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Friday, August 04, 2006

Book Review: The Culture Code

You may have heard of Clotaire Rapaille. If you haven't, I highly suggest watching his segment in PBS Frontline's The Persuaders (wmv videos, Rapaille is segment 4). That segment is probably a better view of what Rapaille goes over in the first segment of his new book, The Culture Code. Rapaille's claim to fame, fortune, and mansions in France is using techniques he used from his previous career in child psychology to run "discovery sessions" to find an all encompassing simple code for why we do what we do. Sort of like a unified string theory of the universe, except for freeze-dried coffee. For example, in The Persuaders they're searching for the code for luxury. Spoiler: As revealed in the book, it's MILITARY STRIPES. Basically, americans view luxury as a ranking and money as a confirmation of what they've accomplished in life.

Once you get past Rapaille's "I'm from France! You Americans are so strange!" schtick, and past all of the "listen to the reptillian" metaphor wanking, there's a lot of really great insights to be found in his work. The book is basically a collection of case studies for the discovery sessions he's run, but he manages to tie them all together nicely to lead you to understanding the greater driving principles of cultures. I'm not sure if we can all run focus groups where we have people stare at the ceiling to connect to their inner childs, but we can certainly learn from his methods that stem from both psychology and deep cultural anthopology.

If you want a pretty good taste of book, this interview from Frontline is a good starter. Rapaille is an easy read, he never gets too far into the affliction of extraneous complexity, he keeps it very matter-of-fact and conversational. The book is a "Wow" if Rapaille didn't turn you off in that Frontline clip. But at the very least it's a...

Review: "Hmmm..."


AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

i don't think i like him - he wears an ASCOT.

Stan Chin said...

Which is exactly why I posted the picture.

Anonymous said...

2nd paragraph there is a spelling. It's anthropology.

from another planne(r)t

A. said...

yeah, but what's really important is that i'm in that frontline "the persuaders" special. the one point.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

now i gotta play "where's waldo" and try to find you. are u in the french mansion?