Rising oil prices and its consequences, a fresh new look.

November 10, 2008

Back in 1997, a barrel of crude oil cost only $20. The price has since exploded and today stands at $144 on the global market. Diesel prices in Bangladesh have risen by one-third to about 80 US cents per liter; the price of natural gas has risen by two-thirds. Of the country’s population of 145 million, 58 million must make ends meet with less than $1 per day. In India, protests are becoming ever more frequent. Train lines are being blocked. Schools are being closed. And last week millions of truck drivers went on strike after the government in New Delhi reduced fuel subsidies, a new policy which affects not only diesel prices, but also those for cooking oil.
Oil is a major factor in agricultural production, particularly in industrialized countries, where agriculture is both mechanized and highly input-intensive. Rising oil prices obviously affect the cost of transport, but also of fertilizers, irrigation by pumping, and agri-food processing. They therefore also have an impact on agricultural commodity prices.
The capacity of citizens earning limited incomes to absorb these high prices of fuel is limited. This citizen will start to feel the impact of prices on his family budget and will start wondering, if he has not already done so, about the percentage of his income that he can spend on the family food, gas, heating fuel, and electricity.
Oil has been highly correlated to stocks and the dollar. Rising prices will have serious consequences for security and food supplies of needy and poor families in both urban and rural areas in developing countries. It is those countries that import huge quantities of food products to feed their population that have been hardest hit. Food shortages and conflicts over the control of and access to natural resources could endanger democratization, destabilize states and spiral into international security problems.
In addition to demographic and economic growth, and changing consumer eating habits in the Third World, the authors also attribute the ever-expanding farming of plants for fuel as a culprit behind the price explosion. Finally, the devaluation of the dollar and speculative trading with futures are also having a significant influence on the level of and fluctuations on food prices. Since imported product prices are rising, families will no doubt switch to local products.
Increasing oil prices has increased the demand for renewable resources, and heightening the demand in diversifying energy supplies from our environment. Wind is the fastest growing source of renewable power. Over the past five years, large scale wind farms have been built in Texas, California, Kansas, Wyoming and other states.
Advocates point to wind’s numerous advantages: Wind is free and inexhaustible, it doesn’t generate smog or greenhouse gas, and its price is more stable than its chief competitor, natural gas. The downside is that the wind doesn’t always blow, and not all regions and countries have strong wind resources.
Despite renewed attention on renewable energy, some analysts say the current spike in fossil fuel prices won’t significantly boost the alternative energy market. They say governments must promote renewable energy, raise fuel efficiency standards and encourage investment in research.
The aim now is to invent a form of agriculture and an agri-food processing and marketing system that are less energy-intensive. This is a huge challenge. Although developing countries use less fossil energy in their farming systems, they are also hard-hit by oil price rises. Those rises affect local commodity production, processing and marketing costs.

(574 words)

Social problems, the importance of electronic technology and its role in combating energy demands and diversifying supplies.

November 9, 2008

 

Two problems are very salient to us at this point in time, in our lives. The first one is to do with the environment, that is Global Warming. It has been said that “we are really at the last moment” in this social problem. This is a catastrophe that we are bringing down upon our heads. The problem of global warming was not widely recognized till we learnt about hurricane Catrina, and saw in the news about huge forest fires around the world. It was found that most of those who were killed in the forest fire in California were Latino Farm workers. This was because they did not have the technology called the cell phone to get updates and alerts about the impending fires, which will allow them to escape. The government had called out to the suburban home owners on the other hand , who were able to escape the catastrophe, but not the Latino farm workers.

 

The second problem we face now is pertaining to the economy. When energy prices go up, oil prices go up and jobs start to go down. This is aptly termed “stag-flation”. If we do not stimulate the economy, we will have social unrest and people will be affected very badly.

 

To beat global warming, firstly we could weatherize the millions of buildings which can bring up billions of dollars of economic stimulation, through the creation of jobs and so forth.  We can also build solar panels, which can bring up billions of dollars worth of investment. We also have to build more trees, and create more wind farms which will help to put in place more wind turbines to generate energy from wind.  This can beat poverty and pollution at the same time as such a green technology can diversify the supply of energy by going over with solar, wind and other types of technology,  by bringing down the demand for energy by weatherizing the supply. This may even end the fight over oil across nations and people, and bring a country together.

 

However there is no platform to link the people who can bring about these changes.  A problem with technological revolution is that we begin to display very efficient ways and manners of obtaining information from you name it, the Internet, the radio, the papers, and so on. But, how do we actually aggregate the wisdom that we have, which we may have derived from the knowledge we gained while browsing through all these data that bombard us each day and minute? There is a need to do networking, nationwide, global wide, through information technology, only this will allow us to harness a green inclusive form of technology that will combat many problems faced by the globe.

 

The idea is to create a social network for technology projects personnel and social entrepreneurs who have innovated in helping to solve critical human problems. The idea is for sharing ideas, experiences and solutions with other around the world  through the internet. Once this network begins to operate, it will be open to anyone who has an interest and a potential contribution to make. However, this idea builds on electronic technologies to bring people together in more face to face situations so that a community might begin and then use these same technologies to keep scholars,  researchers and those who can create change, in contact.

 

As such, electronic technology can very well enable social networking to take place, which can create a substance called social media that will form an avenue for human capital to make use of other forms of technology to make the world a better place. Social networking technology will play an important role in collecting, consolidating and debating over information received from various social, which can eventually lead to policy creation, pressuring interest groups and governments to give an hear to their recommendations, and lead to huge plans to be put into action. This can benefit the poor, underprivileged and the needy, disentangle social unrests, create more jobs, and a better environment for all of us to call our home.

 

(682 words)

Globalization and Urbanization

October 30, 2008

Globalization reinforces the concept of locality, since what is traded in a global context must be produced somewhere; global networks must begin and end somewhere. Cities are anchorage points for globalization because few human territories can offer such complex facilities, built up over time, offering so many facets, both material and conceptual. In short, our territories, our societies, are more and more interdependent, and it is in the cities that this interdependence is developing, forging links, intensifying.

At the turn of the twentieth century, only 10 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. There had been an incredible explosion in both the size and number of cities over the past hundred years. As floods, droughts and an unstable envirornment dramatically alter the world’s agricultural production, many more people will move to cities in search of jobs and shelter.

Urbanization can be seen as a process of aggregation, causing the locus of concentration to be the city. The city is “viewed as a sub-division of localized space, as a complex of markets for land, labour, housing, goods, and services” (Hawley, 1967). Hence, an urban structure is made up of different areas of interest.

Urbanization is a consequence of the intersection of four variables, environment, population, technology and organization( Hawley, 1967). Social power too, playing upon a class structure, hedged about with social values, moves urbanization from one stage to another stage

 

The positive aspects of globalization in cities, include greater longetivity, increased literarcy, lower infact mortality, and wider acces of infrastructure and social services, and these inevitably mask the effects of how these resources are not shared equally among the people (Barrenechea, 2006).Over-urbanization can cause problems via inculcating an industrial discipline in a peasant labour force, or through the process of adapting newcomers to an urban regime.

The rise in power and control of the city has had numerous positive effects in the economic social and cultural domains. For many the city became synonymous with work, housing, culture and most importantly, education, health and social advancement. With the movement of the rising bourgeoisie and middle class along with the acceptance of the value of prosperity, a new and progressive urban culture was established (Barrenechea, 2006).

However in some cities, the middle class have been taken over by the elite and the poor have been pushed out towards the poverty-stricken suburbs. In many cases, corruption, misguided regional planning have crippled the city and estranged some sectors of its citizens. Crimes, pollution and breakdown of the social fabric are other some problems faced by the Asian mega cities. Competition between cities for capital and talent will be tougher than ever, and via globalization, changes created in the cities will widen the gap between cities, creating rapid urbanization.

The impact of HIV/AIDS son urbanization is important to be considered. Towns were the first places such diseases became prevalent. Higher levels of urbanization tend to facilitate the spread of HIV, causing the virus to become more resistance over time and ending up in various parts of the world. Urban death rates exceed birth rates, causing a “demographic sink” as levels of HIV infection are higher in urban areas (Dyson, 2003). Higher risk behavior tended to be higher in towns and cities as the served as an arena for new influences, such as injecting drugs, and spread of non-regular sexual relationships and commercial sex activities.

This may slow the process of urbanization, by altering the rates of migration between rural and urban areas and affecting the birth and death rates in these areas. This inevitably slows down the pace of urbanization. Such a dangerous disease can selectively kill off many women at childbearing age, causing many others to become infertile and also killing children, lowering the birth rate further. Thus for those countries most hit HIV and AIDS, future urbanization must be revised downwards to possibly contain and reduce the spread (Dyson, 2003).

Hence, globalization is not the answer to the social problems of the developing world, but neither can there be solutions to theses problems without the resources and conveniences and access it provides to the people. The success of most developing countries would therefore rely on how the government and its people cope up with globalization and the amount of skills, technology, expertise and experience contributed to this process.

 

 

 

 

References

 

Barrenechea, C.A. (2006) Globalization and the Metropolis : The Challenges that Asia’s Cities face in the Future, Asia Culture Forum, 14, pp 1-11.

 

Dyson, T. (2003). HIV/AIDS and Globalization, Population and Development Review, 29(3),pp 427-442.

 

Hawley, A.H. (1967). The Study of Urbanization, Demography, 4(2), pp 937-941.

Globalization of disease, and its implications

October 30, 2008

The time has long passed when we can ignore the connection between human health and wildlife health. Without a sophisticated global approach to wildlife and human health, outbreaks of diseases like SARS and Avian flu, will continue to take their toll on human populations, human livelihoods, and animals and ecosystems around the world.

At the heart of many of today’s global health crises is globalization. More than at any time in human history, we are pathogenically one with nature: More and more viruses, bacteria and fungi are circulating around the world with people, animals and plants to find new victims. The World Health Organization has asserted that emerging infections “represent a global threat that will require a coordinated, global response” (WHO Doc, 1995). The threat is global because a disease can emerge anywhere on the planet and spread quickly to other regions through trade and travel.

Along with the globalization of trade, came the globalization of its dangers. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) now warn of a worldwide spread of hoof-and-mouth disease. The latest epidemic began in 1991 in South Asia, spreading westward through the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey, reaching Europe in 1996. In the past two years alone, there were outbreaks in over 60 countries, many of which latter had been entirely free of the disease for generations. In the past two weeks alone, the disease has erupted in Argentina, Paraguay, and Kyrgyzstan. Globalization has become the world’s greatest threat to the health of man and beast alike.

Past experience with hoof-and-mouth disease demonstrates that even the most rigorous measures are ineffective in entirely preventing the disease’s spread. This virus is so infectious, and can be transported so easily over large distances, that it cannot be eliminated though isolation and extermination. But despite that fact, the British have so far restricted their efforts to just those two measures. The most effective means of blocking potential transmission routes, is vaccination; but the British government has not taken that step.
Globalization has affected public health in three ways. First, the shrinking of the world by technology and economic interdependence allows diseases to spread globally at rapid speed. Two factors contributing to the global threat from emerging infections stem directly from globalization: the increase in international travel and the increasingly global nature of food handling, processing, and sales (Fidler, 1996). HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria represent a few infections that have spread to new regions through global travel and trade. In the European Union, for example, the free movement of goods, capital, and labor makes it more difficult for member states to protect domestic populations from diseases acquired in other countries.
Second, the development of the global market has intensified economic competition and increased pressure on governments to reduce expenditures, including the funding of public health programs, leaving states increasingly unprepared to deal with emerging disease problems (Fidler, 1996).
Of course, Medical advances have spread across the planet, improving health worldwide. The advantages of globalization were seen in the way the global community responded to the SARS outbreak with a rapidity and scale never before seen for an emerging infectious disease outbreak. From the start of the SARS outbreak, networks of epidemiologists, clinicians and virologists from around the world linked together to participate in its containment. They freely shared information among themselves and with the scientific community, identifying a new coronavirus as the cause of the outbreak, providing the best possible guidance for patient management and defining the risk factors for infection and modes of transmission.
However, the globalization of disease control has contributed to the population crisis because people are living longer. Overpopulation creates fertile conditions for the spread of disease: overcrowding, lack of adequate sanitation, and overstretched public health infrastructures. Further, the widespread use and misuse of antibiotic treatments has contributed to the development of drug-resistant pathogens.
(635 words)
References
1. World Health Organization. Communicable disease prevention and control: new, emerging, and re-emerging infectious diseases. WHO Doc. A48/15; Feb. 22, 1995.
2. Fidler, D.P (1996). Globalization, International Law, and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2(2)

Globalization and stereotypes: perpetuating a viscous cycle of crimes, promoting racial profiling and its implications

October 12, 2008

 

Globalization is faster than ever today, sweeping through different spaces across time and languages. The strong reverberating effects of globalization can be felt through a wide spectrum of overwhelming yet life changing events such as the mind boggling growth and expansion of media and the broad array of information it conveys to us, the dizzying spread of western culture and effects of this on our rooted-ness to our cultures, and we see globalization clearly through the images of the poor getting poorer and the rich immersing in and accumulating their wealth with every higher step.

           

A crime is usually described as something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful, and is always seen as something done solely by the individual, to satisfy his needs. Vold, a principal spokesperson for a group of criminologists, has suggested that “crime can be viewed as an aspect of political behavior, to the extent that crime is the by-product of conflicting interpretations of what is proper conduct by different segments of a population, it is in no sense due to pathologies of the individuals involved but to conditions peculiar to our social and political organization” (Quinney, 1964).  A person may feel that he does not have enough resources to achieve something, but many other external factors contribute to and fuel the person’s inner need to want to commit an act of crime. These are usually in the form of societal and political pressure in the form of class stratification, unfair rules and regulations set up by the government disadvantaging certain groups, corruption and discrimination in the case of India. All these social structures and political undertakings infuriate and push the minority groups to the breaking point, to carry out a crime to fulfill their immediate needs and to show to the society their existence.

 

What we might fail to see is that globalization carries with it numerous stereotypes, and prejudices people have on each other, especially the majority groups against the minorities, and transmits it efficiently. This eventually pushes the lower-class to seek out means and ways to get what they always wanted: crime.  The elite and the “upper-class” who are able to seize opportunities effortlessly and move up the social ladder, through their actions and mindsets, stagnate the lower-class, plummeting them to even deeper levels of estrangement. Stereotypes (formed about the less-privileged, which never cease to exist in the minds of the elite who claim they are superior) serve the function of “racializing” the most minute phenomenon of everyday life: Stereotypes ranging in content about groups ’temperament, intelligence, athletic ability, aesthetic preferences, and dispositions toward wealth/ poverty and criminality ensure that race constitutes a primary cleavage in representing the social world (Wilson et al, 2004). (For example), in particular, two kinds of negative stereotypes about Blacks can be identified. The first are interpersonal traits that constitute variants of “dirtiness/ uncleanliness” and “laziness” and the second are behavioral dispositions and capture variants of “disinterest in keeping up property” (Wilson et al, 2004). Such stereotypes and their salience perpetuate a social stigma, keeping minorities in a vicious cycle of poverty, and handicap causing them to resort to crime, time and time again.

 

When it comes to criminologists, they incorporate and exercise biological and psychological positivism when dealing with crimes, a perspective that indicates a shift from a focus on the offence to a focus on the offender and their characteristics (White & Haines, 2000). This is a move towards determinism, as personal attributes or social characteristics – over which the offender has little control – are seen as the cause of crime (White & Haines, 2000). However, in the past half dozen or so years several criminologists have maintained that the pervasive, stereotypically rooted “color coding” of crime (Wilson et al, 2004),  has entered and had a strong hold on the criminal justice system and is propelling the judges,parole officers, and criminal lawyers to make decisions along these racially biased lines.

 

This eventually gives rise to prejudice-profiling, where certain crime types such as petty shop thefts, snatch thefts, drug trafficking, gang fights and murders are usually seen as done by minorities, by the Malays and Indians in Singapore, due to the stereotype that these groups are economically disadvantaged, violent and impulsive by nature. Such racial profiling has serious consequences, as they attach labels to minority groups, and road blocks and interrogations by police officers seem to target them. These acts will initially be seen by the minorities as degrading, but as time goes by there is acceptance of the social stigma and they appear stuck in a mode of helplessness. This causes them to commit such crimes, due to the internal realization that they are better off subscribing to the image portrayed by the authorities and the society they live in.

 

Such a situation should never have arisen, and it will be obviously hard to tackle, especially with globalization exerting its power throughout the world. . Though Globalization has offered many advantages to us, it being both a dynamic and transitional force which interacts with crime, choice and control, urges us to see beyond a web of simple causal links. To tackle crime, we have to dig deep into the roots; the political institutions and their many rules, policies and stratifications, societal composition, competition and mindsets and the general economic, social, psychological and emotional well being of each and every individual in the population. Exploring these branches will help one to see why crime rates are far from declining in the contemporary world.

 

 (912 words)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

 

Quinney, R. (1964). Crime in Political Perspective, The American Behavioral

 

Scientist, pp 19-22.

 

 

White, R., & Haines, F. (2000). Crime and Criminology: An Introduction.

 

Melbource, Oxford, 2nd Edition.

 

 

Wilson, G., Dunham, R. & Alpert, G. (2004). Prejudice in Police Profiling,

 

Assessing an Overlooked Aspect in Prior Research, American Behavioral

 

Scientist, 47(7), pp 896-909.

 

 

Global Identity as a Remedy for Individualized Identities.

October 12, 2008

Identities—the stable syndromes of associations, feelings, and beliefs we refer to when we use that term—are constituted by larger processes (Lustik & Miodownik, 2008). Certain collective identities have been perpetuated and stabilized among societies, via the reference to national identity or nationalism, evolutionary psychology, where “ethnic or national solidarities

may function as equivalents to selected behaviors in the ancestral environment”, and also seen as constructed products of kinship processes or territorialist identifications.

 

Immigrants for example, when they enter a society, bring together their values and culture. They may, after a period of time of residence in the host country, assimilate through 2nd language attainment, inter marriage and so forth, or choose to remain segregated and emphasise their differences. The effects of the immigrant identity increases from the combined effects of identity affirmations and social demands coming from dominating actors present in a society. These effects can be witnessed in different communities such as the Jewish diaspora; the Muslims, who mainly base the idea of positive identity on justice and so on. This may even give rise to a many subcultures, with the dominant group showing discrimination towards the minority groups.

 

Identity has played a functional role in social movements. By emphasizing a group identity, social movements have sought to strengthen politically oppressed groups both by improving members’ sense of confidence and by familiarizing the external society with the existing social group. However, national or ethnic identity is sometimes also tied to demagogy, leading to ethnic or religious conflicts.

 

In today’s modern society however, identities are constantly formed and reinforced, in a homogeneous manner due to the effects of mass media. Political organizations have first recognized the cultural differences within their societies through the process of institutionalization of their different identities. Through multicultural policies, they have implemented the institutionalization of new identities that simultaneously allows other identities to emerge. Thus, the way and manner that proposition identity is institutionalized will be based on the institutions’ governance network.

 

Once identities have been institutionalized, they may need to have a political representation in the State. In terms of Singapore, the women’s political wing of PAP and the young PAP, gives representation to the successful women and youth in Singapore respectively, in the political arena. The various races in Singapore have been represented in the government, and multicultural policies, festivities and cultural representations have been set up and promoted widely in Singapore.

 

In another angle, more groups are coming forth to emphasize their differences, by rebelling or going against the cultural norms of a society, which fragments the society. There is thus a tension between cultural heterogeneity and homogeneity. Clearly the nation state has a daunting task of striking a balance, and in Singapore’s case, there is an emphasis on Asian values by the Government as a means of ensuring Singapore stays united beneath the cultural patchwork.

 

It may be thus important for the state, all the states across the globe for that matter, to advocate creation and perpetuation of a global identity. A Global identity can be understood as consciousness of an international society or global community transcending national boundaries, without necessarily negating the importance of state, nation or domestic society. There is widespread argument that it is difficult to develop global identity since the international community lacks a distinctive culture or a collective memory of the past while. Others suggest the possibility of gradually developing a cosmopolitan ideology. They agree that national or local identity is more naturally formed with the identification of race, religion, or terrain, and entails more explicit forms of expression. Global identity can be understood, not as replacing national identity, but as being additional or supplementary to it, and hence one can formulate a multilayered sense of belongingness. By seeking for international cooperation, the League of Nations tried to develop an international understanding and cultivate a sense of common concerns. The global discourse stemming from the UN can help us to “imagine” and “construct” a global world community and thereby encourage us to develop common concerns (Shinohara, 2004). Such a Global Identity may alleviate the problems arising from Individual, fragmented identities, rampant across many nations.

 

(704 words)

 

References

 

Lustik, I.S., & Miodownik, D,. (2008). The Institutionalization of Identity: Micro Adaptation, Macro Effects, and Collective Consequences,  Studies in Comparative International Development, Summer 2002, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 24-53.

 

Shinohara, H (2004). Evolution in Global Identity: The League of Nations and the United Nations, UNU Global Seminar

Terrorism: Perspectives, Theatre-of Terror Approach and The Internet

September 28, 2008

Overview of Terrorism            

The word terror comes from the Latin word terrere, which means “to frighten” or “to scare” (Weimann, 2008). The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” Within this definition, there are three key elements—violence, fear, and intimidation—and each element produces terror in its victims. Terrorism is thus a criminal act that influences an audience beyond the immediate victim.

Three perspectives of terrorism

There are three perspectives of terrorism: the terrorist’s, the victim’s, and the general publics. In the perspective of the terrorist, ideology and motivation will influence the objectives of terrorist operations, especially regarding the casualty rate (www.terrorism-research.com) and the phrase, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, is a view terrorists themselves would accept. Groups with non-religious goals will attempt to target as minimal number of causalities in comparison to religious and military oriented who attempt to inflict as many causalities as possible The type of target selected will often reflect motivations and ideologies and they conduct attacks on representative individuals whom they associate with economic exploitation, social injustice, or political repression (www.terrorism-research.com). Also, due to the secretive nature and small size of terrorist organizations, they often offer opponents no clear organization to defend against or to deter.

The strategy of terrorists is to commit acts of violence that draws the attention of the local populace, the government, and the world to their cause. The terrorists plan their attack to obtain the greatest publicity, choosing targets that symbolize what they oppose. The effectiveness of the terrorist act lies not in the act itself, but in the public’s or government’s reaction to the act.

As for the victims, they are generally devastated beyond description, and severely traumatized; view the terrorists as extremely volatile, unpredictable, unsympathetic and merciless. They do get help and aid from the government, but live the rest of the lives in paranoia and suffering, emotionally, physically and psychologically. The effects reverberate throughout their lives.

The general public is very adversely affected too, though to a lesser extent in comparison to the  victims, they generally become more alert to the world happenings, governmental processes, and protests and uproars from different segments of the world’s population. In Dec 2001 as stated in the Ministry of Home Affairs Webpage, the ISD disrupted a terrorist cell here called the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which is part of a larger regional network with cells in MalaysiaIndonesiaSingaporeSingapore played and the importance of having a strong, promising and reliant police force. Till this event occurred, there was complacency among the general public that no event this big will occur in this small city-state. Today, majority of Singaporeans realize that terrorism can happen anywhere, anytime, without warning and can be very deadly., the island-wide anxiety over Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape made the general public understand the role the police force in . The local JI members were planning to attack targets like Western embassies and personnel. Following leads from the first arrests, the ISD conducted another wave of arrests in Aug 2002 to detain more JI members. As a result, the local JI network was seriously disrupted. Back here in and

Theatre of Terror Perspective of Terrorism

Terrorism operates through symbolic expression, just as how dramaturgy works. From the  theater-of-terror perspective, the September 11 attack on America was a perfectlychoreographed production aimed at American and international audiences (Weimann, 2008). “Terrorist attacks are often carefully choreographed to attract the attention of the electronic media and the international press. Taking and holding hostages increases the drama. The hostages themselves often mean nothing to the terrorists.

 

Terrorism is aimed at the people watching, not at the actual victims. Terrorism is a theater” (Jenkins, 1975). Karber (1971) suggested a new model of analysis: “As a symbolic act, terrorism can be analyzed much like other media of communication, consisting of four basic components: transmitter (the terrorist), intended recipient (target), message (bombing, ambush) and feedback (reaction of target audience). Most modern terrorists are well-to-do, highly educated, resourceful and intelligent and hence are well versed in the four basic components. They do not attack blindly or impulsively but have a whole list of goals and outcomes mapped out systematically before the attack is carried out.

 

 

Terrorists and the Internet

 

Postmodern terrorists are taking advantage of the fruits of globalization and

modern technology—especially the most advanced communication technologies—to plan, coordinate, and execute their deadly campaigns (Weimann, 2008). With the growing infiltration of the internet in our daily lives, having a widespread effect throughout the world, the Internet has become a forum for Terrorists to spread their messages worldwide and this has also paved way for cyber-terrorism, where groups  attack computer networks. Thus, terrorists are simultaneously using and abusing the Internet, and benefiting from it in great amounts.

 

 

Conclusively, terrorism cannot be understood just by reading the news and watching reports but one has to understand how such networks operate, their mentality, goals and desired outcomes they are aiming for. However, with the increasing extent and speed of globalization, terrorist exploitation of the Internet seems to make the work of curbing and hunting down terrorist and terrorist networks even harder. But surely, terrorist use of the Internet will grow; it will become more sophisticated and more manipulative. This will cause government agencies to step up measures and enforce stricter rules to counter terrorism, which will inevitably set a chain of reactions, causing more displeasure and frustration among the terrorists, causing them to seek out more ways to oppose the governmental agencies, both locally and internationally, which leads to accelerated recruitment of a wide range of members and planning of more impactful and deadlier attacks by the terrorists due to the build up frustration and displeasure.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Jenkins, B. (1975). International terrorism. Los Angeles: Crescent.

 

Karber, P. (1971). Urban terrorism: Baseline data and a conceptual framework. Social Science

 

Quarterly, 52, pp 527-33.

 

http:// www.terrorism-research.com , International terrorism and security research.

http://www.mha.gov.sg/isd/ct.ht, Ministry of Home Affairs, Internal Security Department

 

Weimann, G. (2008). The Psychology of Mass-mediated Terrorism, American Behavioral

Scientist, 52(1),pp 69-86.

 

 

Gender and its conceptualization, paving way to segregation and institutional justification

September 28, 2008

To a young child, gender may mean the understanding that she is a girl. To an adult, her gender is female, lawyer and 35 year old mother. Gender, when viewed myopically seems to only stretch that far. There is more to it, and a more encompassing definition of gender would be that, (it)  is an institutionalized system of social practices for constituting people as two significantly different categories, men and women, and organizing social relations of inequality on the basis of that difference (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004).

What the young child and the adult have done is sex categorization, which is the socio-cognitive process by which we label another as male or female (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004). The former has used the simple binary classification system while the latter has used social dimensions to describe her gender. But, no matter the former or the latter, in both individuals, there exists a form of classification of the self, in an attempt to differentiate oneself from the surrounding people and to develop an identity about oneself.

In Singapore, we are exposed to many different types of social relational contexts, be it school, work, meeting old friends or spending a nice dinner with a date that you got through a matchmaking agency. True enough, we become more aware of our gender, and some of the social dimensions we use to define the self, when we enter and take part in such real-time events and interactions. Social relational contexts make gender a persistently available social difference around which to structure the activities and relationships that are enacted through such contexts and shape the meanings participants attach to those activities and relationships (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004).

Gender gap can take on many forms, ranging from the beliefs one has when a baby is a girl or a boy, to one perpetuated when a female or male sends their resume in search of a job, whether a single or married women applies for a job position, and so on. Contemporary stereotypes describe women as more communal and men as more agentic and instrumental (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004). Forces paving way for sex segregation in work, firstly include theories of sex-typing that emphasize the deep-rooted and near universal identification of women with tasks involving service, reproduction, and nurturing and secondly theories of male privilege or patriarchy that emphasize the power of men to dominate the most desirable positions causing women to opt for less desirable job positions which require less substantial commitment to the labour force (Grusky & Charles, 2001). Also, gender queuing model, proposed by Reskin and Roos in 1990, has an underlying assumption that employer’s rankings are affected by estimates of workers’ productivity, and costs which in turn might be directly or indirectly related to workers’ gender.

There exists a technology gender gap as well, which might potentially be a factor to why women only seem to take up certain jobs voluntarily, such as being nannies or manual workers, or take up jobs that involve more of the community and society like teaching and social welfare officer. As stated in a website write up on ‘ An educator’s guide to gender issues’, one speculation is that girls simply approach technology differently, some point to parental influence, others blame teachers and the overall educational institution, point to lack of role and blame the manufacturers of technology products, for the complex, male-oriented nature of the game consoles and characters.

Such gender beliefs, can bias individuals’ expectations for their own competence in the situation independently of their underlying abilities. Inevitably as a society becomes more modernized, gender believes become perpetuated by the media and through socialization practices and start to fuse strongly with the culture the people adopt. Such gender beliefs become pronounced by way of gender inequality, where clear boundaries and hierarchies are set up to possibly hindering a gender’s entry or exit into and from a certain work field, and even dictating his/her participation in a certain organization or network.

 

Gender inequality can be seen in the presence of a glass ceiling in a women’s job advancement, and the way a women’s status as a mother is salient in social relational work sites, cultural beliefs will bias expectations for her ability, performance and appropriateness for authority even more strongly.

Thus gender, no matter how sensitive a topic, we have to acknowledge that there exists different forms of institutions in various countries which legitimize sex segregation. In different countries, the gender inequality pattern is different, and as long as there is institutionalization of gender segregation, gender inequality is here to stay.

 

(772 words)

 

 

 

References

 

Reskin, B. F., & Roos, P.A. (1990). Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads into Male Occupations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

 

Ridgeway, C.L., & Correll, S.J. (2004). Unpacking the gender system : A theoretical perspective on gender believes and social relations, Gender & Society, 18(4), pp 510-531.

 

An educator’s guide to gender bias issues, http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/access/gender.html

Globalization and stereotypes: perpetuating a viscous cycle of crimes, promoting racial profiling and its implications

September 28, 2008

Revathy D/O Pachamuthu
HS103 Tutorial Group 8

Globalization is faster than ever today, sweeping through different spaces across time and languages. The strong reverberating effects of globalization can be felt through a wide spectrum of overwhelming yet life changing events such as the mind boggling growth and expansion of media and the broad array of information it conveys to us, the dizzying spread of western culture and effects of this on our rooted-ness to our cultures, and we see globalization clearly through the images of the poor getting poorer and the rich immersing in and accumulating their wealth with every higher step.

A crime is usually described as something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful, and is always seen as something done solely by the individual, to satisfy his needs. Vold, a principal spokesperson for a group of criminologists, has suggested that “crime can be viewed as an aspect of political behavior, to the extent that crime is the by-product of conflicting interpretations of what is proper conduct by different segments of a population, it is in no sense due to pathologies of the individuals involved but to conditions peculiar to our social and political organization” (Quinney, 1964). A person may feel that he does not have enough resources to achieve something, but many other external factors contribute to and fuel the person’s inner need to want to commit an act of crime. These are usually in the form of societal and political pressure in the form of class stratification, unfair rules and regulations set up by the government disadvantaging certain groups, corruption and discrimination in the case of India. All these social structures and political undertakings infuriate and push the minority groups to the breaking point, to carry out a crime to fulfill their immediate needs and to show to the society their existence.

What we might fail to see is that globalization carries with it numerous stereotypes, and prejudices people have on each other, especially the majority groups against the minorities, and transmits it efficiently. This eventually pushes the lower-class to seek out means and ways to get what they always wanted: crime. The elite and the “upper-class” who are able to seize opportunities effortlessly and move up the social ladder, through their actions and mindsets, stagnate the lower-class, plummeting them to even deeper levels of estrangement. Stereotypes (formed about the less-privileged, which never cease to exist in the minds of the elite who claim they are superior) serve the function of “racializing” the most minute phenomenon of everyday life: Stereotypes ranging in content about groups ’temperament, intelligence, athletic ability, aesthetic preferences, and dispositions toward wealth/ poverty and criminality ensure that race constitutes a primary cleavage in representing the social world (Wilson et al, 2004). (For example), in particular, two kinds of negative stereotypes about Blacks can be identified. The first are interpersonal traits that constitute variants of “dirtiness/ uncleanliness” and “laziness” and the second are behavioral dispositions and capture variants of “disinterest in keeping up property” (Wilson et al, 2004). Such stereotypes and their salience perpetuate a social stigma, keeping minorities in a vicious cycle of poverty, and handicap causing them to resort to crime, time and time again.

When it comes to criminologists, they incorporate and exercise biological and psychological positivism when dealing with crimes, a perspective that indicates a shift from a focus on the offence to a focus on the offender and their characteristics (White & Haines, 2000). This is a move towards determinism, as personal attributes or social characteristics – over which the offender has little control – are seen as the cause of crime (White & Haines, 2000). However, in the past half dozen or so years several criminologists have maintained that the pervasive, stereotypically rooted “color coding” of crime (Wilson et al, 2004), has entered and had a strong hold on the criminal justice system and is propelling the judges,parole officers, and criminal lawyers to make decisions along these racially biased lines.

This eventually gives rise to prejudice-profiling, where certain crime types such as petty shop thefts, snatch thefts, drug trafficking, gang fights and murders are usually seen as done by minorities, by the Malays and Indians in Singapore, due to the stereotype that these groups are economically disadvantaged, violent and impulsive by nature. Such racial profiling has serious consequences, as they attach labels to minority groups, and road blocks and interrogations by police officers seem to target them. These acts will initially be seen by the minorities as degrading, but as time goes by there is acceptance of the social stigma and they appear stuck in a mode of helplessness. This causes them to commit such crimes, due to the internal realization that they are better off subscribing to the image portrayed by the authorities and the society they live in.

Such a situation should never have arisen, and it will be obviously hard to tackle, especially with globalization exerting its power throughout the world. . Though Globalization has offered many advantages to us, it being both a dynamic and transitional force which interacts with crime, choice and control, urges us to see beyond a web of simple causal links. To tackle crime, we have to dig deep into the roots; the political institutions and their many rules, policies and stratifications, societal composition, competition and mindsets and the general economic, social, psychological and emotional well being of each and every individual in the population. Exploring these branches will help one to see why crime rates are far from declining in the contemporary world.

(912 words)

References

Quinney, R. (1964). Crime in Political Perspective, The American Behavioral

Scientist, pp 19-22.

White, R., & Haines, F. (2000). Crime and Criminology: An Introduction.

Melbource, Oxford, 2nd Edition.

Wilson, G., Dunham, R. & Alpert, G. (2004). Prejudice in Police Profiling,

Assessing an Overlooked Aspect in Prior Research, American Behavioral

Scientist, 47(7), pp 896-909.

Work, Emotional Suppression and Implications on Mental Health, By Revathy D/O Pachamuthu

August 31, 2008

 

 

Work may be categorized in a number of ways, based on the training required, the income generated, the social standing of the work, the characteristics of work, the workplace, and the workers, and the impact of interaction at work on workers (Wilhelm, 2004). But why do we need to work? One argument is that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. People would not know what to do when they really very free, and start engaging in mischief or involving in associations or events that are deemed self- mutilating, which destroys us bit by bit. More importantly, I feel and agree, that work “offers instant discipline, identity, and worth, structures our time and imposes a rhythm on our lives, gets us organized into various kinds of communities and social groups, and perhaps most importantly, work tells us what to do every day” (Ciulla, 2000).

 

In different countries, different individuals adopt their own approach to work. Some work from home, while others prefer jobs in the service sector, while another group would love to have a desk-bound job. But no matter what, most jobs would need us to be a good teamplayer, and work as a collective unit to produce results. Let me know touch briefly on the Japanese, and their way of work.

 

From a study done by Brown, Kirpal & Rauner, 2007, it was found that over 60 per cent of respondents in Japan regarded work as very important in their lives, and the number of employees in Japan who rated themselves as satisfied was below 50 per cent, which is lower than the majority of the other surveyed countries. Also the study reveals that a considerable number of employees have a latent desire for quitting from their present employer. The Japanese have been noted to be one of the most hardworking people, putting their jobs high up their priority ladder, above everything else. The majority of them still are workaholic, but it is sad to see how such a huge proportion of them dislike their job but stay on. Since the Japanese society is one that requires everyone to function as a collective, negative emotions are suppressed. Emotion management is thus regularly carried out by individuals, and “the suppression of emotions such as anger occurs in many types of occupations, particularly those that involve dealing with people” (Sloan, 2004). Thus, I feel the Japanese, or any individual who has to undergo high levels of emotional suppression will face a myriad of emotional and psychological problems.

However, an area that has been not widely explored is the categorization of the kinds of jobs that have potential, short term and/or long term risks, in the form of psychological distress, depression suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, attached to them. This categorization, I feel, will allow individuals to be more alert to the risks involved, and to be mentally aware and prepared for the challenges to come.

Three occupational groups were found to have significantly elevated rates of depression: lawyers, teachers and counselors and secretaries (Wilhelm, 2004). Perceived lack of control over work has been linked to depression (Wilhelm, 2004). Depression affects other areas by increasing the rate of absenteeism, and causes productivity to become lowered. Doctors, dentists, nurses, social workers and veterinary surgeons had significantly higher rates of suicide (as) people in these occupations have access to effective means of suicide (Wilhelm, 2004). Farmers were also noted to have high rates of suicide. Factors included economic pressures, social isolation, a hazardous work environment, and lack of emergency medical and mental health care (Wilhelm, 2004). There are a number of occupations at high risk for alcohol problems, including bartenders, innkeepers, entertainers, physicians, salespeople, and army and navy personnel (Wilhelm, 2004). Bartenders and innkeepers have high rates of alcohol problems, as well as actors, entertainers and musicians who also often work in places where alcohol and drugs are abundant (Wilhelm, 2004).

Work cannot be seen in isolation as necessary for our survival and providing us with incentives such as capital and social status. But, there are many negative consequences when we decide to go into a certain field. Hence, it is important to know the implications of the jobs we choose on our psychological and physical functioning, and we should also be very aware of the demands our job puts us through, and the extent of emotional suppression we go through. Research has shown that, for those who stay at work (despite having depression bouts), depression also impacts on their decision-making and ability to get along with others, particularly if they are in leadership roles or working in areas where poor performance affects the safety of others. Conclusively, it is advised that all working individuals must seek proper help and advice when they feel stressed and/or burnt out and repeat the cycle and aggravate the situation further.

 

(803 words)

 

 

References

 

 

Brown, A., Kirpal, S. & Rauner, F. (2007). Work Identity in the Japanese Context: Stereotype and  Reality,

Identities at Work, 12, pp 315-336.

 

Sloan, M.,M. (2004). The effects of occupational characteristics on the experience and the expression of anger

in the workplace, Work and Occupations, 31(1), pp 38-72.

 

Wilhelm et al. (2004). Work and Mental Health, Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 39 , pp 866– 873.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.