Research in popular culture

John Sergeant
Eureka Strategic Research Pty Ltd, Australia

James Lane
James Lane Research, Australia


The more talented a person is, the more options he or she has in selecting a career. Yet, the talented people whom we want to attract to our profession are likely to have only a basic knowledge of who we are and what we do, just like most members of the public. This paper explores the image of market and social research that is portrayed in film, television, poetry, cartoons and literature. It is argued that this has an effect on the quality and orientation of entrants to our profession. Further, it affects the social acceptability of research as a career, which impacts upon our ability to retain talented people.


What makes someone choose to apply for a position, or enrol in a university course, in market and social research? The more people one meets in the profession, the more different stories one hears about how people ended up in a research career. There are few common themes, other than the fact that most seem to have had an inaccurate picture of the profession until they actually start working in it.