Desk Crit Meeting Notes: Chilean Cultural Context

Why do cultural research?

I want to design in a context that will be readily accepted by the Chileans. Since it will have been a year since the earthquake when we arrive, we will probably be addressing higher tier needs than physiological and safety. Designing objects that provide a sense of purpose requires an understanding of the demographic’s culture and values.

What are you looking to learn?

First, we need to differentiate between Chilean culture in general and that of the city for which we are designing. Just as Los Angeles would be a very poor indicator of the culture in New Orleans, so too might generalizations about a country that spans one-eighth the circumference of the globe be inaccurate. Books can provide a historical context but media sources will be a better reflection of recent events. Monica has suggested three online sources: Las Últimas Noticias, La Tercera, and emol. Jim suggested that I contact the embassy or consulate.

In terms of the culture itself, I want to know:

How can I help rebuild culture post-earthquake?
What do people do for entertainment?
Where do people go on a Friday night?
How late do they stay out?
What’s a weekday like in Santiago? Weekend?
Describe a typical work day for someone in the service industry. When do they take breaks?
How do people celebrate holidays?
How do I make a connection with the people?
What is a good conversation starter?
Are people introverted/extroverted?
How would you characterize the popular culture?
What kind of music do people listen to?
What television programs do people watch?
Which celebrities do people follow?
Is politics discussed much by the average citizen?
What do Chileans eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner?
When do they eat?
Is the food culture meat/fish/vegetable driven?
Tell me about a food that is uniquely Chilean.
What attitudes do people have of different social classes? Age groups? Ethnicities?
How has the rising unemployment rate affected Chilean attitudes towards government? Consumption habits?

Source: CIA World Factbook, February 19, 2010

Jim also suggested that I look into the disaster relief efforts to date. What are the issues that have come up? Perhaps there are opportunities in newly orphaned children. Maybe a segment of the population has become newly disabled. Were historical/religious monuments destroyed and how are Chileans working around that loss?

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