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Episode 21: Jonathan Cook

The Power And Meaning In Rituals with Jonathan Cook – Researcher, Ethnographer, Questioner




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Jonathan Cook studied anthropology, though he says he prefers the title of “Questioner.” He is also a researcher and ethnographer. And, he is focused on rituals. In this episode host David Kepron and Cook talk about how rituals are like passageways or “thresholds,” a passage between two realms, between identities. Within this liminal space, transformation takes place. Cook unpacks the elements of ritual including: Separation, Disorientation, Symbolic Recombination, Guidance, Taboo and Transgression, Trial and Reward and Reorientation and how these are all at play in many of the mundane as well as magical moments of our lives.


Jonathan’s Profile:


Twitter: JonathanCCook




Herman Melville wrote, “Some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload.”​ This vision of the world inspires the core of my professional mission – to help people understand the deeper meaning of the apparently ordinary objects that they work with, and bring their work into accord with that meaning.

Whether I’m working for non-profit organizations, political candidates, or corporate clients, my goal is the same: To explore the confluence of ideas that matter and tactics that work. I offer tools in research, strategic analysis and practical applications that lead to unexpected solutions to the most stubborn challenges.

My expertise is in qualitative methods in market research that break through the rational justifications for behavior, to explore the deeper motivations that drive people to defy the expectations of mechanistic models. Instead of merely asking for opinions, I use techniques of interviewing, observation and analysis that are designed to create an experience that reveals hidden barriers as well as areas of unexpected potential, leading people to articulate powerful ideas that they didn’t know they had.

Gathering information is just the beginning of the research process. It’s in the human interpretation of results that actionable opportunities are discovered. Using time-tested techniques of symbolic action, it is possible to overcome the dynamics of denial and to build sales through relationships that can transcend the trap of commoditization. To this end, I work with culturally-informed methods to help clients leverage the special characteristics of the threshold moments that move people from abstract interest into purchase and consumption.





MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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