t rely on the government. You can’t trust big business. The ‘metropolitan elite’ live in a bubble and look after their own vested interests. Trust nobody…

That’s the striking cultural take-out of 2016: what some commentators have described as an emergent ‘post-truth’ (truly, post-trust) narrative, coupled with a climate of deep unease about the system we live in.

The clear direction of travel is that the long assumption of a stable shared culture is approaching breaking point.

We are not all in it together.

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The Happiness Project – Brexit, Pursued by Despair


We’ve made a great deal of headway with the Happiness Project over the last few months. Using a combination of foundational qualitative work, academic frameworks, cultural insight and new quantitative research, we’ve now developed a rigorous framework for measuring the different elements that make up the sum total of human wellbeing.

As a taster, here’s a brief insight into how some of those things influenced voting behaviour in last year’s EU referendum…

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Think Like a Human

Let’s start with a question:

A hardware store has been selling snow shovels for £15. The morning after a large snowstorm, the store raises the price to £20. Is this fair?

This question was posed by pioneering behavioural economists Daniel Kahneman, Jack Knetsch and Richard Thaler in a disarmingly simple, but ground breaking, study in 1986. If you think that raising the price of the snow shovel is ‘unfair’ then you are with the 82% of people in the study who felt the same way…

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The Enlightening Boringness of Reality

Ethnography is a term that has been somewhat hijacked by qualitative researchers. Its roots lie in academia, wherein ethnographic research involves spending days, weeks, months, or even years immersing oneself in hitherto unexplored cultural environments to make sense of them by observation and interpretation.

It’s fascinating and boring all at the same time. It’s the everyday, in real time. And therein lies its power.

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The Power of Authentic Communities

People have long been talking about the importance of ‘insight communities’.

There are the obvious advantages, like reach and speed. If you were to conduct traditional in-person research then cost and distance would be a challenge to engaging certain people. By going online, you remove these barriers and enable quality interactions with anyone, anywhere. Similarly, when put up against traditional in-person research, online methods (and in particular community research) can give you answers to questions in quick time.

But it’s the generation and value of ideas and insight that can be gleaned from real interactions among an engaged group of like-minded individuals that’s the power play here.

In short, authentic communities.

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Experience Matters

These days, it’s becoming an accepted truth that people value experiences more than just ‘things’. Authentic experiences are emerging as a new common social currency: talked about, shared, and bonded over.

We believe that if you understand the experiences people have, you begin to understand why they behave as they do.

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The Business of Happiness

In pursuit of culturisation, what if we could apply the concept of increasing the sum total of human happiness to commercial enterprises?

What if we could define – and measure – what makes a ‘good’ business in exactly this way?

This is exactly what The Happiness Project is seeking to achieve. Between other projects, we at Culturise are collaborating to advance these ideas into a more rigorous and measurable framework.

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