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What are the critical factors in understanding the nature and dimensions of leadership?

Introduction

Many people do not differentiate between leader and manager. Indeed, in the writer’s view, there is a big overlap between leadership and management especially in his country.

Up to date, there is still no full understanding of what leadership is, nor is there an agreement on what good or effective leadership should be. The most popular leadership theories that have been discussed by researchers include charismatic, transactional, transformational and servant leadership (Smith, Montagno & Kuzmenko, 2004).

Boehnke et al, (2003) stated that it is essential to make a distinction between the concept of leadership and the concept of management. Also, “the convergence of a series of contemporary forces, the globalization of markets, the increasing rates of competitive pressure, and the flattening of organizational structures has increased the distinction between leadership and management” (Steingraber, 1996, cited in Ahn, Adamson & Dornbusch, 2004, p. 114).

Kotler, (1990, 1996) (cited in Ahn, Adamson & Dornbusch, 2004, p. 114) argued that a leader defines “what the future should look like, aligns the organization with a common vision, and provides inspiration to achieve transformational goals”. Kotter (1988) (cited in Barker, 2001, p. 477) defined leadership as “the process of moving a group (or groups) of people in some direction through (mostly) noncoercive means”. He acknowledged that the word leadership sometimes refers to people who occupy the roles where leadership by the first definition is expected. He then characterized good or effective leadership as a process that moves people in a direction that is genuinely in their real long-term best interests.

Zaleznik, 1977 (cited in Boehnke et al, 2003, p. 5) viewed the influence of leaders as “altering moods, evoking images and expectations, and in establishing specific desires and objectives”.

Gemmill and Oakley (1992) (cited in Barker, 2001, p. 491) defined leadership as “a process of dynamic collaboration, where individuals and organization members authorize themselves and others to interact in ways that experiment with new forms of intellectual and emotional meaning. This definition was offered as a remedy to the view of leadership based on the traits of the leader, which functions as a means for followers to avoid responsibility and initiative”.

Nicholls, 1987 (cited in Boehnke et al, 2003, p. 5) defined management by saying that “Management can get things done through others by the traditional activities of planning, organizing, monitoring and controlling without worrying too much what goes on inside people’s heads”.

Conversion of knowledge into competitive advantages, can be facilitated if leaders provide vision, motivation, systems and structures at all levels of the organization (Bryant, 2003).

“Managing knowledge requires a conscious effort on the part of leaders at all levels of organization to manage three key knowledge processes: creating, sharing and exploiting knowledge. Transformational leadership theory and transactional leadership theory provide a foundation for understanding how leaders impact the cultivation of knowledge” (Bryant, 2003, p. 32).

“Organizations can produce exceptional performance through effective leadership” (Boehnke et al, 2003, p. 14).

The aim of this assignment is to look at the nature and dimensions of leadership. Leadership will be critically analysed in order to present the respective merits of various way of understanding leadership, beginning with a Literature on transactional and transformational leadership approaches will be reviewed, compared and contrasted. Then look at the role theory model, in order to illustrate the nature of leaders and to understand transactional-transformational continuum along which managers position themselves. Covey and Collin’s perspective on leadership will be explained in order to give a clear idea of the nature of leadership.

Transactional and transformational Leadership

Burns (1978) stated that the transactional leader uses rewards and punishment to motivate his followers and focuses on routine performance which is agreed between him and his followers. The transformational leader, in contrast, is charismatic and inspirational motivating his team to strive to achieve a shared vision. He is concerned for his followers’ interests, stimulates awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group and helps his followers to set aside their own self interest for the sake of the wider goal (Yammarino et al 1997).

According to Boehnke et al (2003, p. 5) “Transactional leadership is described as a series of exchanges and bargains between leaders and followers, transformational leadership goes beyond exchanging inducements for desired performance by developing, intellectually stimulating, and inspiring followers to transcend their own self-interests for a higher collective purpose”.

“Transformational leadership is associated with strong personal identification with the leader, the creation of a shared vision of the future, and a relationship between leaders and followers based on far more than just the simple exchange of rewards for compliance. Transformational leaders define the need for change, create new visions, mobilize commitment to these visions and transform individual followers and even organizations. The ability of the leader to articulate an attractive vision of a possible future is a core element of transformational leadership. Such leaders display charisma and self-confidence. While a leader’s charisma may attract subordinates to a vision or mission, providing individualized consideration and support is also needed to gain desired results and helps individual subordinates achieve their fullest potential. Individualized consideration implies treating each individual as valuable and unique, and aiming to aid his or her personal development. It is in part coaching and mentoring provides for continuous feedback and links the individual’s current needs to the organization’s mission” (Keegan et al, 2004, p. 609).

In Burns’ (1978) view, the old style of transactional leadership is no longer appropriate and that today’s organizations need transformational leadership.

A transformational leader tends to have a charismatic personality which he uses to install vision and a sense of mission. He gives subordinates pride in their work and organization, and earns their respect and trust. He motivates employees by communicating high expectations, uses symbols to focus efforts, and simplification for important purposes. He also offers intellectual stimulation, encouraging intelligence, rationality, and problem-solving skills (Bass, 1990).

In contrast, the managing style transactional leaders are more tied to the prevailing system or culture. They tend to avoid risk, and focus more on process than substance as a means for maintaining control (Bass, 1990; Bryant, 2003).

In the writer’s opinion this has advantages and disadvantages. The positive side is that it avoids any attempt to breech the procedures and could prevent unethical behaviour. On the other hand, it deprives employees of the right of self-thinking and creativity, which could have a great impact on organization goals.

Yukl (1989) asserted the need for leaders to have a certain amount of power, because if they do not have enough position power to make necessary changes, or to reward or punish subordinates, it will difficult for them to achieve a high performance. Therefore, it is preferable for a leader to have at least a reasonable amount of position power and some capacity to influence the group by offering benefits and facilitating their work.

Leader Behaviours

Many leaders within the same objective context demonstrate different levels of transformational and transactional leadership, according to Shivers-Blackwell (2004). He stated that leadership behaviour could be influenced by objective organizational context, and interpretations of context shape leader behaviour. Therefore, he used Merton’s (1957) role theory model in examining how managers assimilate context as creating expectations for their role as leaders and how to understanding their use of transformational and transactional leadership behaviours.

Organizational Structure

Burns & Stalker (1961) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) suggested that organization structure could make a difference in leader behaviours. Bass (1985) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) argued that transformational leadership is suitable for organic organizations with less bureaucratic environments, whereas managers in mechanistic environments are preferred to engage in more transactional behaviours. Shivers-Blackwell (2004, p. 43) summarized that “the more a manager interprets structure as organic, the more likely the manager is to interpret transformational leadership role requirements, and the less likely he/she is to interpret transactional leadership role requirements”.

Organizational Culture

According to Schneider & Gunnarson (1991) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) many different cultures can exist in organizations, because practices, procedures and rewards can be focused on various goals and objectives.

Bass & Avolio (1994) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004, p. 44) stated that “a purely transactional culture is one that focus on explicit and implicit contractual relationships. Job assignments are defined along with conditions of employment, disciplinary codes, and benefit structures. Commitments are described as being short-term, and individual rewards are contingent upon performance. Management-by-expectation is actively practiced, and employees work as independently as possible from their colleagues”.

In contrast, a purely transformational culture has a general sense of purpose and a feeling of family. Employees have the role of sharing destiny and interdependence across vertical hierarchies and commitments are seen to be long-term. Superiors serve as mentors, role models and leaders, and there is much talk at all levels within the organization about purposes, vision, and meeting challenges (Shivers-Blackwell, 2004).

Shivers-Blackwell (2004, p. 44) summarized that “the more a manager interprets culture as a transformational, the more likely the manager is to interpret transformational leadership role requirements, and the less likely he/she is to interpret transactional leadership role requirements”.

Role Expectations and Communication by Superiors

Bass (1985) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) affirmed that leadership is a two-way process between leaders and followers. He pointed out that Leaders’ behaviours are affected by the degree that a manager identifies with his reference group (superiors, subordinates and peers). Dienesch and Liden (1986) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) stated that due to the hierarchical nature of organizations, the manager’s immediate supervisor is likely to be an extremely influential role sender. Thus, the manager is more likely to conform to his/her role expectations.

In the writer’s view, the above argument is consistent with the view that: transformational leaders usually work towards increasing the level of knowledge and awareness of their subordinates. Also, learning, mentoring and support are included. These leaders considere this as a core transformational behaviour, because it enhances subordinates’ skills and self-efficacy (Yukl, 1999). Moreover, their followers would be motivated in order to give more than expected, by increasing their sense of the importance and value of their tasks, stimulating them to sacrifice their own interests and direct themselves to the interests of the team (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985, 1995).

Shivers-Blackwell (2004, p. 45) summarized that “the more a manager interprets superior role expectations to be transformational, the more likely the manager is to interpret transformational leadership role requirements, and the less likely he/she is to interpret transactional leadership role requirements”.

Personality

Leaders’ personality may result in the formation of either transformational or transactional leadership styles (Shivers-Blackwell, 2004).

Pillai (1995) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) argued that personality characteristics (e.g., locus of control, narcissism, self-monitoring, risk-taking, need for power) and organizational context may influence leader behaviours.

Self-monitoring has a moderating impact on leader behaviour (Shivers-Blackwell, 2004).

Anderson & Thacker (1985) (cited in Shivers-Blackwell, 2004) stated that whether the exhibited behaviour is congruent with inner feelings, attitudes, or emotions, a high self-monitoring manager has an effective role and the ability to adapt his behaviour according to role. In contrast, low self-monitoring managers are likely to use internal beliefs as behaviour guidelines and they are unaware that such behaviour is against their effectiveness. They are insensitive to structural and cultural role expectations and pressures exerted by the organization. Therefore, it is conceivable that low self-monitoring managers in more organic structures and transformational cultures will exhibit transactional behaviours (Shivers-Blackwell, 2004).

Shivers-Blackwell (2004) summarized that when self-monitoring is high rather than low the relationship between interpretations of structure, culture and superior’s expectations and perceived leadership role requirements will be stronger. Also, he mentioned that when locus of control is external rather than internal, the relationship between interpretations of structure, culture and superior expectations and perceived leadership role requirements will be stronger.

This role theory explains how the impact on leaders’ behaviours of organizational context, the sensitivity of leaders’ personalities to various contexts, leaders’ tendency to adjust their leadership behaviours regardless of context and why different leaders within the same context do not behave in the same way. Specifically, for managers who possess an external locus of control orientation and managers who are high self-monitors the way they interpret their role requirements along the transactional-transformational continuum may be influenced by their perceptions of the organization’s objective context (see figure 1) (Shivers-Blackwell, 2004).

S-M: Self-Monitoring, LOC: Locus of Control

Figure 1 A Role Model of Transformational and Transactional Leader Behaviour

Cited from Shivers-Blackwell, 2004, p. 48

The Writer’s Experience:

Transactional leaders accept and do not change the culture of an organization, and work within the prevailing belief system, language, rules, regulations and procedures, while, transformational leaders change the culture by presenting new values and goals (Eisenbach et al, 1999).

Transactional leaders usually use disciplinary threats to increase employees’ performance. This technique is ineffective and, it may cause loss of morale and have a negative impact on followers (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985). On the other hand, a transformational leader are inspires subordinates with his/her personality and vision, stimulating then to exert performance that exceeds expectation (Epitropaki & Martin, 2005).

The writer has experienced similar differences of leadership style in his company. The previous managing director (who came from an academic background) kept the company’s existing culture. He used rewards and punishment to motivate the employees, and focused on work routine by concentrating on rules, regulations and procedures. His approach was to concentrate on a target to be achieved by whatever means (transactional culture). Therefore, most of the company’s managers became transactional leaders, (supporting the view of Shivers-Blackwell (2004) that leadership behaviour could be “influenced by objective organizational context”) and that a transactional culture is one that focuses on explicit and implicit contractual relationships. Most of the times he puts employees under pressure, using disciplinary threats in order to achieve a high level of performance. Therefore, employees lost morale and confidence and this affected the progress of the company. However, the new managing director changed company’s culture by lunching new beliefs and goals. He created a new atmosphere, a culture of shared decision making, and new ideas on how to lead the company in an attractive way. He displayed charisma and self-confidence. By this charisma, he attracted subordinates to the required tasks. Therefore, a transformational culture was generated. This supports what Shivers-Blackwell’s (2004) argument, that transformational culture has a general sense of purpose and a feeling of family. Employees have the role of sharing destiny and interdependence across vertical hierarchies and commitments are seen to be long-term.

Some writers (e.g., Bass 1990) suggest that organizations are less effective if their leaders are transactional and those whose leaders are transformational are more effective.

Shivers-Blackwell (2004) claim that leadership behaviour could be influenced by objective organizational context, and by leaders’ interpretations of that context, can be illustrated by what happened in one of the projects in the writer’s company. The project manager of one of the company’s projects used a transactional leadership approach (because he was influenced by the previous director). He used power based on his position and the ability to reward and punish. He exchanged something that he wanted for something the followers wanted. On many occasions, he focused strictly on rules, standards, procedures and specifications and was inflexible, allowing no divergence. This was at the expense of most of the project’s employees, who lost morale and self-creativity. Therefore, the project’s progress was affected. The project manager’s leadership behaviour was affected by the company’s situation, as he was put under pressure to increase project progress in order to gain competitive advantage against the company’s rivals. Also, it could be said that the company culture was responsible for this leader behaviour, because he was driven by company goals.

Therefore, Shivers-Blackwell (2004, p. 46) argued that “some persons will experience organizational role expectations and role pressures differently from others, which ultimately leads them to utilize different leadership behaviours within the same context”.

Collins, View:

Collins argues that “the key ingredient that allows a company to become great is having a Level 5 leader: an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will” (Collins, 2005, p. 136).

Collins discovered keys for turning a good company into a great one, like the type of leadership needed, the importance of transcending the curse of competence, the results that come from combining a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship and the dangers of radical restructurings (Collins, 2002).

He stated that “Smith’s turnaround of Kimberly-Clark is one the best examples in the twentieth century of a leader taking a company from merely good to truly great” (Collins, 2005, p. 136).

Darwin Smith was a good example of a Level 5 leader who combines extreme personal humility with intense professional will. Smith shunned the spot-light, preferring to direct attention to the company and its people. He was shy and self-effacing. He made the big decisions required to make the company great. During his tenure as a CEO, his company, Kimberly-Clark, became the number one paper-based consumer products company in the world, and owned outright its previous main competitor, Scott Paper. Collins stated that other persons did the same thing to their companies as Smith did. They acquired all the five levels of leadership, plus an extra dimension, a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who resolve to do anything towards the greatness of their companies, channelling their ego needs away from themselves and into goal of building a great company.

Collins ascribed this success to level 5 leaders and stated that level 5 leadership is essential to take companies from good to great (Collins, 2002).

Collins stated that in order for company to gain level 5 leaders, it has to: (Collins, 2002, p. 3).

Stop looking for outsized personalities and egocentric celebrities, and instead to scrutinize for results.
Look inside to see where extraordinary results are being produced but where no single person is taking excessive credit for those results.

In addition to the above, level 5 leaders must have the following traits:

Catalysts in creating superb (professional will).
Compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and never boasting (personal humility).
Unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results (professional will).
Act with quite, calm determination and rely principally on inspired standards-not an inspiring personality-to motivate (personal humility).
Set the standard of building an enduring great organization and be prepared to settle for nothing less (professional will).
Channel ambition into the organization and its work, setting up successors for even greater success (personal humility).
Look in the mirror, not out of the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck (personal humility).
Look out of the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company-to other people, external factors, and good luck (professional will).

In Collins’s (2002, p. 3) view “Virtually everything our culture believes about the leadership required to transform our institutions is wrong and dangerous”.

He warned against what he saw as a prevailing problem in our culture, the adoptation of the idea of the celebrity CEO. In this culture, it is behaved that a high-profile, larger-than-life leader is required to make a company great. Our culture has evolved away from level 5 leadership. In the 1990s the idea of irrational exuberance was embraced and people were encouraged to think that they could-indeed should-amass a fortune quickly by creating companies not built to last. He argues that culture was neither right nor healthy, and we should have rejected it.

Misguided confusion of celebrity and leadership still exists, but Collins argues that if we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see very few enduring great organizations (Collins, 2002, p. 3).

Covey’s View:

According to Covey (2006), about 90 percent of the problems in organizations are ascribed to bad systems and only about 10 percent are specific problems with people. Many managers have misconstrued this, supposing that if they correct the structure and systems, the problems with people (programmers) will go away. The reverse is actually true: If the 10 percent are corrected first, the other problems will go away. This is because people are the programmers, and the systems and organizational structure they design are the superficial expressions of their own character and competence, their own paradigms of management.

People are essentially seen as things needing to be controlled, managed and supervised. Good management skills are still very important for the day to day, but successful management of any organization must begin with effective leadership. He developed a framework of the 4 Roles of Leadership, which, he argued, delivers the tools, processes, and context to lead successfully even in a time of turbulent change. (www.depts.ttu.edu)

The globalization of markets and technology has exponentially increased competition and the need for speed and innovation. Succeeding in a world of change and competition can be challenging. New technology and services are important to adapt to change and to challenge the competition. Before technology, however, comes leadership, the guide to set the required direction and get results that meet changing circumstances and needs and not only to sacrifice emotional and spiritual connection, but to enable people to tap into and employ them at greater levels to become increasingly relevant in today’s world of enormous challenge and opportunity. The 4 Roles of Leadership are designed to help today’s managers on day-to-day business. The model provides them with real, practical tools which can be used in the everyday leadership challenges that face a manager. These tools strengthen leadership behaviours, transforming capable managers into leaders whom others trust and want to follow (Covey, 2006). The four roles of Covey’s model are as follow:

Modeling:

Building Trust with Others. The first step of modelling is for the leader to develop his/her own personal mission statement, and start living by it inside his/her small circle of influence. Modelling means living and leading by principles, sharing competence and integrity in order to inspire character and competence in others. Leaders should build high levels of interpersonal trust, by modeling ethical behaviour and personal integrity, inspiring others to follow by their example. People will only trust those who understand and live by principles (Heffes, 2006)

Pathfinding

The second role is Pathfinding. Pathfinding is the ability to link what the organization is passionate about delivering with what customers are passionate about getting. The leader needs to focus on working with his/her team to develop a mission statement. Covey (2006) urges leaders to find voice and strength, and also be aware of weakness so it can be compensated with the strength of others, so a complementary team will be developed. This means the leader has to be humble and open, and also be strong and courageous (Covey, 2006)

Aligning

The third role is Aligning. The leader has to structure his systems and processes to be totally in harmony with the strategic criteria of the pathfinding. He or she must work with others to translate important organizational strategy into the essential work that must be done. Also, the leader has to remove obstacles which prevent others from executing their highest priorities. Aligning really means that a leader has to look at how he or she recruits, selects, trains, develops and compensates. It is about how the leader organizes the structure to make these principles sustainable (Covey, 2006)

Empowering

The fourth role is empowering. The role of empowering means releasing the talent, energy, and contribution of people so leaders can travel the path. Trust could be achieved by true empowerment, where people have found their voice and are empowered and accountable. One of the systems leaders must align is accountability, and then people are given “directed autonomy”. The leaders should then create the conditions that foster and release subordinates’ creativity, ability and potential. Good leaders build strong teams, encourage productive communication between individuals and teams and manage performance effectively (Covey, 2006).

Conclusion:

The writer concludes that leadership style is based on the leader’s personal relationship with the followers, the degree of structure in the task and the power and authority inherent in the leader’s position (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 1973 (cited in Toff, 2001).

It is concluded that managers should be equipped with transformational leadership techniques in order to identify subordinates’ strengths, set accurate and reasonable expectations, develop and motivate followers to perform beyond their expectations.

It is said that transactional leaders usually do not interfere or take any action until things go wrong (Bass, 1985). However, in the writer’s experience and the cases described above, transactional leaders do interfere in the work processes.

Keely (1995) said that as transformational leadership has a positive side to influence the organization, it also has a negative side, as such leaders can drive people who believe in them to achieve their personal goals or towards unethical routes, because of the abuse of power.

In Collins’ view, skills and personality traits are necessary for effective leaders in order build strong organizations and direct them on the right way.

Covey’s approach shows that leadership also requires establishing high trust in the team or organization, following principles and well-defined goals, to achieve integrity.

According to Covey’s concept, a very important thing that each organization must consider is when people make their personal interest their priority; the goal of personal achievement replaces a sense of contribution. Therefore, ego will be raised.

By adopting Covey’s four role of leadership, organizations can create a good blueprint for action and leaders can ensure that their plans have integrity before they act.

References:

Books:

Bass, B. M. (1985), Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, New York: Free Press.

Burns, J.M. (1978), Leadership, New York, Harper & Row.

Toft, A. (2001), Corporate Leadership and Change Management, MBA Study Guide. The Business School, University of Hull. UK

Journal Articles:

Ahn, M.J., Adamson, J.S.A. & Dornbusch, D., (2004), ‘From Leaders to Leadership: Managing Change’, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 10, 4, 112-123.

Barker, R. A., (2001), ‘The Nature of Leadership’, Human Relation, 54, 4, 469-494.

Bass, B. M., (1990), ‘From Transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to Share the Vision‘, Organizational Dynamics, 18, 3, 19-31.
Bass, B. M., (1995), ‘Transformational Leadership Redux’, Leadership Quarterly, 6, 4, 463-478.

Boehnke, K., Bontis, N., DiStefano, J. J. & DiStefano, A.C., (2003), ‘Transformational leadership: An examination of cross-national differences and Similarities’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24, 1/2, 5-15.

Bryant, S. E., (2003), ‘The role of transformational and transactional leadership in creating, sharing and Exploiting Organizational Knowledge’, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9, 4, 32-44.

Collins, J., (2005), ‘Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve’, Harvard Business Review, 83, 7/8, 136-146.

Collins, J., (2002), ‘The Misguided Mix-Up’, Executive Excellence, 19, 12, 3-4.

Covey, S., (2006), ‘Power to the People’, Business Source Premier, 43, 4.

Heffes, E. M., (2006), ‘Stephen Covey on Managing Yourself and Others’, Financial Executive, 22, 1, 22-25.

Eisenbach, R., Watson, K. and Rajnandini, P., (1999), ‘Transformational Leadership in the Context of Organization Change’, Journal of Organizational Management Change, 12, 2, 80-88.

Epitropaki, O. & Martin, R., (2005), ‘The Moderating Role of Individual Differences in the Relation Between Transformational/Transactional Leadership Perceptions and Organizational Identification’, The Leadership Quarterly, 16, 4 , 569-589.

Keegan, A.E., Deanne,N. & Hartog, D., (2004), ‘Transformational Leadership in a Project-based Environment: a Comparative Study of the Leadership Styles of Project Managers and Line Managers’, International Journal of Project Management, 22, 609-617.

Keely, M., (1995), ‘The Trouble with Transformational Leadership: Toward Federalist Ethic in Organizations’, Business Ethics Quarterly, 5, 1, 67-96.

Shivers-Blackwell, S. L., (2004), ‘Using Role Theory to Examine Determinants of Transformational and Transactional Leader Behavour’, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 10, 3, 41-50.

Yammarino, F. J., Dubinsky, A. J., Comer, L. B. and Jolson, M. A., (1997), ‘Woman and Transformational and Contingent Reward Leadership: A Multiple –Levels of Analyses’, Academy of Management Journal, 40, 1, 205-218.

Yukl, G., (1999), ‘An Evaluation of Conceptual Weaknesses in Transformational and Charismatic Leadership Theories’, Leadership Quarterly, 10, 2, 285–305.

Websites:

, accessed 10/04/07.

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Free Essays

Descartes is a concious being? What is essential nature and why does he so respond?

Introduction

In Meditation I of Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes’ goal is to rid himself of any beliefs that are false. He conducts a ‘doubting experiment’ in which he examines different types of beliefs and withholds assent to any beliefs that could be called into doubt, allowing him to find any beliefs that may be held with absolute certainty.

In his second meditation, he is able to conclude that the only indubitable belief that one may have is ‘I am, I exist (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II).’ He then proceeds further, and is able to conclude that he is ‘a thinking thing (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II).’

In this essay I will examine his method, and find that Descartes’ conclusion that he is a res cogitans is not indubitable, but that it is still possible that his conclusion is correct. I will illustrate how it is possible that his essential nature is not that of a pure res cogitans, but rather a being with the ability to be conscious.

In Meditation I, Descartes states that he is aware that he has been assenting to multiple beliefs that may be dubitable (Descartes, 1641: Meditation I). He scrutinises his beliefs with the aim to ride himself of all falsehoods, and assent to only indubitable beliefs (Descartes, 1641: Meditation I). In order to be confident that he is left with only indubitable beliefs, he must a very strict criterion that anything that is doubtable at all, in any circumstance must not be assented to (Descartes, 1641: Meditation I). He withdraws assent to all posteriori beliefs, on the basis he may be dreaming, or that because it is possible that he may have been sleeping his entire life, it is possible that all beliefs he has acquired about past events, or people he knows, were entirely dreams, and that none such events occurred or such people ever existed (Descartes, 1641: Meditation I). He is then able to doubt a priori beliefs on the premise that it is possible that there is a God could have created him ‘so that he is always deceived (Descartes, 1641: Meditation I).’

Descartes is then left in a state of utter confusion – and that it is possible that the only indubitable premise belief that ‘nothing is certain (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II). However, he is able to conclude that because he is able to be convinced of something, or anything at all, then it must be certain that he exists (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II). He argues that even if he is dreaming, he must exist because he is able to experience his dreams – even if ‘ no earth, minds or bodies exist at all (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II).’ And even if there is a ‘supremely powerful’ being who is constantly deceiving him, he must exist in order to be deceived (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II). Therefore the premise ‘I exist’ is self-fulfilling, because it is impossible to entertain without existing. He is therefore able to conclude that the premise ‘I am, I exist’ is indubitable, or at least indubitable in the present tense (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II). He cannot assume that ‘I existed in the past’ is indubitable, or ‘I will exist in the future,’ is indubitable, because it is possible that his memories of past experience may be false, and there is no way of proving that one will exist in the future.

Having established certainty in his existence, Descartes aims to understand exactly what he is. He states that he must take care to avoid concluding that he is something that he is not, (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II) and to do this, he examines various possibilities as to what he could be, choosing only what is undoubtably part of his ‘essence (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II).’ Descartes states ‘nothing without which a thing can still exist is comprised in its essence’ (Malcolm, 1965: 317) and it is inferred that Descartes considers an essence of a thing anything that is essential to that thing’s existence (Schiffer, 1976: 26). In general form: ‘if it cannot be doubted that I have property P, then P is an essential property of I (Lecture notes).’

Descartes therefore is able to argue that he has no body – because he can doubt that he has a body, (that his body is merely an illusion, possibly as the result of his creator deceiving him) and that therefore having a body is not an essential property of him. He considers how one could be a ‘sensing being,’ but argues that because he has no body, he would not be able to sense, as sensing requires the organs that are held within a body (Carney, 1962 : 494). Descartes therefore argues that his nature is not that of a physical being (Carney, 1962 : 494).

He questions whether he can doubt that he has the property of thinking (Descartes, 1641: Meditation II). In the same sense that I cannot doubt that I exist, because as soon as I doubt that I exist, I have proven that I must exist in order to be able to doubt, I cannot doubt that I think, because as soon as I have doubted that I think, I have thought. Therefore, thinking is an essential property of me, or an essential property of any being that is able to entertain a thought, and Descartes therefore concludes that his essence is that of thinking being and that without thinking, he cannot exist (Malcolm, 1965: 317). I have thus far illustrated why Descartes believes that he is a thinking being. I now aim to illustrate that although it is possible that he is right, his conclusion is dubitable:

Using such an argument structure, (‘if it cannot be doubted that I have property P, then P is an essential property of I’) would it be possible to say that thinking, or experiencing is not an essential property of I, or that the ability to think, or experience is not an essential property of my existenceI could argue that I would not think or experience if I were in a dreamless sleep or a coma, or that I did not experience or think as an embryo in the womb – but certainly must have existed. Descartes could reply that it can be doubted that I ever was an embryo in a womb, or that I have ever had a dreamless sleep, or been in a coma – that embryos, bodies and comas could be part of a reality brought about by one’s creator, and hence not a true representation of reality, and therefore one should not consider such premises true (Long, 1969: 261). Because his premise ‘I am, I exist’ is only indubitable during the time in which it is entertained by the experiencer, the premise ‘I existed but did not experience or think, because I was in a coma/was merely an embryo/in a dreamless sleep’ would hold up to Cartesian hyperbolic doubt (Long, 1969: 261).

However, it there still is a problem with this form of argument, for it can be used to prove essential properties that seem arbitrary. Whether one is being deceived by one’s creator, and what one is experiencing is a false representation of reality, one is still at least getting the impression, or ‘feeling’ that one is undergoing such a reality (Lecture notes). For example, whether one is actually tired or merely under the illusion that one is tired, one still feels tired (Lecture notes). Therefore, if one is genuinely feeling tired one could say ‘I cannot doubt that am feeling tired, therefore, feeling tired is an essential property of me.’ (And that therefore one cannot exist without feeling tired.) Feeling tired is certainly not an essential property of one, because one can still exist even without feeling tired. I argue that this form of argument is only able to show one what one’s neccesarily possible, but not necessarily essential properties are. It is therefore possible that one’s essential nature is to be a conscious, or thinking being (Inferred from lecture notes). However, such an argument form cannot prove one’s nature of thinking to be necessarily essential.

However, a different conjecture on Descartes’ thought process, which provides support for Descartes conclusion that he is a thinking being is suggested by Norman Malcolm, (1965, 319) who argues that one’s essence could be tested in an argument in the form: ‘P is the essence of I if it is that I am aware of P, then I am necessarily aware of myself, and if I am aware of myself, then I am necessarily aware of P, (Malcolm, 1965: 319).’ With such an argument form it may be possible to prove that thinking is an essential essence to one’s existence, and not merely a possible essence.

If one applies Malcolm’s argument form to test the possibility of thinking being an essence, one must question whether when one is thinking then one is necessarily aware of oneself, (Malcolm, 1965: 319) as well as questioning whether when one is aware of oneself, that one is necessarily thinking. The second requirement of Malcolm’s argument is easily fulfilled: one cannot be aware of oneself if one is unable to think, and therefore when one is aware of oneself, one necessarily thinks (Malcolm, 1965: 322). Malcolm argues that Descartes would believe that one is necessarily aware of oneself when one is thinking and hence fulfill the first requirement of the argument (Malcolm, 1965: 321). His reasoning is outlined below: Descartes can only be certain that he exists when he is thinking (Malcolm, 1965: 320). Descartes believes that he would cease to exist should he ‘entirely cease to think, (Malcolm, 1965: 321) and there ‘is no reason for believing’ that one existed when one did not think (Malcolm, 1965: 321). Conversely, one ‘has a reason’ to believe in one’s existence when one thinks (Malcolm, 1965: 321). Descartes premise ‘I think therefore I am’ is equivalent to ‘I think therefore I am aware I exist (Malcolm, 1965: 321),’ which leads Malcolm to believe that the first requirement of his argument is fulfilled, and hence a proof that thinking is part of one’s essence (Malcolm, 1965: 321).

However, I argue that Malcolm’s conjecture on Descartes thought is dubitable and does not prove that one’s essence is a thinking being: If one accepts Malcolm’s argument form, and its first requirement that one is ‘necessarily made aware of oneself when one is aware of P’, then if thinking is one’s essence, then one is necessarily aware of oneself whenever one thinks. I argue that it is possible to be aware of occurrences without being aware of oneself. For example, when one is in a daze, or engrossed in a immersing book or movie, one may be aware of a reality that is not a reality involving oneself, and hence not be aware of oneself, while still cogitating. Therefore, there are situations that involve thinking, but not thinking that makes one aware of oneself. This implies that the first requirement of Malcolm’s argument is not fulfilled by the notion of one’s essential nature being thinking. If Malcolm’s argument cannot support thinking as an essential nature, then it cannot offer support to Descartes notion that his essence is that of a thinking being.

Thus far I have illustrated that the arguments ‘if it cannot be doubted that I have property P, then P is an essential property of I,’ and Malcolm’s argument ‘P is the essence of I if it is that I am aware of P, then I am necessarily aware of myself, and if I am aware of myself, then I am necessarily aware of P’ to be dubitable when attempting to prove that Descartes essential nature is that of a res cogitans.

However, it still seems intuitive that one’s nature is that of a thinking being – as, one knows within one’s mind, that one is certainly conscious, and thus thinking is certainly a part of one’s existence. Descartes is correct when he concludes that his essential nature is that of a res cogitans, at least in the sense that thinking is part of his nature. However, by his definition, his essence is something that without, he would not exist (Malcolm, 1965: 317).

I would therefore need to prove that one could exist without cogitating in order to prove that Descartes is mistaken. I may argue that as an embryo I existed without the ability to think, or that there are people in a brain-dead state that are unable to cogitate – and that they must surely exist. However, Descartes could doubt my argument on the premise that I may have been dreaming that I existed as an embryo or that brain-dead people exist at all (Long, 1969: 261). Hyperbolic doubt from Descartes first meditation would stop any such arguments (Long, 1969: 261). Descartes has demonstrated that one can only be certain of one’s existence when one cogitates (Malcolm, 1965: 317) and that one can only be certain of cogitation within one’s own mind (Lecture notes). It would therefore be impossible to prove the premise ‘I can exist without thinking,’ as proving one’s existence can only be proved to oneself, and only while one is thinking. I therefore cannot prove that one could exist without cogitating.

However, it does not follow that because I cannot prove that I could exist without thinking, (at least to a standard that would stand up to hyperbolic doubt) that I undoubtably only exist when I am cogitating. I therefore argue that it is still theoretically possible for one to exist when one is not cogitating, but acknowledge that one cannot prove it. Therefore, it is theoretically possible that Descartes’ essential nature is not that of a res cogitans, but rather that of a being that has the ability to cogitate, albeit, only able to prove its existence, to itself, when it is cogitating. Therefore, although it is still be possible that Descartes is a pure res cogitans, and hence pure consciousness, fully independent of a physical body (Descartes, 1641: Meditation VI) it is possible that Descartes is not purely a res cogitans, but rather a being but of another nature, such a physical being, that is capable of thought, but whose existence, and ability to be conscious depends on its physical body.

Word Count: 2238

References:

Descartes, R. 1641. ‘Meditations in First Philosophy’ in Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Perry, J and Bateman, Ed. Oxford University Press. 1993.

Long, D. 1969. Descartes’ Argument For Mind-Body Dualism. The Philosophical Forum. Vol. 1, No. 3: 259 – 273.

Malcolm, N. 1965. Descartes’ Proof that his Essence is Thinking. The Philosophical Review. Vol. 74, No. 3: 315 – 338.

Schiffer, S. 1976. Descartes on His Essence. The Philosophical Review, Vol. 85, No. 1: 21– 43.

Categories
Free Essays

Discussion on management plan in Song Thanh Nature Reserve, Quangnam province, Vietnam

Introduction

1. Governance and planning system

Song Thanh Nature Reserve is managed by the Management Board with 31 staffs at present. There are one director and two vice directors on the management board. Six staffs are doing administrative work; two staffs belong to the Research and Monitoring unit; remained ones belong to Protection unit.

The nature reserve management board is under the direct management of provincial Forest Protection Depatment of Quangnam province. The role of management board is to: i) protect natural resources, landscape and environment; ii) cooperate with universities, research institutes to carry out research on forest and biodiversity conservation; iii) cooperate with other agencies (e.g. NGOs), to carry out awareness raising, community development, ecotourism and staff training activities; iv) monitor and evaluate natural resources.

Besides, nature reserve’s staffs are also cooperated with other agencies, such as district forest rangers, policemen and soldiers in protecting natural resources. The joined enforcement campaigns are sometimes launched to stop illegal mining, logging, hunting in the nature reserve; but these events do not happen regularly due to the budget limitation.

There are four ethnic groups inhabiting in the buffer zone of the nature reserve. These people are highly dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods and have cultural and spiritual practices based on the forest. However, all the natural forest belongs to government and co-management has not been established in this area yet.

According to the current management system in Vietnam, the nature reserve management plan should be made by the Management Development Team of the reserve’s Management Board that may including director and/or vice director, forest protection staffs, enforcement staffs, finance staffs. The management plan must be endorsed by Forest Protection Department and approved by Provincial People Committee for allocating the budget, staffs, etc. before implementing.

2. Threats

Based on an assessment of the threats to Song Thanh Nature Reserve recently, six major threats were identified.

2.1. Hunting and fishing

The majority of threatened species in Song Thanh Nature Reserve are large mammals. These species is directly targeted for subsistence consumption and for trade as bushmeat, medicine, pets or ornamental use. Some species, especially wild pig, muntjac, macaques, porcupines, civets and rats are seen as serious threats to agriculture and so are trapped to protect crops. Hunting activities have been done not only by local people living surrounding the reserve but also by outsiders. The current intensity of such hunting combined with trade driving hunting results in un-sustainable hunting pressures.

Fishing is also been considered as over harvested and exploit environment with bad practices such as the use of explosives, poison and electricity.

2.2. Logging

Although enforcement efforts have been increasing, illegal logging in Song Thanh Nature Reserve still happen. Logging can be conducted by outsiders and local people for trade or for home uses. Logs are removed from the forest either by river or by buffalo. Illegal logging driven by the trade is more serious and can lead to the extirpation of some species from Song Thanh Nature Reserve such as the critically endangered Hopea hiananensis. .

2.3. Over-exploitation of non-timber forest products (NTFPs)

Harvesting of NTFPs (not including animals or timber) is conducted by a wide range of people for numerous reasons, including local communities and outsiders. The products harvested are many, but include aquilaria, honey, rattan, ‘uoi’ fruit, fire wood, palm fronds and bamboo shoots. The products harvested are for trade and subsistence uses. Once external forces are involved in harvest, collection rates can increase past sustainable levels and so resources are depleted. This not only effects biodiversity, but also removes critical resources for local communities, the majority of which are not collecting for trade, but for subsistence.

2.4. Forest conversion

The conversion of forest to agricultural land and Acacia plantation is one of main causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the buffer zone and this may make more pressure to the core zone. This problem has been considered as the effect of population increase and land demand for agriculture and plantation recently. Besides, the upgrading of roads cutting through the core zone of the reserve provides access to forest areas and could result in large scale forest conversion along these roads. Not only would this effect forest cover, but also could potentially disrupt habitat connectivity, vastly reducing the effectiveness of the reserve as a core area for wide-ranging species such as tiger.

2.5. Freshwater degradation

Freshwater are an important ecosystem both in terms of biodiversity and local community resources. Water quality and fresh water biodiversity have been seriously affected by illegal gold mining and exploited fishing activities recently. Gold miners use poisonous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide in accelerating process. The issue of poisoning also needs addressing, both from the point of view of biodiversity loss and human health.

2.6. Construction of roads and hydropower dam

Road construction is considered as indirect threat to habitat in the reserve. The continuousness of forest cover is broken within the core zone in two locations and within two corridors in the buffer zone due to road construction.

Three hydropower dams are proposed for construction in the buffer zone. The potential of forest loss and the affects indigenous freshwater biodiversity would be happened. Although the dams will not be in the core zone, the flooding will extend into these areas.This is likely to prevent the migration and so breeding of many species. Reservoirs almost without exception are subject to release of non-native fish species. These can have large effects on indigenous species, often leading to the local extinction.

3. Management challenges

3.1. Legislation challenges

The boundary of Song Thanh nature reserve is inadequate at some places that have not designed based on biological and social – economic requirements. The boundary demarcations are not clearly known by the management authorities and local residents. The management plan has been prepared but not well implemented

3.2. Lack of number and qualified staffs and equipments

According to the approved investment plan for Song Thanh Nature Reserve, the number of staff should be 92. However, there are only 25 staffs at present in the management board. The guard ratio is about 4,000 hectares/guard. This ratio makes it impossible for a guard to fulfill his job.

The capacity of the staffs is also inadequate to carry out their tasks because most of the staffs graduated in silviculture, having little knowledge or experience of conservation. Additional obstacles to the effective functioning of the forest protection staffs are poor living and working conditions, lack of communications, office and technical equipment.

3.3. Lack of budget

Song Thanh nature reserve management board has not been able to carry out many activities, in particularly research and biodiversity monitoring in the reserve due to the lack of funding. The fund for the reserve’s operations is just come from Quangnam province and basically for the staff’s salaries. Other fund sources via the conservation projects funded by NGOs are not continuous and stable.

3.4. Lack of participatory management mechanism and communication with communities in the buffer zone

Song Thanh management board is only given responsibility over core zone. Local communities have some inputs into discussions relating to its management but on direct involvement in decision.

The village/community patrol teams, established under conservation projects to protect the forests within and around the villages, and forest protection agreements between communities and the reserve’s management board were recognized as good models in some villages, but those have not worked well recently after the projects finished due to budget constraints.

4. The issues should be included in the management plan of the nature reserve and recommendations

4.1. Management objectives

The management objectives should be clearly addressed including long-term vision and short-term objectives.

Long-term vision

The biodiversity and local cultural traditions in and around Song Thanh Nature Reserve, are effectively managed and protected by rangers in partnership with local communities whilst ensuring sustainable development of the buffer zone and, as a core component of the Central Annamites Landscape, ecosystem processes are maintained and enhanced.

Objectives
Management:

Budget and resources are efficiently utilised by trained, motivated and monitored staff to achieve realistic targets towards strategic objectives within the framework of an adaptive management plan

Protection:

Threats to natural resources across the whole nature reserve are minimised by trained, motivated and equipped rangers and communities in partnership with related departments through a coordinated patrolling and monitoring implementation plan within a law enforcement strategy.

Research and monitoring:

Forest management, protection and monitoring activities are focused on key areas identified based on priority species by a trained scientific and monitoring unit working towards a strategic plan for area, species, forest cover, priority habitats and freshwater conservation.

Community cooperation and economic development:

Effective forest protection and resource management is conducted in partnership with empowered and informed communities and other stakeholders in each commune within Song Thanh Nature Reserve, facilitating sustainable economic development in the buffer zone.

4.2. Management Activities

Management actions should be grouped according to the objectives to which they will contribute and the target by which they will be monitored.

Management activities:

Include management planning, personal management, capacity building and those should be considered as critical priority

Protection activities:

Should include law enforcement strategy, reduce trapping, gun removal, removal of illegal gold mining, developing informant network; and those should be considered as high priority.

Research and monitoring:

Should establish the Research and Monitoring unit and carry out biological socio-economic researches; and those should be considered as high priority.

Community cooperation and economic development:

Should include reserve’s boundary re-design, community co-management, forest – land allocation and conservation education. In which, community co-management is considered highest priority.

4.3. Implementation plans

Management:

The responsible person, partners, implementing time of each activity should be clearly addressed in the implementation plan. The monitoring plan is also set up together with annual management review.

Protection:

The duty of Protection unit is to protect the forest and its resources. This can involve many approaches which in this management plan are lumped into two objectives: protection and community cooperation. Each activity or group of activities of patrol, trap removal campaign, gun removal campaign, gold mining removal, informant network, violation database, etc. should be mentioned in detail in the implementation plan.

Research and monitoring:

The primary function of this unit is to directly monitor the values of Song Thanh Nature Reserve, using the results to inform and adapt management actions. The primary values of Song Thanh Nature Reserve are biodiversity and watershed related.

The animal abundance would be measured and the threats to biodiversity would also be monitored over time by Research and Monitoring unit with supported from rangers whenever they go to the forest.

The science work focussing on identifying the distribution of and key locations for the conservation of the priority values would be done in the Nature Reserve.

Where key values are localised such as a population of doucs or a community sacred forest, the Research and Monitoring Unit will be charged with delineating an Intensive Protection Zone in consultation with local communities. These zones will then have specific management actions designed by the Research and Monitoring Unit in cooperation with the reserve management board and local communities to ensure the persistence of values.

Community cooperation and economic development:

The development of effective co-management involves many steps as outlined in the actions of the management plan above. It is impossible to extract one section of the process without the others being hindered. Therefore the process is explained here step-by-step to facilitate its complete implementation.

Gaining community consensus on the boundary of the reserve is critical for enforcing the laws of the reserve adequately, ensuring high value forest is protected and not disenfranchising local communities from their resources. Community consultation on the reserve boundary will therefore be sought and the boundary re-designed and demarcated in the forest.

Core Zone delineation and buffer zone land allocation are inseparable activities. Community consultation on land allocation will be conducted by ‘District Allocation Teams’. The Community Cooperation Unit in partnership with the Director and Section Leaders should ensure that commune rangers are involved with this activity in each commune.

Once all communes have agreed to the boundary location a report will be produced by the Community Cooperation Unit and reviewed by Section Heads and the Director.

Boundary demarcation

Major boundary posts should be placed on forest entry points as well as prominent features such as ridge tops and rivers. Smaller boundary markers should be placed every 1km around the boundary of the reserve.

Defining clear boundaries is one pre-requisite of effective community-based conservation.

Village co-management agreements called ‘Huong Uocs’ will be developed in each village. These form the basis of sustainable forest management in the village including sustainable harvest and resource protection mechanisms.

‘Village Protection Teams’ (community patrol groups) are to be established to enable communities to protect their forest resources. This permits sustainable harvest mechanisms to be established and assists with protection goals as ‘outsiders’ should be excluded from the core zone of Song Thanh. Village Protection Teams will consist of two to five members per village who are voted for by the community. These teams will work together and with commune officials to conduct patrols. Establishment should follow the working example in Tabhing commune, Nam Giang district.

Field demarcation of co-managed zones will require one to two months per commune and involve a lot of field time. Demarcation will be trialled in Tabhing commune during 2005 with replication in other communes in subsequent years will all communes being completed by the end of 2006.

Village Protection Teams

Essentially community patrols groups, Village Protection Teams are established to empower communities to protect their natural resources from outsiders so providing a ‘closed access’ system that can be managed and harvest sustainable. As well as facilitating an increase and stabilisation of natural capital (so acting as one avenue for poverty alleviation) these teams also assist the nature reserve in preventing access to the core zone by outside violators.

Conservation education

A member of the Community Cooperation Unit will be nominated to develop a conservation education programme for Song Thanh Nature Reserve in partnership with the rest of the unit and the commune rangers.

4.4. Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring has been intrinsically built into all activities. Three major steps to be taken to ensure all activities are conducted to the highest standards possible, within the allotted time schedule, by the most appropriate rangers and with full community consensus are:

Strategic action planning to achieve realistic, clearly defined targets within the framework of a management plan and operational plans.

Strong personnel management to ensure all rangers know what, when and how to conduct tasks. Monthly, two-way time planning and annual reviews will ensure rangers continue to work towards personnel, departmental, station and reserve goals and annual targets.

The creation of the scientific research and monitoring department will ensure an independent monitoring system to each target and facilitate the knowledge required for and the understanding of, the importance of monitoring and evaluation systems.

References

Nguyen Thi Dao 2002. Co-management of Protected Areas: Finding Solutions for Song Thanh Nature Reserve, Vietnam. Thesis. DICE, University of Kent, UK

Categories
Free Essays

Crisis and acute care in mental health: the nature of risk and risk assessment in relation to suicide

Introduction

The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate an understanding on the nature of risk and risk assessment in relation to suicide. There are a number of risk assessments used within the field of mental health, but for this assignment we will focus specifically on evaluating the actuarial and clinical approaches when assessing suicidal clients. To conclude it will explore some of the challenges that nurse faces when assessing suicidal clients in crisis and acute care settings.

It is well established that people who have mental health problems are a high risk group for suicide (The National Suicide Strategy for England 2006). Primarily these are people who have experienced depression, alcohol disorders, abuse, violence, loss, cultural and social background (WHO, 2011). Suicide is recognized as a serious and global public health problem. It is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for all ages. It has been identified that a significant number of suicides occurred during a period of in patient care (Bertolote et al, 2003).

The Department of Health (DOH 2002) issued the report saving lives: Our Healthier Nation and set clear targets to reduce the death rates by suicide by at least a fifth by 2010. The national strategy highlighted that there needs to be a systematic approach to reduce suicide. Standard 7 of The National service framework for mental health (DOH 1999) emphasises on local trusts to implement policies to reduce the rates of suicide. All individual Trusts have developed a toolkit to work towards a trust wide suicide prevention framework. According to Morgan (2007) mental health services have become ‘operationalized’ through practice guidance from a central theme in the National Health Service’s National Service Framework (DOH 1999) and provide a particular emphasis on Care Programme Approach ( DOH 2008 ). Anderson & Jenkins (2006) argue that although comprehensive strategies need to be in place the rate of suicide continues to be a concern. However recent figures show there has been a decrease in suicide rates in mental health patients particularly among young men in in- patient settings (National Confidential Enquiry into Suicide and Homicide by people with Mental illness 2010).

Risk assessment and risk management are concepts that are very familiar to mental health nurses and it encompasses the majority of nurse’s work. However Crowe & Carlyle (2003) argues these are taken for granted as a necessary and an unavoidable role within mental health nursing as they defend nurses against potential litigation. According to Tummey & Turner (2008) the notion of risk has arguably displaced care when defining the purpose of patient contact. Beck (1999) suggests that risk assessment in the mental health care setting is an attempt to control the behaviour of patients and clinicians for the interests of the organisation rather than the best interest of the patient.

There are three types of risk assessment: the unstructured clinical approach, the actuarial approach and the structured clinical approach (DOH, 2007). Historically mental health practitioners used the unstructured clinical approach this was guided by intuition, experience and individual judgment to determine the severity of risk. This approach has been criticized for being, unstructured, informal, and subjective consequently leading to a lack of consistency and reliability. (Turner & Tummey, 2008).

The drive to towards evidenced-based practice as a more objective and reliable means of risk assessment has led to the development to the actuarial risk assessment tools (Tummey & Turner 2000). This approach was derived from the insurance industry; it uses mathematical means to establish the outcome. Actuarial risk assessments are based on statistical probability they produce an estimate of risk collated form group data. They attempt to predict an individuals risk based on their future actions and look at the behaviour of others in similar circumstances (Hart & Kirby, 2004). According to Szmukler (2003) the actuarial approach eliminates the problem of the subjective clinical judgement and focuses on the actuarial risk assessment to form that decision making process. Tummey & Turner (2000) argue that an actuarial approach can create a false sense of expertise within clinicians particular for those who are less experienced. The scientific validity of this approach is open to criticism, Hart & Kirby, (2004) argue that humans act in very individual and unpredictable ways so therefore the scientific principles do not work. Bouch & Marshall (2005) recognises that the problem with this approach is that it focuses on the statistical outcomes rather than on gaining an understanding on the severity and the circumstances of the suicide. Silver & Miller (2002) affirms that an actuarial risk assessment is more useful in labelling an individual rather than understanding why they are behaving in a particular way. According to Turner & Tummey (2008) actuarilism reduces an individuals risk to a range of inconsistent variables encompassed within a series of tick boxes. Research findings that support an actuarial approach over the clinical approach are controversial and cause considerable debate. Little child, B & Hawley, C (2009) suggest that there must be a mix of actuarial and clinical risk assessments to aide the clinician to gain a thorough risk assessment.

The structured clinical assessment utilises both the actuarial and clinical approaches. It draws on the science of actuarial approaches but attempts to take advantage of an informed clinical judgement through patient assessment (Conroy & Murrie, 2007). According to Doyle & Dolan, (2002), this approach is person specific and is based upon gaining the individuals history; present mental state and other relevant information to establish the risks for the individual, gathering this information is imperative due gain a thorough risk assessment. Structured clinical risk assessments are evidence-based, transparent, and flexible, and are aimed at establishing a collaborative approach (Haques et al 2008). Crowe & Carlyle (2003), reports that structured clinical risk assessessments aid clinicians to avoid missing potential information as they provide a way of organising clinical thinking. However risk assessments are only as good as the information they include and it is also dependent on the skills of clinician carrying out the risk assessment (Harrison et al 2004). Evidence suggests that there are no research instruments, scales or scores that can predict the risk with total accuracy it recognises that a combination of actuarial and clinical approaches enhance the dynamic and continuous process of risk assessment (Doyle & Dolan, 2002). It is evident that the majority of research suggests that a risk assessment should encompass a mixture of an actuarial approach with a clinical approach to form the bases of a validated risk assessment tool.

Beck et al (1979) developed a classification system of suicidal behaviours, and assessment scales to assess suicidal intent. According to Anderson & Jenkins (2006) these assessment scales are an accepted, reliable and valid method used by professional’s world wide. The Beck Suicide Intent scale (SIS; Beck et al 1974) is a 15- item questionnaire designed to assess the severity of suicidal intent associated with an episode of self harm. Each item scores 0-2, with the total score ranging to 30. It is divided into two sections: the first 8 items focus on the circumstances of the act (such as planning and attempts to avoid rescue). The remaining items are part of the self report section this is based on the patient reconstruction on their thoughts and feelings at the time of the act. Harriss & Hawton (2005) carried out a study which looked at 4,156 deliberate self harm patients between 1993 and 1997.It concluded that the suicide intent scale could not predict who would commit suicide but noted the information gained about ideation and intent would be useful in a clinical risk assessment. Suominem et al (2004) argues that the scale is time consuming therefore a shortened version of the scale would be far more beneficial to use in clinical practice. Research suggests that this scale has some weaknesses over the value of self report. There may be bias within this section due to the fact that people may be ambivalent when answering questions regarding self harming and suicidal intent. Their reflective account of the situation may not be a precise therefore it is difficult for the clinician to gain the correct information to use within the risk assessment tool (Barker, 2004). Risk assessment can have differ in results when different professionals complete them therefore the risk undoubtfully weakens the reliability on risk measurements with all risk tools.

Competent risk assessment, communication and management within an acute mental health ward can be a major challenge for nurses, irrespective of their experience (Harrison et al 2004).

LOOK AT CHALLENGES NURSE FACE WHEN ASSESSING ACUTELY UNWELL PATIENTS FOR RISK OF SUICIDE. ?? IS THIS BARRIERS TO ENGAGEMENT IE RELIGION LANGUAGE BARRIER, ACUTELY UNWELL, ENVIRONMENT OF WARD , RACE GENDER, AGE ???SECT 17 LEAVE OBS ETC ABSCONDING ????

Conclusion

Risk assessment continues to be a complex and

REFERENCES

Anderson, M & Jenkins, R, (2006), The national suicide prevention strategy for England: the reality of a national strategy for the nursing profession, The Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, Issue 13, pg 641-650.

Barker,P, (2004) Assessment in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, in search of the whole person. 2nd edition, Cheltenham, Stanley Nelson Thornes Ltd.

Beck, U (1999), World risk society, policy press, Cambridge.

Beck, A; Schuyler, D & Herman, I (1974), Development of suicidal intent scales, The prediction of suicide, by Beck AT, Resnick H, Lettieri DJ, Bowie, Maryland: Charles Press; pg 45-56.

Bertolote, J, M; Fleischmann, A; Leo, D, D; et al (2003) Suicide and mental disorders: do we know enoughBritish Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 183, pg 382-383.

Bouch, J & Marshall, J (2005), Suicide risk: structured professional judgement, Advances in psychiatric treatment, Journal of continuing professional development, Vol 11 pg 84-91.

Conroy, M & Murrie, D (2007), Forensic assessment of violence risk: A guide for risk assessment and risk management, John Wiley & sons, New Jersey.

Crowe, M & Carlyle, D (2003), Deconstructing risk assessment and management in mental health nursing, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol 43 No 1 pg 19-27.

Department of Health, (1999), A National Service Framework for Mental Health Service, London: Department of Health.

Department of Health, (1999a), Saving Lives. Our Healthier Nation. London: The Stationary Office. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics. [Accessed 5thMarch 2011].

Department of Health (2002), Refocusing the Care Programme Approach: Policy and Positive Practice Guidance, London: department of Health.

Department of Health (2007), Best practice in managing risk: Principles and evidence for best practice in the assessment and management of risk to self and others in mental health services. London: Stationary Office.

Department of Health (2008), Three keys shared approach in mental health. London: National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE). http://www.dh.gov.uk/en.publicationsandstatistics. [Accessed 7th March 2011].

Doyle, M & Dolan, M (2002), Violence risk assessment: combining actuarial and clinical information to structure clinical judgements for the formulation and management of risk, Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Vol 9. Pg 649-657.

Haque,Q; Cree, A; Webster,C & Hasnie,B, ( 2008), Best practice in managing violence and related risks, Psychiatric Bulletin, Vol 32, pg 403-405. http://pb.rcpsych.org. [Accessed 10th March 2011]

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Categories
Free Essays

Past the ‘public hours’: a Photographic exploration of Public space and its shifting nature

Abstract

An abstract is a synopsis of the whole dissertation and allows the reader to gain a flavour of the objective and outcome of the dissertation. You should keep this brief: something between 75 and 125 words is usually ideal.

Chapter 1: Introduction

As the ‘academic chapter’ of my life gets closer to an end, I am asked to present a so-called ‘final’ body of work. After last year’s exploration of the complex issues of ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’ in a given society, I have now set out to examine the space we live in, and the way it affects us.

This project started as an investigation of the function walls have in today’s social world. I have come a long way since then and a quick look into my logbook might help you to get a better understanding of where I am coming from. Over the next few pages, I will do my best to explain the full extent of my project and its development.

i. When an image is worth a thousand words, don’t talk too much.

Anyone would expect it to be easy for a photographer to talk about his work. It turns out to be much harder than expected. It is simple enough to discuss what brought me to begin, what the factors that have influenced me are, but to discuss what has resulted is a whole different matter. Ivan Turgenev wrote in Fathers and Sons (1862): “A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound.”

I have come to realise that talking about my work reduces the impact the photographs have on the viewer. Robert Adams, in ‘Why People Photograph’ (1994), states: “The main reason that artists don’t willingly talk about their work or explain their produce is that the minute they do so, they’ve admitted failure. Words are proof that the vision they had is not”. This statement is especially true in this case as this body of work is a mere capture of what is available to the ‘public eye’; it is a reflection of emotions that are commonly experienced. The images should therefore be experienced fully without the help of a written narrative. Nonetheless, for purely academic reasons, I shall attempt to give some basic explanations about my images.

ii. What it is not

This essay is not a dissertation. It may be structured like one, but it definitely is not meant to be one. I chose this layout because it provides a clear and concise framework to address the complex ideas that emanate from this project. Any other structure would fail to address all of the issues that need to be explored in a clear manner.

iii. At the beginning there was nothing

As I am about to leave academia for good, I have come to realise that I am a very different person than the one I was during my first year of university. Nonetheless, it is during these two years of my MA that the most significant changes occurred. More than just a mere growing sense of responsibility, I have grown to understand who I am, who I want to be and most of all, I have developed a critical mind of my own.

During the first stage of my MA I focussed fully on myself, exploring the complexity of cultural identity, the feeling of exclusion and self-awareness. Throughout the process of production of this first project, my original ideas developed majorly, taking me to places I had barely imagined I could ever go to. I explored the concept of ‘imagined exclusion’, tying it in with the idea of identity. I analysed how my very complicated cultural background has influenced my identity, thus affecting the person I am, the way I behave and the way I fit in today’s society. I realised that I was a very fragmented person as far as all these notions were concerned, and rarely felt like I was belonging to my environment.

The next project I carried out was for the diploma stage of my MA. It was in fact a continuation of the previous one, which tried to separate my inner ‘self’ from my work. It proved to be impossible. This second body of work focused on the issue of isolation in today’s society. It depicted the way individuals experience isolation, conveying the two main (and very controversial) emotions that are arising from such state: both a reassuring and pleasant feeling as opposed to a negative and restrictive one.

These two projects enabled me over time to get a greater understanding of who I really am and how society reacts around me. This final project is an indirect result of these two projects: it is an exploration of the space we inhabit on a daily basis in which these feelings of exclusion and self-consciousness develop.

Indeed, most of us spend a major part of our lives in what is defined by today’s society as ‘public spaces’. Over time, we have developed a unique relationship with our surroundings in which we feel safe and at ease. But, come the time when the ‘public’ ceases to inhabit that space, the very nature of that same environment changes. This project is an exploration of the particular relationship between individuals and public space. It explores the various feelings of individuals when confronted to the shifting nature of that space after the ‘public hours’[1].

iv. Structure outline

The following pages are a mix and match of my thoughts and research, presented to you in the most structured way I was able to organise them in. I shall first provide you with the theoretical framework needed to understand the concepts that lie behind this body of work. Indeed, chapter 2 outlines some of the previous studies that have discussed the main aspects of the project. The essay carries on by explaining the way various photographers, philosophers and writers have influenced my work. It examines how my research fits within the contemporary study of space by other practitioners. Chapter 3 quickly analyses the experience of the viewer when looking at my photographs. Finally, the paper concludes with a quick statement regarding my personal experience of carrying out this project.

Chapter 2: Literature review

It is not uncommon for photographers to invent their own narrative. This is why it is important to clarify the way different terms are used from the beginning, in order to avoid confusion.

This chapter provides us with some key definitions and explores the various theoretical, philosophical and sociological concepts that emanate from my project. It aims to provide the viewer with a clearer understanding of the various ideas that are investigated in it. This, in turn should provide a good basis for the viewer to comprehend better both the project and the way it was produced. The literature review places particular attention on notions such as ‘public space’, its nature and the experience of an individual in it, as well as the ideas of ‘visibility’, ‘consciousness’ and other phenomenological concepts.

i. ‘Public space’ past ‘public hours’

It is not an easy task to provide a definition of public space because of the many factors that affect these places. It is mostly described as ‘a social space that is open and accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level’. An other definition of public space is the one Pacione provides us with. He refers to public spaces as ‘spaces of representation’[2], often referred to as ‘perceived space’ (Pacione, 2001, p.159). For the purpose of this essay, I will refer to public space as the physical space, rather than the emotional one.

Another important term that needs to be clarified is the one of ‘public hours’. It is usually used to define the hours a business or an organisation is opened to the public. In this case though, I use this term as ‘the hours the public usually inhabit their surroundings’. Public space is normally open to being inhabited. Nonetheless, individuals tend to use it in specific slots of time, mainly around the ‘working hours’. The late nights of the evening can also be considered as ‘public hours’ as they are often used as slots of time reserved for relaxation and entertainment.

This project therefore focuses on the public space that surrounds us in our daily lives at times when the public is no longer present.

ii. Shifting nature of public space

Public space and the way it is used has become a topic of growing interest among scholars. For many, such space represents something essential to the proper workings of cities: it is a space where individuals can gather, chat and engage socially with one another. Jacobs (1992) insisted that cities must provide plenty of public space where people can gather, children can play, and where a sense of community can emerge. Similarly, Lefebvre (1996), a famous French sociologist, uses the terms ‘the rights of an individual to the city’ to describe this fundamental need of individuals to interact.

On the other hand, observers of public space argue thatpublic spaces are no longer as free or open as they once were, but rather they now are spaces where surveillance by local authorities is continuous and invasive. Surveillance cameras and local authorities now police such spaces, and in doing so, they withdraw rights to socialize and mingle with one another freely (Davis, 1990; Mitchell, 2003; Zukin, 1995; Kohn, 2004). Similarly, Sorkin (1992) argues that public space is no longer a space of socialisation and exchange. Rather, it has become totally sterile and artificial, obsessed with security and safety. It replicates a world individuals believe they live in, yet represents a totally artificial ‘reality’.

By night though, the nature of public spaces is completely different. The public does not inhabit these places and the dynamics are altered. During the day, urban streets and grounds are heavily regulated and public disorder is not tolerated. This is much less evident during the night time, where ‘the familiar protocols and bonds of restraint which structure routine social life loosen’ (Hobbs et al., 2003: p. 43).

By night, the availability of light also plays a major role in the nature of public spaces: it is generally perceived that the more illuminated a certain place is the safer it will be. In essence, the dichotomy between day and night[3] is usually associated with the unknown, provoking fears, mystery, curiosity and contradiction (Gwiazdzinski, 2005).

As the nature of public spaces changes regarding what time of the day it is, so does the way individuals experience it.

iii. Experience of space

A phenomenological approach is used in this case to explore the individuals’ experience of space[4]. Perez de Vega (?) argues that certain spaces can be experienced beyond the subjective and beyond the meaningful; experiences which blend subject and object, which blend perception and sensation; experience which have affect as their main drive.

When discussing the importance of experiencing space, it is important to look at the notions of perception and sensation. Erwin Straus, in The Primary World of Senses (1963), is particularly helpful when outlining the basic differences between the two. According to him, perception is a secondary rational organisation of a primary, non?rational dimension of sensation or sense experience (le sentir) (Bogue, 2003, p.116?117). The primary sense is unreflective and instinctive. Sensation deals with corporeality[5] and perception is the intellectualisation of that corporeality. He continues by contrasting two different types of space: the space of geography and the space of landscape.

A similar dichotomy can be observed when analysing the way an individual experiences fully the public space past ‘public hours’[6].

iv. Visibility

Visibility is an important aspect that contributes to the ordinary experience of space. In general, urban planning tends to objectify places by being removed from them (DeCerteau, 1984). In this case, we focus on the way vision promotes the interaction of individuals with their surroundings.

It is argued that the built environment acts as an organizer of the different viewpoints of the member of the public. Indeed, Deleuze states (1986) that “If architectural structures, (…), are visible, places of visibility, it is because they are not only figures of stone, orderings of things and combinations of qualities, but first and foremost, forms of light which organize the clear and the obscure, the opaque and the transparent, the seen and the unseen, etc”.

But it is not only sufficient for the public space to be visible. Goffman (1963) asserts that “interactions within public space require the possibility of seeing and being seen by other people”. Exposure is one of the main aspects of people’s experience with public space. It involves being visible and observable by others, and behaving accordingly.

Some modern sociologists suggest that there is an increase in what they call the “fear of exposure”. According to them, city dwellers have lost the ability to expose themselves and interact with the space around them (Sennet, 1990).

A major factor affecting visibility after public hours (both of self and of the built environment) is, as discussed previously, light. The urban light is no longer restricted to the interior of monuments or confined to built heritage areas (city centre for example). It now includes new spaces, large landscapes. This questions the role light plays, suggesting that light can give sense to a place, giving new uses and new values (Alves & Almeida, ?).

v. The look

The look of the ‘Other’ plays a central role in this project, even when only imagined. The mere possible presence of another person causes one to look at him/herself as an object, and see his/her world as it appears to the other. This is not done from a specific location outside oneself, it is non-positional. This is a recognition of the subjectivity in others (Spade, 2006).

Jean Paul Sartre describes how the look of the other person can make one feel objectified, judged, embarrassed, or ashamed of whom one is. For example, if one were doing something inappropriate, such actions are not improper until another person observes them, but become improper and awkward when they are performed before the eyes of the ‘other’; somehow my self-conscious evaluation of my “self” becomes activated through the look of the other. I see and judge my ‘self’ as I appear to the other person: “By the mere appearance of the Other, I am put in the position of passing judgment on myself as on an object, for it is as an object that I appear to the Other” (Sartre, 1956, p.189).

This object, which is my “self” as I now see my “self” with the eyes of the Other, has all of a sudden become recognisable to me. I see my “self” not from the inside, as I did before, but from the outside as the other person see me. I have somehow become aware of where “I find myself” by the glance of the Other. The glance has an effect that seems to be experienced even more powerfully by the person being seen, than by the person seeing.

vi. Consciousness

Consciousness is a difficult concept to define. It means different things to different people[7], and because of that, it is important to be clear on the meaning we are using. In this case we use the philosophical definition of the term.

Philosophical consciousness refers to a state of reality characterised by interiority, subjectivity, sentience, feeling, experience, self-agency, meaning, and purpose. Anything that has any of these has consciousness. Anything that does not would be non-conscious–blank, void, vacuous, wholly objective. This meaning refers to consciousness as context; it is about the mode of being that makes possible any and all contents and forms of consciousness. Philosophically, then, consciousness is a state or quality of being.

vii. Cartesian theatre

In ‘Consciousness Explained’, Daniel Dennett famously criticises what he calls the “Cartesian Theatre” view of the mind. The central “Cartesian” claim he targets is that there is a specific location in the brain “arrival at which is the necessary and sufficient condition for conscious experience” (Dennett, 1991: p. 106).

In other words, the Cartesian Theatre is the idea that somewhere within the mind, every piece of sensory information is processed and then somehow judged by an observing apparatus (the audience of the theatre). This judgement then defines the conscious action of the person involved.

viii. Why photography?

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally I prefer inspiration to information“. (Man Ray)

Photography is a unique medium. A camera, by its mechanical nature, is a simple light recording tool which, when used correctly, can produce very powerful images[8]. An artist may merely use photography to record work in other media, in which case the photograph is the final product of the art, but the concept conveyed is more important than technical issues. At the opposite extreme, photography can be merely a technical exercise, a way of reproducing and drawing attention to beauty (or ugliness) in the world. In this case, I used photography in order to question the nature of ‘public space’ and to document the world that surrounds us.

This particular medium has allowed me to present public space in a different way than the one we usually perceive it. The images communicate an alternate message (in this case about our relationship with space). In Boorstin’s words (1992, p. 91), ‘photography gives a narrative symbolism, and as a sign or, more precisely, an allegory’. We perceive photography as message[9].

Walker Evans once said: “Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” And this is exactly what the viewers do when looking at my images. The more they stare, the more they feel. There are so many different ways you can affect the way an individual feels by what the picture shows or doesn’t show.

When photographing the public space, I capture an instant of its ‘being’. That instant is made available to the viewer under the form of a photograph, for further exploration. “As the moments flow in the world, they flow in me as well. By freezing those moments in still pictures, I am presenting my view of the world in that constant flow. And photography becomes a way for me to explore the outside world as well as my inner self.” (Bin, ?) Through that exploration the viewer captures a glimpse of my own thoughts. As Ishiuchi puts in words so well: “A photograph is a reproduction of the surface of what you see, but the image of the photograph continues beyond the frame, and reflects the artist’s self, with many layers of concern and intention, widely, deeply, and beautifully.” (Ishiuchi, ?)

Finally, in a few simple words, it is safe to say that photography has allowed me to bring to the viewer an awareness of self, others, and their environment.

Chapter 3: Methodology

This chapter aims to provide the viewer with a greater understanding of the evolution of my project. It presents the various methods of research I used whilst exploring public space through a selection of influential photographers and authors. In addition, it helps situating this body of work within contemporary practice.

i. Influential photographers

There is a wide selection of photographers that have influenced me and have lead to the production of this project. In this paragraph, I outline only a few of them, who, I believe are most relevant to the final body of work produced.

The project titled ‘We Are No Longer Ourselves’ (see Appendix 1), produced in 2001 by Rut Blees Luxemburg, Effie Paleologou and Sophy Rickett was probably the body of work which influenced me the most. ‘We Are No Longer Ourselves’ examines the enigmatic subject of the nocturnal city. These three photographers inhabit the streets, exploring how urban life transforms after dark. The city by day is a crowded and lively place. By night, empty corners and dark shadows can suggest sinister possibilities and create a highly charged atmosphere. Through this body of work, these photographers explore how the cityscape reflects and affects the human condition. The photographs produced are a direct investigation of the urban landscape. They are images taken at night on the edge of the centre of the city, long exposures which allow them to use the light emanating from the street only.

The resulting images are strange and beautiful, sometimes immediately recognisable whilst others are almost abstract, flooded with green and golden light. Urban landscapes often seem threatening and dehumanising, but these poetic and seductive draws us in, making us look again, hinting at new ways of seeing and interacting with the cities we inhabit.

Corriette Schoenaerts is a Dutch photographer mostly known for her editorial work. She takes on commissions from various magazines, mostly working on fashion shoots as well as other promotional photographs that are both refreshingly colourful and visually challenging. In her project ‘Nightscapes’ however, her photography takes a turn as she explores familiar spaces during night-time (see Appendix 2). She states: ‘I know all these places very well, because I (used to) pass them daily. By day, they are very familiar, by night they turn into mysterious fairytale worlds’.

Her photographs are a direct representation of the physical elements of urban landscape at night. They convey a feeling of tranquillity, temporality and abandonment. It is as if everything is ready to pick up from where it was left when morning comes. The spaces represented in ‘Nightscapes’ are inviting, despite the overwhelming darkness that surrounds them.

Holger Schilling and his project ‘Wahrend Ihr Schlieft’ (While You Slept) (Appendix 3) proved to be of significant influence for my project. The photos are taken entirely at night in residential areas, discovering the artist’s surrounding environment.

The last project outlined in this chapter is called ‘Ambient Light’ by Joao Lanca Morais (see Appendix 4). Morais is professional photographer based in Lisbon, who works as a cinematographer for commercials and features. This particular project, produced in December 2010, is an explicit exploration of the architectural structure of the urban landscape. Nonetheless, as opposed to the previous photographers mentioned, this body of work focuses more on private spaces left in decay.

There are many other photographers who have contributed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to the production of my project. For obvious reasons, it is impossible to mention them all in this essay.

ii. Influential texts

Adding to the philosophical literature covered in order to get a better understanding of the phenomenological concepts underlined in my project, I examined several books that proved to be capital for the development of my work. This chapter covers a quick selection of them.

‘Between City and Desert’ by Eyal Weizman and Manuel Herz, featured in ‘City Levels’ by Nick Barley laid the theoretical base for the project. ‘City Levels’ examines the urban environment at different levels to discover the mechanics of a city. It looks at what is happening, both culturally and architecturally, deep underground, at street level, and high overhead.

In ‘Between City and Desert’, Weizman and Hertz discuss the issue of privatisation of a public space through the case study of a north London Suburb. The project’s aim was to merge all public space for a limited amount of time in order to create a symbolic, private space the size of a town. This would be done to allow orthodox Jews to carryon with their daily activities during their religious festivities. Ideas of ‘space’, ‘place’, ‘settlements’, ‘public’, ‘private domain’, ‘desert and temple’, ‘fixed geographical definition’, ‘the meaning and use of public space and the objects within it’ are widely explored.

Overall, this text allowed me to grasp a better understanding of space and territory, ownership and meaning of the terms public and private and provided me with the ability to perform a more accurate reading of space.

Vintage Calvino in ‘Invisible Cities’ provides a vast panel of vocabulary and terminology to describe cities and space. He exceeds in talent when portraying the various cities of Marco Polo’s travels, making the reader travel along with the hero. This book amazed me with extraordinary sceneries and ideas fabricated with words. In addition to the multiple descriptions of cities and spaces, Calvino includes light touches of philosophical explorations that also allowed my mind to wonder on the purposes of cities.

This book has provided me with the ability to visualise a space as if it was being described to me. A mental representation of a space is very different from the reality of that same space being observed. There is a feeling of majesty and mysteriousness about it and this is the same impression I am putting across to my viewer.

In ‘Poetics of Space’, Gaston Bachelard applies phenomenology to architecture. He bases his analysis on lived experience of architecture, considering spaces such as the attic, the cellar, drawers and the like. ‘The Poetics of Space’ does not look at the origins or technicalities of architecture, but how the lived-in and human experience of architecture affects and shapes it’s development. Through the extensive use of phenomenological thinking, Bachelard allowed me to become more conscious about my surroundings and provoked some deep reflections about dwelling in spaces.

iii. Part of something bigger

‘Darkness, Light and the Space Between’ is not just a random, stand-alone photography project. Indeed, photographers have been exploring urban landscapes for years. Some people might be a little depressed by the greyness of concrete, towering skyscrapers and graffiti covered walls. Urban landscape photography looks for the photographic possibilities that these elements withhold in the cities and urban areas where we live and work. There are a number of other genres of urban photography such as cityscape photography[10], architectural photography[11], street photography[12], etc.

Eugene Atget for example was one of the early urban photographers who captured the city in its most simple form. His work included photographing old buildings, street vendors, architectural details and buildings that were about to be demolished. Much of his work was aimed at artists and stage designers who would use his photographs as visual aids for their own work.

Henri Cartier Bresson is probably the best-known photographer of all time and one that has inspired many over the years. His candid photography, covering many of the peoples of the world, provides a valuable source of information about the lives of everyday individuals during the middle of the 20th century.

Similarly, Robert Frank was famous for depicting cultural issues in society through the use of candid street photography. His work The Americans placed him firmly as a photographer willing to show life as it really was. His ability to see the mundane aspects of everyday life as a fascinating insight into the lives of normal people helped to highlight cultural issues of the time.

The list of urban photographers is long, and probably endless. Other famous photographers whose work captured the true form of the city include Paul Strand[13], Alvin Langdon Coburn[14], Karl Hugo Sclmotz[15], Alfred Stieglitz[16] and Andre Kertesz[17].

A more modern form of urban photography is the so-called ‘urban exploration’. Often shortened as ‘urbex’, it is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities (Nestor, 2007). Urban explorers shun the natural world in pursuit of more closely examining and understanding the inner workings of our constructed world, of seeing civic society in its real, raw, unpainted, un-plastered and un-prettied state. It is internal city touring, but without guides, double-decker buses, maps or directions. It’s about going where people aren’t supposed to go.

The constant need of people to understand their surroundings often leads to photographers associating modern social issues to the space around us. My project follows this modern trend whilst associating its aesthetics to the more classical trend of urban photography. I associate philosophical and sociological concepts of human behaviour with the space’s shifting nature in order to produce a rigorous exploration of this specific subject.

In addition, urban photographers could be seen as a kind of modern mapmakers, exploring every inch of a city, corner after corner. In that sense, this project is part of that ongoing mapping process, with a particular focus on the historic city of Carlisle.

Chapter 4: The personal experiences

This chapter examines the various experiences of individuals directly involved with the images. I first investigate the various stages of producing this project and the way this process affected me. I then look at the way the viewer experiences the photographs when looking at them.

Producing this project

Producing this project was not an easy task. Similarly to the last two projects produced for this MA, I have invested a lot of time and effort into researching and bringing it to being. It is almost as if a piece of me has gone into it, as both of us were evolving. The process of making has provided me with a clearer understanding of the importance of the physical structures of our surroundings, and a clearer understanding of people’s psychology of being into urban space.

This project did not involve any third parties, which made it easier to carry out. Once fully immerged in the public space after hours, all that needed to be done was to let my feelings guide me (whilst staying within the theoretical framework of the project). The actual creation of the images did feel at times somehow voyeuristic, almost illegal. My presence in these public spaces often triggered an adrenalin rush, very often making me work under pressure. Whilst I still took my time to take the images (30 seconds exposures take time) I often found myself wondering how fast I could get back to the safety of my car.

There were no major problems whilst carrying out this project. Other than the occasional scare from some late dog walkers and the low availability of light, everything ran as smoothely as it could have.

The project did present me with the opportunity to explore various areas of Carlisle, furthering my knowledge and appreciation of this city. I also noticed a substantial amelioration in my night photography skills. This was truly a pleasant project to carry out and the resulting set of images is quite satisfactory.

Viewer’s experience

When looking at the photograph, the viewer is instantly immerged in it. The darkness overtakes the visual field, forcing the gaze upon the ‘lit areas’ of the image. It is only when he/she is comfortable enough with the light that the spectator starts exploring the surroundings. The gaze never goes too far from the lit areas, navigating timidly through the image in the exact same way an individual would navigate though an unknown, badly lit space.

As the nature of the space that surrounds the viewer changes, so does his/her experience of it. He/she becomes conscious of his/her own visibility and starts experiencing the look in the full Sartrian way. The presence of the ’Other’ starts affecting the viewer and seeks comfort in full view, in the light.

The sense of possible danger hiding in the darkness triggers emotions of discomfort and fear, leaving the viewer restless. It is when this feeling reaches its summum the viewer then moves away from the image, confronting a new, completely undiscovered scenery. The same emotional journey begins again.

Conclusion

The publicness of space is a fairly hard concept to define. It is a complicated notion that is subject to a vast amount of controversy. This project explores the relation of individuals in such spaces after the public hours, focusing on the ideas of self-consciousness and visibility. It has been shown that spaces’ nature shifts with daylight and that the simple act of being in such spaces triggers emotions of unease and unrest.

Photography as a medium has allowed me to document this phenomenon in the most simplistic way. The experience of the viewer discovering the images is very similar to the emotional experience of actually walking through the dark streets of a city.

I have evolved tremendously whilst producing this project and have come to get a better understanding of the space that surrounds us. In addition, I have discovered in more depth Carlisle, often finding myself in areas I would never have explored had it not been for this project.

In terms of personal growth, I am now confident in my photographic judgement. I find myself much more comfortable in presenting my work, and have figured out an insatiable truth: It matters very little what people think of the final product. It is the journey that lead to it that is worth taking into consideration.

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Descartes, R., 1637. Discours de la methode pour bien conduir sa raison et chercher la verite dans les sciences plus la dioptrique, les meteores, et la geometrie, qui sont des essais de cette methode (Discourse on the Method for Properly Conducting Reason and Searching for Truth in the Sciences, as well as the Dioptrics, the Meteors, and the Geometry, which are essays in this method), in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes , ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.
Descartes, R., 1644. Principia philosophiae (Principles of Philosophy), excerpted in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes , ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.
Garber, D., 1998, 2003. Descartes, Rene. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge. Retrieved April 12, 2011, from http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/DA026SECT10
Goffman, E., 1963. Behavior in Public Places. New York: The Free Press
Gwiazdzinski, L., 2005. La Nuit, derniere frontiere de la ville. Editions de l’Aube, ESSAI.
Hintikka, J., 1968. ‘Cogito, Ergo Sum: Inference or Performance’, in W. Doney (ed.) Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 108–1 39.
Hobbs, D., P. Hadfield, S. Lister and S. Winlow (2003) Bouncers: Violence and Governance in the Night-time Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Jacobs, J., 1992 (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York : Vintage Books.
Kohn, M. 2004. Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space. New York : Routledge Publishers.
Lee, T. S. 2009. “Soundscape and Society,” in A.Orum and Z.Neal (eds), Common GroundReadings and Reflections on Public Space. New York : Routledge Publishers.
Lefebvre, H. 1996. Writings on Cities, Part II. E.Kofman and E.Lebas (trans.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
MacLennan, ?. The Investigation of Consciousness Through Phenomenology and Neuroscience. University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Markie, P., 1992. ‘The Cogito and its importance’, in J. Cottingham (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Mitchell, D. 2003. The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space. New York : The Guilford Press.
Nestor, J., 2007. “The Art of Urban Exploration“. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved online on 2 May 2011 from:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/19/CMA4QVBMQ.DTL

Pacione, M., 2001. Urban Geography: a Global Perspective. 3rd ed., Routledge.
Perez de Vega, E., ?. Experiencing Built Space: Affect and Movement.
Perrella,S., 1988. Form, Being, Absence. Architecture and philosophy. Pratt journal.
Quincey, C., ?. Intersubjectivity: Exploring Consciousness from the Second-Person Perspective. Retrieved online on 12th April 2011 from: http://cognet.mit.edu/posters/TUCSON3/deQuincey.html

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Rodger R. & Sweet R., 2008. The Changing Nature of Urban History. University of Edinburgh and University of Leicester, Institute of Historical Research. Online resource, retrieved on 17/03/2011 from: http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/City/articles/sweet.html
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Categories
Free Essays

Compare/contrast Max Muller’s Theory Nature Worship With Edward Burnett Tylor’s Theory of Animism

Introduction

The term “animism” was coined by the anthropologist E.B. Tylor (1832–1917).[1] It considers religion as a belief in spiritual beings.[2] According to Tylor, religious belief came from the primordial culture of attributing life and a soul, or spirit to inanimate objects like rivers, mountains and rocks to name just these few.[3] Naturism is a belief which holds that the forces of nature possess supernatural powers.[4] The theory of naturism was developed by Andrew Lang and Max Muller. This essay will analyse the similarities and differences between animism and naturism. In order to carry out this analysis, it will start by examining animism and naturism. After that, it will proceed to outline the differences and similarities between these two models that attempt to identify the origin of human religion.

Similarity and Differences between Animism and Naturism

Today, animism has been discarded by many in the academic study of religion.[5] It is widely considered as an obsolete term used in describing the belief systems of indigenous people who believe that natural phenomena have souls and spirits. Irrespective of this, animism has persisted in popular usage and religious theories. Muller was a Sanskrit scholar and emphasised that the primary form of religious practice is naturism.[6] He adds that naturism has to do withone’s sensory experience which helps one to make logical deductions.

Animists believe that religious embodiments are visible meanwhile their cause is not.[7] For example, although the rain is visible the factors that lead to rain are not. Similarly, the sun is visible to all. However, man is unable to tell how the sun came into existence although everyone knows that the sun exists. Consequently, man worshipped all the wonders of nature and considered them as powerful. These include the sun, the moon, air and water given that man’s life is largely depended on them. They are considered as great and having a soul. Without these things, man’s life will be exclusively impossible.[8] Out of respect for the role they play in the life of mankind, mankind attributes a lot of reverence to them and hence worshipped them.[9] Man worships them because of fear and dependency because they believe if they fail to do, they can seize to perform the roles they play to keep the human race alive. Animists believe that the initial religious conception is based on the personification of natural phenomena that are beyond man’s comprehension. In this respect, both animists and naturists believe that nature has a spiritual component.

The naturistic school is quite different from the animistic school of thought. To begin with, it is founded in a completely different environment. The animists are mostly comprised of ethnologists and anthropologists. Some of the religions they have examined are amongst the most primitive religions which mankind has ever known or studied.[10] Consequently, great emphasis is laid on the souls of the dead, spirits, demons and all spiritual beings. This can be explained by the fact that these religions know little about the existence of any higher order. On the other hand, these theories are based on the work of scholars who emerged from the great civilisations of Europe and Asia. This makes both models different irrespective of the fact that they have a lot of similarities. Both models are set within different contexts.

After the work of the Grimm brothers, who were noted for emphasising the importance of comparing Indo-European mythologies, many researchers have been shocked by the remarkable similarities found in different mythologies.[11] Many scholars have found that the same ideas were expressed in different many different mythologies although they made use of different names and places. These similarities are believed to be as a result of the fact that many of these beliefs have a common origin.[12] Many scholars believe that although there are some apparent differences in names, places and functions, many of these differences have underlying similarities that outweigh the differences. Such a comparative approach makes it easier for one to go back to the much more primitive religion from which many religious theories such as animism and naturism emerged. This will help to explain the reasons behind the differences and similarities.

Animism and naturism have an underlying similarity which cannot be challenged. After the discovery of the Vedas, more light was thrown on the complex debate about the origin of religions.[13] The Vedas was a written text which cannot be empirically dated back to an exact period.[14] However, it is considered by many scholars as one of the most ancient documents in an Indo-European language. The document was believed to have been written before the era of the Greek poet Homer who lived around 850BC.[15] The document was therefore written before the ancient German society was established. It throws more light on the beginning of religion in the human race given that the Vedas is, without any doubt, the oldest document of its type. This document can be linked to many theories that attempt to explain the beginning of religion. Both the naturistic and animistic models are rooted in this document which suggests that they have a common origin.[16]

Meanwhile Tylor’s theory of animism suggests that human beings and everything that makes up nature had souls, Max Muller’s theory of nature worship believed in the worship of nature. Both theories place a lot of importance on nature. They all believed that nature had both a physical component that is visible, and a spiritual component which can neither be touched nor field.[17] Both theories personify nature, making it to look more alive and comparable to human beings. For instance, while Tylor’s theory of animism holds that everything in the world, including the air, seas, rivers, lakes and mountains are alive and have spirits. Muller’s theory of nature worship personified the triad of the early vedic gods (Agni, Vayu, and Surya).[18] These include the air, sun and fire. Both theories hold that human religionwas derived from their observations of the forces of nature which they respected. The spirits they attributed to these forces of nature could either be helpful or harmful. In order to get the best out of them, they elevate these forces of nature and worshipped them. In this respect, the two theories are similar.

Conclusion

This analysis has found that although there are a few differences between Tylor’s model of animism and Muller’s nature worship model; both have a lot of underlying similarities.[19] For instance, both theories believe that nature is very much alive. They both see religion as the worship of nature, be it the sun, moon, sea, fire and all the forces of nature. The two models consider the forces of nature as powerful considering the fact that nature is indispensible to mankind. They attribute spirits to nature, making the two models more similar than different. The differences between the two models are not too much.

References

Durkheim, Emile and Swain, Joseph (2008) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, New York: Dover Publications Inc.

Folie, Sabine and Anselm, Franke (2011) Animism: Modernity Through the Looking Glass, Berlin: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig

Harvey, Graham (2013) The Handbook of Contemporary Animism, Durham: Acumen Publishing Ltd

Monier-Williams Monier, Sir 1819-1899 (2013) Religious Thought and Life in India.PT. 1.Vedism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism, Washington: Hardpress Publishing

Orr, Emma (2012) The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature. New Alresford: Moon Books

Phillips, Maurice (2013) The Evolution of Hinduism, Hong Kong: Forgotten Books

Stark, Rodney (2008) Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief, London: HarperOne

Categories
Free Essays

What is the nature of the relationship between cctv and crime prevention?

Abstract

Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of closed circuit television (CCTV) installations especially at the town centres. Installation of CCTV cameras in public spaces has been driven by the urgency for crime prevention. CCTVs have been installed with the aim of deterring offending, bringing offenders to justice and providing reassurance to the public about their safety.However studies exploring on effectiveness of CCTV on crime prevention have produced mixed results. Some studies have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime while others have pointed out to the minimal or insignificant effect of CCTV on levels of offending. As such, the proposed dissertation seeks to clarify the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention.

This proposal lays out the approach that would be taken to address the objectives of the proposed dissertation. The proposal provides the theoretical framework, literature review and the methodology used to obtain the data. A multi-method spatial approach will be used to analyze the data collected. The proposal seeks to examine the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and reducing crime in 3 London boroughs: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help in evaluating effectiveness of CCTV surveillance in preventing crimes in the 3 boroughs.

Introduction

For much of 21st century, crime prevention has relied primarily on police patrol. However, foot patrol has historically been identified to have a small impact on preventing and reducing crime. Research has shown that police patrol and investigative resources of the police are, to a large extend, limited in preventing most of the crimes that have been taking place (Keval & Sasse 2008). Unfocused random patrols and reactive arrests by street patrols have generally had minimal impact on crime prevention.

Because of this, there has been an increasing emphasis on CCTV installations as a way of preventing crime. Many countries have installed CCTV cameras especially in the town centres. The UK leads with the most extensive CCTV coverage in the whole world (Philips 1999). The widespread installation of CCTV in UK has, in part, been the result of proactive initiatives by the central government, with most of the operations funded by the British Home Office (Philips 1999).

CCTV systems in the UK have been deployed in town centres, banks, shopping centres, parking facilities, building societies, industrial estates, schools and colleges, and police custody suites among many other areas. Aside from the central government, the European community, businesses and local authorities have also contributed to the financing of CCTV surveillance systems in the UK (Philips 1999).

Problem statement

Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of closed circuit television (CCTV) installations especially at the town centres (Philips 1999). Gone are the days when street patrols were the only means for fighting crime. CCTV has come up as a management tool for crime-solving and prevention. Installation of CCTV cameras in public spaces has been driven by the urgency for crime prevention. CCTVs have been installed with the aim of deterring offending, bringing offenders to justice and providing reassurance to the public about their safety.

It is estimated that UK economy loses approximately ?50 billion annually in crime (Cjsni 2008). But of course, the ‘true’ cost of crime in terms of the well-being of the general public and the quality of life are incalculable (Cjsni 2008). In what is currently known as an “evidence-led” crime reduction policy, governments have sought to develop scientific research basis for understanding “what works” and “what doesn’t” and “what’s promising” in crime reduction (Cjsni 2008). CCTVs have been identified as such important crime prevention tools.

But whilst CCTV appears to have gained increasing importance in crime prevention, issues of security in public places still remain a major concern, both at the national level and internationally. Despite significant investment in such crime deterrent technologies, risks associated with assault and property crime remains considerable (Wells et al. 2006). Therefore, this proposal seeks to examine the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime prevention. It will examine the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and reducing crime in 3 London boroughs: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council.

Research objectives

This proposal seeks to address the following research objectives:

To determine the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime reduction
To examine the extent of CCTV coverage and occurrence of crime by type and frequency in the 3 London
To evaluate the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing or deterring crime
To identify the current knowledge gaps with regard to the impact of CCTV in crime prevention.
Literature review

Alongside the widespread installation of CCTVs in public places, there has been a wealth of information on the impact of CCTV on crime prevention. However, research on the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention have to date been ambiguous (Greenhalgh 2003). Some studies have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime while others have pointed out to the minimal or insignificant effect of CCTV on levels of offending.

Authors such as Tilley (1997) and Bennett & Gelsthorpe (1996) have suggested that CCTV deter people from committing crime, thereby reducing crime prevalence. These authors argued that CCTV facilitates effective deployment of police officers and security staff to locations of crime, thereby deterring offenders from committing crime. A study by Armitage et al. (1999) on the impact of CCTV installation on the level of crime in Burnley found that recorded crimes had fallen by 25% owing to the presence of CCTV surveillance.

A similar study by Brown (1995) which employed a rigorous methodology based upon the realistic evaluation model suggested by Pawson & Tilley (1994) found that the level of offending in Newcastle Upon Tyne had reduced owing to the introduction of CCTV. But whilst pointing out to the crime prevention effect of CCTV in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Brown cautioned that such gains could be short term and might wear off over time. Brown also cautioned about the possibility of displacement effects undermining the perceived advantages.

But whilst several authors have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime, most of the studies have had little scientific support for such claims. In this regard, Short & Ditton (1995) identified a number of problems with many of these claims. First, they noted that the time periods examined were generally too short to give an adequate account of the effectiveness of CCTV systems. Second, crime was considered as one category, obscuring the increases or reductions in different types of crime (Short & Ditton 1995).

Third, the authors noted that some cases lacked control rooms and as such, assessment of crime patterns was not accurate. Fourth, most of the assessments made did not take into account the seasonal variations in crime. Indeed there seems to be a number of concerns with many of these claims. What is even more surprising is that, most of these conclusions came from those who were responsible for the installation of CCTV systems.

Indeed, as suggested by Bulos & Sarno (1996), very few CCTV systems have been comprehensively evaluated by independent researchers (Bulos & Sarno 1996). Whilst there has been a huge support for the installation of CCTV in urban and town centres, it seems that hype will continue to achieve prominence over key questions that should be asked such as evaluating the usefulness and effectiveness of CCTV in preventing crime (Phillips 1999). It is important to provide evaluative evidence of crime reduction effects so as to justify future investment in CCTV schemes.

Several other authors have identified negative impacts of CCTV on crime prevention. Norris et al (1998) pointed out that CCTV control rooms were rife with prejudice and racism, inferring that the reported incidences were likely to be biased. A study by Brown (1995) on CCTV impact of crime on Birmingham found that the use of CCTV surveillance had failed to produce an overall reduction in the level of crime, with only a small decline in vehicle theft. A similar study conducted by Ditton et al (1999) in Glasgow showed that CCTV installation in the city centre had coincided with an upsurge in crime, with offences of indecency and dishonesty experiencing the most significant increase.

In a recent meta-analysis study by Welsh & Farrington (2002), it was found that out of thirteen evaluations in city centres, five of these showed decrease in offences whereas three showed an undesirable effect (increase in crime). In the other remaining five evaluations, there was no effect of CCTV on crime. In a further criticism, Groombridge & Murji (1994) suggested that CCTV could only be used as a tool and not a panacea.

But whilst Norris et al (1998) pointed out to the bias in CCTV control rooms, they emphasized the importance of CCTV in fighting crime and suggested for an ‘algorithmic’ surveillance to enable CCTV to effectively fight crime. Algorithmic CCTV surveillance matches a person’s gait and facial characteristics to images and footage stored in a database (Phillips 1999). ‘Algorithmic’ surveillance is particularly useful in revealing persons who are hiding from CCTV cameras.

Despite the presence of very few independent rigorous evaluations and despite diverse and differing interests between private, public and statutory agencies; CCTV is almost unanimously backed (Fussey 2004). The ubiquity of CCTV cameras in the town and urban centres is a testament to this. CCTV installation has taken place at a time when there has been improvement in crime analysis both in resolution (both temporal and spatial) (Mackay 2002). This has enabled practitioners focus to become more place-specific as opposed to generalizing crime to the neighbourhood level (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008).

Theoretical framework

Sociological and criminological theory

To understand the concept of CCTV surveillance and its role in the contemporary society, sociological and criminological theory will be useful. In particular, theorizations based around neo-Marxist and Foucauldian perspectives will be used. But, since this is not the primary objectives of this paper, such paradigmatic conceptualizations shall only be briefly discussed in this paper.

Neo-Marxist perspectives

Neo-Marxist approach stress the use of CCTV to police economically marginalized groups (Fussey 2004). The role of CCTV in the contemporary society can be situated within a neo-Marxist framework that stresses the use of CCTV in policing unequal socio-economic divisions and managing the use of public space (Fussey 2004). Aware of the possibility that potential consumers may be deterred from commercial centres by the presence of low level incivilities such as beggars, litter, anti-social behaviours and gangs of youths; those representing commercial interests have sought to use CCTV surveillance to remove such undesirable factors (Fussey 2004: p.255). The ubiquity of CCTV cameras in the town centres is a testament to this.

Foucauldian perspectives

The foucauldian notion takes the view that modernity has yielded a form of ‘disciplinary’ society in which individuals are continuously placed under surveillance to deter antisocial or deviant behaviours (Fussey 2004). The Foucauldian approach criticizes utopian Enlightement objectives, arguing that in the present modern society, power has become ubiquitous and subtle (Fussey 2004). This power which has developed via institutions such as prisons, schools and asylums, is now manifest in the entire society. CCTV is thus an example of the various disciplinary mechanisms. According to Foucault, the increasing use of surveillance marks a shift in emphasis from punishment (a feature of pre-enlightment penal technique) to regulation of the self (Fussey 2004).

But whilst Foucault’s perspective may provide a useful account of CCTV, this approach should be taken with caution. As suggested by Norris et al (1999), CCTV cameras have generally been used to selectively target particular sub-groups especially the ethnic minority groups. The use of CCTV to target selective groups and the application of actuarial techniques against the ‘underclass’ is indicative that CCTV is only ‘ubiquitous’ for certain groups and not the wider society as suggested by Foucault (Fussey 2004: p.257).

Research questions

The scope of this analysis will be confined to the following research questions:

What is the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime reduction
What current knowledge gaps exist with regard to the impact of CCTV in fighting crime
To what extent have CCTV systems been deployed in London
Has there been a huge difference in crime in terms of frequency of occurrence between the pre-camera and post-camera period
Can any observed reductions and deterrence of crime in London be attributed to CCTV surveillance
Methodology

Research approach

A mixed method approach will be used to obtain data for analysis. The mixed approach will comprise of interviews with various stakeholders in London borough and a survey of secondary information that is available for review. This will include a review of the Home Office web site and past reports about crime reduction effects of CCTV. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with key informants in 3 London boroughs including the Cambridge City Council CCTV operator (London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Farnham CCTV operator in the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council CCTV operator. The researcher will also review research publications from the British Home Office and past reports that explore on the nature of relationship between CCTV and crime prevention. Online crime mapping tool will be used to locate crime to specific locations.

Validity and reliability of findings

The mixed method approach will not only provide more in-depth analysis, but will also increase reliability and validity of information collected. The primary data collected from semi-structured interviews with key informants will be supplemented by secondary information collected from a survey of Home Office data and other relevant past reports.

Data collection

The dataset obtained from British Home Office will comprise of information about the type of crime, date of occurrence and the specific location where the crime took place. An online crime mapping tool which was launched in the UK in 2008 to help with geocoding accuracy of crime data will be used to pinpoint the exact location where crime took place (Griffith 2011). The crime evaluated will be limited only to those influenced by CCTV cameras. The crime data will then be aggregated into three main categories: disorder crime, serious crime and all crime.

Data analysis

In analyzing the impact CCTV on localized crime, the proposed dissertation will utilize a multi-method spatial approach. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help provide more in-depth data analysis. HLM is a type of statistical analysis that allows for rigorous evaluation of the impact of CCTV on crime prevention (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). This analysis tool takes into account factors such as seasonality and ongoing trends. The analysis tool is also useful where there are repeated incidences of crime.

HLM is associated with a number of practical benefits. First, it takes account of the seasonality factor. Seasonal effects have particular relevance in that people would tend to spend more time outside during the warm seasons than cold seasons. Secondly, the analysis takes control of pre-camera implementation trends (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). An example of a pre-existing temporal trend is the possibility of regeneration taking place at a camera location (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). Failure to control such trends could result in overestimation or underestimation of CCTV’s crime reduction effects (Ratcliffe et al. 2009).

However, HLM statistical analysis tool is limited in its ability to disaggregate the effectiveness of each camera type (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). It is practically impossible to investigate each specific camera. Given the inability of HLM to disaggregate the effectiveness of each camera type, conducting a robust statistical analysis using this method becomes difficult. Perhaps, this is an area worthy of future investigation.

To address this limitation, the researcher will also utilize a Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) analysis method. This method is also useful in determining the displacement effect of CCTV. This will require the researcher to first identify three operational areas:

target area – this is the area where crime reduction strategy is already in place
Buffer area – the buffer area is where crime is most likely to be displaced to.
Control area – this is area will act as a check on general crime trends (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008)

The Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) analysis tool will be used to determine whether the differences in the levels of crime in target and buffer areas are a result of displacement effect of CCTVs or diffusion of benefits of CCTV surveillance in target area (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008).

Ethical considerations

The main ethical concern that is likely to arise is that involving invasion of privacy in public spaces. Whilst this technology has been implemented as a benevolent means of fighting crime, there are concerns about personal liberty and invasion of privacy (Hempel & Topfer 2004). Given the sheer volume of CCTV cameras installed in the UK, it calls into question the freedom and privacy of the public. Have CCTV cameras been installed to protect the public from crime or are we living in ‘Big brother’ Surveillance society (Fletcher 2011)?

Perhaps to address this ethical concern, the researcher will recommend the use of regular crime analysis such as that used in CompStat to identify places of greatest risk of crimes (Welsh & Farrington 2010). Such information can be used as a guide for implementation of CCTV surveillance in areas of high risk crime, thereby reducing the threat of invasion of public’s privacy (Welsh & Farrington 2010).

But whilst CCTV systems have been criticized for invasion of privacy, there appear to be some sought of regulations adhered to by organizations when installing them. There is currently no regulation regarding installation of CCTV in private household. CCTVs can be installed in private households without the need of registering with regulatory body or adhering to any regulations. But for organizations seeking to install CCTV, they are required to follow the regulations dictated in the DPA98 such as the visibility of appropriate signage which should make the public aware that they are in an area of CCTV surveillance (Fletcher 2011).

Anticipated problems

Whilst the proposal is of paramount importance, the researcher is likely to encounter some limitations when conducting the research. These include:

Budgetary constraints – Gathering of data can be expensive. As such, conducting extensive survey may be difficult owing to the budgetary constraints
Time constraints – The task of exploring on the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention may be limited by time constraints. The researcher may be forced to make quick decisions rather than building a detailed picture due to time constraints.
Additionally, the participants may not be willing to participate in the interviews

Nonetheless, the researcher will make efforts to address these limitations.

Conclusion

This proposal has clearly laid out the approach that would be taken to address the objectives of the proposed dissertation. A mixed method approach would be used to obtain critical information about the nature of relationship between CCTV installation and crime prevention. A multi-method spatial approach will be used to analyze the data collected. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help in evaluating effectiveness of CCTV surveillance in preventing crimes.

The main ethical concern that is likely to arise is that of personal liberty and invasion of privacy. But the researcher has suggested the use of regular crime analysis such as that used in CompStat, as a guide for implementation of CCTV in areas of high risk crime. This is expected to reduce the threat of invasion of privacy in public places.

Reference

Armitage, R., Smyth, G., and Pease, K., 1999. Burnley CCTV evaluation. In: Painter, K. and Tilley N., (eds.), ‘Surveillance of public space: CCTV, street lighting and crime prevention’. Crime Prevention Studies, volume 10, pp 225-250.

Bennett, T. and L. Gelsthorpe, 1996. “Public attitudes towards CCTV in public places.” Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention 5 (l): pp.72-90.

Brown, B., 1995. CCTV in town centres: three case studies. Crime Detection and

Bulos, M. and Sarno, C., 1996. Codes of practice and public closed circuit television systems. London, UK: Local Government Information Unit.

Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland (Cjsni), 2008. Reducing offending: a critical review of the international research evidence. NIO Research and Statistical Series: Report No. 18

Fletcher, P., 2011. ‘Is CCTV effective in reducing anti-social behaviour?’ Internet Journal of Criminology.

Fussey, P., 2004. ‘New labour and new surveillance: theoretical and political ramifications of CCTV implementation in the UK’, Surveillance & Society

Greenhalgh, S., 2003. Literature review on issues of privacy and surveillance affecting social behaviour. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

Griffiths, M., Town centre CCTV: an examination of crime reduction in Gillingham, Kent.

Groombridge, N. and Murji, K., 1994. “Obscured by Cameras?” Criminal Justice Matters 17

Hempel, L. and E. Topfer, 2004. On the threshold to urban panopticonAnalyzing the employment of CCTV in European cities and assessing its social and political impacts. Urbaneye

Inter-departmental Committee on Closed Circuit Television (IDCCCTV) 2000. NSW Government Policy Statement and Guidelines for the Establishment and Implementation of closed circuit television (cctv) in public places, NSW Attorney General’s Department

Keval, H. and Sasse, M.A., 2008. ‘Not the usual suspects: a study of factors reducing the effectiveness of CCTV’. Security Journal, p. 1-21

Mackay, D., 2002. Self interest: the true reasons for supporting town centre CCTV systems: a case study. University of Leicester Scarman Centre.

Norris, C, Moran, J. and Armstrong, G., 1998. “Algorithmic surveillance: the future of automated visual surveillance.” In: C. Norris, J. Moran and G. Armstrong (eds.), Surveillance, closed circuit television and social control. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Pawson, R. and Tilley, N., 1994. “What works in evaluation research?” British Journal of Criminology 34(3):291-306.

Phillips, C.,1999. ‘A review of CCTV evaluations: crime reduction effects and attitudes towards its use’. Crime Prevention Studies, volume 10, pp. 123-155

Ratcliffe, J. and T. Taniguchi, 2008. CCTV camera evaluation: the crime reduction effects of public CCTV cameras in the City of Philadelphia, PA installed during 2006. Department of Criminal Justice

Ratcliffe, J.H., Taniguchi, T. and Taylor, R.B., 2009. ‘The crime reduction effects of public CCTV cameras: a multi-method spatial approach’. Justice Quarterly, vol. 26 (4)

Short, E. and Ditton, J., 1995. “Does CCTV affect crime?” CCTV Today 2 (2): pp.10-12.

Stutzer, A. and Zehnder, M., 2010. Camera surveillance as a measure of counterterrorismEconomics of Security Working Paper 34. Berlin: Economics of Security.

Tiliey, N., 1993. The prevention of crime against small businesses: the safer cities experience. Home Office Crime Prevention Unit Series Paper, London, UK: Home Office

Wells, H., Allard, T. and P. Wilson, 2006. Crime and CCTV in Australia: understanding the relationship. Centre for Applied Psychology and Criminology Bond University

Welsh, B.C. and Farrington, D.P., 2010. The future of crime prevention: developmental and situational strategies. National Institute of Justice

Wilson, D. and Sutton, A., 2003. Open-street CCTV in Australia: a comparative study of establishment and operation. Criminology Research Council Prevention series paper 68. London: Home Office Police Department.

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Free Essays

Drawing on observations from the Polish-German borderland, critically examine the effects which Europeanisation – or “EU-isation” – has had on the actual and/or perceived nature of borders and “borderness” in Eastern Europe.

Introduction

Borders are used to separate territories, yet whilst the European Union (EU) aims to establish a fully integrated system it is clear that borders exist within it. Accordingly, there appears to be no such thing as a “borderless” world which is largely due to the fact that borders have a number of different meanings and functions. Borders are generally used to define geographic boundaries, yet whilst some borders are open, others are closed and create edges for those within the border against those who are outside of it. Borders can therefore be changed instantaneously in order to reflect social, political and economic changes, yet whether the “long-established divisions and practices associated with fixed and closed borders” (Herrschel, 2011: 148) can be changed is arguable. In accordance with this, a critical examination of the effects which Europeanisation has had on the actual and/or perceived nature of borders and borderness in Eastern Europe will be discussed. This will enable a determination to be made as to whether the EU is truly integrated or whether greater co-operation is needed between nation states. Hence, it will be shown that Europeanisation does significantly affect the borderness nature of the Eastern Europe because of the similar structures that are being created throughout the EU. Accordingly, the barriers that once constituted the borders of the EU therefore appear to have been removed, yet it is likely to be some time before the relationship between Poland and Germany will be fully restored since there remains a lack of trust and co-operation between the two communities.

Main Body

Europeanisation is a process of change whereby a non-European subject adopts various European features. This has been defined as “a process involving; construction, diffusion and institutionalisation of formal and informal rules, procedures, policy paradigms and shared beliefs” (Cini, 2007: 407). The European features are initially defined and consolidated within the policy process of the EU and subsequently incorporated into domestic structures. This effectively creates a borderless world which was identified by Ohmae (1990: 172) when he stated that; “national borders have effectively disappeared and, along with them, the economic logic that made them useful lines of demarcation in the first place.” Despite this, borders are still greatly important in helping to develop regions that are divided by state boundaries and also for analysing modern geography relating to politics and economics (Nelles and Walther, 2011: 6). They also form part of an ideology and help to demonstrate the limits associated with territorial ownership and control (Herrschel, 2011: 173). Borders are therefore vital in helping to distinguish different identifies, yet since the 1989 Revolutions; borders within the EU have undergone some important transformations. Both the re-bordering and de-bordering of the EU has taken place and whilst this may seem contradictory, greater flexibility now exists which is vital for Europeanisation.

Europeanisation has had both a positive and negative effect upon the Polish-German borderland, however, since Poland and Germany have not developed into a fully integrated region (Kratke, 2007: 1). This has a detrimental impact upon the German side of the border since they have undergone de-industrialisation, whilst the Polish side have improved economically (Nelles and Walther, 2011: 6). This illustrates the importance of full integration and whilst this was the objectives of Europeanisation, it has become apparent that barriers still exist. Thus, it has been stressed that “delimitation of the borderland area on the basis of the range of influence and economic relations distinguished by specific characteristics could be of basic significance” (Strubelt, 2009: 158). Nevertheless, this is likely to remain a controversial point since it is unclear whether the Polish-German borderland exists as a real entity or a political entity. Hence, Europeanisation continuous to reduce the separating effect of borders so that a fully integrated free market can be established, yet defensive barriers continue to be increased (Herrschel, 2011: 174). This leads to much confliction and has been described as an “unnatural and dysfunctional unit” (Ohmae, 1995: 42). Whether the borders of Eastern Europe will ever open up is unclear but given that international borders are one type of boundary that are used as barriers as opposed to bridges (Mingus, 2006: 577), it seems likely that some changes will be made if the EU is to become fully integrated.

Nevertheless, because of the fears surrounding the threats to national sovereignty, it is likely that nation states will try to remain borderness for as long as possible. This is because, the current regime that is being employed in Eastern Europe has been deemed workable and because the nation-state model remains intact its networks structures are likely to remain the same. The success of this, however, may be dependent on the ability of these networks to “solve problems that cross national borders while avoiding the appearance of impinging upon national sovereignty” (Mingus, 2006: 577). Nonetheless, because of the importance of a single market within the EU, it is imperative that all borders are opened up. This is because, substantial advantages are created including the “strengthening of cultural diversity and regionalism and the development of a forward-looking and comprehensive European immigration and asylum policy” (Department of Political Studies, 2010: 1). Cross-border co-operation may be the solution without actually have to de-border the boundaries of Eastern Europe, however, since it has been recognised that state borders do have many important functions. Thus, borders are now being used in order to resolve many underlying issues that arise within the EU such as immigration, crime and environmental problems and their importance is widely recognised.

Therefore, whilst the creation of a single market is vital, it is also necessary for effective controls to be in place within the EU so that the above problems can be avoided. This requires cross-border co-operation which will potentially allow for “the discovery and furtherance of common interests and the acknowledgement of differences” (O’Dowd, 2010: 32). Whether this is ascertained in a peaceful or aggressive manner will pretty much be dependent upon the “scope, quality and learning capacity of the cross-border co-operation” (O’Dowd, 2010: 32). Arguably, it seems as though the borderness nature of Easter Europe may still be an avenue for change, yet what these changes will be cannot be predetermined since there are problems associated with re-bordering and de-bordering. Yet in order for Europeanisation to be fully integration into a single market, co-operation between the borders is pertinent. Few believe that a fully integrated EU is in fact underway and that post-communist Eastern European countries are in the final stages of acquiring full EU membership (Yoder, 2008: 90). Nevertheless, because of the barriers that still exist with cross-borderness, it is debatable whether this will ever be achieved. Divides within Europe still exist and it is very difficult to determine how these divides can be overcome given the different cultures, languages and belief systems that subsist.

Essentially, co-operation appears to be the only way these problems can be overcome which is why it should be widely encouraged. Hence, “cross-border co-operation helps lessen the disadvantages of the border, overcome the periphery status of the border regions and improve the living standards of people in the area” (Euroregion Neisse, 1996: 26). Provided that Germany and Poland co-operate with each other and embrace the changes created by Europeanisation, the disadvantages that currently persist will be eradicated and an improved nation state will be established. It is unlikely that co-operation between Germany and Poland will be easy, however, since it will be extremely difficult for each country to overcome the legacy in which the war has left. The building of these bridges will thus prove very problematic and the fears and sensitivities between the two countries will need to be dealt with appropriately so that European integration can take place (Yoder, 2008: 99). It has been pointed out, nonetheless, that the promotion of a mutual understanding and common goals will help to erode any fears and sensitivities that have been created (Yoder, 2008: 99). And, since this is one of the main problems which stands in the way of integration, it is likely that the borders between Germany and Poland will be removed once these difficulties have been dealt with. Although the 1991 Partnership Treaty attempted to eradicate internal bordering and build normal relationships within the EU, the “re-building of trust and co-operation between the two communities” (Herrschel, 2011: 150) will take time. Consequently, it is evident from these findings that cross-border boundaries are the main stumbling blocks which stand in the way of a fully integrated EU and unless changes are made to the borders of Eastern Europe, the creation of a single market will continue to be stifled. This is quite absurd given the advantages of integration, yet it is believed by some that boundaries are “fading away in the post-modern, globalizing world” (Passi, 2010 678). Despite this, territoriality still occurs within modernised states and it remains to be seen whether this will ever be any different. This is because, boundaries exist as symbols of sovereignty which is something that nation states do not want taken away from them and if the removal of boundaries results in this, a lack of co-operation will be likely to ensue. Members of the EU are still reliant upon EU rules and principles, regardless as to whether their borders are open or closed. As such, similar structures are still being established within the EU and because of this, it could be said that the borders are in fact futile. Hence, Europeanisation affects all countries within the EU, including those within Eastern Europe. As a result of the influence the EU has on national legal systems, the features of the European Union are being incorporated into domestic structures. This ultimately creates an integrated union and given the advancement of globalisation, it seems as though borders within the EU are becoming something of the past.

Evidently, the closed borders therefore seem applicable only to eradicate the problems of immigration, crime and environmental problems and as pointed out by Johnson (2009: 177); “Europe provides an excellent laboratory for exploring how border regions offer new spaces for governance, cultural interaction and economic development.” Thus, whilst there has been much critique surrounding the national boundaries of Eastern European countries, it seems as though the flexibilities that are existent within the EU help to advance the economy and highlight the importance of different identifies. Arguably, it seems as though the boundaries that currently exist ought to be left alone since it would be difficult to establish how successful the removal of these would in fact be. In light of this it has been said that “even if the assumption that such spaces really are functioning, integrated economic entities is largely illusory and rooted in nothing more than policy-maker aspiration” (Deas and Lord, 2006: 1865). This suggests that the complete integration of nation states may not actually work well and that the main reason as to why integration is being promoted is because of the aspirations of policy makers. Whether this is a sufficient enough reason to open the borders of Poland and Germany is debatable but given that similar structures are already being implemented it may be considered rather pointless.

Conclusion

Overall, Europeanisation does have a significant impact upon the borderness nature of Eastern Europe. This is because, European features are being integrated into both Poland and Germany making the perceived borderness somewhat ineffective. This is because; similar structures are being created which had removed the barriers that once constituted the borders of Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, not all agree that the borders have been removed and instead argue that Poland and Germany have not developed into a fully integrated region. As a result, many suggestions for the removal of these borders have been made so that a fully integrated system can be developed. Whilst complete integration does have many advantages, however, it has been questioned whether the Polish-German borderland exists as a real entity or a political entity. This is because; it appears as though an integrated economy is merely a policy-maker aspiration since the current process appears to be workable. Therefore, whilst the creation of a single market is an important part of EU policy, it seems as though the same rules and principles are already being adopted by Poland and Germany which illustrates that the borders are fading anyway. However, because of the complicated nature of the Polish-German borderland it seems as though the borderness nature of Easter Europe may still be an avenue for change. However, it is extremely difficult to determine what these changes shall be since there are problems associated with both re-bordering and de-bordering.

References

Cini, M. (2007) European Union Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition.

Deas, I. and Lord, A. (2006) From a New Regionalism to an Unusual RegionalismThe Emergence of Non-Standard Regional Spaces and Lessons for the Territorial Reorganisation of the State, Urban Studies, Volume 43.

Department of Political Studies. (2010) About the Conference, Borderless Europe, [Online] Available: http://www.borderlesseurope.pte.hu/index.php/about.html [13 December 2012].

Herrschel, T. (2011) Borders in Post-Socialist Europe: Territory Scale Society, Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Johnson, C. M. (2009) Cross-Border Regions and Territorial Restructuring in Central Europe, Room for More Transboundary Space, European Urban and Regional Studies, Volume 16.

Kratke, S. (2007) Metropolisation of the European Economic Territory as a Consequence of Incerasing Specialisation of Urban Agglomerations in the Knowledge Economy, European Planning Studies, Volume 15, Issue 1.

Mingus, M. S. (2006) Transnationalism and Subnational Paradiplomacy: Are Governance Networks Perforating SovereigntyInternational Journal of Public Administration, Volume 29, Issue 8.

Nelles, J. and Walther, O. (2011) Changing European Borders: From Separation to InterfaceAn Introduction, Journal of Urban Research, [Online] Available: http://articulo.revues.org/1658 [13 December 2012].

O’Dowd, L. (2010) The Changing Significance of European Borders, Regional and Federal Studies, Volume 12, Issue 4.

Ohmae, K. (1990) The Borderless World: Power and Strategies in the Interlinked Economy. London: Harper Collins.

Ohmae, K. (1995) The End of the Region State: The Rise of Regional Economies. London: Harper Collins.

Paasi, A. (2010) Boundaries as Social Practice and Discourse: The Finnish-Russian Border, Regional Studies, Volume 33, Issue 7.

Strubelt, W. (2009) German Annual of Spatial Research and Policy 2008, Springer.

Yoder, J. A. (2008) Bridging the European Union and Eastern Europe: Cross-Border Cooperation and the Euroregions, Regional & Federal Studies, Volume 13, Issue 3.

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Free Essays

Holoprosencephaly: its nature and manifestation

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Abstract

An exploration into Holoprosencephaly, the genetic birth defect; we will observe how it presents itself in su erers- the physical and neurological symptoms, we will brie y try to identify the main candidates that can be linked to its etiology and nally taking the SHH pathway as an example we will explain how a genetic mutation could give rise to the associated symptoms of HPE.

1 HPE

Holoprosencephaly (HPE) is a congenital defect in the nervous system, whereby the developing prosencephalon (or forebrain) fails to bifurcate into left and right hemispheres- typically occurring ve to six weeks into pregnancy (Golden, 1999). It is the most common malformation of the brain- occurring in 1:250 developing embyros, with 1:8,000 live births due to a 3% chance of survival to delivery (Co-hen, 1989). The failure of the cleavage into two bilateral cerebral hemispheres gives rise to a continuum of motor and developmental malformations, the most prominent being craniofacial defects and damaged brain structure. There are four classes of HPE1, varying in the degree of cortical separation and associated severity of symptoms2 (Raam, 2011). The most severe form is Alobar HPE, this is characterised by a complete or near lack of interhemispheric separation and an absence of olfactory bulbs and corpus callosum. This makes up roughly two-thirds of HPE patients (OMIM, 2012), the most extreme grade in this class will have cyclopia: no separation along the midline of the brain, with no sense of chirality in their embryogenesis. In this case the foetus will develop a single, medial eye above the root of the nose- they will rarely survive the perinatal period. The next class is Semilobar HPE, which can be identi ed by a partial posterior cortical separation (but no anterior) with basal hemispheres, the olfac-tory bulbs and corpus callosum are either absent or hypoplastic. In this case the eyes are now slightly separated by proboscis, but the motor skills are still highly impaired. The next form is lobar HPE, this is a milder form of semilobar, di er-entiated by the latter by the presence of a frontal horn in the lateral ventricle. Lobar has an interhemispherical ssure, but there still incomplete separation of the prosencephalon; the corpus callosum is absent in the a ected region and the olfactory bulbs are hypoplastic. There is less severe motor malfunction, and the face can develop closely spaced eyes, at nose and cleft lip. The fourth and mildest form is the Middle Interhemispheric Variant (MIV), where the most a ected regions of nonseparation occur in the posterior frontal and pariental lobes; the corpus callosum is typically absent in the region or hypoplastic. This variant of HPE has mild craniofacial and neurological impairments. All of these deformities can be detected through neuroimaging, and can be discerned by the above phenotypes.

2 Causes

Current research into the causes of HPE is still developing; most sources can-not give exact causes, but there a number of factors that have been linked to the disorder. The most supported model is given by the Multiple Hit Hypothesis which states that HPE derives from a combination of environmental and genetic factors, i.e. it is an autosomal-dominant disease; it is believed that this would explain the heterogeneity of the phenotypes (OMIM, 2012). Teratogens are be-lieved to disturb the development of the normal phenotype: maternal diabetes has been linked to a 200% increased risk of HPE in the foetus( Croen, 2000; Raam, 2011). This along with hypocholesterolemia and the drug cyclopamine are linked to disturbances in cholesterol production, inhibiting the Sonic Hedge-hog (SHH) Signalling Pathway (Cohen, 1989). The fact that the defects occur early in pregnancy implies a gastrulation disorder supporting the theory that infections whilst pregnant and drug taking (alcohol, anti-epileptic medication

1 There is a mild associated form called Microform, with similar craniofacial characteristics, but no sign of nonseparation, as such typically not considered within HPE.

2 A common used term is that “the face predicts the brain”, this is a general correlation that exists between the degree of mental and physical retardation and mortality within the four classes and ethanol for example) are likely environmental causes. The genetic etiology are related to familial occurrences3, genetic syndromes of HPE and non ran-dom chromosomal aberrations- identi ed by high resolution karotype counts, or DNA microarrays. A relatively common cause of HPE-approximately 28%, (Geng, 2009)- has been found to be loss-of-function mutations in the genes: SHH, ZIC2, SIX3 and TGIF- whereby the particular gene product will be un-able to perform its original function. There are ve other genes identi ed with HPE, but these four mutations are the most prevalent and as such are the main roots for DNA sequencing. These genes are related to the Nodal and SHH pathways. De ciency in the Nodal protein results in a failure to form the PrCP gene; this e ects the formation of the primitive streak. The establishment of this structure is important in creating a longitudinal plane of symmetry along the embryonic disk that allows cell migration into the midline to create the mesoderm, the cells of which form a rod called the notochord. The SHH gene is a morphogen that regulates ventral midline structure in the forebrain (Roessler, 2003) and is crucial in formation of the eyes and face. It is a molecule that responds to variations in a concentration gradient within the neural tube by di using Sonic Hedgehog, produced by the signalling centre of the notochord (Placzek, 1999).

3 How the gene leads to the disorder

In order to understand how HPE4 manifests itself through the mutation in this gene we will consider its role in brain embryology (Marieb, 2003). By around the fth day after fertilisation, the blastocyst of the egg is released- this is a sphere composed of trophoblast cells and inner cell mass; this will undergo gastrulation whereby the inner cell mass is converted into the three primary germ layers and the embryonic disk. This disk attens and a primitive streak creates a midline depression along the median. Three weeks into pregnancy the ectoderm thick-ens along the dorsal midline axis of the embryo to form the neural plate, which when folds into the neural tube by the fourth week, the anterior of which expands rapidly to form the three brain ventricles of the prosencephalon along with the middle and the hindbrain; by this time eye rudiments are present. Normally, in the fth week the prosencephalon will bifurcate into the diencephalon and the telencephalon-from the dorsal plate and ventral plate, respectively- connected by the corpus callosum. The telencephalon then “swells” into the cerebral hemi-spheres and by the eighth week all brain exures are formed. The role of the SHH gene is to produce the Sonic Hedgehog protein that signals the activation of the ventral midline of the forebrain. In HPE, with a mutated SHH gene, there is a reduced or no production of this protein and as a result the fore-brain will not split into a left and right (Roessler, 2003). Along with this it secretes the molecule responsible for signalling the division of a single eye eld

3 There are a number of case studies in (OMIM, 2012) on families where HPE is an inherited condition

4 To be exact, this is Holoprosencephaly type 3 into two distinct eyes. Hence, a SHH mutation can lead to a lack of interhemi-spheric separation and merging of the eyes, which would a ect the development of the rest of the face. This shows the symptoms of HPE su erers, suggesting the disorder is a subclass related to the loss-of-function of the SHH signalling pathway. If there was a complete lack of SHH signalling there would be no separation in the telenchephalon, and as such no connecting corpus callosum, the primordial eye eld would not divide into two lateral eye elds, thereby resulting in an embyro with cyclopia from Alobar HPE. Similarly, inactivity of the Nodal signalling pathway causes failure in the formation of the mesendo-derm and axis-asymmetry. As stated before there are a number of genes that are linked to HPE that also regulate organogenesis but the spectrum of the disorder is entirely variable and there are 75% of HPE cases that do not have any of these gene mutations. The most satisfactory hypothesis is the Multi-hit model; there is no single exact cause that could trigger the defect in all of the presented cases and produce the four classes of severity, but it is possible that the pathogenesis must involve some event in the regulatory regions that induces the expression of the four identi ed genes in the forebrain, though the trigger might not necessarily be the same in every instance.

4 References

Cohen, M.M. Jr., Perspectives on holoprosencephaly: Part III. Spectra, distinc-tions, continuities, and discontinuities. Am J Med Genet. 1989; 34: 271-88. Cohen, M & Shiota, K, Teratogenesis of Holoprosencephaly. Amercian Journal of Medical Genetics. 2002; 109: 1-15.

Croen L.A, Shaw G.M & Lammer E.J, Risk factors for cytogenetically normal holoprosencephaly in California: A population-based case-control study. Am J Med Genet. 2000; 90: 320-325.

Geng, X & Oliver, G, Pathogenesis of holoprosencephaly. J Clin Invest. 2009;119(6):14031413 Golden, J.A, Towards a greater understanding of the pathogeneis of holoprosen-

cephaly. Brain & Dev. 1999; 21: 513-521.

Graham, J.M. Jr. & Shaw, G.M, Gene-Environment Interactions in Rare Dis-eases that Include Common Birth Defects. Birth Defects Research. 2005; 73: 865-867.

Marieb, E.N, Human Anatomy and Physiology. California: Benjamin Cum-mings, 1989.

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, OMIM. Johns Hopkins University, Bal-timore, MD. MIM Number: 236100. [Accessed 28/11/2012] World Wide Web URL: http://omim.org/

Placzek, M, The role of the notochord andoor plate in inductive interactions.

Genetics and Development. 1997; 5(4): 499-506.

Raam, M.S, Soloman, B.D & Muenke, M, Holoprosencephaly: A Guide to Di-agnosis and Clinical Management. Indian Pediatrics. 2011; 48: 457-466.

Roessler, E & Muenke, M, How a Hedgehog might see holoprosencephaly. Hu-man Molecular Genetics. 2003; 12(1): R15-R25.

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Free Essays

What are the implications of super-diversity. With a principal focus on one particular form of social diversity, critically evaluate competing claims pertaining to the nature and implications of such diversity for full inclusion in contemporary society.

Introduction

As a result of unprecedented migration, forced or through choice, there have been calls for a dramatic rethink with regards some of the most basic concepts used in the social sciences (Blommaert, 2012). Vertovec (2007) introduced a new concept which was meant to address the changes taking place as a result of global migration and he called this ‘super-diversity’. ‘Super-diversity’ describes an increased number of people, which may be quite small and scattered in various places, who have multiple origins and are also transnationally connected, (Vertovec, 2007, p. 3). Parekh (2005) writes that because of ‘super-diversity’ Britain could in the future be seen as a community of communities. In London alone, more than 300 first languages are spoken in schools, (Spencer 2011). Spencer writes that one reason ‘super-diversity’ is so important now is because the old approaches to multiculturalism and its structures, are now redundant. Cantle (2012. p. 2) also argues that the government policies of multiculturalism which have been used to ‘mediate’ changes in the past, are now no longer appropriate or relevant. For the purpose of this discussion then ‘super-diversity’ will be discussed in more detail with the implications it has for Britain. Migrant children as a socially diverse group will then be the principle focus of this writing with the aim of outlining the nature of the difficulties and challenges they experience in Britain, and how schools in particular, facilitate or hinder their inclusion in contemporary society.

The United Nations estimated that, in 2005, 191 million people lived outside their country of birth and at the beginning of the 21st Century about one in four/five residents in Australia (24%), New Zealand (19%), Switzerland (24%),Canada (18% ), Germany (13%), US (13%) and Sweden (12%), were born in foreign countries, (Vertovec 2014). Christian Aid however, predicted that a further 1 billion people will be forced from their homes between 2012 and 2050 through war, conflict, extreme human rights abuses, climate change and natural disasters (Cantle 2012). This global migration poses many challenges since it affects citizenship in the country to which people have moved to, as well as having consequences for the meaning of citizenship. Whilst people are crossing borders in order to live a new life, find work or refuge, questions are raised about the rights of such immigrants, as well as their citizenship. Miller (2000) for examples, argues that rights, duties and community, is central to modern political thinking. Bloemraad et al. (2011) writes that citizenship is about people’s rights and their legal status. Citizenship is also about sovereignty, national identity as well as state control.. However, these relationships are challenged by the huge levels and the diverse nature of international migration. Bloemraad et al. (2011) believes that there is a need for a better understanding of the inter-relationships between the dimensions of citizenship and immigration. Vertovec (2014) argues that it was not enough just to see diversity in terms of ethnicity alone and that other variables need also to be considered, for example people’s different legal status, their experiences of the divergent labour market, gender and age.Glick Schiller et al (2006, p. 613), believed that there was much to be gained from using a multidimensional perspective on diversity ‘both in terms of moving beyond the ethnic group as either the unit of analysis or sole object of study’. Several authors argue that a super-diversity perspective can have a liberating potential in that it allows for new and open discussions about diversity, (Fanshawe and Sriskandarajah, 2010).

Problems arise when there is exposure to difference and although many people adjust and become accustomed to it, there are also those who are fearful. People can, under pressure, retreat into their own identity and in turn support separatist ideologies, (Institute of Community Cohesion 2012). Cantle (2012) argued that globalisation has led to broken communities with people looking inward as well as people clinging to more traditional identities. In religious terms the United Kingdom could now be described as a Christian society that is also secular as well as religiously plural (Weller 2008). The uncertainties and fears that abound because of these changes can and are being exploited politically by groups on the right and far right. This can be seen in Britain with the rise of the English Defence League and the popularity of UKIP. However, it should not be assumed that it is only whites who have problems with difference. Spencer (2011) cites Peterborough in Britain as an example, where a long standing Asian community of Pakistani origin, mainly Muslim, have experienced community tensions with the new migrants who are also Muslim, but come from different countries. In rural areas too, where people from Central and Eastern Europe have come to work in agriculture and food processing, no one anticipated that integration issues would arise. ‘Super-diversity’ as a concept recognizes that migrant newcomers can be white and still face some of the same challenges as any other migrant of colour. They can still face the same barriers to integration that other migrants face.

Moving on to the impact all this has for migrant children, especially in Britain, we must first look at education. Schools are seen as a microcosm of society, representing and often magnifying social relations that exist in the wider community, (Reynolds, 2008). Schools have a duty to work toward community cohesion as well as creating positive relations between people from different backgrounds, (Working Paper 47, 2008). The Working Paper also states that under article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, all children have the right to an education. In Britain education is meant to offer all children equal opportunity, non discrimination and the provision of high quality education (Working Paper 47, 2008). Inclusive education means that all learners must be given equal opportunities, especially those who have been excluded from educational opportunities e.g. children living in poverty, ethnic and linguistic minorities, migrant children and children with special needs or disabilities. The Working paper 47 (2008), citing Blanco and Takemoto, argue that an inclusive school is meant to offer a opportunity for each pupil to both keep and develop their own cultural identity and it must also offer a welcoming community. Schooling is also important for migrant children because schools have a duty to work toward community cohesion too, (Working Paper 47, 2008). Through super-diversity it is argued that there is more to a migrant’s identity than just ethnicity, race or language. Policy makers need to recognise ‘multiple identities’ to improve inclusion and cohesion. More positive relations can be forged despite different backgrounds since they may have shared identities at some level, (Reynolds, 2008). A focus on the commonalities rather than the things that divide migrants seems to be the way forward. Also recognising pupils as ‘migrants’ and offering additional support on this basis, to foster inclusion as well as having wider implications for community cohesion.

According to UNICEF (2014) migrant children are affected at multiple levels by migration. Some migrant children are left behind by one or both of the migrating parents, or they are born in a different country to their parents but then migrate with them. Some children unfortunately, migrate alone. Women and children migrating and crossing various borders in large numbers are at very high risk, especially those without any documentation. They are more at risk of being trafficked and exploited, as well as becoming victims of violence and abuse in all its forms, (UNICEF 2014). Child trafficking affects children throughout the world, in both industrialized and developing countries. Trafficked children are subjected to dangerous situations such as prostitution, forced marriages and illegal adoption. They are at risk of violence, sexual abuse and health problem such as HIV and pregnancy. They can also be used as unpaid labour, modern day slaves or cheap labour, (UNICEF 2014). Whilst in transit many of these migrants become victims of discrimination, poverty and social marginalization and those without documentation have difficulty accessing education, social services and health care.

Many children however, successfully migrate to Britain, documentation in tact, and so schools are facing greater challenges, some more than others, since some regions of Britain have more immigrants to accommodate in their schools than others. Research is ongoing and much of this has been carried out in schools looking at what works, what is successful as well as what has failed. Reynolds (2008) for example, reported on two schools, Charrington and Bridgehurst, which were compared in terms of highlighting what could be done by schools and the teachers in it, to encourage inclusion for migrant children. Charrington school, for example, had more friendship groups present in the school and even when there was a real complexity of identities, hostility between migrant students and their peers was minimal, (Reynolds 2008). The teachers attitudes helped since they were conscious of the benefits the migrant children could bring to the classroom and how a welcoming environment encouraged children to celebrate their ethnic, cultural, religious and migrant identity. Racial prejudice was low level in the community and the teachers and pupils reflected this in the school. However in Bridgehurst School, where inclusion was not managed as well, migrant children were viewed negatively and the teachers and pupils brought with them the prejudices which were rife in their local community. At Charrington’s school ‘super-diversity’ helped inclusion and there appeared plenty of opportunities for the students from migrant families to ‘identity match’ with other pupils as well as teachers. The nature of the wider community, as well as the nature of the school population itself, were important factors in shaping the inclusion experience for migrant children. Reynolds, (2008) cites Verma et al. (1994) who stresses the importance of matching teacher’s ethnicity to the ethnicity of the pupil population in order to make sure teachers’ offer and deliver a truly inclusive education. Reynolds (2008) also cites the work of Warikoo (2004) who found that ‘identity matching’ does not always have to be based on ethnicity alone but can also include a shared history of migration, a shared interest or experience, which in turn helps form relationships between pupils and teachers. Warikoo’s (2004) concept of ‘identity matching’ supports the idea that individuals will form relationships more easily if they are able to share some form of identity which can act as a bond. Charrington’s location was in a rather a diverse community where historically there had been a lot of in-migration. Racist and anti-immigration feelings however were low. Bridgehurst school had more problems with inclusion because the local community were very anti-immigration and had high levels of racism. The teachers and non-migrant pupils at Bridgehurst had less opportunity to ‘identity match’ and there were large divisions between the main ethnic groups in the school.

Language is a particular problem in schools with migrant children and research has shown that where there are EAL (English as an Additional Language) learners, some of the pupils felt isolated especially if they were the only speakers of a particular language. Some of these pupils experienced bullying and anxiety as well as isolation. They also found pupils abandoning their own cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to fit in and assimilate with their peer group, (Department for Schools and Children, 2007). The New Arrivals Excellence Programme Guidance, was introduced as a resource to support international migrants. It argued that migrants students have needs beyond just learning the English language, and educational establishments needed to recognise this. Reynolds, (2008) argues that there are those students who speak English but still need other kinds of support in order to feel included in the school, although acknowledged that the new programme did go some way to address this. Wardman (2004, p. 15) however, writes that EAL lacks a position within the curriculum in schools and there is a ‘consequential lack of centralised support or strategy’. Reynolds (2008) also found that in many schools EAL teachers were overburdened. Some recent research carried out at the University of York, suggests that Initial Teacher Education should train new teachers on EAL issues and Continuing Professional Development and Training should also be carried out for existing teachers as well as teaching assistants. This is to make sure that all teaching staff who are responsible for EAL also understand Second Language Acquisition processes, (Wardman, 2004, p. 15). The research also argued that new approaches to teaching migrant children should take into account the benefits of trans-languaging and code-switching for all children in the classroom. Ignoring bilingual childrens’ ability to use their first language could also be viewed as being discriminatory, (Helot and O’Laoire, 2011). The research of Wardman suggested that there should be a co-ordinated effort to link schools in order to share best practice as well as materials, and so avoid time wasting. It would also support teachers who felt isolated with the kinds of problems and challenges these children pose. Cooper (2004, p. 5) believes that there are many dangers ahead especially from ‘democratic legislative structures’. Cooper argues that there is a risk of cultural minorities being ‘outvoted’ on resource issues, as well as policies which are crucial to them’Benhbib (2002, p. viii) also suggests that there has been hasty policy recommendations which run the risk of side lining group differences and Benhibib argues that this is because of the failure to fully challenge what is meant by cultural identity. Inclusive educators may also need to ask questions about the ‘hidden curricula’ where values, rituals and routines of the wider society are acculturated within students’ and find alternative curricula that meet the needs of diverse learners, (Goodley, 2011).

In conclusion, it be seen that migration has created many challenges for the general public, schools, policy makers and governments. Some studies have found in favour of ‘super-diversity’ suggesting that it can produce higher levels of worker productivity and economic benefits. Super-diversity can also be seen to boost local demand for services and goods, (Spoonley, 2014). Others believe that the term could be even more inclusive recognizing disability, sexual orientation and gender in the migrant communities, (Spencer 2012). However, super-diversity is sometimes compromised because of fears, anxieties and hostilities which migration creates especially at local level. In the UK, for example, in rural areas where people from Central and Eastern Europe came to work in agriculture and food processing no one expected integration issues would arise. Super-diversity has helped us recognize that newcomers can be white and still can face the same challenges as any other migrants of colour. They can still face barriers to integration that other migrants face. The scale and growth of cultural diversity have implications for social cohesion, economic performance, and social mobility. It seems crucial therefore that governments support intercultural dialogue, fund resources that go into promoting language training and create anti-discrimination laws. Governments should also facilitate any disadvantage that may make social mobility difficult, (Spoonley, 2014). Since children are the future, schools and educational establishments needs to be fully resourced in order to give migrant children support for the difficulties they face, aside from just language support. This should go some way to creating better opportunities and the possibility for full inclusion into contemporary society.

References

Benhabib, S. (2002) The claims of culture: equality and diversity in the global era. Princeton University Press.

Bloemraad, I., Korteweg, A., and Yurdakul, G. (2011) Citizenship and Immigration: Multi-culturalism, Assimilation and Challenges to the Nation-State. Annual Review Sociology 34. pp. 153-175.

Blommsaert, J. (2012) Citizenship, language and super-diversity: towards complexity. Working Papers in Urban Language and Literacies, (p. 95). Journal of Language, Identity and Education.

Cantle, T. (2012) Interculturalism: The New Era of Cohesion and Diversity. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Cooper, D. (2004) Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference, Cambridge University Press.

Department for Schools and Children (2007) New Arrivals Excellence Programme Guidance – Primary and Secondary National Strategies, (p. 46). 00650-2007BKT-EN.

Fanshawe, S, and Sriskandarajah, D. (2010)You Can’t Put Me In A Box: Super diversity and the end of identity politics in Britain, (p. 33). London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Glick Schiller, N., Caglar, A. and Guldbrandsen, T. C. (2006) Beyond the ethnic lens locality, globalist and born again incorporation, American Ethnologist,33 (4): 612-633.

Goodley, D. (2011) Disability Studies: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach, London: Sage.

Helot, C. & O Laoire, M. (2011). Language Policy for the Multilingual Classroom: Pedagogy of the Possible. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Institute of Community Cohesion (2012) In Cohesion, Integration and Openness: From Multi to Inter Culturalism.Available @ http://www.cohesioninstitute.org.uk/Resources/Publications#iCoCo%20publications. Accessed 05/12/2014.

Miller, D. (2000) Citizenship and National Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press

Parekh, B. (2005) Re-Thinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Palgrave, Basingstoke

Reynolds, G. (2008) The Impacts and Experiences of Migrant Children in UK Secondary Schools, (p. 22, p. 27). The Working Paper No. 47. University of Sussex.

Spencer, S. (2012) The Migration Debate. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Spoonley, P. (2014) Super-diversity, social cohesion and economic benefits. New Zealand: IZA World of Labour.

UNICEF (2014) Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting – Migration. Available @ http://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/index_migration.html. Accessed 03/12/2014.

Vertovec, S. (2007) New Complexities of Cohesion in Britain: Super diversity, Transnationalism and Civil Integration, (p. 3). Commission on Integration and Cohesion. Communities and Local Government Publications.

Vertovec, S. (2014) Super-diversity. London and New York: Routledge.

Wardman, C. (2004) Pulling the threads together: current theories and current practice affecting UK primary school children who have English as an Additional Language., (p. 15). London: British Council.

Warikoo, N. (2004) Race and the teacher student relationship: interpersonal connections between West Indian students and their teachers in a New York City High School. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 7 (2), 135-147.

Weller, P. (2008) Religious Diversity in the UK: Contours and Issues. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Categories
Free Essays

The Twilight Saga 3: Eclipse Chapter 4. NATURE

I WAS HAVING A BAD WEEK.

I knew that essentially nothing had changed. Okay, so Victoria had not given up, but had I ever dreamed for one moment that she had? Her reappearance had only confirmed what I’d already known. No reason for fresh panic.

In theory. Not panicking was easier said than done.

Graduation was only a few weeks away, but I wondered if it wasn’t a little foolish to sit around, weak and tasty, waiting for the next disaster. It seemed too dangerous to be human – just begging for trouble. Someone like me shouldn’t be human. Someone with my luck ought to be a little less helpless.

But no one would listen to me.

Carlisle had said, “There are seven of us, Bella. And with Alice on our side, I don’t think Victoria’s going to catch us off guard. I think it’s important, for Charlie’s sake, that we stick with the original plan.”

Esme had said, “We’d never allow anything to happen to you, sweetheart. You know that. Please don’t be anxious.” And then she’d kissed my forehead.

Emmett had said, “I’m really glad Edward didn’t kill you. Everything’s so much more fun with you around.”

Rosalie had glared at him.

Alice had rolled her eyes and said, “I’m offended. You’re not honestly worried about this, are you?”

“If it’s no big deal, then why did Edward drag me to Florida?” I’d demanded.

“Haven’t you noticed yet, Bella, that Edward is just the teeniest bit prone to overreaction?”

Jasper had silently erased all the panic and tension in my body with his curious talent of controlling emotional atmospheres. I’d felt reassured, and let them talk me out of my desperate pleading.

Of course, that calm had worn off as soon as Edward and I had walked out of the room.

So the consensus was that I was just supposed to forget that a deranged vampire was stalking me, intent on my death. Go about my business.

I did try. And surprisingly, there were other things almost as stressful to dwell on besides my status on the endangered species list. . . .

Because Edward’s response had been the most frustrating of them all.

“That’s between you and Carlisle,” he’d said. “Of course, you know that I’m willing to make it between you and me at any time that you wish. You know my condition.” And he had smiled angelically.

Ugh. I did know his condition. Edward had promised that he would change me himself whenever I wanted . . . just as long as I was married to him first.

Sometimes I wondered if he was only pretending that he couldn’t read my mind. How else had he struck upon the one condition that I would have trouble accepting? The one condition that would slow me down.

All in all, a very bad week. And today was the worst day in it.

It was always a bad day when Edward was away. Alice had foreseen nothing out of the ordinary this weekend, and so I’d insisted that he take the opportunity to go hunting with his brothers. I knew how it bored him to hunt the easy, nearby prey.

“Go have fun,” I’d told him. “Bag a few mountain lions for me.”

I would never admit to him how hard it was for me when he was gone – how it brought back the abandonment nightmares. If he knew that, it would make him feel horrible and he would be afraid to ever leave me, even for the most necessary reasons. It had been like that in the beginning, when he’d first returned from Italy. His golden eyes had turned black and he’d suffered from his thirst more than it was already necessary that he suffer. So I put on a brave face and all but kicked him out the door whenever Emmett and Jasper wanted to go.

I think he saw through me, though. A little. This morning there had been a note left on my pillow:

I’ll be back so soon you won’t have time to miss me. Look after my heart – I’ve left it with you.

So now I had a big empty Saturday with nothing but my morning shift at Newton’s Olympic Outfitters to distract me. And, of course, the oh-so-comforting promise from Alice.

“I’m staying close to home to hunt. I’ll only be fifteen minutes away if you need me. I’ll keep an eye out for trouble.”

Translation: don’t try anything funny just because Edward is gone.

Alice was certainly just as capable of crippling my truck as Edward was.

I tried to look on the bright side. After work, I had plans to help Angela with her announcements, so that would be a distraction. And Charlie was in an excellent mood due to Edward’s absence, so I might as well enjoy that while it lasted. Alice would spend the night with me if I was pathetic enough to ask her to. And then tomorrow, Edward would be home. I would survive.

Not wanting to be ridiculously early for work, I ate my breakfast slowly, one Cheerio at a time. Then, when I’d washed the dishes, I arranged the magnets on the fridge into a perfect line. Maybe I was developing obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The last two magnets – round black utilitarian pieces that were my favorites because they could hold ten sheets of paper to the fridge without breaking a sweat – did not want to cooperate with my fixation. Their polarities were reversed; every time I tried to line the last one up, the other jumped out of place.

For some reason – impending mania, perhaps – this really irritated me. Why couldn’t they just play nice? Stupid with stubbornness, I kept shoving them together as if I was expecting them to suddenly give up. I could have flipped one over, but that felt like losing. Finally, exasperated at myself more than the magnets, I pulled them from the fridge and held them together with two hands. It took a little effort – they were strong enough to put up a fight – but I forced them to coexist side-by-side.

“See,” I said out loud – talking to inanimate objects, never a good sign – “That’s not so horrible, is it?”

I stood there like an idiot for a second, not quite able to admit that I wasn’t having any lasting effect against scientific principles. Then, with a sigh, I put the magnets back on the fridge, a foot apart.

“There’s no need to be so inflexible,” I muttered.

It was still too early, but I decided I’d better get out of the house before the inanimate objects started talking back.

When I got to Newton’s, Mike was methodically dry mopping the aisles while his mom arranged a new counter display. I caught them in the middle of an argument, unaware that I had arrived.

“But it’s the only time that Tyler can go,” Mike complained. “You said after graduation -“

“You’re just going to have to wait,” Mrs. Newton snapped. “You and Tyler can think of something else to do. You are not going to Seattle until the police stop whatever it is that is going on there. I know Beth Crowley has told Tyler the same thing, so don’t act like I’m the bad guy – oh, good morning, Bella,” she said when she caught sight of me, brightening her tone quickly. “You’re early.”

Karen Newton was the last person I’d think to ask for help in an outdoor sports equipment store. Her perfectly highlighted blond hair was always smoothed into an elegant twist on the back of her neck, her fingernails were polished by professionals, as were her toenails – visible through the strappy high heels that didn’t resemble anything Newton’s offered on the long row of hiking boots.

“Light traffic,” I joked as I grabbed my hideous fluorescent orange vest out from under the counter. I was surprised that Mrs. Newton was as worked up about this Seattle thing as Charlie. I’d thought he was going to extremes.

“Well, er . . .” Mrs. Newton hesitated for a moment, playing uncomfortably with a stack of flyers she was arranging by the register.

I stopped with one arm in my vest. I knew that look.

When I’d let the Newtons know that I wouldn’t be working here this summer – abandoning them in their busiest season, in effect – they’d started training Katie Marshall to take my place. They couldn’t really afford both of us on the payroll at the same time, so when it looked like a slow day . . .

“I was going to call,” Mrs. Newton continued. “I don’t think we’re expecting a ton of business today. Mike and I can probably handle things. I’m sorry you got up and drove out. . . .”

On a normal day, I would be ecstatic with this turn of events. Today . . . not so much.

“Okay,” I sighed. My shoulders slumped. What was I going to do now?

“That’s not fair, Mom,” Mike said. “If Bella wants to work -“

“No, it’s okay, Mrs. Newton. Really, Mike. I’ve got finals to study for and stuff. . . .” I didn’t want to be a source of familial discord when they were already arguing.

“Thanks, Bella. Mike, you missed aisle four. Um, Bella, do you mind throwing these flyers in a Dumpster on the way out? I told the girl who left them here that I’d put them on the counter, but I really don’t have the room.”

“Sure, no problem.” I put my vest away, and then tucked the flyers under my arm and headed out into the misty rain.

The Dumpster was around the side of Newton’s, next to where we employees were supposed to park. I shuffled along, kicking pebbles petulantly on my way. I was about to fling the stack of bright yellow papers into the trash when the heading printed in bold across the top caught my eye. One word in particular seized my attention.

I clutched the papers in both hands as I stared at the picture beneath the caption. A lump rose in my throat.

SAVE THE OLYMPIC WOLF

Under the words, there was a detailed drawing of a wolf in front of a fir tree, its head thrown back in the act of baying at the moon. It was a disconcerting picture; something about the wolf’s plaintive posture made him look forlorn. Like he was howling in grief.

And then I was running to my truck, the flyers still locked in my grip.

Fifteen minutes – that’s all I had. But it should be long enough. It was only fifteen minutes to La Push, and surely I would cross the boundary line a few minutes before I hit the town.

My truck roared to life without any difficulty.

Alice couldn’t have seen me doing this, because I hadn’t been planning it. A snap decision, that was the key! And as long as I moved fast enough, I should be able to capitalize on it.

I’d thrown the damp flyers in my haste and they were scattered in a bright mess across the passenger seat – a hundred bolded captions, a hundred dark howling wolves outlined against the yellow background.

I barreled down the wet highway, turning the windshield wipers on high and ignoring the groan of the ancient engine. Fifty-five was the most I could coax out of my truck, and I prayed it would be enough.

I had no clue where the boundary line was, but I began to feel safer as I passed the first houses outside La Push. This must be beyond where Alice was allowed to follow.

I’d call her when I got to Angela’s this afternoon, I reasoned, so that she’d know I was fine. There was no reason for her to get worked up. She didn’t need to be mad at me – Edward would be angry enough for two when he got back.

My truck was positively wheezing by the time it grated to a stop in front of the familiar faded red house. The lump came back to my throat as I stared at the little place that had once been my refuge. It had been so long since I’d been here.

Before I could cut the engine, Jacob was standing in the door, his face blank with shock.

In the sudden silence when the truck-roar died, I heard him gasp.

“Bella?”

“Hey, Jake!”

“Bella!” he yelled back, and the smile I’d been waiting for stretched across his face like the sun breaking free of the clouds. His teeth gleamed bright against his russet skin. “I can’t believe it!”

He ran to the truck and half-yanked me through the open door, and then we were both jumping up and down like kids.

“How did you get here?”

“I snuck out!”

“Awesome!”

“Hey, Bella!” Billy had rolled himself into the doorway to see what all the commotion was about.

“Hey, Bil -!”

Just then my air choked off – Jacob grabbed me up in a bear hug too tight to breathe and swung me around in a circle.

“Wow, it’s good to see you here!”

“Can’t . . . breathe,” I gasped.

He laughed and put me down.

“Welcome back, Bella,” he said, grinning. And the way he said the words made it sound like welcome home.

We started walking, too keyed up to sit still in the house. Jacob was practically bouncing as he moved, and I had to remind him a few times that my legs weren’t ten feet long.

As we walked, I felt myself settling into another version of myself, the self I had been with Jacob. A little younger, a little less responsible. Someone who might, on occasion, do something really stupid for no good reason.

Our exuberance lasted through the first few topics of conversation: how we were doing, what we were up to, how long I had, and what had brought me here. When I hesitantly told him about the wolf flyer, his bellowing laugh echoed back from the trees.

But then, as we ambled past the back of the store and shoved through the thick scrub that ringed the far edge of First Beach, we got to the hard parts. All too soon we had to talk about the reasons behind our long separation, and I watched as the face of my friend hardened into the bitter mask that was already too familiar.

“So what’s the story, anyway?” Jacob asked me, kicking a piece of driftwood out of his way with too much force. It sailed over the sand and then clattered against the rocks. “I mean, since the last time we . . . well, before, you know . . .” He struggled for the words. He took a deep breath and tried again. “What I’m asking is . . . everything is just back to the way it was before he left? You forgave him for all of that?”

I took a deep breath. “There was nothing to forgive.”

I wanted to skip past this part, the betrayals, the accusations, but I knew that we had to talk it through before we’d be able to move on to anything else.

Jacob’s face puckered up like he’d just licked a lemon. “I wish Sam had taken a picture when he found you that night last September. It would be exhibit A.”

“Nobody’s on trial.”

“Maybe somebody should be.”

“Not even you would blame him for leaving, if you knew the reason why.”

He glared at me for a few seconds. “Okay,” he challenged acidly. “Amaze me.”

His hostility was wearing on me – chafing against the raw; it hurt to have him angry with me. It reminded me of the bleak afternoon, long ago, when – under orders from Sam – he’d told me we couldn’t be friends. I took a second to compose myself.

“Edward left me last fall because he didn’t think I should be hanging out with vampires. He thought it would be healthier for me if he left.”

Jacob did a double take. He had to scramble for a minute. Whatever he’d been planning to say, it clearly no longer applied. I was glad he didn’t know the catalyst behind Edward’s decision. I could only imagine what he’d think if he knew Jasper had tried to kill me.

“He came back, though, didn’t he?” Jacob muttered. “Too bad he can’t stick to a decision.”

“If you remember, I went and got him.”

Jacob stared at me for a moment, and then he backed off. His face relaxed, and his voice was calmer when he spoke.

“That’s true. So I never did get the story. What happened?”

I hesitated, biting my lip.

“Is it a secret?” His voice took on a taunting edge. “Are you not allowed to tell me?”

“No,” I snapped. “It’s just a really long story.”

Jacob smiled, arrogant, and turned to walk up the beach, expecting me to follow.

It was no fun being with Jacob if he was going to act like this. I trailed behind him automatically, not sure if I shouldn’t turn around and leave. I was going to have to face Alice, though, when I got home. . . . I supposed I wasn’t in any rush.

Jacob walked to a huge, familiar piece of driftwood – an entire tree, roots and all, bleached white and beached deep in the sand; it was our tree, in a way.

Jacob sat down on the natural bench, and patted the space next to him.

“I don’t mind long stories. Is there any action?”

I rolled my eyes as I sat next to him. “There’s some action,” I allowed.

“It wouldn’t be real horror without action.”

“Horror!” I scoffed. “Can you listen, or will you be interrupting me with rude comments about my friends? “

He pretended to lock his lips and then threw the invisible key over his shoulder. I tried not to smile, and failed.

“I’ll have to start with the stuff you were already there for,” I decided, working to organize the stories in my head before I began.

Jacob raised his hand.

“Go ahead.”

“That’s good,” he said. “I didn’t understand much that was going on at the time.”

“Yeah, well, it gets complicated, so pay attention. You know how Alice sees things?”

I took his scowl – the wolves weren’t thrilled that the legends of vampires possessing supernatural gifts were true – for a yes, and proceeded with the account of my race through Italy to rescue Edward.

I kept it as succinct as possible – leaving out anything that wasn’t essential. I tried to read Jacob’s reactions, but his face was enigmatic as I explained how Alice had seen Edward plan to kill himself when he’d heard that I was dead. Sometimes Jacob seemed so deep in thought, I wasn’t sure if he was listening. He only interrupted one time.

“The fortune-telling bloodsucker can’t see us?” he echoed, his face both fierce and gleeful. “Seriously? That’s excellent!”

I clenched my teeth together, and we sat in silence, his face expectant as he waited for me to continue. I glared at him until he realized his mistake.

“Oops!” he said. “Sorry.” He locked his lips again.

His response was easier to read when I got to the part about the Volturi. His teeth clenched together, goose bumps rose on his arms, and his nostrils flared. I didn’t go into specifics, I just told him that Edward had talked us out of trouble, without revealing the promise we’d had to make, or the visit we were anticipating. Jacob didn’t need to have my nightmares.

“Now you know the whole story,” I concluded. “So it’s your turn to talk. What happened while I was with my mom this weekend?” I knew Jacob would give me more details than Edward had. He wasn’t afraid of scaring me.

Jacob leaned forward, instantly animated. “So Embry and Quil and I were running patrol on Saturday night, just routine stuff, when out of nowhere – bam!” He threw his arms out, impersonating an explosion. “There it is – a fresh trail, not fifteen minutes old. Sam wanted us to wait for him, but I didn’t know you were gone, and I didn’t know if your bloodsuckers were keeping an eye on you or not. So we took off after her at full speed, but she’d crossed the treaty line before we caught up. We spread out along the line, hoping she’d cross back over. It was frustrating, let me tell you.” He wagged his head and his hair – growing out from the short crop he’d adopted when he’d joined the pack – flopped into his eyes. “We ended up too far south. The Cullens chased her back to our side just a few miles north of us. Would have been the perfect ambush if we’d known where to wait.”

He shook his head, grimacing now. “That’s when it got dicey. Sam and the others caught up to her before we did, but she was dancing right along the line, and the whole coven was right there on the other side. The big one, what’s-his-name -“

“Emmett.”

“Yeah, him. He made a lunge for her, but that redhead is fast! He flew right behind her and almost rammed into Paul. So, Paul . . . well, you know Paul.”

“Yeah.”

“Lost his focus. Can’t say that I blame him – the big bloodsucker was right on top of him. He sprang – hey, don’t give me that look. The vampire was on our land.”

I tried to compose my face so that he would go on. My nails were digging into my palms with the stress of the story, even though I knew it had turned out fine.

“Anyway, Paul missed, and the big one got back on his side. But by then the, er, well the, uh, blonde . . .” Jacob’s expression was a comical mix of disgust and unwilling admiration as he tried to come up with a word to describe Edward’s sister.

“Rosalie.”

“Whatever. She got real territorial, so Sam and I fell back to get Paul’s flanks. Then their leader and the other blond male -“

“Carlisle and Jasper.”

He gave me an exasperated look. “You know I don’t really care. Anyway, so Carlisle spoke to Sam, trying to calm things down. Then it was weird, because everyone got really calm really fast. It was that other one you told me about, messing with our heads. But even though we knew what he was doing, we couldn’t not be calm.”

“Yeah, I know how it feels.”

“Really annoying, that’s how it feels. Only you can’t be annoyed until afterwards.” He shook his head angrily. “So Sam and the head vamp agreed that Victoria was the priority, and we started after her again. Carlisle gave us the line, so that we could follow the scent properly, but then she hit the cliffs just north of Makah country, right where the line hugs the coast for a few miles. She took off into the water again. The big one and the calm one wanted permission to cross the line to go after her, but of course we said no.”

“Good. I mean, you were being stupid, but I’m glad. Emmett’s never cautious enough. He could have gotten hurt.”

Jacob snorted. “So did your vampire tell you we attacked for no reason and his totally innocent coven -“

“No,” I interrupted. “Edward told me the same story, just without quite as many details.”

“Huh,” Jacob said under his breath, and he bent over to pick up a rock from among the millions of pebbles at our feet. With a casual flick, he sent it flying a good hundred meters out into the bay. “Well, she’ll be back, I guess. We’ll get another shot at her.”

I shuddered; of course she would be back. Would Edward really tell me next time? I wasn’t sure. I’d have to keep an eye on Alice, to look for the signs that the pattern was about to repeat. . . .

Jacob didn’t seem to notice my reaction. He was staring across the waves with a thoughtful expression on his face, his broad lips pursed.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked after a long, quiet time.

“I’m thinking about what you told me. About when the fortune-teller saw you cliff jumping and thought you’d committed suicide, and how it all got out of control. . . . Do you realize that if you had just waited for me like you were supposed to, then the bl – Alice wouldn’t have been able to see you jump? Nothing would have changed. We’d probably be in my garage right now, like any other Saturday. There wouldn’t be any vampires in Forks, and you and me . . .” He trailed off, deep in thought.

It was disconcerting the way he said this, like it would be a good thing to have no vampires in Forks. My heart thumped unevenly at the emptiness of the picture he painted.

“Edward would have come back anyway.”

“Are you sure about that?” he asked, belligerent again as soon as I spoke Edward’s name.

“Being apart . . . It didn’t work out so well for either of us.”

He started to say something, something angry from his expression, but he stopped himself, took a breath, and began again.

“Did you know Sam is mad at you?”

“Me?” It took me a second. “Oh. I see. He thinks they would have stayed away if I wasn’t here.”

“No. That’s not it.”

“What’s his problem then?”

Jacob leaned down to scoop up another rock. He turned it over and over in his fingers; his eyes were riveted on the black stone while he spoke in a low voice.

“When Sam saw . . . how you were in the beginning, when Billy told them how Charlie worried when you didn’t get better, and then when you started jumping off cliffs . . .”

I made a face. No one was ever going to let me forget that.

Jacob’s eyes flashed up to mine. “He thought you were the one person in the world with as much reason to hate the Cullens as he does. Sam feels sort of . . . betrayed that you would just let them back into your life like they never hurt you.”

I didn’t believe for a second that Sam was the only one who felt that way. And the acid in my voice now was for both of them.

“You can tell Sam to go right to -“

“Look at that,” Jacob interrupted me, pointing to an eagle in the act of plummeting down toward the ocean from an incredible height. It checked itself at the last minute, only its talons breaking the surface of the waves, just for an instant. Then it flapped away, its wings straining against the load of the huge fish it had snagged.

“You see it everywhere,” Jacob said, his voice suddenly distant. “Nature taking its course – hunter and prey, the endless cycle of life and death.”

I didn’t understand the point of the nature lecture; I guessed that he was just trying to change the subject. But then he looked down at me with dark humor in his eyes.

“And yet, you don’t see the fish trying to plant a kiss on the eagle. You never see that.” He grinned a mocking grin.

I grinned back tightly, though the acid taste was still in my mouth. “Maybe the fish was trying,” I suggested. “It’s hard to tell what a fish is thinking. Eagles are good-looking birds, you know.”

“Is that what it comes down to?” His voice was abruptly sharper. “Good looks?”

“Don’t be stupid, Jacob.”

“Is it the money, then?” he persisted.

“That’s nice,” I muttered, getting up from the tree. “I’m flattered that you think so much of me.” I turned my back on him and paced away.

“Aw, don’t get mad.” He was right behind me; he caught my wrist and spun me around. “I’m serious! I’m trying to understand here, and I’m coming up blank.”

His eyebrows pushed together angrily, and his eyes were black in their deep shadow.

“I love him. Not because he’s beautiful or because he’s rich!” I spat the word at Jacob. “I’d much rather he weren’t either one. It would even out the gap between us just a little bit – because he’d still be the most loving and unselfish and brilliant and decent person I’ve ever met. Of course I love him. How hard is that to understand?”

“It’s impossible to understand.”

“Please enlighten me, then, Jacob.” I let the sarcasm flow thick. “What is a valid reason for someone to love someone else? Since apparently I’m doing it wrong.”

“I think the best place to start would be to look within your own species. That usually works.”

“Well, that just sucks!” I snapped. “I guess I’m stuck with Mike Newton after all.”

Jacob flinched back and bit his lip. I could see that my words had hurt him, but I was too mad to feel bad about that yet. He dropped my wrist and folded his arms across his chest, turning from me to glare toward the ocean.

“I’m human,” he muttered, his voice almost inaudible.

“You’re not as human as Mike,” I continued ruthlessly. “Do you still think that’s the most important consideration?”

“It’s not the same thing.” Jacob didn’t look away from the gray waves. “I didn’t choose this.”

I laughed once in disbelief. “Do you think Edward did? He didn’t know what was happening to him any more than you did. He didn’t exactly sign up for this.”

Jacob was shaking his head back and forth with a small, quick movement.

“You know, Jacob, you’re awfully self-righteous – considering that you’re a werewolf and all.”

“It’s not the same,” Jacob repeated, glowering at me.

“I don’t see why not. You could be a bit more understanding about the Cullens. You have no idea how truly good they are – to the core, Jacob.”

He frowned more deeply. “They shouldn’t exist. Their existence goes against nature.”

I stared at him for a long moment with one eyebrow raised incredulously. It was a while before he noticed.

“What?”

“Speaking of unnatural . . . ,” I hinted.

“Bella,” he said, his voice slow and different. Aged. I realized that he sounded suddenly older than me – like a parent or a teacher. “What I am was born in me. It’s a part of who I am, who my family is, who we all are as a tribe – it’s the reason why we’re still here.

“Besides that” – he looked down at me, his black eyes unreadable – “I am stillhuman.”

He picked up my hand and pressed it to his fever-warm chest. Through his t-shirt, I could feel the steady beating of his heart under my palm.

“Normal humans can’t throw motorcycles around the way you can.”

He smiled a faint, half-smile. “Normal humans run away from monsters, Bella. And I never claimed to be normal. Just human.”

Staying angry with Jacob was too much work. I started to smile as I pulled my hand away from his chest.

“You look plenty human to me,” I allowed. “At the moment.”

“I feel human.” He stared past me, his face far away. His lower lip trembled, and he bit down on it hard.

“Oh, Jake,” I whispered, reaching for his hand.

This was why I was here. This was why I would take whatever reception waited for me when I got back. Because, underneath all the anger and the sarcasm, Jacob was in pain. Right now, it was very clear in his eyes. I didn’t know how to help him, but I knew I had to try. It was more than that I owed him. It was because his pain hurt me, too. Jacob had become a part of me, and there was no changing that now.

Categories
Free Essays

Naturebros

Q1. Summarize the information presented regarding the present and proposed products. Briefly describe the company’s 2004 and 2005 objectives.

Ans. Dale Morris, being a cooking enthusiast, created a new season mix in 1993 which was based on a nutritive yeast extract and used a considerable amount of lesser salt than other seasonal mixes. This mix being very popular among family and close friends, he decided to ‘test market’ his product via a charity event and once successful, he saw an opportunity of a new saleable product. His vision however was stalled till 2002 due to lack of startup capital.

Eventually, he raised enough money (a total of $65,000) by selling 15 percent each of his stock to his mother and two work colleagues to lease machinery and setup a small production facility and bring his product to grocery stores by August of 2002. The product was an instant hit among customers. Having a sales background himself, Morris had no problems in coming up with ways to promote his product. His tasting demonstrations, similar to what he held for family and friends were a hit and attracted enough sales in seven states and to consider expanding the product line and make inroads to markets in more states as well.

In order to expand however, Morris needed more capital. Not only was the market to be expanded, two new products had to be launched as well. This meant additional expenses in product development, production, advertising and distribution. The present product, although a low salt seasoning, does not cater to the salt free market. Thus a salt free variant is to be developed along with an MSG based flavor enhancer.

The company’s 2004 objectives are to stabilize its current markets in terms of sales and distribution and to achieve a 5 percent market share in the category of seasoned salt, a 10 percent market share in salt substitutes and a 5 percent market share in MSG based flavor enhancers. Strategy for 2004 concentrates more on existing markets. Although a 10 percent market share in the salt free category seems a bit optimistic, it is possible due to the lack of competitors in this market segment.

For 2005, the company plans to expand to eight new markets namely Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco, Spokane and Portland. These new markets make up 17.1 percent of total grocery sales and thus are an attractive market to tap into. Like 2004, here too 5 percent shares for the salt based seasoning, 10 percent for the salt free version and 5 percent market share for the MSG based enhancer are objectified.

The methods to be used will range from aggressive advertising to tapping into the more health conscious West Coast psyche. Price advantages will further help realize these aims for both existing and new markets. All this will be done due to the fact that the company is currently in the market expansion process and has to make unique selling propositions in order to capture a larger share of the market.

Q2. After reviewing this material, make a list of additional information which should be supplied to support the sales projections.

Ans. The sales forecasts seem to be well worked upon but that isn’t the case. The biggest blunder is that percentage aims for each new market and existing market have not be clearly specified. Only totals have been given for existing and new markets and new ones with the aims at 5 or 10 percent (as per product) being calculated based on the overall totals of each market. Since the existing markets have to be stabilized and expanded, there should e more specific information regarding each individual state in terms of market and percentage to be achieved in dollar amounts. Same should be the case for new markets as well.

The second problem with these forecasts is that although the company has outlined its financial and percentage aims in each of these markets, no specifications whatsoever have been given as to the volume and price of the product being sold there. This is essential because Nature Bros. will have to decide what packages and what volume of sales they plan on distributing in these areas. Thus sales have to be given not only in dollar amounts but in amount of units and weight per package as well.

Thirdly, the price set for each package should also be included in order to calculate how Nature Bros. will capture the market. A proper product into price figure is needed here rather than the existing dollar amounts.

Q3. Comment on objectives: Are they reasonable, optimistic, or conservative? What marketing mix would best support this growth rate?

Ans. The objectives seem to be reasonable for the current markets but are a bit too optimistic for new markets. The main reason for this is that the current markets are aware of their products. They just need to keep enhancing their advertisement efforts in order to capture a larger market share. New products too will be welcomed more openly.

New markets always show resistance to new entrants. Secondly, local home grounds are always easier to work in; it’s the new markets that always create problems especially due to the startup inertia faced by products. In order to achieve these objectives, Nature Bros. will have to go big in these new markets. They will ahev to concentrate a lot on achieving the right marketing mix so as not to expend too much and still achieve their objectives:

§  Promotion: promotional campaign launched by Nature Bros. have so far been successful in most cases. Form personal friends to tasting stalls, Morris has done well so far in achieving fame for his product. The new products however might need that extra push. First of all, they should go for more branding of the products. Customers might confuse the positioning of the existing product and leave it and the salt free version might eat away into the original products sales.

Since Nature Bros. have thus far marketed their existing product as healthy and low salt, a salt less substitute will only shed bad light on the existing seasoning mix. Thus Nature Bros. should start repositioning its existing brand and use the same in new markets. Quality should be strictly controlled and maintained at all costs.

§  Price: the pricing strategy as outlined in the plans seems to be fine for this product. One aspect that Nature Bros. have neglected however is the price demand elasticity of their product. They should test this strategy in their existing markets and see if they are in a position to charge premiums at this stage or not. This will give a fair idea as to for how long they will have to sell their products at reduced prices (how long it takes to achieve customer loyalty) and how sensitive the customers are in terms of price changes.

If a little drop in price means a considerable increase in sales then Nature Bros. can achieve their target market shares without 3040 percent price cuts as they currently plan to. On the other hand if this is not the case and customers are not too elastic, then not only discounts but extra promotion will also have to be done and this would mean leaner profit margins with additional promotion costs.

§  Promotion: the promotion strategy is fine and tested in the existing markets. Their decision to advertise in cooking magazines is a good one as well. One additional aspect however would be to properly launch their product and activate their brand through a certain event or fair. A proper launch and enough publicity can do wonders for a product in any given case.

The church sale was the most successful for Morris and made him realize that a marketable product is at hand. Similarly, if ature Bros. were to contact other organizations such as churches or TV shows to use their product, this would result in a lot of publicity. This along with a few interviews to newspapers and leading cooking magazines will help a lot in creating enough hype and launching the product.

§  Distribution: this is probably the weakest link in the whole plan. There seem to be no formal plans nor strategies regarding the actual distribution of the product. Being a young company, Nature Bros. will have to carefully assess which distribution strategies are cheapest and yet most effective. Although all products will be sold at grocery stores, Nature Bros. can decide whether it will be supplying directly to these stores or use the services of a third party in the form of a distribution intermediary. More intermediaries however mean higher product selling prices and this could result in Nature Bros. not effectively achieving their pricing strategy in the new markets and thus eventually losing market share.

Q4. Evaluate the information supplied regarding a new product development and physical assets in light of the pro forma income statements Morris developed.

Ans. The case shows that new product development and physical assets are going to be beneficial in nature, primarily due to the reason that the cost of goods sold as projected by the pro forma sheet show a decline over the years. Additionally, sales increase over the years. The new product if developed can help in terms of profits eventually, since profits automatically increase with the decrease in cost of goods sold and increase in sales over the years projected. Apart from operational expenses though, research and development expenses, and depreciation expenses of physical assets would increase causing an increase in the total cost incurred by the organization apart from the cost of goods sold.

Q5. Is the capital sought appropriate for the circumstances? If more information is needed, state what it is and how it could be obtained.

Ans. The capital sought is not appropriate mainly due to two reasons. The objectives outlined in terms of market shares are too optimistic in some cases. If Nature Bros. seriously intends to achieve these objectives  then they might have to expend a lot more in promotion and also further lower their prices. Secondly although promotion expenses are stated, not much has been said about other below the lien activities. It is rare that the cost of BTL activities are easily anticipated and put on paper for budgeting purposes.

The second reason is that no mention has been made of distribution channels and strategies. This whether they decide to own the channel themselves or employ third parties, in both cases additional expenses will most certainly entail.

Lastly, every firm always keeps a certain excessive amount of capital for emergencies. Since these are projections, Nature Bros. will most certainly have to attain a little more extra capital and retain it for unpredictable circumstances.

Q6. What sources should Morris approach for this amount of capital?

Ans. The product has done well in the past few years. A proper business plan and more professional projections can easily help Morris market his idea to banks as well as more serious venture capitalists in a very effective manner. The best option would be to borrow from a financial institution as opposed to selling off more equity to individuals. This is so because selling off equity might result in loss of ownership and decision power and at this stage conflicts among partners is something Nature Bros. should not risk.

The ownership once diluted would result in actually loss of control, and decision making power would be vested in the hands of the shareholders. Apart from this, Nature Bros. has become too big to rely solely on funds borrowed from family and friends and is not big enough to go public as yet. Thus the best options would be to find capital form either banks at a fixed interest rate or angel investors who are interested and more patient than other categories of venture capitalists.

These investors are interested in returns but rarely intervene in the management aspect of the business and are more accommodating as well. This source of funding or capital would help in reducing the amount of taxes that the company would have to pay, and additionally, fewer amounts would have to be given out to the shareholders as dividend. Thus any source which costs below the going interest rate and doesn’t result in selling of equity would be suitable for Nature Bros.

Q7. Based on the current balance sheet, how much equity should he give up for the investment?

The current balance sheet of the company shows several things. One of the basic aspects is the amount of assets that the company holds at this point in time. The total assets are about sixty seven thousand, and corresponding to that, the total liabilities are about fifty eight thousand. This shows that the company can cover its liabilities through the assets that it currently holds. On the other hand, the equity that the company has at this point in time is about nine thousand.

A lot of potential in terms of equity investment is seen here since the company can not only withhold the amount of liabilities but also has enough to cater to the shareholders as well in terms of its liquid assets. In this case, about half of the liabilities amount can be given up for the investment and still be able to keep a significant amount of money in the liability section.

The ball park figure is assumed in order to create a fifty-fifty balance between the liabilities and the equity side. The ideology is that the amount of figure noted would be able to create enough equity in the organization that would not jeopardize reporting and decision making in the company, and yet, be enough that it balances out the loans taken from banks and other individuals and institutions.

References:

Hisrich, R., Peters, P., & Shepard, D. (2008). Entrepreneurship. 7th Edition. Irwin:

McGraw-Hill.

Entrpreneur.com (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2007, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/bizstartups/index.html

U.S. Small Business Administration (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2007, from http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html

 

Categories
Free Essays

Nature

Humans have long considered themselves the top of the food chain and tried to mold nature to their whims, but in recent years, nature has exerted itself and proved repeatedly that Mother Nature can still defeat man.  The sad truth is that man had begun to believe that he could subjugate nature to his whims. Wild animals were domesticated and sent to zoos, the wind was harnessed to power the human cities and forests were turned into asphalt jungles. Then, in 2005, actually beginning in December, 2004, nature attacked with a fury to make sure that mankind knew exactly who was in charge.

The tsunami in Southeast Asia was the warning shot across the bow. Mother Nature followed up with the most devastating Atlantic storm season in history. By the time Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, named storms had threatened the southern United States almost a dozen times and when Rita tore through Houston just weeks later, the country and most of mankind stood in fear of nature’s vengeance. Suddenly, we knew once again who was in charge.

Personally, I have also felt more connected to nature then I believe most people do. I long to watch the squirrels and birds play in m backyard and smell the night jasmine when it blooms in the summer.  There is nothing like watching the first crocus of the spring peak through the snow and the lilacs herald the arrival of the warm weather. My yard comes alive in the spring and Mother Nature reminds me that I am dependent on her splendor and good nature to feed me and clothe me.

Like most people I would like to believe that we have risen above the challenge of living in a cave and acting as hunter/gatherers. But the reality is for all our manipulation of glass and steel, we are still subject to nature’s whims. A Kansas town can be wiped off the map by the angry night winds. A city of a million people can be decimated and washed into the Gulf. With no warning, flood waters can pour through a Dallas suburb and steal children away to their deaths. Nature plays an important role in our lives and the more we try to pretend it doesn’t, the more that nature sneaks up and whacks us with a wakeup call to respect her.

More than a century ago, Chief Joseph proclaimed that what we do the beasts of the earth, we soon to do ourselves. Unfortunately, most of society has yet to learn the lesson and understand that we cannot control the forces of nature. Instead, they proclaim that we are in control of the planet and that we effect what the climate is doing. It seems ridiculous to assume that we can control the climate when we cannot even protect ourselves from hurricanes and tornadoes. We can have a negative effect on the world around us and do need to start taking care of nature instead of fighting against it, but we need to begin by setting aside our arrogance and restoring ourselves to our natural role as protector of the Earth.

 

Categories
Free Essays

Nature and nurture shape our personalities

Each person is unique and a person of worth under his/her own right. This statement defines who a person is, one s endowed with the faculties to exist and be a contributing member of society. However, how a person develops certain characteristics and traits have aroused the curiosity of the scientific and academic community. Even parents want to know how personalities are developed so they would be able to rear their children in the proper way and become adults who have a well rounded personality.

The questions remains, how do people develop their personalities and what factors influence it. Although some people believe that personalities are influenced by nurture while others believe that personalities are influenced by nature, but it is a combination of both nature and nurture that shape our personalities. The nature-nurture controversy has led to the different perspectives on how an individual’s personality develops.

Relevant materials: The Boy Who Became a Girl

The nature perspective says that a person comes into this world with a certain traits and characteristics which make him/her predisposed to behave and think in a certain way. The nature perspective is largely biological and genetic; wherein it is thought that personality is often passed from parents to offspring and that a child may inherit the traits of the parents (Carlson & Buskist, 1997) just as they inherit their father’s eyes or their mother’s skin. Moreover, the biological perspective has said that a child is already born with certain personality traits that are enduring and stable over time.

If a child has a difficult temperament as a baby, it can be expected that as an adult, that child would still be moody and temperamental. Finally, the nature perspective says that personality types are based on the gene pool of the individual, they say that aggression or predisposition to violence is genetically based, some people are just born to have the violent gene and that there is nothing that can be done to change this (Friedman & Schustack, 2006). The nature perspective may seem to be deterministic and narrow, once a person is said to be shy or timid, then that person will always be shy until the end of his/her life.

The nurture perspective was borne out of the reaction and revolt against the nature perspective, the proponents of the nurture perspective found the biological view close and incomplete, it was not able to account for the concept of choice and free will and that each person has the capacity to change and become better persons. The nurture perspective advocated that individuals are fundamentally good and that each person can be trained and influenced to be a better person or have positive personality traits (Friedman & Schustack, 2006).

Therefore, a person may come from a family of criminals or psychotics but with the right nurturing environment and love and care the child can grow up to become morally upright and compassionate. The nurture perspective places greater importance to the quality of care and the kind of environment that a child receives during his/her early years can affect the child’s personality and will form his/her characteristics and traits.

The nurture perspective does not allow for any biological influence, in fact John B. Watson in his famous declaration has been known to say that he can train children to become whatever he desires them to be (Friedman & Schustack, 2006). The nurture perspective is more positive as compared to the nature perspective when it comes to personality change. The perspective holds that each person with the right support and guidance will be able to change his/her personality traits for the better.

As the nature-nurture debate wore on, scientists and philosophers were finding evidence that suggested that personality development is not solely nature nor nurture, but a combination of both perspectives. Relying on the nature perspective alone does not present a complete picture of how personality is developed. They say that personality traits are not observable and one cannot identify which gene carries what trait therefore the perspective lacked credence as traits are not adequately labeled. At the same time, saying that the environment alone is the sole influence that affects personality development is wrong. There is always the continued interplay between nature and nurture and in reality; personality is molded by the combination of these two conflicting views.

Personality traits and characteristics are developed and molded by both nature and nurture factors wherein the individual finds him/her self. It is true that one’s biological traits affect the individual and can be used as basis to predict the behavior of the child in the future as well as what kind of personality he/she will have. Personality traits that are expressed through emotions have been found to be affected by the endorphins and the hormones that a person has (Carlson & Buskist, 1997).

For example, men and women differ in their personalities because women have more estrogen which activates the body into being more emotional and easily affected by feelings and situations while men who have a very low estrogen levels are hardier, more composed and calm than women.

The physiology of the human brain also influence the personality of the individual (Carlson & Buskist, 1997), those who have a more developed language area are more vocal, more able to express their emotions while those who have more developed logical area are more rational. Moreover, intelligence which is a key ingredient of a person’s personality is also genetically based, those who are highly intelligent will be more critical, more resilient and more introverted while those who are more socially adept will tend to be extroverted.

The influence of the environment over the personality of the individual has been demonstrated by the number of cases of wherein the child has been brought up in a positive environment despite being borne in a dysfunctional family grew up to be straight and proper. In the earliest experiments of human contact which tackles the issue of nurture it was found that monkeys reared alone and without a nurturing mother was cold, lifeless and unable to relate with other monkeys.

On the other hand, a monkey which was reared together with a mechanical monkey displayed more positive behaviors than the first monkey (Westen, 2003). This showed that a nurturing environment is important for the developing child, in a similar light; it was found that those children who were exposed to aggression also imitated the aggressive behavior that was shown to them (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski & Eron, 2003). These underscores the double edged sword that nurture is because a positive environment may lead to positive outcomes while a negative environment may also be a threat to the development of the child.

However, taking both of the perspectives explains far more completely how personality is developed and formed. A child’s genetic make-up provides for the predispositions that a child has, while the kind of environment that he/she grows up in will also form part of his/her personality. Personality tests have often found that personality traits are stable and enduring (Westen, 2003), a child may be stubborn in his/her younger age may mellow down and with the societal influences and an environment that promotes respect and obedience may tame the stubbornness, but in the end, his/her stubbornness may prevail when placed in a difficult situation or when she has to cope with a certain issue or problem.

Moreover, a child may be overly active and vocal since childhood but through experience and social forces may transform the child into an adult who excels in sports or who are activists and leaders. This is also true for the other side of personality, the evil and dark side. Some children are evil and these can be observed in their behavior towards other children or other creatures, and sometimes they grow up to be criminals and sociopaths (Westen, 2003). In a same vein, children who have experienced abuse and traumatic events tend to develop personality disorders that affect their quality of life and relationships.

Lastly, it has been reported that injuries to the brain have often resulted to a change in personality (Westen, 2003) and these had adverse effects to the individual and his/her family. The person’s behavior becomes erratic; he/she may have mood swings or may even portray a personality that is completely uncharacteristic of him/her.

Without a doubt, personality is shaped by one’s biological predispositions and environment, each one of us have heard a small voice inside of us that shares our thoughts and feelings, while the most important persons in our lives have influenced and inspired us to dream and fulfill our ambitions in life. In the past the nature versus nurture debate was intensely championed by both sides, but at present it has been realized that acknowledging both the nature and nurture aspect of one’s development and personality provides a more complete and accurate picture of human nature.

References

Carlson N. & Buskist W. (1997). Psychology: The Science of Behavior 5th ed. Boston: Allyn and

Bacon.

Friedman, H. & Schustack, M. (2006). Personality: Classic theories and modern

Research 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Huesmann, L., Moise-Titus, J., Podolski, C.  & Eron, L. (2003). Longitudinal relations

between children’s exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977-1992. Developmental Psychology, 39, 201-221.

Westen, D. (2003). Psychology: Brain, Behavior, and Culture. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Categories
Free Essays

The Nature of Leadership

Leadership can refer both to the process of leading, and to those entities that do the leading. Leadership has been a central, and sometimes controversial, topic in the study of organizations. In spite of claims to the contrary, there is substantial evidence that leadership is positively related to a variety of individual and organizational outcomes. Leaders, by their very roles, are responsible for making decisions that help their organizations adapt and succeed in competitive environments (Antonakis et al, 2004).

Leaders do not merely impose goals on followers, but work with others to create a shared sense of purpose and direction. Leaders primarily work through and with other people. They also help to establish the conditions that enable others to be effective. Leadership is a function more than a role. Although leadership is often invested in – or expected of – persons in positions of formal authority, leadership encompasses a set of functions that may be performed by any different persons in different roles throughout a community.

Leaders manage and managers lead, but the two activities are not synonymous. Management functions can potentially provide leadership; leadership activities can contribute to managing (Antonakis et al, 2004). Reflecting based on the above statements made me realize that effective managers do not only administer the people under him/her but should also be a prime initiator of innovation in which tasks and goals of the department and the organization as a whole.

As such, managers should be creative as well as discerning when it comes to analyzing and assessing the resources of the company. Developing and evaluating the efficiency of a particular operation strategy will be helpful in maintaining the overall competitiveness of the business organization. In effect, being able to contemplate the factors that will greatly influence the success of the business should be highly considered through objective investigation of the current conditions of the business environment particularly the industry to which the company belongs.

The three major leadership styles: laissez-faire, democratic, and authoritarian leadership. Laissez-Faire leaders take no initiative in directing or managing the group; he/she allows the group to develop on its own, as it has no real authority. Specifically, the leader answers questions, provides information, or gives no reinforcement to the group. Furthermore, the leader evaluates and criticizes little, and is thereby non-threatening. The leader allows the members to make their own decisions (Antonakis et al, 2004).

On the other hand, democratic leaders provide directions, but allow the group to make its own decisions. Specifically, members are encouraged by democratic leaders to determine goals and procedures, and to stimulate their self-direction and self-actualization (Antonakis et al, 2004). Moreover, democratic leaders offer suggestions and reinforce members’ ideas. After offering these suggestions, providing information, and clarifying ideas, the leader allows the group to make the decision. In leadership styles, the democratic leader is in the middle of the styles.

The authoritarian leader is the opposite of the laissez-faire leader. The authoritarian leader sets the agenda, determines the group’s policies, assigns tasks to the members, and makes decisions for the group without consulting them. In the end, the leader takes responsibility for the group’s progress, but accepts very few suggestions from the group (Antonakis et al, 2004). Rarely do the group members communicate with one another, but they communicate with the leader.

Leaders should have vision for the organization. The leaders sell vision by visible management attention, proactive policies and procedures, recognition systems, incremental change expectations, and shared glory (Antonakis et al, 2004). Leaders should also have faith that in change, the organization can accomplish its purpose. Moreover, leaders should have integrity, an ethical sense of justice, fairness, and honesty, so that the members can believe in their word.

In regards to leaders in an organization as the life-giving elements in every organisation in that without managers, organizations cannot possibly function properly. Thus, a strong link is noted between a leader’s efficiency and organization performance (Antonakis et al, 2004). It has been recognised that leaders are a significant power behind the progress and successful development of an organisation’s strategy and such success is very much dependent upon their attitudes, behaviour and commitment to their specific responsibilities.

The basic tension that underlies many discussions of organisational change is that it would not be necessary if leaders had done their jobs right in the first place. Planned change is usually triggered by the failure of people to create continuously adaptive organizations. Thus, organizational change routinely occurs in the context of failure of some sort. Successful change must involve leaders who initially instigate the change by being visionary, persuasive and consistent. A change agent role is usually responsible to translate the vision to a realistic plan and carry out the plan.

It is impossible for a leader to get extraordinary achievement alone. Moreover, teamwork is needed in an unstable market and most especially in the business we are in. If you can’t depend on others, you will never become a leader because the better we are able to innovate if we feel we are more trusted. If a leader trusts his staff, his staff will trust him back. As a leader, trust is needed and that a team should be bonded with the capacity to trust each other (Antonakis et al, 2004) .

Leadership comprises the aptitude and ability to inspire and influence the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of other people. Leadership is a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of other individuals in the achievement of a common task. Although this specification seems relatively simple, the reality of leadership is very complex. Intrapersonal factors such as ideas and emotions, interact with interpersonal processes (i.e., attraction, communication, influence) to have effects on a dynamic external environment. Each of these aspects brings complexity to the leadership process.

References

Antonakis, John, Cianciolo, Anna T. and Sternberg, Robert. The Nature of Leadership.  United States: Sage Publishing House, 2004.

 

 

 

 

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Nature-Nurture and the Cloned Human

The three levels in biopsychosocial theory (explained in Myers, 2006) are biological, psychological (e.g., cognitive and emotional influences), and social-cultural (unusual since these influences include those studied by social psychologists, e.g., family, peer, and other group influences).  The influences in the three levels generally interact with each other in accounting for the variability between individuals.  However, if a person wanted to be cloned, the person and the clone should be genetically identical, i.e., a result of the first level.  We do know that identical twins are essentially clones (Myers, 2006).

Genetics can fully account for characteristics such as genetic sex, and also can influence or fail to influence other personality characteristics of identical twins.  Influence, however, means that genetics interact with influences from the other two levels.  Until the last paragraph of this paper, the assumption that evidence based on identical twins can be generalized to clones has been accepted.

Similar article: The Case of the Boy Who Became a Girl

The goal of psychologists studying personality is to account for the variability between individuals.  Behavioral-genetic research, which has been furthering this goal, has been motivated by findings that similarities between identical twins do not vary as a function of whether the twins were reared together or apart, there is considerable between-twin variability, and adopted children do not share characteristics with their adoptive families but do share them with their biological families (reviewed in Harris, 1995).  There have been consistent findings that 40-50% of the between-individual variability in personality characteristics is attributable to genetics, and the percentage of variability accounted for by genetics depends on the characteristic being studied (reviewed in Harris, 1995).

Studies of genetics and IQ scores (reviewed in Neisser, et al., 1999) have provided evidence that genetics account for a large percentage of between-individual (but not between-group) variability in scores (whatever these tests actually measure!), though results can be mediated by other influences, e.g., by social expectations (from level three) and cognition (from level two).

For example, children who do not care enough about their grades to appreciate the worksheet and memorization approach that passes for teaching at many schools (social expectations) may interpret these tests (cognitive influences) as yet another obstacle invented by the educational system.  Nonetheless, if you score well on an IQ test, there’s a high probability that your clone will too.  There are genetic predispositions for many characteristics, with varying degrees to which non-genetic factors interact with genetic ones, e.g., depression (Behar, 1980), attitudes (Turner, 1993), alcoholism (Hill, 1990), altruism (Ruston, 1989), shyness (Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1988).

Need for Further Research

When people think of cloning, they seem to be asking questions such as, “if Einstein or Mozart were cloned, would the clone grow up to be a scientific or musical genius?”  First, the clones and persons would differ in some or many of  their experiences both before birth (i.e., in the womb, identical twins differ in their positions, access to nutrition, etc.) and  after.  The clones would be predisposed towards scientific or musical accomplishment.  However, Watson and Rayner (1920/2000) demonstrated that classical conditioning resulted in “Little Albert” becoming frightened of anything furry after only two trials in which the presentation of a white rat was followed by a loud noise.  So who knows what would happen if Einstein’s or Mozart’s clone tripped over an encyclopedia or violin?

However, Einstein and Mozart were at the extremes of scientific and musical genius, where genetics are a greater influence than for Aunt Edna, who teaches science at Dung Hill High School, or for Grandpa Patrick, who entertains his family with heart-warming renditions of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”  So there should be a high probability that Einstein’s and Mozart’s clones would make important contributions to science and music.  To my knowledge, there have not been identical-twin studies, where one or both twins received historical recognition for their accomplishments.

A second type of question is related to possible differences in reproduction and cloning.   Increasingly sophisticated methods of monitoring brain activity, e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging, have resulted in studies that have provided evidence that particular areas of the brain become activated as we develop new abilities and acquire new forms of memories, and that over the course of development, there are permanent changes in a person’s brain (reviewed in Damasio, 2002).

Probably the most interesting possible change is related to our understanding that we have an internal world separate from others.  Piaget (1952/1963) studied how such a sense of self developed during childhood, and there’s evidence that different brain areas are activated in response to self-relevant information than in response to other information (reviewed in Zimmer, 2005).   Thus the question arises:  Is it possible for Aunt Edna and her clone to have a shared sense of self?

References

Behar, D. (1980).  Familial substrates of depression:  A clinical view.  The Journal of

Clinical Psychiatry, 41, 52-56.

Damasio, A. R. (2002).  How the brain creates the mind.  Scientific American Special

Edition, 12, 4-9.

Harris, J. R. (1995).  Where is the child’s environment?  A group socialization theory of

development.  Psychological Review, 102, 458-490.

Hill, S. Y. (1990).  Personality resemblances in relatives of male alcoholics:  A comparison

with families of matched control cases.  Biological Psychology, 27, 1305-1322.

Kagan, J., Resnick, J. S., & Sidman, N. (1988).  Biological bases of childhood shyness.

Science, 240, 167-171.

Myers, D. G. (2006).  Psychology eighth edition in modules.  New York:  Worth.

Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T., Boykin, A. W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. et al. (1999).

Intelligence:  Knowns and Unknowns.  In R. J. Sternberg & R. K. Wagner (Eds.),

Readings in cognitive psychology (pp. 486-532).  Orlando, Fl:  Harcourt.

Piaget, J. (1952/1963).  The origin of intelligence in children.  New York:  Norton.

Rushton, J. P. (1989).  Genetic similarity, human altruism, and group selection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 503-559.

Tesser, A. (1993).  The importance of hereditability in psychological research:  The case

of attitudes.  Psychological Review, 100, 129-142.

Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920/2000).  Conditioned emotional reactions.  American

Psychologist, 55, 313-317.

Zimmer, C. (2005).  The neurobiology of the self.  Scientific American, 293, 92-101.

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Free Essays

Nature or Nurture Controversy

Developmental psychologists tell us that development is caused by two very extensive intermingling factors: heredity or nature, and environment or nurture. Often determining the demarcation line between these two factors, which directly or indirectly influences our biological and psychological constitution, is not an easy task.

Nature speaks of the transmission of traits from parents to offspring through the genes which is universally known as heredity. This biological transmission of traits from one generation to another plays an important role in the determination of traits that are considered human and nonhuman. The biological structures, people inherit, at the same time, make people’s behavior possible. It is also these biological structures that limit human behavior (Hurlock, 1964).

On the other hand, environment embraces all the influences that affect or shape man. The other process of development that occurs through the medium of the environment is called learning.

There are more social or behavior scientists today who stand on the position that they adhere strictly neither to the nature nor to the nurture side. They are persuaded or tend to lean on an integrated or multi-dimensional approach. However, there have been specific areas in the study of human behavior that are being challenged on a continuous basis, and this includes subjects that aid to either the heredity or environment positions (Morris & Maisto, 1999). This short study attempts to provide evidences to the scientific inquiry that nurture influences early human development. It seeks to look into explicit observations already made, i.e., studies done that investigated the issue of nature and nurture.

Discussion

In general, it can be argued that all behavior reflects the influence of both nature and nurture. All organisms acquire or inherit a range of structures that set the stage for certain behaviors. Yet environmental influence such as nutrition and learning also help decide whether or not genetically possible behaviors will be displayed. The genius of such creative writers as C.S. Lewis or Stephen King may never appear should they have been reared in less fortunate circumstances without the privilege or opportunity of even writing and reading.

Nurture especially during the early stages in the life span influences some of the arenas of human existence. The best illustration to this is in the aspect of intelligence. Many studies have been conducted to emphasize the role of environment and this is illustrated in the areas of research where scientists try to manipulate the initial milieu around which many young children are in jeopardy of developing poor intellectual functioning. These researches actually put stress or accentuate the preventive aspect instead of addressing the interventions that may be applied later on.

A lot of families from below the poverty line reasonably, are not able to afford their children a cognitively motivating atmosphere. For this reason, majority of these children are even expected to perform below their capacity. It is arguably to the side of nurture in instances that intellectual functioning is compromised when the environment component is not maximized. Hence the reason that some of the government’s popular programs to address the problem are in place.

They include such services as Head Start, which are confirmed effective strategies in developing the child’s intellectual capability (Ramey, 1989 in Halonen and Santrock, 1996, p. 280). Despite some of the controversies that surround the efficacy of the “No Child Left Behind Act” spearheaded by President George W. Bush, the rationale following this public policy is the fact that children coming from inner cities and minority groups will be provided ample opportunities for cognitive development via government funding.

Schools that do not perform at par with “productive ones” will be evaluated and funding consequently is affected. This raises up the standard of the schools especially their teachers. Whether this is fail-safe or not, is not the question here. However, this is a clear illustration that without any environmental intervention, children left to themselves may not develop competence or achieve their potential.

Another evidence that point to the effect of environment on human development especially during the early years is based on observations or studies on parental abuse of children. According to research, the growth and development of a child is modified incessantly by the influences in the environment. The fact that maltreatment by parents over their children account for the vast differences of performance of school age children and many of the resulting disorders or maladjustment problems that are frequent problems encountered by educators, substantiates the claims of nurture or environmental influence (www.ipce.info/library_3/files/glaser/glaser_2.htm).

Early childhood environment impacts the child’s cognitive ability is also shown in a study on the effects of nutrition in infancy and later cognition. Nutrients as provided by formula or any other supplement affect brain development significantly.  The study supports the hypothesis that optimum nutrition in infancy “has significant consequences for cognitive development (Lucas, 1998).

Conclusion

Nurture is perhaps the strongest alibi any person attributes to whenever things turn out not as good as they want them to be. We often make justifications why we tend to be mediocre; “because my parents did not try their very best to train me and provide for all that I need,” is our typical rejoinder. To what extent is this true, and where does the line end when it comes to personal responsibility, genetic predispositions, or the responsibility and accountability of people who exert immense influence on us?

The argument postulated in this paper is not so much as “drawing the line” in as much as it has evidently proven the great impact of nurture on personality and/or human development in general. This paper pointed out exactly, that many of individual decisions and government policies are responses to the effects of environment to early human development, thus proving the hypothesis correct.

Parental abuse and neglect have been issues in learning because these are factors that are vital to the child’s overall performance and normal functioning as they operate as kids and later as adults in the real world. This is also true with nutritional status of children in their growing years. Several studies have proven the effects of these factors that they are consciously observed among the educated parents; as much as possible, many actively pursue in avoiding the drastic effects of either deficiency. Indeed, the environmental changes that are constantly influencing children in their early stages are established in the scientific disciplines; this despite the many arguments to the contrary.

Reference:

1. Environmental influences on brain development. Accessed   August 11, 2007.

2. Hilgard, ER, RR Atkinson, and RC Atkinson, 1983. Introduction to Psychology. 7th ed., New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanich, Inc.

3. Hurlock, E.B, 1964. Child development. New York: McGraw-Hill   Book Company, Inc.

4. Lucas, A., 1998. “Randomised trial of early diet in preterm      babies and later intelligence quotient.” British Medical      Journal, British Medical group. Accessed August 12, 2007

5. Morris, Charles G. & Albert Maisto, 1999. Understanding      Psychology. 4th ed. Prentice Hall, Inc. P. 73.

6. Ramey as cited from Halonen, Jane S., and John Santrock.      Psychology: Contexts of     behavior. 1996. Brown & Benchmark,      USA, p. 280.

 

 

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Nature vs. Nurture

The debate between what shapes who a person will become has been around as long as scientists have been around to contemplate it.  The biologists with their need to find a genetic link for everything use such genetic diseases as Down’s syndrome and Hemophilia to explain how nature develops the human adult.  The psychologists are never quite as absolute as the biologists and they have studies and Theorists such as B.F. Skinner to say that a person is only the result of how they are trained.  The reality of what shapes a person into the adult he becomes is actually a very well balanced blend of both.

An adult person is made up of physical traits or characteristics, behaviors or habits and personality traits.

Scientists and psychologists agree that physical traits and characteristics are almost entirely the result of genetics.  A person gets green eyes and blonde hair from a parent with green eyes and blonde hair.  If both parents are over six feet tall, the child will very likely be tall.  Additionally diseases such as Down’s syndrome, and color blindness are indisputably genetic.  Scientists have discovered specific genetic markers to identify how these traits and illnesses are acquired.  The debate comes in when the other aspects of a person’s make-up is questioned.

When the origin of the way people act or behave is considered the debate begins to get very heated.  Most psychologists state that behavior is direct result of what people have learned during childhood.  The classical psychologists Skinner and Pavlov believed that every action a person made was learned.  They did experiments on animals to prove how stimulus affected and thus shaped behavior.  This attempts to dismiss serial killers as simply having bad childhoods (Powell, 2008).

When the histories of many of the worst serial killers are investigated however, some had abusive childhoods and others had very nurturing childhoods.  Some studies done in Russian orphanages showed that much of what people learn comes from nurture. In these studies, a number of children spent months or years with very limited human contact.  The result was a group of children, who could not speak or interact with others.  These studies indicate there is a combination of both nature and nurture in behavior.

When personalities come into the picture, the studies of twins who were raised in separate homes become a factor.  One of these studies was that of Elyse Schein and her twin sister, who upon their reunion discovered that over fifty percent of their personalities were the direct results of nature (Richman, 2007). This explains that the makings of a serial killer have to be a combination of genetics and the way a person is raised.  The twins in the study had no knowledge the other existed, but discovered they had a number of commonalities.

The result of the years of study and debate comes down to the fact that a person is shaped both by who they are related to and how they are raised.  Neither bad genes nor bad caregivers can be blamed entirely for the end results of how a person turns out as an adult there is no evidence that people are shaped entirely by either, but there is evidence that both play significant roles.

Resources:

Powell, Kimberly, “Nature vs. Nurture” (2008) About.com. Retrieved January 31, 2008

from: Nature vs. Nurture – How Heredity and Environment Shape Who We Are

Richman, Joe. “Identical Strangers”. (2007) excerpt from book by Elyse Schein.

Retrieved January 31, 2008 from: NPR: ‘Identical Strangers’ Explore Nature vs. Nurture

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Nature Versus Human

The beauty of nature is spectacularly magnificent which represents the greatness of our Creator. It is still a question for us how nature originally exists. Biblically, the existence of nature was explained through the book of Genesis which stated that God created the heaven and Earth including all life forms for six days. The said explanation was the commonly known as the “Theory of Creation”.

In contrast to this theory, scientists formulated different theories about the origin of the heavenly bodies that give focus on the Earth as the only living planet. Some scientists have conceived the meanderings of a single carbon atom, released in the unstable death throes of a star, traveling for an era across intergalactic space that land in a gas disk that eventually formed Earth which changed chemically. As a finale it is being put into a life series which serves as a guide to human hand to write about it.

Human just like Earth is created by God according to His character. Adam, who was the first man, is created from ashes that were molded to make as he is. From getting a part from Adam’s ribs the first woman was created n the name of Eva. God gave authority to them to rule over all the living creatures. And until now that rule still applies in which we, human beings are still the ones that take over in this world. We, human beings are part of nature that God created and dominated.

In the world of Science, it is so fascinating that oxygen appeared on Earth only about 500 million years ago, but life in a form of bacteria has been traced to 3.5 billion years deep. It means that very slowly primitive forms of life have the control over the atmospheric composition that changed for its own development, growth, and reproduction. That is how they amazingly took control of the atmospheric composition for their own survival. What about humans who are known as smart animals and their archaic idea about nature and human nature. Are they able to take control over both of them?

Although it is entirely unbelievable that people are made from the ashes of cosmological death just to kill each other in the intergalactic space. Or, maybe, people are made to love and to be loved, to overtake a chain of life from one generation to the other, nurture and preserve life in all its diversity, heal the sufferings took into being by other people, understand the deep relationship of all aspects of life on this planet? Do we really have the right to conquer and dominate nature, space and each other?

The human understanding of the universe is extremely limited. The human understanding of the human race and its main mission on the planet Earth is even more limited. In this essay I would like to discuss some aspects of the nature and human nature in their unity and interconnection from the personal responsibility point of view.

For millions of years, humans survived in a predator-prey relationship with all species. Equilibrium exists on the Earth. As we lost visions of our origins, we began   starting to develop tools and ways of living that protect us from predators, the elements, and the insecurity of hunger. We elucidate away nature with mythology. We became arrogant, and established religious and state institutions that justified our behavior and helped us to live with the violence committed every day in the name of god, king, country, ego and sport. Humans stopped looking for answers to nature, and instead came up with answers that suited the moment.

The origination of life on our planet is still remains a mystery. The mystery of how life exists still unfolds. It is a unity of everything alive in nature. Life is a metaphysical thing. Earth is a living body continually giving birth to a new life, spirit and compassion. Nature has its own life. Life is sustained through interactions among things either living or non-living which are part of nature.

The beauty and power of nature is unique and for more appreciation, art is used to express the real beauty and power it possesses. Nature poetry is an art to freely state the things about the soleness of nature. It makes a way to keep us in touch with nature.

The poem “A child said what is a grass?” by Walt Whitman is a poem about nature that expresses the mystery of nature. In this poem, from a simple question of the child, many hypothesized answers were provoked which were said to the child just to answer that only question. The poem expresses the experiences of a grass which explains the reality that there are new things arises and there are others that suddenly died.

The poem “No boundaries” by Sin Barreras show the close relationship of man to nature. Man experiences for himself the never-ending wonders of nature which is done by running breathlessly through the forest and resting beneath the tall trees.

Oscar Wilde’s “We are Made One with what We Touch and See” explains the equality of human beings to experience the incomparable nature’s magnificence in which all living creatures live. Indeed man has the dominion over all the things in this world according to what God said in the book of Genesis.

Another poem in relation to nature is the poem by T. S. Eliot entitled “The Waste Land” in which the author describe a waste land a place that is lifeless or in other words a place with no any life forms. A waste land is a non productive one for there are no creatures that can able to survive.

The heartfelt joy due to the splendor of nature is expressed in the poem by Bliss Carman’s “Earth Voices”. The author freely expresses gratitude for experience she had with nature’s awesome wonders. The fascinating beauty of nature is also expressed in the poem “Nature’s Calm” by Alcman.

The unique beauty of nature is shown in Lacy Reese’s poem “My Mountain Top” which recognizes the interrelationship of biotic and abiotic components of nature. These components have different relationships, either mutuality or complexity.

Human abuses the authority they have. Due to intellectual and physical capability, human beings have the over-all control on nature. Human possesses the ability to change nature. Human beings neglect the authority they take hold of to fulfill their needs for survival and luxuries as well. We as human beings having the dominion over all creatures in this world should know the extent of authority. The abuse in authority leads to big destruction of nature. And eventually, nature has its own way to teach us the result of what we humans have done.

The calamities such as typhoons, landslide, floods and global warming that we are experiencing are the revenge of nature for the things we had done supported by Machiavelli’s thought that man is selfish in nature. In Wordsworth’s poem the “The World is Too Much with us”, it show how nature had enough of the sufferings in the hands of humans. Nature indeed goes through sufferings when human start to become civilized. Since the first man was not civilized, nature that time is not highly disturbed. He does not think on how to increase production of food for he had not yet develop tools for cultivation. That time, man gets his own food by hunting and gathering.

But as thousands of years passed by, there is an evolution that had taken place. The population starts to grow and that time, people become civilized Man had learned modified ways to survive such as cultivating crops and raising animals for their own food, make clothes for warmth and comfort, and shelter for a place to stay. Population of man increases which leads to population explosion.

As more people are being born, there are more requirements to be satisfied. Modernization serves as the way to fulfill them and as a consequence, development of technologies arise which continually are becoming more advance. Such certain advanced technologies are then used that leads to the environment’s destruction besides from tropical cyclone and other calamities.

Is the true role of man to destroy nature? The destruction of nature can possibly due to humans. Nature can be rude to us. The land slides and flashfloods are the returns that were given to us by nature in which more properties and lives had gone and wasted in an instant.

It’s all in our outlook. We live in a competitive world. Plants and animals struggle to survive. Resources are limited that is why there is competition. As we humans struggle to live, there is something that is being sacrifice. That sacrifice is due to our unselfish act. As higher form of animals who had given the task to rule over all living creatures, the fate of nature is in us. We must take note that all our basic necessities are derived from the natural resources.

From Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum, “Nature to be commanded must be obeyed”. We humans must first respect and protect nature so that we can receive blessings from it. According to the Legal Maxim, “The greatest force is that of nature”. Nature has a great impact in our lives for this is where we live and get our needs. Nature is indeed powerful than us for we are part of nature wherein nature comes to know itself. The knowledge that we gain is used to interact with nature and to know what nature really is.

We should try to bond with nature for the splendor of nature can give us joy and hope. According to Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D “If you are missing out on the natural joy and wisdom of life, it is because you have been taught to ignore it….Reconnecting with nature consists of bringing into your consciousness a sensory way of thinking and relating with which you are born.”.

Nature can give us happiness for its beauty that it has is really amazing. We should appreciate the things that we see around us and be thankful to have them. Material things cannot bring you true happiness but nature can. Let us obediently do our task us humans to protect nature for it is also one of our duties here on Earth. Let us make this world a better place to live.

References:

Carman, Bliss.Short Works of Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey

Dunn, Sara. Poetry for the Earth

Kray, Elizabeth. Walking Tour: Walt Whitman’s SoHo Historic District in New York City

Steffen, Alex. World Changing. A User’s Guide for the 21st Century.

 

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Nature vs. Nurture

The relative role of nature versus nurture in the shaping of living systems is a central issue in many areas of biology. There are two schools of thought. One side would argue that all idiotypic specificities are encoded in the germline genes of the gonads, implying that antigenic experiences over eons of time have allowed the accumulation, by natural selection, of every conceivable antibody specificity. The alternative school argues that a collection of useful specificities are germline encoded (e.g., those specific for antigens endemic to the species), the rest arising by a somatic mutation (and selection) process during the life of the individual; the total repertoire is, therefore, generated and shaped during ontogeny.

The nature-nurture debate has now shifted to specifying how much of the child traits can be attributed to heredity and how much to environment. An enormous amount of research has been generated by this question. Despite sophisticated research procedure, there is still no definite answer to the nature-nurture question.

My stand is more related on the environment and experience’s contribution to a child’s development, as what the role of nurture was discussed and especially apparent in Piaget’s book the Moral Judgment of the Child (1965), where he asserted that many arguments and conflicts with peers are the key in stimulating development of more mature moral thinking (McCormick & Pressley, 2006). On biology, I personally think that even if the child gets the best gene composition, his experiences would still stand out. These would teach him lessons in life that he would most likely use in his everyday life.

Today, most developmental psychologists do not believe that development is primarily due to either nature (determined by biology) or nurture (determined by experience), Instead, there is clear understanding that development is due to both nature and nurture, both biology and experience. Biology provides a range of possibilities. Which of those possibilities is realized depends greatly on the experiences available in the environment.

Consider that may seem a simple example. A child inherits genes providing him or her with a biological predisposition for being intelligent and smart than average. Whether this child achieves this biological potential depends upon environmental factors, such as the nutrition available and exposure to severe illness or disease (Vialle, Lysaght, & Verenikina, 2005).

References:

McCormick, C. B., & Pressley, M. (2006). Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. New York and London: Guilford Press.

Vialle, W., Lysaght, P., & Verenikina, I. (2005). Psychology for Educators. Australia: Thomson Learning Nelson.

 

 

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nature of racism

Racism, though long deemed to have been eradicated in modern society, is unfortunately more ingrained than once thought. It is not only centralized in America, where slavery was once a dominant issue, but it has roots everywhere in the world that humans have reached. As George Orwell recounts in his narrative, “Shooting an Elephant,” racism feeds upon numerous psychological factors. These are the same psychological factors that Memmi also outlines in his essay, “Racism and Oppression.” The intersection of their works, which is seen through tracing the psychological foundations of racism, provides a framework in which to examine this universal condition.

The first point of intersection between the two works is in Memmi’s declaration that “to be big, all the racist need do is climb on someone else’s back.” This someone else is the most obvious victim of racism: the poor, the weak, and the unfortunate. The racist does not try to oppress those who are known to be “strong,” as they know they cannot step on these people on their way to perceived superiority. Instead, they turn their attention to those who are already defeated, to the people who have all but given up fighting. These were the people who were the perpetual victims, never the victors. Hence, they focus all their racist attention on the people who, with very little effort, acquiesce to them, as they have already been shown to be defeated time and again in the annals of history.

And indeed, this is how the British came about to conquer the Burmese. When the elephant began ravaging the town, Orwell was called to restrain the animal, as “the Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it.” If the people had no weapons to protect themselves from a creature they were in daily contact with and one that they knew could very well erupt in a rage anytime, then hopes for any sort of sophisticated weaponry to ward off their invaders is dim.

Furthermore, these people were very poor, living in “a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts, thatched with palmleaf.” Contrast this with the homes of the Europeans back in their own country, which utilized advanced architectural technologies and materials. With the flimsy materials the Burmese used to build their houses, the Europeans knew that they were a backward people, one that history left behind in the past. As such, they realized that it would be easy to conquer and subjugate the Burmese.

However, Memmi’s point is refuted in Orwell’s realization “of the real nature of imperialism [and] the real motives for which despotic governments act” as he sets out to shoot the elephant:

…[The crowd was] watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East.

Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but I reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys…To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing – no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.

The white man, in this scenario, is the one who is now being controlled, manipulated, and even, in a way, subjugated by the Burmese. Through colonizing, they themselves have become the ones colonized. The Burmese people, instead of being the ones stepped upon by the British, have become the ones who are stepping on the backs of these “historically strong” people. As they know the British are fastidious about cultivating an appearance of power and authority, the Burmese exploit this weakness for their own advantage.

A second point that appears in Orwell’s literary work is that there exists “the surprising racism practiced by the oppressed man himself.” In theory, people who are victims of abuse and oppression should bond together, for it is through one another that they are able to weather the cruelty and subjugation imposed on them. In number, they should find strength. In practice, however, this fails to hold. Even the people who have been victims of racism can inflict and carry out the same kind of abuse on others and becoming racists themselves.

In “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell illustrates this reverse form of racism by depicting the various ways in which both he and his fellow Europeans were insulted and jeered at by the Burmese.

Being a “sub-divisional police officer of the town,” Orwell became the favorite target of the anger, ire, and anti-European sentiment of the Burmese. This is because he was extremely visible, going around the town as he went about his duties. Furthermore, it was his job to enforce the rules, which are made by the British Empire.  Though the Burmese had no “guts to raise a riot,” they certainly carried out their insults in more personal ways.

One time, during a soccer match, Orwell was tripped by a Burmese player and the referee, another Burmese, simply looked the other way. The crowd roared with laughter, and the Burmese players, knowing they could get away with such an insult, continued tripping Orwell on the football field. As a result, whenever he was spied on the streets, insults were continuously thrown at him when he was already several meters away.

Finally, Memmi points to a universal conclusion about racism, that “everyone, or nearly everyone, is an unconscious racist, or a semi-conscious one, or even a conscious one.” It encompasses people from all cultures, races, and religions, including the most-liberal minded man, the most politically sensitive nation, and the highest-educated woman who do not necessarily fit into the mode of the stereotypical racist. Different people approach racism differently, offering differing logical reasons and interpretations, though it always boils down to the same thing – we are all guilty of being racists in one way or another, overtly or covertly.

Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant,” by presenting ideas that side with and vie for the Burmese people, can seem to be anti-racist. Indeed, Orwell explicitly states his disgust with the empire: “theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British.” Yet, Orwell is not the morally scrupulous anti-racist he paints himself to be.

Just a few lines after this declaration of being “all for the Burmese,” he describes them as being “evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make [his] job impossible.” His “greatest joy in the world,” on the other hand, “would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts.” These sentiments, he said, were simply “the normal by-products of imperialism…”

On the other hand, if Orwell was one of those people whom Memmi described as being an unconscious racist, his fellow British were the fully-conscious types. When Orwell was discussing with some other officers his act of killing an elephant for killing a coolie, the younger men in the group responded that he was wrong for doing so, “because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie.” For them, the worth of a human life, especially one of their colonized victims, is negligible compared to the worth of an elephant. It is simply another way of saying that the life of the people under their rule was not important.

Orwell and Memmi both present the universal problem of racism. Though they do not agree on all points, they do agree that racism comes at a huge cost, both for the racist and the victim.

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Nature of Creativity

Creativity has been defined in many ways but one feature that is always mentioned is novelty (Sternberg, 1988). That is, the product of a creative endeavor should always be relatively unlike what has been done before. Novelty presupposes that creativity is a process that allows the mind to work out new solutions to problems, to be innovative and to be original. Just how the brain works so that the individual can become creative has been the subject of debate for a long time, creativity is often thought as a component of intelligence wherein highly intelligent persons all seem to be creative thus Guilford (1989) have argued that creativity can be assessed as part of intelligence tests.

Creativity as a process involve factors like fact-finding, problem-finding, solution-finding and acceptance-finding (VanGundy, 1987). This implies that creativity is a complex process that can only be arrived at if the mentioned factors have been satisfied. Like when a writer desires to start on a new book, he/she must first research the existing facts about the topic he wants to write about, then he/she goes on to look for the issues or problems within the facts and start writing from that angle, in writing she is starting to form solutions that are different from what has been existing and then scrutinize what has been written to determine if it is acceptable to him/her and judge whether it is creative or not.

Creativity is also facilitated by cognitive skills such as visualization, imagination, expressiveness, flexibility, fluency and openness (Finke, Ward & Smith, 1992). This would mean that creative thought process can only occur if the person is able to make use of the said cognitive skills. When a child is asked to come up with new arrangements of blocks, he/she must have an understanding of what blocks are and then to be able to visualize the possible arrangements, to imagine how he/she would build the blocks, to maybe express her thoughts by acting on her imagination like moving the blocks, and to arrange and rearrange it as being flexible and open about how he/she could accomplish the task. These skills can be developed through training and learning or it can be inherent personality traits that a person is born with.

Creativity has been compared to problem-solving since it involves the same cognitive skills and process, but creativity is different from problem-solving in the sense that creativity is finding an original solution to the problem. Problem-solving on the other hand has to rely on previous learning and understanding of the situation and to logically solve the problem.

Wherein, a person who has been asked to solve a mathematical problem has to consider the laws of numbers and to rationally find the solution to the math question using principles and concepts that govern the field of math. If it was a creative endeavor, then the person can approach the same problem in different ways and come up with the same answer. In short, problem-solving usually follow the correct way of arriving at the answer, while creativity make or develop its own and original solution.

Creativity can also be a social process, this mean that creativity is enhanced or developed by the immediate environment of the individual (Amabile, 1983). A company that values creativity encourages the individual to engage in creative thought, while a rigid and structured work environment leaves very little opportunity for creativity. Moreover, a child that grow up in a family where creativity is reinforced and appreciated would more likely become creative in their own lives and parents who stifle their child’s curiosity and punishes creative behavior would be less likely to express their own creativity.

Developing Creativity

It is important to realize that creativity is a process and that it can be developed in children and adults alike. Practical ways of training a person to become creative involves asking the person what he/she is passionate about, what he/she wants to do that makes him/her happy and which tasks challenges him/her. In this way, the person becomes aware of his/her interests which will serve as the training ground with which creativity can be geared at.

For example, the thing that the person loves doing is preparing slide shows for presentations, then the next thing to do is to give the person the opportunity to work on a task that would require him/her to be creative, like asking him/her to create a presentation that is different from the previous one he/she have presented. Another way is to instruct the individual to generate a number of ideas and to explore each idea and find out which is novel and original. The individual’s attempts at being creative should also be recognized and appreciated which would reinforce creative behavior, this is important because to produce something that is creative is subject to how people will react to it and whether it is novel or not, if the individual is praised for showing creativity then he/she would be able to differentiate what is creative thinking.

The environment of the individual should also be changed to facilitate creativity, materials for creative thinking should be readily available, he/she should be able to express his/her ideas freely and to be given ample time to work on tasks. The individual can also learn from role models who can be identified as creative personalities. The way these people create new ideas and or things can show the individual how to become creative. By providing him/her with examples, he/she would come to understand what creativity is and what behaviors are indicative of creativity.

Lastly, personal traits like being open-minded, flexible, curious, not afraid of change or of doing new things and being excited at creating something should be developed in that person. These attitudes are important because it facilitates brainstorming, innovation, discovery and critical thinking that are necessary for creative thought processes. Helping an individual become creative can only be successful if the person has the willingness and desire to explore his/her creativity, thus even if one provides every opportunity to enable them to become creative is useless if they are not interested in enhancing their creativity.

References

Amabile, T. (1983). The Social Psychology of Creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Finke, R., Ward, T. & Smith, S. (1992). Creative Cognition. Cambridge: Bradford/MIT Press.

Guilford, J. (1986). Creative Talents: Their Nature, Uses and Development. New York:

Bearly Ltd.

Sternberg, R. (1988). The Nature of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

VanGundy, A. (1987). Creative Problem Solving. New York: Quorum.

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Nature and Materialism in Walden

Henry David Thoreau, an American author, lived alone in a small cabin which he himself built on the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts  for two years and two months starting in July 4, 1845. He gave an interesting account of this experience and experiment in living alone in a place close to nature and away from civilization in his book entitled Walden published in 1854.

I especially liked Thoreau’s philosophical ideas and reflections that he learned while living in Walden. His experiences in living in Walden Pond encourages people to slow down and reflect on the kind of life that they are living whether they are supposedly living the kind of life that was meant to be. According to Miller, “He [Thoreau] endeavored to find the foundation for a more simple, honest, and pure life which he contrasted to the lives of “quiet desperation” led by most of his contemporaries” (Miller 1995).

In relating his experiences, Thoreau also used wit and humor so that he made life away from civilization an interesting idea. What I do not like is that Thoreau can be extreme in his advocacy for simplicity. For example, he believed that “water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not a noble liquor; and think of dashing the hopes of a morning with a cup of warm coffee, or of an evening with a dish of tea!” (Thoreau 182).  I do not agree that moderate drinking of tea and coffee is harmful to man.

Throughout the book, Thoreau praised the life living in simplicity close to nature. For him life with nature is like living life in innocence. Every morning with nature, he felt renewed as he was far from noise and disturbance. In the cabin, he felt remote from the life that he had left behind with civilization and in so doing, he had the time to think about life in its purer form, to have an effective intellectual exertion. I do agree with Thoreau that nature had its positive effect of renewing the inner spirit of man for in their presence one felt relaxed and calm.

Life away from nature can be very stressful and demanding and with time, one no longer knew what was important about living. Modern civilization in particular can be very stressful as more emphasis is put on the acquisition of material wealth. One is caught in the never-ending web of earning money as much as he can to live a supposed comfortable life so that he had no time to stop and smell the flowers.

Yet the truth in most cases is that oftentimes modern man would not be able to enjoy what he worked so hard for either because he had no  time to do so or that he got sick for working too hard so that his money was spend in medical expenses ( Medical Science News 2005). According to Thoreau “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind (Thoreau 10)”. I totally agree in this judgment because I have noticed that some of the inventions of modern man only deprived him of the exercise that he needs for healthy living.

For example in cleaning the house he had floor polisher that replaced manual floor scrubbing so that in return he sweats less than he used to. Also, man had used the luxury of cars at his disadvantage for even in a short distance he will not take a walk. No wonder Thoreau had concluded, “the nation itself … its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way, are all external and superficial… is cluttered by furniture and tripped by its own traps … (Thoreau 75)”.

In my life, these ideas had largely opened my eyes to the reality that I do not have to compete for the acquisition of wealth for in so doing I may fail to really live. I believe now that many people who only spend their whole lifetime gaining possessions never actually lived after all. Their bodies and minds are like machines that are employed to acquire many of the supposed luxuries of life. For me, to avoid such a mistake, I must see to it that I spend sometime with nature in order to reflect and to be renewed.

Thoreau’s Walden therefore revealed to man the need for simple living and to be close to nature and avoid the extreme need to acquire life’s luxuries. In order to really live and enjoy life man needs time to relax, to be calm, to reflect and be renewed by nature.

Works Cited

Medical Science News. Garvan scientists explain stress and sickness. Canadian Online Pharmacy. December 2005. Accessed April 7, 2008 < http://www.news-medical.net/?id=14885>
Miller, Jakob. Two Truths in Thoreau’s Inconclusive “Conclusion.  Hanover College Department of History. 1995. Accessed April 7, 2008 from <http://history.hanover.edu/hhr/95/hhr95_1.html>

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Nature and the Physical World”

Most common attitudes and behaviors today on nature greatly evolved during the Romantic Era. Before, in some European countries, people don’t usually celebrate any occasion related to nature. But today’s society, because Romanticism evolved, it greatly affects our perspective and approach towards nature.

When talking about nature in the Romantic Era, Rousseau is an important figure. He is the man who loves to be associated with nature. He would usually walk and explore nature related sites, climb mountains, and just simply communicate with nature. Rousseau is man of sensitivity, mood and even paranoia. In his time, he explored the agonies of love and the sentimental aspect of it. Love is the most popular feeling celebrated in the Romantic Era. This is known before as a relationship between two individuals and up to now; we use this as a common definition of Love.

As we all know, when we encounter Romanticism, it reflects European society. Before, Europe is surrounded by tragic happenings, emotions not being expressed freely, and places where usually killings would take place. But now, it is safer, less hazardous, and even very much beautiful to explore. Mountains and forest or deep woods are no longer places to be afraid of. Instead these are places that are awesome to commune with nature and to be enjoyed and pondered on. Storms on the ocean are now being used as one of the most interesting subject on paintings, musical tones, poems, and writings.

Before, things such as ocean storms, lightning, deep woods or mountain views are often being feared. No one would dare to draw closer to these things in fear of losing their lives. Another reason is the supernatural beliefs of people that these things were left unexplored.

In the Romantic Era, romantics did not just arouse the sensitivity of emotions, but also it aroused the sensitivity to nature. People have come to realize that communicating with nature could improve one’s lifestyle and belief. Nowadays, people would explore nature and its wilderness, and they usually feel the overwhelming calmness and relaxation that it provides. It has proven that the shift in attitude towards nature is powerful and really can offer long-lasting serenity and positive perception within self.

Another important figure during the romantic era is William Wordsworth. Romantic Era in poetry is centered with man’s relationship with nature and the fascination of man with Mother Earth. For Wordsworth, the definition of Romanticism is the passionate relationship towards nature and its wonder and wilderness. In his time, the word “pantheism” was stated.

Because Wordsworth made to reflect his naturalistic attitude in his works, modern Pantheists described it now that God is called life of all, nature, earth and the universe. Pantheists have deep admiration and respect of all living things around us, even the forces outside the earth or in the universe. But Wordsworth did not focus mainly on these things. What he focused on is the appreciation and love for beauty and exquisiteness of Mother Earth and nature.

Wordsworth, just like Rousseau, would often go for walks, exploring the beauty of life around us. He would also climb mountains and the most common is his paying attention to the things related to nature that an ordinary individual would often miss in his everyday life. What he often witnessed when he is outdoors, was the overall feeling of calmness and serenity in times of agony and loneliness. We could tell that the love, peace and comfort that Wordsworth is getting from nature is actually the feeling we get every time we call for God.

In the Romantic Era, we could probably come across an identical observation, because during this time Industrialization is also emerging and became one of the most attended things by people. Probably, just like Wordsworth, people would also love to go out of the city and search for peace and quietness in one place; just like what Mother Nature provides. These things were what poetry is during these times and even up to now. People tend to find a place where they can relax and be away from all the hard works, materialism, and aristocracies. A place where they can celebrate life and enjoy living as a free individual.

In Wordsworth time, nature as described to provide these things would not probably be accepted; for a reason that during these times Church controls almost everyone and everything. Maybe people have tried but it was not socially accepted and anyone who must have caught doing this was branded as deviating from what society’s norm is dictating.

Rousseau and Wordsworth, as well as some other Romantic poets and figures, have only one inspiration; Mother Nature and all the living things surrounding us. The paintings, poems, pictures and writings done during these times will probably make us realize how important it is to be away, even for sometime in the materialistic world. These things will also be our heaven in seeking comfort, peace and calmness within ourselves. Jut like poets and figures in the Romantic Era, we will perceive nature as the only thing that will give us no worries no matter what we lose, no matter what the circumstance is. It is the only thing that others cannot get from us, because it will just stay within us; in our hearts and in our minds.

References:

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/romanticism.html

http://www.customessaymeister.com/customessays/Poetry/3389.htm

 

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NATURE and How It Affects the Human Views

The written works of E.B. White and Loren Eiseley primary show the importance of literary implications upon the truth that connects nature with human behaviors. From their writings, It could be noted that the views of the authors upon the relation of natural wealth with the wealth of human individuals which they primary have in themselves.  To be able to explain this idea further, an examination on the stories of the said authors shall be explained in this paper.

However, to continue with the observation of the written works, it is important to carry these following questions in mind during the discussion: How does the description of nature on the part of each author reflect the abilities of humans to change and retain their characteristics at the same time? How does the explanation of Natural adjustments able to picture the actual adjustments that humans deal with themselves everyday? How well did the authors discuss the ways by which nature itself becomes a metaphor to the human ways?

Once More to the Lake by E.B. White

The narrative description adapted by White in this particular story has much related the idea she was portraying to the trip that their family made to the pond when they went for a vacation. From the narration, it could be observed that she had a detailed description of every creature that she found to have inherited the areas that they were passing by. The life-based descriptions of the author upon the different living things that she saw along their journey showed so much connection with the human behavior towards the different situations that they are faced with everyday.

The ways by which the animals tried to adapt to the changing climate as well as the changing situations that they needed to face in the environments that they exist with noted the fact the plants as well as the small animals picture the actualization if the fact that humans too are able to adjust with all the challenges that th they face in life everyday, that whatever the situations may post to them, they are trying their best to survive the pressures to the best possible way that they could.

The Brown Wasps by Loren Eiseley

In this particular writing, the small insects such as the mice were attested by the author as primary metaphors of the human behavior. This particular behavior relates the human creation towards the fact that they are able to make possible adjustments in their lifestyle depending on the environment that they are living in. It is undeniable that the ways by which the mice try to search for the best possibilities in the area that they are currently living in describes the exact process utilized by humans to adjust to the lives that they are supposed to face as individuals depending on the changes in their own society.

Conclusion

As a summary of the entire discussion presented herein, it is undeniable that both authors show the fact that the human behavior is indeed related to the fact that they are opportunists, like that of the small insects and small plants that are transferred from one place to another because of the wind or because of the demands of the climate, humans are also forced to change their lifestyle based on the environment that they are living in. This particular characteristic of humans makes it easier to survive life as they are able to portray in life right now.

Reference:

E.B. White Once More to the Lake (1941). http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Essays/OnceLake.html. (October 26, 2007).

The Brown Wasps by Loren Eiseley. (1992). http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/97173.html. (October 26, 2007).

 

 

 

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Nature-Versus-Nurture Discussion

Annie Murphy Paul’s article `Kid stuff: Do parents really matter?` outlines the findings of a highly controversial study on the role of nature and nurture in children’s education. The article states that a group of researchers from George Washington University and the Institute of Psychiatry in London have found that the role of parents is in fact much smaller than originally thought. The destiny of a child depends on the genetic makeup that in turn evokes responses from the environment.

Parental influences can have little effect on the child’s temperament. The type of temperament (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic, or their combination) is inborn and does not allow of serious later influences. Parents can shape the child’s character, instilling certain cultural values and norms, but they can hardly be expected to a serious influence on the temperament.

Related essay: Nature or Nurture: The Case of the Boy Who Became a Girl Answers

Overall, the study covered in Annie Murphy Paul’s article (1998) attributes more importance to the so-called “evocative gene-environment correlations”. She states that these correlations include responses from the environment to a certain genetic composition. This means that a person is in a way “asking” for destiny, using the pre-determined factors to trigger an environmental reaction. Parents under such a perspective only have influence inasmuch they are prompting this reaction, and in the degree their responses can define a child’s development.

In this respect, it would be interesting to consider parental influences on adopted children. In such families, the genetic makeup of parents and kids is completely unrelated, and the effect of genetics could be even greater. The role of parents in any case can consist in mitigating the negative manifestations of the child’s genetic heritage. The more parents can learn about the child’s genetics, the better they can be prepared to develop the child in the right way.
Reference

Paul, A.M. (1998, February). Kid stuff: Do parents really matter? Psychology Today 31(1), pp. 46-51.

 

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Nature of personality paper

Human personality is a complex construct that includes a number of influences, which are, however, often opposed in classical psychology: genetic versus environmental factors; free will vs. determinism and conscious versus unconscious behavior. The present paper is intended to analyze this spectrum through the prism of various psychological theories.

Freudian, or psychoanalytic approach, alleges that human behavior depends upon the instincts, manifested in Homo sapiens in more ‘socialized’ form. Freud (Carver and Scheier, 1995) divides personality into three parts: the Id, or the subconscious, or the reflection of human instincts and most egoistic and childish desires, the Alter Ego, or human consciousness (the self), which provides mental determination of behavior, and Super Ego, or conscience, which acts as an internal censor and places restrictions on both the Id and the Alter Ego.

The scholar suggests that human behavior is mostly determined by the Id, as it comprises the greatest part of personality, but the Alter Ego and the Super Ego develop throughout developmental course under the influence of social environment. Thus, psychoanalytic approach prioritizes environmental factors over genetic, unconscious behavior over conscious and determinism over free will (Cook, 1984).

Neo-Freudians maintain most psychoanalytic concepts, but develop a unique framework of human Ego as not merely a mediator between the Id and the Super Ego, but  rather as a separate force, less dependent upon the other two constituents and therefore more autonomous in personality formation. For instance, Erik Erikson held that “the Ego’s main job was to establish and maintain a sense of identity.

A person with a strong sense of identity is one who knows where he is in life, has accepted this position and has workable goals for change and growth. He has a sense of uniqueness while also having a sense of belonging and wholeness” (Cook, 1984, p. 258).

Also Neo-Freudian or psychodynamic approach is viewed as a single doctrine, its proponents vary greatly in their views on the spectrum of human personality: for instance, earlier Neo-Freudians like Carl Jung stated the power of unconscious behavior over conscious and of determinism over free will, whereas the next generation of psychologists, who identified their views as ‘Neo-Freudian’ (like Erikson and Horney) alleged that human behavior is mostly conscious and not necessarily determined by physiological or instinctual drives. All Neo-Freudians, however, consent to the notion that environmental influences are stronger than genetic (Cook, 1984; Funder, 1996).

Biological perspective focuses on the dominance of genetic and physiological factors and stresses the influence of certain mode of neural activity on human personality (temperament). This approach highlights genetic factors as opposed to environmental, biological and genetic determinism as opposed to free will and unconscious behavior (for instance, the work of muscles, peculiarities of digestive process as they relate to human diurnal activity in both physical and social contexts) as opposed to conscious.

Trait theorists view human personality as a set of traits, which might be interdependent or independent, in addition, certain traits might predominate over others (central traits and cardinal trait, in Allport’s interpretation) (Cook, 1984). Trait theorists provide only a brief framework of personality development, as most of them argue that individuals tend to focus on current settings (functional autonomy of motives) and therefore each developmental course is unique. Thus, the scholars view free will and social environment as behavior-shapers and insist that human actions are rather conscious than unconscious (Funder, 1996).

Humanistic approach, which derived from Roger’s view on personality, which focuses on “healthy development in terms of how the individual perceived their own being” (Funder, 1996, p. 370). In addition, “a healthy individual will tend to see congruence between their sense of who they are (self) and who they feel they should be (ideal self)” (ibid). Human development is therefore a path to the ideal self, and the person by themselves decides on the mode of their progress, so this approach rejects determinism and genetic influences. Due to the fact that the personality is formed as a result of self-perception and self-analysis, this approach priorities conscious behavior (Cook, 1994).

Behaviorists study human personality and development as a progress of behavior and social competence, as they (as phenomenologists) generally suggest that the matrix of human actions is the only true reality (rather than mood or personality traits). The central points of behaviorism are the notions of classical conditioning (stimulus-behavioral reaction), operant conditioning (action-reinforcement-response) and social learning (behavior depends on human expectancies concerning the possible reward).

Thus, most behaviorists believe in determinism, the dominance of environmental factors over social (Carver and Scheier, 1995) . Certain behaviors (e.g. reflex-based), are, in their opinion, unconscious, whereas other behavioral manifestations are the result of human expectations and perceived roles (Founder, 1996).

Cognitive paradigm ‘is focused on the individual’s thoughts as the determinate of his or her emotions and behaviors and therefore personality” (Founder, 1996, p. 307). Cognitive theorists view human development as gradual evolution of human ability to process and analyze the informed received through perception after the accumulation of experience.

For instance, Kelly’s Fundamental Postulate can be formulated in the following way: ”a person’s process are psychologically channelized by the way in which he anticipates events” (ibid, p. 308). Hence, this approach doesn’t accept determinism, views human behavior as conscious in practically all aspects and manifestations. Neither genetic nor environmental influences are positioned as prominent personality-shapers, as human perception and thinking (internal psychological factors) are more important. Nevertheless, environment is more likely to have power over personality formation, they believe.

As for me, I don’t think that the spectrum of these dichotomies should be necessarily studied as three pairs of opposing factors. Due to the fact that scientific progress has allowed partially de-scripting the DNA, it has appeared that genetic factors determine human neural activity and might shape such traits as emotiveness or assertiveness.

Furthermore, conscious behavior should not be contrasted to unconscious, as the line that divides both behaviors is not actually clear; human acts might be influenced by the combination of conscious decisions as well as unconscious and barely controllable drives. In addition, certain degree of determinism is always present in human behavior and personal development (as we all are mortal creatures, so we plan our future keeping in mind this fact), whereas free will allows concentrating on current issues. Thus, all these factors should be viewed as a complex, or holistically.

Reference list

Carver, C. and Scheier, S. (1995). Perspectives on Personality, 3rd edition. Massachussets, Allyn and Bacon.

Cook, M. (1984). Levels of personality. London, Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Funder, D. (1996). The Personality Puzzle. New York, W.W. Norton.

 

 

 

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My family’s relationship to nature and the environment

The history of my family demonstrates the drastic change in the relationship with environment that has occurred over the past few generations. Seeing the change in attitudes and lifestyles between my grandparents, parents, and my own generation is very educational, Examining the changing relationship with environment across this timeframe, one can make conclusions about the relative importance of natural surroundings in the life of people as changing over time. My family history naturally reflects the situation in Thailand, as I come from this nation, but I believe that it to a great degree parallels the events in other parts of the globe.

My grandparents lived in a rural area in Thailand and made their living by farming. This is still a common situation in Thailand where 65% of the land is engaged in agriculture (Assumption University, n.d.). Their occupation made them strongly aware of their natural environment as they depended upon it for their livelihood. However, this relationship was not one of adoration or concern – land, water, plants were to them something matter-of-fact, something they perceived as their daily routine.

Besides, their attitude was one of consumption. They saw the resources of the land as something they were entitled to merely because of being born in this land, since soil, skies and water were simply vehicles for growing food, not much else. There was little concern as to what will happen in the next generations, and little awareness of the need to implement new agricultural techniques in order to extend the land’s capability to generate harvests over generation. At that time, Thailand’s population was not so large, and it was at many times simpler to move to a new plot of land than to tend to the old one, trying to improve its productivity.

With all this said, I would like to note that my grandparents were successful as farmers and developed some new crops that allowed them to outstrip the rest of the farmers in terms of financial gain. In the next generation, the income received by my grandparents enabled my father to receive a college education and obtain a white-collar job. Thus, nature offered them this opportunity to improve their lifestyle and life standards. As a result, my father who grew up on a farm, found himself working in an office in Bangkok, only occasionally visiting his elderly parents in their place.

The same is true for my mother who also changed her rural motherland for an urban life. This made nature seem something of a holiday setting to them, rather than an everyday reality. In their office jobs, they did not need to care whether land preserved its fertility and whether the climate remained mild enough for the crops to grow. Although Bangkok and other cities in Thailand are made up of landscapes skillfully integrating trees, lawns and buildings to create a coherent image, this nature is very ‘cultured’ and very far removed from the roughness of the village landscapes. Thus, in my parents’ urban life, nature was very much a distant reality, something they saw on TV and enjoyed in our little Sunday outings.

However, they identified with Thai nature as associated with their place of birth and motherland. Given their rural background, they remembered toiling in the fields and gardens, trying to turn the gifts of nature into material benefits. Somewhere deep inside their souls, they looked upon this connection, although on a subconscious level.

One change that occurred in the relationship to nature in my parents’ generation was the rising awareness of nature as a global phenomenon. Thanks to books, periodicals, TV, and now Internet, their generation was able to realize that the boundaries of nature transgressed those of nations, and that nature was facing a threat from too much human interference.

Seeing pictures of nature all around the world, they began to see in color how different various places on earth were, and realize how unique their own natural surroundings were. This ‘global’ realization, I believe, happened more or less in the time my parents’ generation was active, as millions of people throughout the world realized that the rest of the world has become closer, and reality is such that we live in a small, interdependable world.

With the move to the US that happened when I was only 17, the connection with nature as some place in Thailand where my parents were born and grew up, has become even weaker. Here, we were surrounded by a rich and diverse natural setting, even if it seemed alien to us at first. However, the beauty of American nature took our hearts, and as a family we made quite a few ‘nature-focused’ outings, such as, for instance, a trip to the Grand Canyon or the Yellowstone park.

More important is, however, the revolution in thinking that occurred in my generation. With globalization trotting over the planet at a dramatically increased speed, environmental plight is no longer something distant and incomprehensible, but instead has become something that threatens us already in out lifetime. With evidence of the global climate change and warming happening on a large scale, no one can ignore the significance of what is happening.

Basing my judgment not only on my personal experience, but also on that of my colleagues and fellow students, I can claim that we are much more likely to make environmentally conscious choices. Personally, I agree with the words of James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, that environmental issues today have turned into “chronic problems,” that emerge and have a long-term nature” (Laverdiere, 2000).

The fact that today’s ecological issues such as greenhouse effect, ozone depletion and loss of biodiversity cannot be solved by the efforts of one nation or dealt with effectively on a local level. Their solution requires the coordination of effort on an international level, translating into significant changes in our mentality. My generation is much more aware of the existence of other nations, better informed of their struggle for a cleaner environment and has better opportunities to join with representatives of other countries in the struggle for a safer and cleaner environment.

Personally, I have participated in a few demonstrations focused on environmental issues and at one point attended the Ecological Club in my high school. I also know a lot of peers who take this action seriously. This is something my parents and grandparents would not think of doing since they had a totally different perception of their relationship to nature and environment.

Thus, over three generations, my family went through a revolution in our relationship to environmental cause. To my grandparents, land and nature was commodity, something they consumed in order to receive material benefits for themselves and their kids. My parents were to a great degree alienated from nature that remained to them very much a childhood memory that bound them to their birthplace; at the same time, their understanding of nature and environment was considerably broadened to include places far away from their motherland. Finally, in my present generation, nature became a source of concern, something that requires distinct political action to protect and save it for future generations.

References

Assumption University, Bangkok. (n.d.). Agriculture. Retrieved January 27, 2006, from http://sunsite.au.ac.th/thailand/agriculture/AgriRes.html

Laverdiere, M. (2000, January 27). “Forestry dean discusses hidden environmental problems”. Yale Daily News. Retrieved January 27, 2006

 

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Morality as Anti-Nature

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher known for his radical critics of the classical philosophical thought and religion. Nietzsche rejected social laws, morals and religion. Nietzsche’s views on religions and morals get the best realization in his later works. In Beyond Good and Evil he explores the ethical mechanisms, which regulate people behavior and their origins. He did not believe that nature was morally neutral. He distinguished two types of morality: herd morality and master morality. Herd morality he attributed to Christianity. Nietzsche criticized both – this type of morality and religion, based on the consciousness of slaves. He correlated the appearance of the terms good and bad to the terms of Roman Empire when everything connected with warriors and cruelty.

Such moral system gave week and suppressed a kind of compensation in their miserable situation and gave them mechanisms to control strong and successful members of the society.  Nietzsche states that generations of people live directed by the ethical judgments created by the generation of slaves. He believes that  using such moral principles we only distance ourselves from true liberation and fortify the continuousness of the slaves. The type of morality described above reflects “herd morality”, which dominates in the society for centuries.

Another type of morality, which is contrasted to herd morality, is called master morality. According to Nietzsche this morality is realistic and reflects the real destination of all human creatures. Master morality asserts the power of successful and strong individuals, who have the right to rule the world. Nietzsche denied the morality of the nature, calling it morally neutral. “There are no moral phenomena; there are only moral interpretations.

Thus, master morality speaks of “good” and “bad” rather than “Good and Evil” (Nietzsche, 87).  He saw master morality as the way to overcome limitations, created by the moral judgments of slave morality. Master morality for Nietzsche becomes the way to realize the potential to will-to-power. Denying religions values, Nietzsche did not recognize rich literary prophesy of world religious. He did not see any value in religious texts and sermons.

The Sermon of the Mount is an essence of all Christian teaching. It contains instructions of Jesus Christ to his Disciples. These instructions teach people compassion and patience. Speaking about afterlife, Jesus underlines that all needy will get everything they deserve after death. In his sermon, Jesus underlines the importance of seeking for the righteousness, he states: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Principles of non-violence and obedience to the will of God are close to the ideas expressed by the majority of world religions. Jesus Christ stresses on the unconditional universal love, which he defined as a main moral principle.

The Ten Commandments given to Moses on the Mount of Sinai contain the very principle ideas of Christian teaching. According to the Bible God gave these Ten Commandments to Moses in order to pass his will to all people. These Commandments became universal guidelines for all religious people. They express norms of moral behavior for all people. If we study them in greater detail we will see that these Commandments are universal and can be applied for all people regardless of their race and religion.  For many centuries the Ten Commandments have been the foundation for moral system of Western Civilization. It is difficult to doubt such universal truths, as:

Honour thy father and mother
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:2-17).

It is had to imagine a person, who would disagree these Commandments. The Ten Commandments are designed in order to regulate not only relations between God and humans. They also contain guidelines for person to person interactions and social behavior.

Night Journey or Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj of 24th Rajab 619 CE is a story from Qur’an, which describes the journey of the Prophet Mohammed to Jerusalem and his meeting with God.  This story describes Prophet’s journey through seven heavens and his conversation with God. On his way Mohammed meets a lot of characters from religious texts. After his conversation with God he gets the message that it is necessary to pray God five times a day.

Often people, who read this story understand it literary and see it only as a message about the necessity to pray. In reality the message of this story is much deeper as it speaks about such important themes as faith in God, individual responsibility, right faith, avoiding evil and sacredness of life. This passage from Qur’an raises the questions of human freedom and responsibility.  Mohammad passes not only the message about the necessity to pray God. He also speaks that each person should be responsible for his actions.

Nietzsche’s critique of religion has an aesthetic nature. He also denies morals.  For Nietzsche religion is only an ugly form, weak people use as compensation for their weakness.  The cult of weak and miserable was established for centuries and it included the denial of everything beautiful, healthy, strong and powerful, including human body. Nietzsche states that “Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far” (Nietzsche, 119). For him religion along with morality serves only for the justification for weak and powerless, who have no other means to express their right for living. Calling for revolt and setting up the morality of master Nietzsche deprives week of their right to live and realize themselves.

“God is dead” is a phrase from his writing which reflects his radical attitude to religion and ethics. Nietzsche stated that religion, philosophy and what is most important – humanity – were killed by the traditional values of society. The way of life and social organization have lead to the destruction and depreciation of moral values and basic human qualities. As he states: “Morality, as it has so far been under stood, it has in the end been formulated once more by Schopenhauer, as “negation of the will to life” is the very instinct of decadence, which makes an imperative of itself. It says: “Perish!” It is a condemnation pronounced by the condemned” (Nietzsche, 154).

Nietzsche wanted to create a generation on new human beings – supermen or Overman – free from the false morality.  “Our moral judgments and evaluations…are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us” – he states to prove the relativity of the moral norms and principles. Nietzsche believed that the society’s traditional way of thinking and morals were life-denying and destructive. Traditional morals gave a rice to “slave morality” which suppresses all impulses to creatively and free will of the humans and makes them to adopt a “herd mentality”. It makes people believe that thing which is good for the majority is good for everyone. That is the reason people put themselves into the strict limitations and boundaries of the predefined good and evil.

“Slave morality encourages conformity; national, racial, gender, and religious bigotry; and unthinking patriotism” (Soccio, 114). The world was defined by Nietzsche to be dead. He put all the burden of responsibility for this on the traditional Christian morals accepted by the vast majority of the western world. According to Nietzsche, traditional moral values, such as self-sacrifices, humanity, love, compassion have killed everything natural. The only way out Nietzsche saw in crossing the line, getting out of the moral limitations and restrictions of good and evil and following only “the will to power”. That would place the humans on the other, higher plane of existence.

Nietzsche is an influential philosopher, famous for his critics of Christian morality. His critics of all religious doctrines is a brave attempt to overcome religious dogmatism and domination. Despite his teachings contain a lot of innovative ideas and strong arguments I think that rejecting Christian morals and religious moral in general he rejects not only bad things, but also rich prophesy created through the centuries. Nietzsche regards religion as a source of suppression of human will. He counts on conscious individuals, who are directed by inner moral, which regulates all their thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, modern society consists of different people, who are not always driven by higher moral standards. In this case religion, social norms and regulations become those defensive mechanisms, which help to avoid bad consequences.  Rejecting their norms and regulations can bring harm to the society and human race in general.

Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich On the Genealogy of Morals. trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale, in On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. New York: Random House, 1967.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Beyond Good and Evil. trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, 1966.

Nietzsche, Friedrich, Thus Spake Zarathustra, tr. Thomas Common, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1999.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Beyond Good and Evil:  Prelude to a philosophy of the future, tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Harmondsworth, Middlesex:  Penguin Books, 1973.

Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer, Penguin Classics, 1990.

Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy,
Belmont, CA : Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004.

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From Nature and Culture in the Iliad: the Tragedy of Hector Bibliography

From Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector. Copyright 1975 by The University of Chicago. The University of Chicago Press. In his Chicago University Press article Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector, James M. Redfield describes how “A Homeric community consists, in effect, of those who are ready to die for one another”, and the heroic role that the warriors from such a “tight-knit community” must achieve through action. He continues to mention how society contributes to the encouragement of this certain social task and the desire for the status of heroism.

Among these nations and warriors, there is “a double meaning of combat: Defensive yet aggressive and altruistic yet egotistic”. The lengths these men go to in order to attain what they seek is imperative to the negative effects it also has. The heroes of these communities are praised by society and they are portrayed as being god-like, but “All of this is only a social illusion; the hero may appear god-like but he is only mortal. ”Their people put them onto a pedestal, and that praise alone gives them privileges over the average citizen.

Knowledge of these privileges puts pressure on someone who is defending their nation. Their job is to protect their people, however; if a nation isn’t at war then the warriors wouldn’t be able to prove themselves. So they are then obligated to seek out another nation and use force against that land, which can have a detrimental outcome. This creates a “paradox”. “To die for something, he says, is better than to die for nothing – and that is, after all, the alternative. ” These warriors legitimize themselves by showing off the virtues that are of necessity on and off the battlefield.

On the battlefield they, without hesitation, instinctively act in the way needed to survive. Yet, simultaneously, they’re capable of analyzing the situation and absorb the fact that, ultimately, the cost of their duty is indeed with their own lives. When on the battlefield, the warrior is able to see past society’s “solid and enduring” culture for what is truly is. In the soldiers’ perspective, the things valued in culture among society are “secondary”. “For the warrior, culture appears as a translucent screen against the terror of nature. ” Living a meaningless life isn’t going to give onor, privileges, or most importantly remembrance. Regardless, if their army started the war or not, they will be remembered by their people. To these men, it is more honorable to go down fighting rather than to stand for nothing. These are the very things that cause the people to esteem the warriors and what separates society from the men engaged in war. These men become heroes because of their mere mortality and they “can choose to die well”. It is perceived by me, that Redfield recognizes this and holds a great level of respect for the men of valor during that age.

I can acknowledge how great these men were and what they did for their people. I also realize how we can closely relate them to the soldiers in our lives that come home from stints at war, and how being on the battlefield changes their mentality towards certain things. In my opinion, there was a miniscule yet substantial message hidden here that we can all learn from. In today’s society, we do not hold enough respect for the men and women who put in so much dedication to protecting their country’s people and how life-threateningly dangerous it is.