Why are we not dealing with the real question; why this has happened in the first place?

“This is not a natural disaster. This was intentionally made by the Western powers, who knew that if you start using force, then people will run away.” – Sabah Al-Mukhtar

The majority of mainstream Western media, and thus, the focus of conversation within politics has either been directed towards to cost of the refugee crisis, whether our infrastructure supports the large numbers of refugees seeking safety, or somewhat sadly, questioning the legitimacy of their status. Personally, it has been painfully frustrating not to be debating why this refugee crisis has happened in the first place. However, in doing so, it would require Europe, and especially countries such as Britain and France, to address their foreign policy and shoulder a proportion (America also needs to take responsibility) of the blame of the crisis we are confronting.

Despite the subject attracting significant media coverage in recent weeks, the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has been a relatively ignored issue for the past decade or two. Instead, we have focused on bringing ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’ through war to the region. The blowback of this has been the ISIS uprising in Iraq and Syria, the lack of governance and law in Afghanistan, and Libya essentially becoming a non-state and ultimately, the displacement of millions of men, women and children, as they are forced to leave their homes and head towards Western countries to seek safety. We need to realise that America and Europe does not know best what the world needs and how countries should be organised and ran, and regime changes, as the evidence shows, are not done for the interests of the country in hand, more for the benefit of the Western superpowers.

Ten days ago (5/9/2015), George Osbourne was quoted saying that we need to address the root causes of the refugee crisis by overthrowing the ‘evil Assad regime’, and plans need to be brought forward to extend the RAF strikes in the region. I find such a stance by the British government extremely frustrating considering the result of the bombing campaign in neighbouring Middle Eastern countries brought about the current humanitarian crisis in the first place, so surely the solution to said crisis is not extending the military interventions?

If a pipe bursts, you would not keep collecting the water in buckets hoping the pipe would somehow fix itself. No, you would investigate the source of the problem, the broken pipe, and tailor the solution around fixing it. Currently, the topic of conversation regarding the humanitarian crisis is too centred on consequences of the politics of the Middle East, and within this I include Western foreign policy, rather than addressing the political situation itself. If we as humans are ever going to create a solution, we need to first start talking about causes of this crisis. But that doesn’t mean defining the causes to fit our bloodlust agendas.

Israel and Palestine: Why are they at war?

Sorry about the lack of posts, with a new born child, and full time work, free time is at a premium. Recently, the news seems filled with the breakdown of relations between countries: Russia; South Sudan; South Korea. This post, however, is going to focus on how Israel and Palestine got into the situation that they are. I found a lovely video on You Tube that explains it VIA a cartoon.

Personally, I don’t think there can ever be enough coverage on this horrible situation. I will try and expand the written part of this post over the next few days. I should also add, this is one side of events that is happening, should you question any of it, please use the comment box below.

Thank you, Dan.

Income Inequality in Britain.

I found this lovely, short video on You Tube. It follows the income of a nurse and a business director, and uses their earnings to present an argument as to why some people face poverty within one of the most unequal countries in Europe, the United Kingdom.

At the end of the video, it shows how much the 99% (the poorer 99% of the population) income would increase, should it adopt the equalities of our European neighbours of Netherlands and Denmark.

Deviance – What does it mean?

Deviance is used to describe an act that in some way contravenes or challenges one or more socially-accepted norms, values and behaviour. That means deviant behaviour could be uncommonly good or brave behaviour, as well as unacceptable behaviour, such as theft or vandalism. Such criminal acts of deviance can result in sanctions, which may be minor and / or informal (disapproval – talking loudly in a library, or verbal reprimand – talking in the cinema) or more serious (e.g. exclusion from a group, fines or imprisonment). Acts of deviance can be deliberate or accidental, such as a non-Christian not realising that men should remove their hat when inside a church.

Why is it important?

Deviance is an example of a social construct, in that deviant acts always have to place in context. Whose norms are being broken? Who says that the act is deviant, and what power do they have to make that judgement? The concept is also closely linked to that of socialisation, in that we are all socialised into patterns of norms and values.

Debates surrounding Deviance.

  • How we are socialised into a set of norms and values.
  • The differential power of individuals or groups to define what counts as deviant and to apply sanctions.
  • The relative nature of deviance – what is deviant to you, my not be with other individuals.
  • The way in which some deviant acts may be turned into moral panic by the media.
    • Teenage bad behaviour is a good example.
    • Immigration crisis is also a good example.

moral panic

  • Deviance, gender and ethnicity – acts that would be considered acceptable if committed by a female may be seen as deviant if carried out by a male.
    • Dress codes are good examples here e.g. if a male wore a dress in public.
  • Deviance and age – some behaviours considered normal by young people may be thought deviant by older generations.

Key Theories that Address Deviance and Crime.

Subculture Theory A broad theory that includes many aspects. Most of subcultural studies focus on working-class male gang activity, however, it can look at middle-class or female gangs ECT. It argues that antisocial crimes using the key idea of the ‘gang’ or ‘subculture’.

Environmental TheorySometimes called urban criminology, looks at the relationship between patterns of crime and where people live, work and spend their leisure. It moves beyond the subcultural focus on gangs to a wider focus on whole urban areas.

Social Action Theory Social action theorist argue that the vast majority of the population have broken the law and could be seen as criminal. Furthermore, Social Action theorists challenge official statistics on crime and deviant behaviour by arguing that they are no more than social constructs. And finally, Social Action theorists, rather than looking at why people break the law, they are more concerned with how groups, particularly the poor, working class, minority ethnics and men, become labelled as criminal by those with more power in society.

Traditional Marxist Although Karl Marx himself wrote very little on crime or deviant behaviour, it has, however, been developed by other Marxists. Traditional Marxists argue that capitalism is itself a crime and that capitalism causes crime. The see capitalism as a crime because it is an economic system based on the exploitation of the many (Proletariat), by the few (Bourgeoisie).

Right Realism
– Argue that it is futile to try to eliminate crime by focusing on improving social conditions. Furthermore, left-wing sociologists blaming crime on such things as poverty, as many old people are poor and do not turn to crime. Right Realists tend to focus instead on community breakdown, the underclass and family breakdown, and inappropriate policing styles.

PostmodernityArgue that there is no point trying to explain crime using grand narratives such as functionalism, Marxism, and feminism. All you can do is treat criminal or deviant behaviour as a one off event and describe it in detail.

Functionalist Theory Durkheim (1938) argued that crime and deviance has four key characterises: inevitable, universal, relative, and functional. Furthermore, when someone is punished for a crime, it reinforces norms and values, reminding people of the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Some deviant behaviour is necessary to stop society stagnating.

  • Merton (1949) furthers this, by suggesting that many types of crime exist because society shares the same American dream – to be rich, successful and fulfilled – but not everyone can achieve these things lawfully. A strain exists between the goals and ambitions of people and their ability to achieve them. This is sometimes called strain theory.

Key Terms used in the Blog.

Bourgeoisie: In a narrow sense, the term use by Marxists to refer to the owners of property in capitalist society. More loosely, it has been used to describe the middle and upper classes who are both presumed to support the capitalist system.

Capitalism:
A form of economic organisation in which the means of production are privately owned and controlled.

Labelling: The process by which agents of social control such as the police and courts attach negative stereotypes to less powerful groups.

Left -Wing: A political view that tends to support the rights of the working class and is often critical of capitalism.

Moral Panic: Public concern about issues such as drug abuse, teenage violence or football hooliganism are exaggerated or ‘amplified’ by the media out of all proportion to their real threat to social order. Public reaction often requires ‘folk devils’ to be identified as scapegoats.

Proletariat: The Marxist term for the working classes: the wage earners and property-less in capitalism societies.

Right-Wing: A political view that tend to support elites in society and is supportive of capitalism

Social Construct: Something that is defined by society and that changes according to time and place.

Socialisation: The process by which individuals learn the beliefs, values and behaviour that are accepted in and approved by the society in which they are placed.

Subculture: A group within a society whose members share common values and have similar behaviour patterns.

Economic inequalities – A Bugs Life.

For those who have not seen the film. Pixar’s ‘A Bugs Life’ follows the life of an ant called Flik, who leads his colony to up rise against their suppressions, the grass hoppers.

This clip shows the dominate grass hopper, Hopper, berating one of his minions for suggesting that they give in to the demands of one ant. Hopper explains that, although it was just one ant standing up to them, and the effect was minimal, if left unchecked, it’ll motivate the other ants to join forces and stand up against them…and with that goes the grass hoppers way of life, as the entire system where the ants work for the grass hoppers falls.

This video outs likes several Marxist theories and concepts.

1. The grasshoppers rely on the surplus of the ants labour to maintain their way of life.

  • Marx theory of exploitation.

2. ‘Those puny ants out numbers us 100-1 and if they realise this, there goes our way of life.’

  • Class consciousness. – If the ants were to recognise their class interests, they would be likely to organise and over the exploitative grasshoppers.

3. ‘It’s not about food, it’s about keeping those ants in line.’

  • Ideological control – How the grasshoppers keep the ants from realising their rights to the food they have produced. This is done in the film by the grasshoppers claiming they need the food to help protect the ants from other predators that might take advantage of the ants.

references

http://www.thesociologicalcinema.com/1/post/2012/12/class-consciousness-and-exploitation-in-a-bugs-life.html#.UxuOSYZFDIU

The Family – The Key Concepts

What does it mean?

The family is the smallest social unit in society. The families are divided into several different types. These are as followed:

  • The Nuclear Family. Usually regarded as parents and dependent children.
  • The Extended Family. The three generations, parents, and children, plus aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • Lone-parent Family. A parent who is raising a child or children alone.
  • Cohabiting Couple. Is an arrangement where two people who are not married, live together in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.
  • Empty-nest Family. The stage in a family’s cycle when the children have grown up and left home to begin their own adult lives.
  • Civil Partnership Family. Same sex family who have adopted their own child.
  • Family of Origin. The family that a person has grown up in – your parents and siblings. It may also include a grandparent, other relative, or divorced parents who lived with you during part of your childhood. These people strongly influence who we become.
  • Beanpole Family / Verticalised Family. Historically, families have usually had more children than their parents. In recent years however, especially in Western countries, the number of children per generation has steadily decreased, and the life-span has increased. This has led to the shape of the family tree, which some researchers have likened to a beanpole – tall and thin, with few people in each family.

Why is it important?

The way families are constructed, and the roles people play within them, have implications for the way society operates. The different family structures found in a society underpin much social policy. The family is where primary socialisation takes place – where children learn the language, norms and values of their society. A person’s family of origin affects their life chances, and their primary socialisation influences attitudes and beliefs in later life.

Functionalists such as Murdock 1940s and Parsons 1960s have a positive view and see the family as beneficial to individuals and society as a whole. They believe that the family is essential for all societies and that some form of family can be seen in all societies. Murdock saw the family as providing four basic functions that benefited the individual and society; these are:

  • Education (Socialisation)
    • Individual
      • Teaches norms and values such as language, and accepted behaviours.
    • Society
      • Provides a consensus of norms and values which maintains harmony in society.
  • Economic (Financial support)
    • Individual

      • Shares financial burden.
    • Society
      • Unit of consumption.
  • Reproduction (Producing the next generation)
    • Individual
      • Maternal needs.
      • The parents will invest time and money into their own children.
      • Reflected glory
    • Society
      • Provides the next generation.
  • Sexual (Sexual Needs)
    • Individual
      • Safe sex. Prevents STI’s
    • Society
      • Provides a stable sexual relationship for adults.
      • The state does not have to pick up the health costs of STI’s

Issues and Debates surrounding this Topic.

  • How much a particular family structure ‘fits’ a particular type of society.
  • Changing roles within the family, especially conjugal roles.
  • The implications of growth in lone parenthood, cohabitation, divorce, and increased life expectancy.
  • Older mothers and smaller family sizes.
  • The growing proportion of ‘working mothers’, and issues around benefits, childcare and the role of fathers.
  • Whether growing cohabitation, divorce, remarriage, and one-person households mean the family is in decline.
  • The ‘demonisation’ of certain types of families by politicians and the mass media (eg. Lone-parent families; families where the main breadwinner is unemployed)
  • The relationship between the family and other social institutions (eg. Education).

REFERENCES

Class notes taken from Nina Henry.

Sociology Review. Volume 23.

How is Development Measured – Positives and Negatives of the Human Development Index (HDI)

Economic growth may not be sustainable when it results in negative impacts on the environment of has a destructive effect on society by encouraging levels of inequality. Other measures have been developed that take into account a wider range of factors so as to assess the levels of development within a countries and regions more accurately.

Social measures of development, unlike the strictly economic measures, reveals information about general living standards in each country.

Human Development Index (HDI)

  • Produced by the United Nations Development Programme. The HDI consists of three aspects of development:
    • Levels of wealth within the country as measures by GDP per capita and adjusted in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
      • I.e., taking into account what a person is actually able to buy with a given income.
    • Education – measured by the percentage of the population in education at a particular age (Primary, secondary and tertiary) and literacy levels (educational attainment).
    • Health – life expectancy at birth.

  • The HDI is expressed as a value between 0 and 1. The closer to 1 the score is, the higher level of human development.

Negatives

  • Data from some developing countries may not be very reliable and may be difficult to confirm.
  • The measures chosen may seem very arbitrary to some because there are other way of measuring relative qualities in health and education.
  • Similar criticism of GDP, that it does not measure unequal distribution within the country.
  • No indication in the education index about access to education for all groups in society
    • I.e. continuation of wealthy students through education can hide the fact that it I difficult for children of poorer families to enter primary education.

Positives

  • There is widespread use of HDI to compare development levels and it does reveal clear global patterns.
  • Does not solely concentrate on economic development, and takes into consideration that there are other, more social, ways to measure human development.
  • Increase in education and health shows an improvement in a countries infrastructure.

Like my post on GDP, there will be numerous amounts of positives and negatives. Should you think I have missed out some out, then please message me. Otherwise, I’ll update as and when. I hope this helps.