Anthropology at the bottom of the pyramid



This article explores what anthropology has to say about contemporary business strategies for market expansion among poor consumers in Africa and Asia. Focusing on the activities of global consumer goods company Unilever in India, we show how anthropology can provide valuable insights into the hidden work and power relations involved in transforming an everyday commodity like soap into a composite object, what we call a ‘social good’, that is capable of simultaneously combating disease, tackling poverty and realizing value for shareholders.