Social death in a sophisticated way

The creators of the Internet, which was created as a project financed by the United States government agency and mobile telephony, did not expect that the fruit of their ideas will be the medium that will revolutionize the way of communication and the flow of information. What is more, they did not also realize that is wbloggg1ill be used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, regardless of cultural circles. One of the basic features of the Internet is its globality and mass, and its main feature is the community that uses and develops the network. Anonymity and thus a sense of security and impunity guarantees them the opportunity to many free contacts with others through the Internet.

While the first half of the nineties, mobile telephony and the Internet developed in parallel and independently, now the technologies are inextricably linked. The first mobile phone is considered to be a  model developed by Motorola DynaTAC. The prototype was created in 1973s. The development of mobile telephony has had a huge impact on the globalization process. Here comes the question whether 1973s marks the beginning of the disappearance of the real interaction between people? Furthermore, maybe this is another stage in the development of globalism? The answer to these questions is: definitely yes!

Online communication is often easier form of contact with people than talking face to face. These conclusions were reached by the staff Ochanomizu University, who conducted the study among Japanese students. In addition, majority of direct communication is inhibited by shyness and the fear of rejection. A person who have more friends on-line and at the same time maintains less direct relationships – as a consequence they are still increasingly developing their company network. Sherry Turkle, a known sociologist in the book titled Life on the Screen: identify in the Age of Internet argued that the development of the Internet may lead to social Internet autism. She also talks about this issue on the TEDBlogg1 platform – Connected but alone?

Series of photographs titled The Death of Conversation reveal the true picture of the society trapped in the network. Ask yourself if you do not kill yourself every second when you unlock the screen of your smartphone again. Instead of living among people, we surround ourselves with inventions and do not even notice how they are taking control of us. The development of the information society seems to be unstoppable and for some reasons – as the example of the European Union’s policy, so desirable. The basic question is, when developing as the information society don’t we kill in the bud what is the most beautiful – never unspoken words?

So who is the winner in today‘s mobile world? Powerful communication companies and their users, who thanks to technology live easier? More accurate question would be: ‘Who is the victim? You or I? In fact – We, who lose the opportunity to talk over coffee and actually we may never meet…

By: Ewelina Gargala

References: 

Dunn, C., 2014. Is technology helping families communicate or holding them back? The Guardian, [online] 6 May. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/06/technology-helping-families-communicate-or-holding-back [Accessed 31 October 2014].

MacKinnon, R., 2012. We’re losing control of our digital privacy. CNN, [online] 29 January. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/26/opinion/mackinnon-sopa-government-surveillance/ [Accessed 31 October 2014].

Turkle S., 1995. Life on the Screen: Identify at the Age of the Internet. Transparency, [online]. Available at: http://www.transparencynow.com/turkle.htm [Accessed 31 October 2014].

Turkle, S., 2012. Connected, but alone? TED, [online] Februray. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en [Accessed 31 October 2014].

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Poor labour market opportunities and migrant crime.

Immigration is frequently mentioned as one of the most important issues facing politicians in advanced economies. Commonly expressed as immigrants harm the labour market prospects of natives. This concern has received substantial, and sometimes controversial, attention in the academic labour economics literature. However, it also reflects a wider concern over the impact of large immigration flows on other aspects of society.
For example, a large cross-countries opinion poll conducted in several developed countries discovered that natives thought that immigrants increased crime took their jobs while, there is no simple link between immigration and crime. Nevertheless, immigrant groups that face poor labour market opportunities are more likely to commit property crime, as also disadvantaged native groups do (Bell, B. et al. 2013). Therefore, the policy makers should focus on reducing crime by improving the functioning of labour markets and the condition of workers skills, rather than on crime and immigration percentages (Jeffrey Harrod and Robert O’Brien 2002)
One important determinant of the relative returns to legal and illegal activities for migrants relates to their legal status. Illegal immigrants have much more limited opportunity to obtain legal employment and are rarely entitled to public assistance if they are unemployed (Kees Van der Pijl 2009). While this suggests that criminal tendencies among illegal immigrants might higher, it is difficult to evaluate this empirically since we cannot in general observe illegal immigrants (Bell, B. et al. 2013). Evidence from surveys of legalized migrants suggests strong effects of legalization on labour market outcomes, with 75% of respondents reporting that having legal status made it much easier to find work and 60% reporting that it helped them advance in their current job. This all suggests that there may be strong effects on crime patterns following legalization (Kees Van der Pijl 2009).
The only positive correlations which may exist between crime and immigration rates is the increased crime against immigrants rather than by immigrants despite the fact that, immigrants have different reporting rates than natives because they are more cautious in having contact with the authorities (Bell, B. et al. 2013).
Therefore, policy-makers have two additional tools at their disposal when focusing on immigrants and crime:
First, legalizing the status of immigrants appears to have beneficial effects on crime rates a rarely discussed aspect of such programs.
Second, the increased use of point-based immigration systems allows countries to select the characteristics of immigrants that are offered residence.

Bibliography

Becker, G. (1968): Crime and punishment: An economic approach. Journal of Political Economy 76:2 pp.175−209. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1830482 Accessed on the 4th December 2014
Bell, B. et al. (2013): Crime and immigration: Evidence from large immigrant waves. Review of Economics and Statistics 95:4 pp.1278−1290. Accessed on the 4th December 2014 available at http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/REST_a_00337
Engelhardt, B. et al. (2008); In: Journal of public economics. VOL 92; NUMBER 10-11, pp.1876-1891: Journal of public economics. ; LCC: HJ101; Dewey: 336; Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam.
Jeffrey Harrod and Robert O’Brien (2002) Global unions? ; Theory and strategies of organized labour in the global political economy; London: Routledge.
Kees Van der Pijl (2009) From Classical to Global Political Economy: A Survey of Global Political Economy (Version 2.1 Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex) pp. 1 – 29. Available at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ir/documents/091theories.pdf Accessed on the 4th December 2014

By Alex NT374@live.mdx.ac.uk

Why The Working Class Isn’t Working

Once upon a time, a job was a sign of status – that you weren’t socially or mentally inept, and that you have at least a little conviction. It meant that you didn’t live in Mum’s basement and you didn’t leech off welfare.

The reality nowadays is quite different. A job no longer holds prestige – in fact, many jobs in the United Kingdom are looked down on, and a growing number of them are part-time as seen in recent records (The Guardian, 2010), and people have their career prospects lowered by simply taking one to pay the bills now, hurting their long-term ambitions (Guy Standing (2011, pp.74) noted this in his book ‘The Precariat’). Furthermore, many people in standard full-time jobs have been affected by recent changes in attitude toward labour market flexibility – which translates to lower job security for me and you – so that even if you have been working in the same place for ages in a 9 to 5, you can still never rest easily because perhaps next week you’ll be out of a job and unable to pay rent because you were “inconvenient”. And while these jobs are a necessity (someone has to fry those chips), they are also the reason why a lot of people have no real security. Jones (2011, pp.149) found that even in call centers, temps get less money and perks for doing the same job.

job-insecurity

Your average Joe does not take a precarious job for fun – he takes it because otherwise, he’d have nothing. He doesn’t feel secure, but willingly walks into a situation where he is exploited simply to survive.

So who do we blame for this state of affairs? Governments? Business owners? Chinese sweatshop workers? Well, really, all of the above. If it wasn’t for the foreign workers (legal and otherwise) undercutting natives, perhaps business owners wouldn’t have needed to change policies and attitudes so much to stay afloat. And on the same note, why have the governments done nothing to protect normal people from such an unstable (and potentially costly, as the Department for Communities and Local Government noted in 2012) existence? The reason why many of this class do not vote is because they are simply not understood by the mainstream government (Standing, 2014).

If this is such a prevalent and serious issue, then the ultimate question we should ask then is ‘How can we change it?’ Good question – is it even possible? With the amount of people in this position growing exponentially, maybe it’s not so simple. It’s unfortunately become the norm, and let’s face it: why would a company presumably focused on making money give a second thought to the financial and social status of their employees? The consensus says that the fewer benefits you give to employees and the less job security they have, the more big-wigs gain.

More power to the bosses means fewer opportunities for pesky unions to spring up, and less reason to pay people more based on experience. No reason to give someone severance pay. No reason to continue to hire someone who simply disagrees with you, or when someone else will do it for half the wage.

HelpWanted-300x200

This seems to be a by-product of globalisation and the necessary changes that were made to accommodate it. With a huge driving force, the only real way to combat it is to convince employers and corporations to change their attitudes (yeah right) or bring in laws which guarantee at least the smallest of securities for any employee, so that even part-timers don’t have to worry about suddenly living on the streets. Living life on the edge isn’t always fun.

By: Maria Homolova

References:

Allen, K., 2010. Unemployment falls but part-time working hits record high. The Guardian, [online] 14 July. Available at: <http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/jul/14/unemployment-part-time-working-record-high> [Accessed 24 October 2014].

Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012. Evidence review of the costs of homelessness. [pdf] London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/7596/2200485.pdf> [Accessed 24 October 2014].

Jones, O., 2011. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. London: Verso.

Standing, G., 2011. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Standing, G., 2014. A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens. [pdf] Available at: http://ctx.sagepub.com/content/13/4/10.full.pdf+html [Accessed 24 October 2014].

Poles apart… The rich and poor of our Capitalist world

Global South and North are poles apart from our shared experience of Capitalism which became the norm after the collapse of communist regimes in the world. Indeed, capitalism does, in its all-consuming glory, create poles. Nevertheless, this situation of ‘winners and losers’ is not natural. It is a result of systemic exploitation of the masses by the powerful of the world caused under capitalist structures (Watson, 2011). This adds to the wealth of few and impoverishes the poor even more.

The inset data is from 2012 and shows the New Microsoft PowerPoint Presentationpercentage of income held by the richest and the poorest 20% of various countries. The countries described herein are either quickly developing or the developed. Yet for all of these countries more than 40% of the national income is retained by the top 20% of the population whereas the bottom 20% receive less than 9%. Of course, the population differences are to be accounted as India and China are much more densely populated than Netherlands. Nonetheless, the overall trend is similar in these countries. If we were to take the poorer countries of the world such as Congo or Sudan, the results would be even bleaker.

According to Haughton and Khandker (2014) poverty is measured as a lack of certain commodities. Well-being is hence having power over these commodities. It is quite noticeable here that Marx too saw class structures between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. He defined those having authority over modes of production as the ones controlling the proletariat or the workers (Coates, 1991). It is ironic really how a World Bank document has terminology similar to that of Marx. I personally believe that if Marx were to exist today, he would find the situation of most parts of the world drastically akin to his predictions. Most of the world’s resources are being procured by the rich while poverty persists for the majority of people.

World Bank provides extensive data about poverty and inequality. Not because it is a noble organisation or suddenly sympathetic to the deprived of the world, but because the disease of poverty has spread its roots so deep in our failed world that none can help but take notice of it. The inequality in this world in matters of education, livelihoods and even sustenance is far too obvious. The reasons for it might be up for debate but it is undeniable that the capitalist system deepens and widens such inequality in the world.

By: Mariam Khawar

Bibliography

Coates, D. (1991). Traditions of Thought, and the Rise of Social Sciences in UK. In: Anderson, J., and Ricci, M. eds. (1991) Society and Social Sciences. 1st Ed: Open University.

Data.worldbank.org, (2014). Income share held by highest 20% | Data | Table. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.DST.05TH.20 [Accessed 25 Oct. 2014].

Data.worldbank.org, (2014). Income share held by lowest 20% | Data | Table. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.DST.FRST.20/countries [Accessed 25 Oct. 2014].

Haughton, and Khandker, (2014). Poverty and Inequality Handbook. 1st ed. [E-book] Available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPA/Resources/429966-1259774805724/Poverty_Inequality_Handbook_Ch01.pdf [Accessed 24 Oct. 2014].

Watson, M (2011). ‘The Historical Roots of Theoretical Traditions in Global Political Economy’, in Ravenhill, J (2011) Eds. Global Political Economy, 3rd Edition. London: Oxford University Press.

The age of Space-travel, Internet and Genetic-engineering .

The age of Space-travel, Internet and Genetic-engineering

Today’s world is full of technological achievements which could not have been imaginable in previous societies within. Now, is the age where people travel to the space, use the internet to send mails and clone sheep of different spices (genetic engineering). Before have we felt so stranded in the face of the forces we created ourselves. Before, the fruits of our labour never threatened our existence like today: this is also the age of nuclear disasters, global warming, and the arms race. For the first time in history we can produce enough to satisfy the needs of everyone on the planet. Millions of people are destroyed by poverty and by disease and our society is dominated by insecurity, as economic recession and military conflict devastate lives with the apparently irresistible power of natural disasters (Robert O’Brien, Marc Williams 2013). The more our cities become populated, the more our lives are characterised by feelings of isolation and loneliness.

On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces, which no epoch of the former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors of the Roman Empire. In our days everything seems pregnant with its contrary. Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labour, we behold starving and overworking it. The new-fangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want (Robert O’Brien, Marc Williams 2013).

The Marx`s theory of alienation was to reveal the human activity that lies behind the seemingly impersonal forces dominating society. He showed how, although aspects of the society we live in appear natural and independent of us, they are the results of past human actions. For Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács Marx’s theory ‘dissolves the rigid, unhistorical, natural appearance of social institutions; it reveals their historical origins and shows therefore that they are subject to history in every respect including historical decline. Marx showed not only that human action in the past created the modern world, but also that human action could shape a future world free from the contradictions of capitalism (Robinson 2004).  Marx developed a materialist theory of how human beings were shaped by the society they lived in, but also how they could act to change that society, how people are both world determined and world producing (Robinson 2004).  Alienation was not rooted in the mind or in religion, Hegel and Feuerbach argued. Instead Marx understood alienation as something rooted in the material world. Alienation meant loss of control, specifically the loss of control over labour. To understand why labour played such a central role in Marx’s theory of alienation, it is worth to look first at Marx’s ideas about human nature which consist of the need to labour on nature to satisfy human needs and imposed condition of human existence (John Ravenhill 2011) .

References.

John Ravenhill (2011) Global Political Economy; 3rd edition; Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Robert O’Brien, Marc Williams (2013) Global Political Economy; Evolution and Dynamics; 4th edition; Palgrave Macmillan.

William I. Robinson (2004) Globalisation as Epochal Change in World Capitalism, A Theory of Global Capitalism; Production, Class and State in Transnational World; Johns Hopkins.

By Alex NT374@live.mdx.ac.uk

MDXIPE 2014-15

We are the students of Globalism POI3353 at the University of Middlesex in the Department of Law and Politics. Our blog postings look at issues relevant to our current global political economy. We are interested in the emergence of global inequalities, persistent poverty and depressed living conditions, unemployment, debt and more. We aim to identify how global issues put pressure on local lives in these blog postings. We hope that they educate and inspire you. Thank you!mdx-logo