Euphemism and language change

Language is a very powerful tool in human life. It allows people to express themselves in many different ways of using it, such as spoken, written, and even gesture. One important aspect of language which is also important to be considered is words and its use. This is because a word has distinct meaning to other words, and even a single word may have multiple meanings in variety of different languages. Euphemism for example, is the use of language particularly words to express what is thought to be taboo in a more acceptable way or less offensive. Euphemism is believed to be very important for the study of language because it may lead to the word addition, loss of words, phonological change and semantic shift (Burridge, 2012, p. 65). This essay will explore the notion of euphemism and its use in language. This paper will firstly give a brief explanation and definition of euphemism, and then this will also explore how euphemism serves its roles in particular given language context. Its link to taboo things will also be discussed. This will also explain how the use of euphemism may soften the meaning of offensive words in language context. This paper also gives account to another language which has a lot of euphemistic words such as Indonesian. The concept of dysphemism as its counterpart will also be examined.

According to Oxford English Dictionary (8th edition, p. 519), euphemism is the use of indirect words or phrase to refer to something embarrassed, more offensive or unpleasant to make it sound more acceptable, less offensive and “less distasteful” http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/65021?redirectedFrom=euphemism&. According to Burchfield (1985, cited in Jamet 2012, p. 3), the word “euphemism” originally referred to a book written by Thomas Blount in 1656 called “glossographia”. This word comes from Greek “euphèmismos”, which is derived from the adjective “euphèmos”, “of good omen” (from “eu”, “good”, and “phèmi”, “I say”). He believed that euphemism contains the replacement of original words which are thought to be “offensive” by words or phrase which are less impolite. By definition, euphemism is an alternative “choice of expression” or “straight talking” (Allan and Burridge, 2006, cited in Smith, 2012, p. 122).

The use of euphemism is very contextual dependent and culturally specific, in which it is determined specifically by the context in which they are used (Burridge, 2012, p. 66). What this basically means is that euphemism is used in oral and written communications to soften the deliverance of the intended meaning in a particular communication context. The author believed that euphemism is evident when speakers are encountered with tricky situations in which they have to think about choosing the right way of saying what they intend to say.

In addition to this, Burridge (2010, p. 4) stated that euphemism is found natural in western countries. Saying dysphemistic words in modern English language is always avoided, not because it may harm the speaker and the audience, but due to the fact that the speaker may lose their face by offending the sensibilities of the hearers. This is because saying inappropriate words in any given context may eventually lead to an offensive behaviour towards both the speaker and the hearer. Therefore, in this case people prefer not to speak if they do not know exactly the cultural and social contexts of the utterance.
Furthermore, the use of euphemism is often related to the issue of avoiding bad or taboo behaviour. The word taboo originated from Tongan “tabu” which entered the English language in the late 18th century (Burridge, 2010, p. 3; Burridge, 2012, p. 67). This word was believed to associate with bad and threatening situation for individuals and the society as a whole. Social sanctions would be given for distasteful and impolite behaviour in a given social context.

Euphemism can also be found in some particular language. One practical example of this would be the use of euphemism in Indonesian language. Indonesian has many taboo words that are used in daily basis conversation, particularly amongst teenagers. Word like “berak” meaning “to poo” is very often used, even though this word is not often realised as taboo. The optional word or phrase would be “buang air besar” meaning “to throw small water”. Another example word would considerably be “pelacur” meaning “prostitute”. This word has an extremely bad meaning and is considered offensive in Indonesian language. The euphemistic way of saying this word would then be “pekerja seks komersial – commercial sex worker”, often abbreviated “PSK”.

One important key idea in relation to euphemism is its counterpart “dysphemism”. Allan and Burridge (1991, p. 26, cited in Jamet, 2012, p. 3) stated that a dysphemism is a connotative expression which are offensive, whether it is about the actual object or the hearers or both, and this is replaced by neutral or euphemistic expression. People often use “offensive” words to make a point in their statement in a given context (Seizer, 2012, p. 209). In a stand up comedy for example, words such as “shit” and “f***” word are often used as these are very powerful words comedian used to make their points as well as making their jokes more alive and less “black and white” and monotone (Kristin Key, comedian cited in Seizer, 2012, p. 209). Another example would be the use of words such as “community charges” which politicians often use to refer to “tax” (Burridge, 2012, p. 66).

However, Allan (2012, p. 6) argue that dysphemism “may be used nondysphemistically to display intimacy”, whereby it can trigger the mutual benefits. This is referring to the idea that the use of dysphemistic expression and “swear words” in comedy and in more general experience may give a sense of common interests and enjoyable experience for both the
speaker and the audience (Seizer, 2011, p. 209), as well as the sense of belonging to particular group and having the feeling of “distinctiveness” (Burridge, 2010, p. 4).

Euphemism and dysphemism are part of what is said as “X-phemism. These two often trigger the change in linguistics expression and change in meaning of words (Allan, 2012, p. 5). Similarly, Allan (2006, cited in Smith, 2012, p. 122) believed that euphemism is created through circumlocution, phonological change and the shift in meaning, borrowing from other language and even proposing a completely new word. What this basically means is that x-phemism leads to the change in language expression including the semantic shift from old meanings to the new ones, even the loss of some particular vocabularies. One example of this would be the word “gymnastic”, which is derived from Greek word “gymnos” meaning “naked”. The meaning of the word in modern English is now shifted semantically to “pertaining to or connected with athletic exercise of the body” (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/82824).

In conclusion, euphemism plays very critical roles in linguistics expression. It helps speakers of a language to be selective and mindful in expressing their interests. Processes such as circumlocution, borrowing, phonological modification and semantic shift are said to trigger euphemism. Euphemism is said to be the alternative way of saying the original offensive words, so that the intended meaning is clear while the way of expressing it becomes less offensive and more acceptable. However, being euphemistic does not only mean that the speakers may cause harm to both themselves and the audiences because of uttering offensive words, but also the fact that they may lose the sensibilities of the audience. Dysphemism is also an integral part in linguistics expression. It is said to be the counterpart of euphemism. However, it is seen that dysphemism allows speaker to make and strengthen their position, particularly in the given context of stand up comedy. It also helps to establish mutual agreement and sense of belonging to a particular social group.

Reference list
Allan, K. (2012). X-phemis and creativity. Euphemism as a Word-Formation Process, 7: 5-42.

Burridge, K. (2010). Linguistic cleanliness is next to godliness: Taboo and purism. English Today. 26,2:3-13.

Burridge, K. (2012). Euphemism and language change: The sixth and seventh age. Euphemism as a Word-Formation Process, 7: 65-92.

http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/65021?redirectedFrom=euphemism&

http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/82824

Jamet, D. (2012). Introduction. Euphemism as a Word-Formation Process, 7:3-4.

Oxford English Dictionary (8th ed): Oxford University Press.

Smith, C. (2012). Double whammy! The dysphemistic euphemism implied in unVables such as unmentionables, unprintables,  undesirables. Euphemism as a Word-Formation Process, 7: 121-143.

Seizer, S. (2011). On the use of obscenity in live stand-up comedy. Anthropological Quarterly, 84,1:209 (from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=DA-SORT&inPS=true&prodId=AONE&userGroupName=monash&tabID=T002&searchId=R2&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CA249135901&&docId=GALE%7CA249135901&docType=GALE&role=&docLevel=FUL

The concept of “the tall poppy syndrome”

In this modern era, the differences between people are truly evident. The effects of globalisation can be seen where rich people are getting richer, likewise those who are poorer are getting poorer. In that sense, people are adapting themselves to a social phenomenon where they attempt to distinguish themselves from other people who they think are different from what and who they are. This eventually brings the society into some degree of social stratification where the groups of like minded individuals will tend to group together to share common goals and ideas. However, there is a situation where people in a society expect certain standards from individuals to behave, act and to set up their goals and attain them according to the rules and the society’s expectation. The reason for this would be that the society wants to have a sense of equality for all of its members, so that there will be no individuals who are seen better, richer ore more distinctive than any other member of the society. This notion of promoting a sense of equality for all individuals in the society is known as the tall poppy syndrome.

It is the aim of this paper to discuss the phenomenon of the tall poppy syndrome that often occurs in our society. First of all, this essay will define what actually the term tall poppy syndrome means. This will then discuss the concept and the notion of the tall poppies, as to what extent the tall poppies occur in society including sports, and how the idea of the tall poppy syndrome in Australia is different from what it is thought in America.

In the first place, what the term the tall poppy syndrome means? The idea of the tall poppy syndrome appeared and was introduced in 1989 by Norman Feather, a social psychologist who proposed a theory called ‘Value Based Leadership Theory’ (Feather, 1994, as cited in Meng, Ashkanasy & Hartel, 2003, p. 55). In the Macquarie Dictionary of New words (cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 13), the term tall poppy syndrome is defined as ‘a desire to diminish in stature those people who have attained excellence in a particular field’, and in the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (Moore 1997, p. 1393, as cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 13), as ‘the habit of denigrating or “cutting down” those who are successful, high achievers’.

In a more simplistic way, the term poppy syndrome can be defined as a social phenomenon occurring in a society where a person or a group of people who are considered to be more important, influential, successful and distinctive than other people can cause a sense of criticism and protests. In that sense, the society wants to cut them down in order for them to have a sense of equality (Johansen, 1996, p. 414 cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 4).

Originally, the words tall poppy is defined as ‘a person who is conspicuously successful; freq. one whose distinction, rank, or wealth attracts envious notice or hostility’ (Australian National Dictionary; Ramson, 1988, p. 494; Moore, 1997 p. 1393 as cited in Peeters, 2004 p. 2).

According to Peeters (2004, p. 71), tall poppies are those people or individuals who because of their successfulness and excellence have become the centre of protests and ‘targets for criticism’. This then spreads out to the other Anglo-Saxon countries around the world. In addition to this, the tall poppy syndrome is an Australasian fancy word for ‘envy, jealousy and covetousness’ (Mouly & Sankaran, 2004, p. 36). This phenomenon occurs where there seems to be an unbalanced life between people in the society as a result of unequal opportunities that construct the society itself through culture and gender that makes it difficult for the society to function as a solid and uniform community. One of the negative impacts of this issue is that there is a feeling of satisfaction to see poppies being cut down (Grove & Paccagnella, 1995, p. 88 cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 13). This will bring an unhealthy competition and may result in the situation where society will not develop its understanding of improving individuals’ performance as a part of attaining the goals of the society as a whole.

There are some major reasons why tall poppies occur in society. First of all, an obvious reason would be that people come from different cultural and geographical background. Vala, Pereira, & Lopes (2009, p. 21) state that ‘Cultural differences classify and naturalize’ the differences between superiority and inferiority of some social groups in the society. As it is generally known, the majority of the world’s largest inventions have occurred in western countries, therefore western people tend to be more educated and have more access to the technological advancements compare to those people in the third world. Furthermore, Jones (1972, cited in Vala, Pereira & Lopes, 2009, p. 21) argues that cultural and racial differences are very strong evidences that some groups are more superior to others, and these superior groups should have some degree of power to distinguish themselves. As Allport (1954, cited in Vala, Pereira & Lopes, 2009, p. 22) proposes that the ‘categorization of culture’ undermines prejudice. These are the reason why cultural differences can lead to prejudice and eventually promote the idea of poppy syndrome.

In addition to this, conformity can be another major reason why society expects people to have a sense of equality amongst its citizen. Peetz (2006, p. 25) argues that even though we have our personal goals that we would like to attain, we have to set up these goals according to the society’s standard. We are free in some circumstances, but our freedom is limited. Nun, Crocket & Williams (1978, cited in Feldmen, 2003, p. 46) support this idea by proposing that every one of us encounters the problem of how much individual freedom is necessary and how much social control is needed. What this essentially means is that the society wants to maximise individuals’ freedom by the rules and restrictions that they place on our behaviour.

In sport, the tall poppy syndrome is also a common social phenomenon. This as a result, brings the case to the evaluation of high profile athletes and sport people who get caught and receive publicity for being involved in ‘controversial issues and non-normative behaviours’ such as sexual scandals, drugs use and criminal acts (Grove & Paccagnella, 1995, Paccagnella and Grove, 1997 cited in Paccagnella & Grove, 2001, p. 310). An example of this would be that in Australia, some prominent sport figures such as Pat Cash, Allan Border and Lisa Curry-Kenny are held in higher regard than other famous Australians such as Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch who excelled in arts, politics and business (Feather, 1994, p. 66; Paccagnella & Grove, 2001, p. 312, cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 76). The reasons why sport people are usually held in high regard is that the popular media portray their feats and endeavours as being almost super human. They are seen as heroes and the general public will celebrate their achievements as well as promoting them as role models for younger generation (Paccagnella & Grove, 2001, p. 312).

An exception would be Brendan Fevola who was known as one of the most successful footballers in the Australian Football League (AFL). He is considered to be a tall poppy because he is a well-known athlete who earns a lot of money throughout his football career. However, once he was involved in scandals and criminal acts, the public suddenly turned on him and media in particular, focuses on his exploits in lots of detail. This eventually forced the two AFL clubs, Carlton and Brisbane to sack him up, and he quit the football and loss his career. In this case, Fevola has become ‘a victim of the tall poppy syndrome’ because he was a high profile and talented athlete who has done a reasonably successful job. However, he ‘suffered a loss of public face and reputation’ in committing a variety of unsavoury public acts (Peeters, 2004, p. 12). This is a practical example of how the society treats poppies once they perform unexpected behaviours that will eventually cause them to be cut down. Furthermore, peoples’ attitudes towards athletes with high profile are also very high. People expect them to behave in a certain manner and keep their profile and reputation save, as if they do not the society will eventually take them down and they may end up losing their jobs and career. These sport people are part of high profile sporting clubs who expect certain levels of professional behaviour. The rewards are great, but the fall from grace can be even greater.

In egalitarian countries such as Australia, tall poppy is a common social phenomenon where the society wants a sense of equality amongst its people. If there are people who are seen to be distinctive from others, the society will attempt to pull them down. The reason why the society wants to have a sense of equality is because when those high earners are getting more successful, they will eventually seek out authority, power and influence over others (House & Aditya, 1997 cited in Meng, Ashkanasy & Hartel, 2003, p. 54). Furthermore, Australia is known as a country that always attempts to cut their poppies down, especially when ‘they are getting too tall’ (Mitchell, 1984, p. 1 as cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 9).

In America on the other hand, people believe that there should be some level of differences amongst its people as a result of different aspects of life such as educational background, cultural differences and the fact that privilege and opportunity will play some role in how successful people may become (Class and the American Dream, 2005 cited in Mandizodza, Jost & Unzueta, 2006, p. 659). The Americans believe that there must be a social boundary and ‘people get what they deserve and deserve what they get’ (Lerner, 1980, Major & Schmader, 2001 as cited in Mandizodza, Jost & Unzueta, 2006, p. 659). Moreover, Americans believe that ‘nearly everyone can achieve prosperity’ ((Cawelti, 1965; Hochschild, 1995; Weiss, 1969/1988, cited in Mandizodza, Jost & Unzueta, 2006, p. 659).Therefore, there is an assumption that the Australians do not ‘value wealth, power and mastery as highly as the Americans do’ (Feather, 1998, Hofstede, 1991/1997, Schwartz, 1994, cited in Mandizodza, Jost & Unzueta, 2006, p. 660).

However, The tall poppies in Australia are not essentially about attacking ‘its highest achievers’, but rather ‘cut down’ those people as if they  have more achievements, they will eventually become stereotypes and end up believing that they are better than other people (Peeters (2004, p. 75). Furthermore the author also believes that once these ‘highest achievers’ place too much attention on their achievements, they will tend to distinguish and isolate themselves as they would think that they are ‘different’ from others. In addition to this, there will be a sense of social stratification in the society where poppies will try to put themselves in a higher status than other people believe their own hype. It is also believed that the tall poppies should be cut down even though they have done ‘nothing wrong’ (Feather, 1989, cited in Peeters, 2004, p. 8). The phrase “nothing wrong” serves a meaning that the Australian society tends to strongly reduce the numbers of its tall poppies even though these high achievers have not done anything bad that can harm the people. Through their efforts and achievements they may have actually created substantial improvements and benefits for their community. This may not be realised for many years later.

In conclusion, the tall poppy syndrome often occurs in society as a result of different aspect that construct the society itself such as culture and self conformity, where individuals set up their personal goals. At the same time they attain these goals based on the standards that have been set up by the society. The tall poppies in the sporting area are also evident as people pay more attention and put high standards and reputation onto the sport figures. It is also seen that the notion of the tall poppy syndrome in Australia is different from what it is thought in America. Australia tends to be more egalitarian where the society expects a sense of equality for its people, whereas the Americans believe in the idea of individual freedom to pursue their life’s dream. The more effort and sacrifices they are prepared to make will influence the ultimate success they may achieve. For that success comes wealth, privilege, power and respect.

Reference List

Feldmen, S, 2003, Enforcing social conformity: A theory of authorisation, in Political psychology, vol. 24, no.1, pp. 41-74.

Mandisodza, AN, Jost, JT & Unzueta, MM, 2006, Tall poppies and American dreams: Reactions to rich and poor in Australia and the United States, in Journal of cross-cultural psychology, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 659-668.

Meng, YK, Ashkanasy, NM, & Hartel, CEJ, 2003, The effects of Australian tall poppy attitudes on American value based leadership theory, in International journal of value-based management, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 53-65.

Mouly, VS & Sankaran, JK, 2002, The enactment of envy within organizations: Insights from a New Zealand academic department, in The enactment of envy within organizations, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 36-56.

Paccagnella, M & Grove, JR, 2001, Attitudes towards high achievers in sport: An adaptation of Feather’s tall poppy scale, in  Journal of science and medicine in sport, vol.4, no. 3, pp. 310-323.

Peeters, B, 2004, ‘‘Thou shalt not be a tall poppy’’: Describing an Australian communicative (and behavioural) norm, in Intercultural pragmatics, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 71-92.

Peeters, B, 2004,Tall poppies and egalitarianism in Australian discourse: From key word to cultural value, in English worldwide, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 1-25.

Peetz, D, 2006, ‘You’re all individuals?: Some myths about individualism and collectivism’, in Brave new workplace: how individual contracts are changing our jobs, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 23-47.

Vala, J, Pereira, C & Lopes, RC, 2009, Is the attribution of cultural differences to minorities an expression of racial prejudice? in International journal of psychology, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 20–28.

McLuhan: The medium is the message

‘[T]he ‘message of any medium or technology is the change of scale, pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs…[For example]the railway…accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human function , creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure’ (McLuhan, 1964: 8). Discuss in relation to a contemporary communication technology that you think is having the kind of consequences outlined by McLuhan and ‘medium theory’.

In this modern world, media has been very powerful as a source of information and power. Medium such as television, radio, newspapers and the internet have become the major source of information. These medium contain some particular messages that introduce a new way of living. Through the invention and development of technology, people can now use these medium to develop communication process. However, these medium are also the message itself that people sometimes do not realize as people tend to focus on the messages that the medium brings. Marshal McLuhan’s notion of this have been an interesting issue amongst media theorist to examine how can it be that the medium itself is the message.

This essay will discuss McLuhan’s idea of change in the ‘scale, pace and pattern’ of human affairs. This paper will then examine what McLuhan and other ‘medium theorists’ mean by ‘medium’ and the ‘medium is the message’. This essay will also discuss a contemporary communication technology particularly mobile phone, its relationship with the medium theory and how it has impacted society and culture.

In the first place, the medium theory was predominantly introduced by Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), a Canadian academic who proposed a very well known idea in media studies which is called ‘the medium is the message’ (Abercrombie & Longhurst, 2007, p. 207). This idea then spread out around the world and became influential in media studies. ‘The medium is the message’, is actually a very difficult concept by McLuhan, as the idea of this theory has become quite complex amongst media theorists. According to Stevenson (1995, p. 115), Marshal McLuhan’s idea then became an exhibition of technological determinism. Chandler (1996, p. 1) argues that technological determinism is commonly associated with broad claims about social and historical changes. This critic then leads to the difficulties in understanding and analyzing the differences that cultural media has on our everyday live.

However, the emphasis of this notion is simply on the medium itself where according to McLuhan, ‘the medium is the message’. This is because the effects of medium on personal and social scale as the extension of us can result from a new scale that is introduced into our lives by the extension of ourselves and by any kind of new technology (McLuhan, 1964, p. 7). In this case, the medium can be TV programs, newspaper, radio news, etc. which are the meaning that can convey the message to create ‘awareness and initial imagery’ and as tools to carry the meaning of advertising (Kwiatkowski, 1998, p. 44). What this means is essentially that the power and the message can be found in the medium itself. According to McLuhan, the power of the message lays on the medium itself rather than on the content of the message. He believes that each medium changes human relations and relations with time and space. On this basic notion, human history can be divided into oral, print and electronic cultures.

The message itself is very important to be considered as the way in which a message is transferred within the medium therefore becomes as important as the message itself (Taylor & Willis, 1999, p. 3). In other words, the model in which a message is conveyed can give a huge contribution to the way we understand or define the meaning of the message in media text (p. 4).

In some major cases, however, people tend to think in an old way that the meaning of the medium which refers to the mass-media of communication such as Television, radio or internet is the message as content of information in the channels themselves (Federman, 2004, p. 1). This then lead to the conclusion that the medium should be ignored as it only brings the message that people need without realizing that the medium can sometimes be more meaningful than the message itself. McLuhan in his writing took an example of electric light to explain this notion and how this light works as a medium, connects with the message that it conveys. McLuhan (1964, p. 8) states that the electric light is pure information and plays a role as a medium without a message unless it is thought in some particular circumstances. For example, electric lights do not contain any message in the daylight. However, the meaning or message can be more meaningful if we see the lights in the night as it can give an idea that we need the lights in the night. This concept then emphasizes the importance of electric lights in redefining social relation (McLuhan, 1994, p. 52, cited in Stevenson, 1995, p. 117). The electric lights contain no message, but it transforms relation of time and space.

According to Meyrowitz (1997, p. 42), change in media in the past have affected the information that people have in ‘given places’. As a result, it also changed the relative status and power of those in different places. However, it can also be said that the relationship between places and social situation is still very strong because technological advancement through mobile devices makes it easier for us to get connected with people around the world at a different time and occasion. Mayrowitz believes that when we are communicating through telephone, radio, television or computer, we are ‘physically no longer determines where and who we are socially’. From this idea, it can be concluded that these medium play the role as the message itself whereby it introduces a completely different way of communicate things and pass the message to other people.

Furthermore, McLuhan proposed the idea of ‘the message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affair’ (McLuhan, 1964, p. 8). He examines the idea of the railway that introduces a big change in human history. What he means is that the railway itself is a message that tells people about a new kind life and world that replace the human functions. In other words, before the railway was invented, humans used to travel to other places and carry their products without having transport system. This happens as a conventional way of travelling and trading systems.

However, since the railway was invented, the system changed to be more convenient as people can travel and move faster flexible. This then change the conventional idea of time and space where people see these two aspects as new and transformational humans’ invention. This is because the elimination of space and time is certainly influenced by technological advancements in mass communication (Stevenson, 1995, p. 122).

A practical example of the idea of the medium is the message would be the case of mobile phones. This device, as all people know creates a very significant breakthrough in humans’ history. Mobile communication is now creating a sense of new way of communicating with other people even in a different place, time and circumstance. This type of communication is enabled by mobile media such as mobile phones, television or radio, which can promote the idea of a mobile way of life. According to Abercrombie and Longhurst (2007, p. 225), the introduction to ‘greater mobility’ is caused by technological changes that enable people to mobilize their way of living. The advent of portable radios, CD, or television has made live much easier and flexible. The new greater invention in digital technology has introduced even greater opportunity to create better communication process.

Mobile phones would be the focus of the notion of mobile communication. As it is commonly found that almost everyone in the world has access to mobile phones and flexibly use them as a major device to communicate. Mobile phone has now developed not only for voice conversation, but also for texting, email, and downloading music and pictures (Abercrombie & Longhurst, 2007, p. 226). The impacts of mobile phones on economy and culture are also relevant to be discussed. Mobile phones have evolved in a very short time to become tools of economic empowerment, especially for those people who live in the third world (The Economist, 2009, p. 13). The benefits of this can be seen through infrastructural compensation for bas roads creating a totally free marketing system and efficient entrepreneurship. The message of this breakthrough is lying on the mobile phones themselves as the message to reinforce the idea that mobile phones have changed human life from more conventional way of communicating to a more convenient and flexible way.

In conclusion, the medium that carry messages can also be the messages as what McLuhan has proposed. ‘The medium is the message’ conveys meaning that it is not always the case to say that the medium only brings messages. In other words, the medium itself can create a totally different perspective of technological developments in communication. As McLuhan’s idea of the railway, this has created a totally different human’s perspective of time and space. Mobile phones which has introduced a much more flexible way of communicating things. The impacts of mobile phones on the culture itself are also significant where people now tend to experience a more mobilized way of living.

Reference list

Abercrombie, N, & Longhurst, B, 2007, Dictionary of media studies, New York: Penguin Books.

Chandler, D, 1996, Engagement with media: Shaping and being shaped, An article for computer mediated communication magazine, pp. 1-7

Chandler, D, The transmission model of communication, pp. 1-9

Federman, M, 2004, What is the meaning of the medium is the message? (from http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.pdf).

Kwiatkowski, K, 1998, The medium is the message-Marshall McLuhan, in Research currents, pp. 44-45.

McLuhan, M, 1964, “The medium is the message”, in Understanding media: The extensions of man, London: Routledge, pp. 7-13.

Meyrowitz, J, 1997, “The separation of social space from physical place”, in Tim O’ Sullivan and Yvonne Jewkes (eds), The media studies reader, London: Edward Arnold, pp. 42-50.

Stevenson, N, 1995, Understanding media culture: Social theory and mass communication, London: Sage Publications.

Taylor, L & Willis, A, 1999, Media studies: Texts, institutions and audiences, Melbourne: Blackwell Publishing.

The Economist, 2009, The power of mobile money: A Special report on telecoms in emerging markets, pp. 13-19.

Textual Analysis on NIKE Advertisement

In this modern world, it is undeniable that there have been a lot of brands competing with each other to get much more consumers. One of the top brands in the world is Nike. This kind of brand is so popular and familiar amongst people, especially because of the sportspeople who endorse the brand. Nike with its popularity utilises many different kind of marketing strategies, including using famous sportspersons as tools to advertise their goods and services. However, it is arguable that the existence of Nike as one of the top branded items in the world seems to create a kind of social stratification where people are thought to be different from each other when they wear the Nike products. Certain people may consider themselves as better than others simply because they have some particular Nike items that are considered to be expensive and prestigious or they feel that the Nike brand will give them a performance edge.

This essay will discuss the Nike logo with one of the most famous and expensive football player, Christiano Ronaldo.  I will be looking at how the Nike’s company advertises their product by utilising famous sportspeople such as Ronaldo, as Nike also is the main sponsor for Portugal football team in every football event. The media studies theory that I am using in this essay is basically of textual analysis and advertisements. Firstly, I am going to give a brief explanation of the Nike’s history. Secondly I will focus on NIKE advertisements from the perspective of advertising theory as well as the discussion of the images chosen.

To start with, the logo Nike was found in America in January 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by William J. Bill and Philp H. Knight. It officially became Nike, Inc. in 1978. Nowadays, Nike is said to be the most leading and major sport equipment supplier and publicly traded sportswear in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.)

As it is evident, sports and the media have a very strong symbiotic relationship which is considered to benefit each other. However, The Nike Company strongly utilities the media to advertise their products while the media ownerships take this advantage as a great opportunity to enhance their influences and authority over the public. By continuously advertising the Nike products, media ownerships and those who are the ruling elite will significantly exert more and more influences over the audience. This also leads to what is called ‘hegemony’. Watson (2008, p. 22) argue that media are the most powerful instruments of ‘hegemonic’ culture where the ruling classes put more pressures and persuasions to control the media. In other words, Nike will surely cooperate or even control the media to propagandise the consumer behaviour towards their products.

Using famous sportspersons to advertise their products will give a huge advantage for the Nike Company, as there will be more consumers who end up buying their products due to the reason that the sportspeople chosen are usually high profile and admired by the sporting public. The logo ‘just do it’ serves a very important meaning and teaches a particular ideology that whatever people want to do, they can just do that without having to consider the effects on others, whether it is good or bad. Some authors have proposed that brands serve some particular advantages to the consumers ‘in terms of product quality’. Buyers may end up believing that advertised brands have better quality than brands that do not get advertised (Mehta, 2000, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23). Furthermore, Shavitt and Lowrey (1998, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23) argue that branded goods are much more valuable that items that are not, because certain people, when buying, need to consider the value, quality, and ‘long time customer service’, which leads to the process of ‘decision making’. Nike itself, which is also known for its quality, is seen to have the capabilities to fulfil the customers demand and meet the consumers’ satisfaction and expectation.

Christiano Ronaldo, as it is seen from the image, running and dribbling the ball while the other players are left far behind him and look unlikely to get the ball from him. Different people may have different attitudes and offer different perspective towards this image. However, this will promote the idea that when people buy the right foot wear and clothing which are similar to what Ronaldo does, they will automatically become more confident and will definitely exceed in everything that they do. They will also think that they are better than other people when they use the Nike products as a result of the idea of superior social status. The colour of the shoes which are green, serves a particular meaning that when people consume the Nike products, coolness and confidence will always be part of their lives. The background of the image also has a very important role in strengthening the meaning that the image has to offer. The colour black with a thunder storm and rain show that stronger mind and more self confidence are achievable.

In most of its advertisements with Christiano Ronaldo, Nike always emphasises on the term ‘only for the fastest’. This is a clear example of how Nike utilises this term as a tool of propaganda to encourage people to consume more of their products, so that they can potentially become as fast as Ronaldo. This is a very attractive idea for young people who love sport, particularly football because public figure such as Ronaldo is very familiar to them. At the same time, people are caught up in consumerism, as when ‘advertising affects the prices of goods and services’, consumers will then have ‘to pay higher prices’ for ‘the value that brands provide’ (Sheehan, 2005, p. 17). This happens to Nike where the majority of its products are considered to be higher in prices, so that the consumers are forced to pay higher prices and do so willingly if they want to have particular products that Nike has to offer.

However, there is a situation where reputation seems to appear as the main priority. Political consumerist activists are concerned about what Nike has been doing in The Third World countries where they treat their workers with a very low wages (Peretti, 2004, p.127). The author believes that Nike tends to focus more on their “brand image’ and their best interests rather than the rights of its workers in the Third World. From that sense, Nike uses the internet media to make it easier for its consumers to buy their products online to give them the ‘freedom of choice and freedom to express one’s own lifestyle identity’. However, Peretti in his email to the ‘NIKE iD’ raises the concerns about what he called ‘sweatshop’ (p. 128). This changes everything as his email manage to reach such a broad audience informing on how the Nike Company treated their workers.

In addition to this, females in Nike advertisements are rarely seen. It is probably due to the reason that female experience in sport is restricted and they do not have as significant role play as male in sport, even though there have been major changes towards woman’s role in sports in recent times. The methodology that Nike uses to advertise their products and service seems to show that there is a gender biased and inequality. It can be said that in most of its advertisements, females are rarely seen promoting Nike products.

In conclusion, Nike with its great reputation in the market can potentially influence the consumer by promoting attractive lifestyle and sporting images. Likewise,  media cooperation are also able to expand their influence over the audience by cleaver advertising and marketing strategies. Christiano Ronaldo with his popularity can be a very significant asset and weapon for Nike to persuade their consumers to consume more of their products, even though the huge fees paid to these people raises the price of a Nike product. However, there will always be a significant section of the community who will not support a company which does not treat its workers ethically. This consumers will look for an alternative sports brand which may not be as well know as Nike but treats its workers especially those in poorer countries in a much more ethical manner in relation to wages and working condition. Therefore, it may not be just a question of advertising using well known sportspeople or the notion of a superior product or brand that will influence people in their final decision to purchase one brand over another. The idea of ‘social stratification’ and different group will always be there as a result of the notion.

 

 Reference List

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.

http://media.photobucket.com/image/nike+with+ronaldo+/mkkamaru/nikefootball/WP_mercurial_1024x768.jpg (accessed 9 December 2010, 3:45 AEDST).

Peretti, Jonah, (2004) ‘The Nike Sweatshop Email: Political consumerism, Internet, and Culture Jamming, in Michele Micheletti, Andreas Follesdal, and Dietlind Stolle (eds), Politics, Products, and Markets: Exploring Political Consumerism Past and Present, pp. 127-142, London: Transaction Publishers.

Sheehan, Kim, (2005) ‘Are Goods Bad? Living in Consumer culture’, in Controversies in Contemporary Culture, Thousand Oaks London, New Delhi: Sage, pp.17-33

Watson, James, (2008) ‘Hegemony an Overview’ and ‘Signs, Codes, Texts’ in Media Communications: An Introduction to Theory and Process, New York: Palgrave, pp.22-28.

The relevance of religion in the 21st century

In this modern era, religion has been a very controversial issue around the world. Religion and the idea of believing God may seem ridiculous as there are more people who lose their faith and prefer to become atheist. People are now questioning whether religion is relevant in today’s world, and for some people, the idea of God’s existence seems doubtful and improbable. This is because people may feel that this life is just a normal existence. There is no all powerful being or entity that is controlling human life. Humans live their life every day, doing their jobs, eating, drinking, sleeping, etc, and there seems to be nothing special or exclusive affecting the normal cause of life.

This essay will examine the relevance of religion in today’s world. First of all, the term religion will be defined; along with as to what extent the current religion is different from what it was thought in the past. This paper will also discuss the controversial issue between religion (Creation Theory) and scientific researches (Evolution Theory). This also explains how religion can help people to develop personal and group identities, particularly as to what extent the religion plays in its role in stabilizing human lives.

In the first place, religion is basically identical to the notion of believing in the existence of an Almighty God or something that is higher than a person or thing. Many people argued that believing things that are considered unusual and supernatural in this life can potentially be said religious. However, some authors have proposed that the term religion is a hard topic to be defined for it appears as an ‘intractable problem’ and there is no way to prevent controversy (George, 2006, p. 12; Teehan, 2010, p. 45). George argues that the definition of religion was too specific. McGrath (2001, cited in George, 2006, p. 13) points out the two different types of approaches in defining the term religion. The ‘detached’ approach, examines the idea of religion in terms of philosophical and social science, and it does not suggest a monotheistic or moral system as what Christianity does; the ‘committed’ theory, on the other hand, see the religion from the notion of Christian theory of creation.  In addition, McGrath mentions the definition of religion and its role in society. Firstly, religion is an object of human feeling; God is the central projection of fears and a hope, meaning that the only one that people should fear of and hope in is God alone. Secondly, religion is ‘a wish fulfillment; ritual within society’ to show our expression of fear, and religion is a ‘human invention or idolatry’, because it is the human attempting to make God as an idol in the centre of their life. From this point of view, Erickson (1998, cited in George, 2006, p. 14) concludes that religion is ‘a belief in something higher than the individual human person’, or it can be ‘a personal god or a whole collection of supernatural beings’. Griffith and Griggs (2001, cited in Balkin, Schlosser, & Levitt, 2009, p. 420) state that when there is a process where we obligate and explore a kind of religious beliefs and practices, we are showing our religious identity.

In the past, the religions were the main centre of knowledge and learning process. The priests would educate their followers to do certain things and follow in some particular paths. For example, in Catholic Churches, there was a doctrine that whoever made sins, had to pay some amount of money to the Church so that their sins would be cleaned. This idea no longer exists in today’s world, because people are now more educated and knowledgeable. The information highway has caused an explosion in ideas and thoughts. This has carried the world over into a diverse and variety of religions and religious beliefs. Traditional beliefs also have a vast array of specialized and fundamental splinter groups that practice variations on a theme.

In this modern world, religion and science are considered to be in opposition against one another. Both of them are sometimes fundamentally thought as ‘stereotypes’, because they ‘misrepresent their real nature’ (Schilling, 2009, p.3). There have been a variety of different thoughts regarding the notion of religious beliefs and scientific researches on as to what extent human should believe in. Pinker (1997, cited in McAdams 2006, p. 34) states that the life on earth began when there was a replicator. This replicator started to multiply its copies and continue to produce more ‘grand copies’ by using materials and chemical substance. Pinker also believes that the theory of human evolution as concluded by Charles Darwin (1859) seems to bring people’s perspective into the idea that living creatures, including humans during their period of evolution have experienced and evolved some particular changes to their posture and physical appearance due to the reason that they needed to adjust themselves to their environments and nature in order to survive both individually and as a species. McAdams (2006, p. 34) argues that even though we come from different place or what we have in common with others, we are still the ‘products of evolution’.

However, creation theory argues that there is an Almighty God who created the earth within six days and the God himself had also created human on the sixth day. In Genesis 1 versus 1, it is said that ‘in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (English Standard Version, p. 1). God also created a woman form the man’s rib and asked them to keep all the things that God has made. Meanwhile the bible says that humans fell into the sins and have to work hard for forgiveness and survive in order to reproduce more of their descendents. This notion seems to have some kind of similarities to the scientific theory of ‘natural selection’ where the smartest organism that can produce survival and reproduction of their next generation will succeed (McAdams, 2006, p. 35). In this case, we, human can survive because we are not the fastest or the strongest animal, but we are the smartest animal on earth. The concept of humans as animals is wrong from theological perspective, as God says in the bible ‘let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26, ESV, p. 1). Therefore Christians believe that we are not animals because we were created in the same image as our creator which is God. We are wiser and smarter than animals, but we are not animals.

From this point of view, we can say that both religion and science are rational and irrational. Religion is rational because we can simply imagine how people have their time with God and experience something in their lives as a real proof that God exists. Unfortunately, religion is sometimes irrational by the way we treat people better that only belong to our religion than those who do not, as God says that we should love others as the way we love ourselves (Mathew 22:39, ESV, p. 582). Additionally, religion believes in something that is invisible, as Dawkins (2006) believes that religion is evil because it teaches us to behave irrationally and believe irrational things. Science is also considered irrational, because through science, people make bombs and nuclear weapons. After all, scientists are just human, so that they can also make mistakes and be irrational.

Religion is also considered to be helpful in developing individual and collective identities.  Religion teaches someone to respect others and not to do bad things. However, we cannot simply say that whoever does good things and those who do not harm others are religious people. Meanwhile, there are in fact, people who are religious and educated, but try to harm others with their knowledge and influence in the society as what happen in terrorism all in the name of their god. The effects of this would be that people are taught to see Islam as a terrorist religion that we should be aware of. It is because there are some Islamic groups who fight for their freedom and to show their identity in forceful manner and behavior. They terrorize other people and bomb other countries as what happened on September 11. In this modern world, we can still see people having responsibilities and good attitudes towards other people, even though they do not follow any particular kind of religion or religious beliefs. Furthermore, being involved in a particular religion or religious beliefs will give people a sense of ‘social belongingness’, because they can get love, feel safe and have their fellow’s attention (Berl, Williamson, & Powell, 1984, p. 33). It can also create stronger ties with their ‘neighbors’ who can provide help without having to consider the issue of ‘ethnicity’ (Teehan, 2010, p. 117). On the contrary, being in the same group of religion does not always have a positive impact. There may be different ideas and opinions within the group that can potentially create problems and controversy. For instance, Christian Protestants believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and he has already come to save the world. However, the other Christian group such as Jewish believes that The Messiah is still yet to come, so that they are still waiting. Another example would be the marriage issue. Mormons believe that people, particularly its followers can marry more than once, but mainstream Christian religions believe that people should only have one spouse at a time. These are the reasons why similar group of religions do not always have similar thoughts and doctrines.

In a social group, religion is used to distinguish one particular social group with the other groups. For example, we can simply define people who go to church every Sunday as Christians and those who are wearing burqa as Muslims.  Ysseldyk, Matheson & Anisman, (2010, p. 60) argue that religious beliefs can be seen from someone’s behavior that they present to the society. Therefore, people can identify which kind of religious beliefs they belong to. Furthermore, Lichterman (2008, p. 83) argues that people use religious beliefs to define their group identities. They use ‘religious language’ for example, to build up their group identities and ‘relationships’, to understand who they are, and to show how they should interact with those who are in the same group and those who are considered ‘outsiders’. From this idea, ‘People also can use religious language to construct civic identities and relationships—that is, defined insiders and outsiders’ (p. 85). This brings us to the idea of in group love and out group hate, where people in the same group of religion live in the situation where they can help and benefit others. However, people will often consider those who have different religion as their enemies because of not believing the same god, or people may undervalue other religions and think that the religion they belong to is superior and the others are inferior. This concept is very different from what Jesus said about enemies. In Luke 4:27, it is said that we have to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Jesus also says that we even have to bless those who curse us and pray for those who abuse us (ESV, p. 607). Even though this sounds ridiculous, there is no doubt that we, in fact, need to have enemies in our life so that we can improve our selves and perform much better.

Religion values and teaching can also affect government policies and practices over its citizens. In Australia for instance, even though the government seems not to follow any kind of religious beliefs, there have been very positive programs that they run and can benefit people such as social justice programs and unemployment training benefits. There are also pensions for older and sick citizens. Above all, the core values of religion that the governments promote and offer are to respect individual rights, so that everyone has the equal opportunity to develop their life and improve their self through education, training and other social activities that can benefit the citizens.

In conclusion, the debate of the relevance of religion is so complicated because scientific research explores things that are contradictive to what people are taught in their religion and their religious practices. No matter what people think of religion, it is undeniable that religion plays a very important role in stabilizing human lives, especially in developing identities. People who are religious will see that their lives and this world from the beginning until the end are controlled by God and no one can avoid it. However, others may consider that this life is just what it is and the only thing that they should be doing is to live this life and to enjoy things that have already existed. There is no right or wrong idea on this theme, as long as people hold on to what they believe in and not to force their ideas onto others as the only way to live. It is better to combine and utilize the idea of religion and knowledge to make the world a better place to live in for everyone, so that people and the coming future generations can still enjoy and experience that the world has to offer.

Reference list

Balkin, RS, Schlosser, LZ, & Levitt, DH, 2009, Religious identity and cultural diversity: Exploring the relationships between religious identity, sexism, homophobia, and multicultural competence, in Journal of Counseling and Development, vol. 87, pp. 420-427.

Dawkins, R. 2006, The God delusion, pp. 31-50, Black Swan, London.

George, S. 2006, Religion and technology in the 21st century: Faith in the E-world, Information Science Publishing & Idea Group, Inc., London.

Lichterman, P. 2008, Religion and the construction of civic identity, American Sociological               Review, vol. 73, no. 1, pp. 83-104.

McAdams, D. 2006, Evolution and human nature, in The Person: A New Introduction to Personality Psychology, 4th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, pp. 33-70.

Schilling, HK. 2009, Science and religion: An interpretation of two communities, vol. 27, London, Routledge.

Teehan, J. 2010, In the name of god: The evolutionary origins of religious ethics and violence, Wiley-Blacwell & Sons Ltd, London.

The Holy Bible, English standard version. 2005, Crossway, Illinois.

Ysseldyk, R, Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. 2010, Religiosity as identity: Toward an understanding of religion from a social identity perspective, in Personality and Social Psychology Review, vol. 14. no. 1, pp. 60-71.

Textual Analysis

Select/find an Australian television program, magazine, advertisement, film, music or radio program from the 1950s or 1960s. What does it look like, and/or sound like? Investigate the government, industry and other social factors that influenced its content and reception.

In this modern world, it is evident that advertisements have gained much more attention in media production. The development of television has lead to the growth of advertising industries, as well as commercial media production. In Australia for example, the introduction and significant development of television in the 1950s and 1960s has brought a new shape and new form in regards to how advertising industries utilise modern media technology. An advertisement that once ever existed in the Australian television in the 1950s until 1960s was coca cola.

It is the contention of this essay to discuss this coca cola advertisement. Firstly, this essay will discuss the notion of paradigm and syntagm in relation to how the message of the advertisement is built upon. Secondly, this essay will demonstrate a textual analysis based on the coca cola advertisement that has been selected. This essay will further discuss how significant elements such as social values, government, and ideology affect the production of media texts and images. The arguments of this essay are constructed upon the key theoretical background of textual analysis.

In the first place, the notion of paradigm and syntagm are two very important aspects that an advertising industry needs to consider in order for it to succeed. According to Watson (2008, p. 54), paradigm refers to “sets of possibilities from which choices are made”.  Therefore, coca cola has chosen words and images that both represent common sense and meaning (Rayner, Walt and Kruger, 2001, p. 30). This is demonstrated through the use of words “refresh yourself, enjoy yourself, be really refresh with coke”. This phrase associates with a meaning that when people buy coca cola, they will enjoy themselves and feel fresh. Another important choice of language is “you will work and play at your sparkling best”. This carries a meaning that by drinking coca cola, people will have more energy and higher performance edge on their daily basis activities, as well as the idea that the only thing people can do to perform at their best is to drink coca cola. Syntagm also contributes to the interpretation of meaning, by which those selections of words are put together in an understandable manner or narrative (Watson, 2008, p. 54).

This advertisement is constructed upon iconic and symbolic figures. The figures on this advertisement are the three young and beautiful girls who are singing and dancing in a room, with a box full of cold coca cola (figure 1). This encourages audiences to interpret that drinking coca cola will give them a sense of relaxation and happiness. This also represents the Australian culture, in regards to how Australians love beaches. The target market of this advertisement is young Australians who enjoy beaches. This can be shown through figure 2, where it shows some young Australians who are having some fun at the beach. Beach represents relaxation and enjoyment as well as emphasising a place that people should go to refresh themselves from stress and boredom.

In terms of its relevance with social significance and values, coca cola represents the idea of creating a stronger tie and develop better relationships amongst family members. Figure 3 represents this notion in regards to a situation where people are having special occasion or family reunion in a form of barbeque party. In this particular family occasion, coca cola would be their favourite drinks. The same situation goes to figure 4, where if someone is having friends coming over for a visit, the drinks that he or she would serve was going to be coca cola.

In addition to this, government also contributes to the production and deliverance of advertisement in this particular period of time. The establishment of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) in 1928 has brought a new shape of how the advertisement industry in Australia is regulated. According to Crawford (2008, p. 127), AANA “appeared the least bothered by government intervention”. This means that the government does not necessarily have the legitimate power to control over the production of advertisement within the industry. This is because AANA insists that insignificance controls by government on advertising would tend to damage the quality of commercial advertisement (Crawford, 2008, p. 128). This relies entirely on the knowledge and experience of ANNA on control over the information flow.

Advertisement is a very powerful tool that media producers use to teach some kind of ideology. In this case, media audiences are compelled to believe this idea by consuming the products that are being shown on broadcast media, in this case television. Television is said to have more power in influencing their audience thorough images and sound (Cunningham, 2010, p. 36). Advertisers will use certain types of strategy to encourage audiences to fell that they are actually in the image itself. This refers to what Watson (2008, p. 22) believed as “hegemony”, where people are in a sense controlled by media elites through advertisement. The ruling class will use their power and authority mainly for economic and personal interests. From here, it can be concluded that the main aim of advertising industries is to seek personal or group benefits.

Another important point is that coca cola is a branded item, which most of people would certainly recognise as “a sweet fizzy drink” (Miller, 1998, p. 8). Some authors have proposed that brands serve some particular advantages to the consumers ‘in terms of product quality’. Buyers may end up believing that advertised brands have better quality than brands that do not get advertised (Mehta, 2000, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23). Furthermore, Shavitt and Lowrey (1998, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23) argue that branded goods are much more valuable that items that are not, because certain people, when buying, need to consider the value, quality, and ‘long time customer service’, which leads to the process of ‘decision making’.

In conclusion, this essay has intended to examine the production of coca cola advertisement in Australia in 1950s to 1960s along with the basic textual analysis of this particular advertisement. It is found that government seemed to have less interference on the production of advertisement due to the existence of individual and organisational power. Social and cultural aspects also contribute in the production, in terms of how people perceive the message and ideology behind the advertisement. Even though advertisement emphasises conservative point of view by minority group, people are free to make their own decision and not to be propagandised.

Reference List

Crawford, R. (2008). The lucky industry? The advertising industry from 1956 to 1970, in But wait, there’s more: A history of Australian advertising, 1900-2000, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, pp. 125-149

Cunningham, S. (2010). Policy, in S. Cunningham and G. Turner (eds.). The media and communication in Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwind, pp. 31-48.

http://www.aana.com.au/pages/our-story.html, accessed Thursday, 22 March 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuBtfdROWug, accessed Monday, 19 March 2012.

Miller, D. (1998). Why some things matter? In Daniel Miller (ed.). (1998). Material cultures, London: University College London Press, pp. 3-21.

Rayner, P., Walt, P and  Kruger, S. (2001). Image analysis (codes etc.),  in Media studies: The essential introduction, London: Routledge, pp. 29-43

Sheehan, K. (2005) Are goods bad? Living in consumer culture, in Controversies in contemporary culture, New Delhi: Sage, pp.17-33.

Watson, J. (2008). Hegemony an overview and Signs, codes, texts, in Media communications: An introduction to theory and process, New York: Palgrave, pp.22-28 and pp. 49-59.

Internet VS Traditional media

What has been the impact of the internet on the authority of traditional media such as television, radio and print?

The development of the internet has been very dramatic in the last few decades.  The internet is said to have gained much attention in its unstoppable development.  It is said that the role of the internet in the flow of information has created a sense of “new era in communication” (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003, p. 3). This sophistication also allows people to access new information and knowledge about the world and the way people live their lives. According to Holmes, 2005, p. 2), people who use the internet “not only encounter and use information and communication technology”, but also “their modes of action are enframed by these technology”. However, in regards to its impact on traditional media, the internet is seen as threat that will eventually take over the role of traditional media. This is a big issue where the first media age is now encountering challenges to win back their audience and even to survive from extinction.  Some people certainly believe that since the invention of the internet, the first media age is starting to lose its dominant roles as the major source of information for public.

It is the contention of this essay to examine the positive and negative impacts of the internet on broadcast media. This paper will firstly examine the positive impacts of the internet in terms of the creation of information or network society. The second part of this paper will discuss the negative aspect of the internet on traditional media in regards to the decline of audiences and the loss of broadcasts’ dominance.

In the first place, internet is somewhat different from traditional broadcast media. According to Yoon and Kim (2001), there are some aspects that distinguish the internet from broadcasting. There are no restrictions in terms of “delivery of information beyond time and space”, the source of information is unlimited, as well as the ability to focus on specific group of people. Internet is faster in the way it distributes the information through the “digitalisation and electrification” of the message (Poster, 1995, p. 3).

The internet proposes the idea of “communication of many to many in chosen time on a global scale” (Castells, 2003, p. 2). This allows people to have a sense of freedom by which they can express their thoughts and feelings. This is different from what broadcasts media are doing in relation to one speaks to many, where senders choose the information and meanwhile the receivers absorb everything that they get from the media (Negroponte, 1995; Poster 1995). Interactivity is another opportunity that the internet provides for the users. The existence of social network such as facebook, twitter and online forum give the citizens opportunity to participate in online discussion and interact with other people. Through these kind of social networks, the process of “narrowcasting” is formulated in which people can “choose and respond” to particular information within their interests without getting any interferences from others (Yoon & Kim, 2001, p. 53; Gilder, 1992, p. 149; Croteau & Hoynes, 2003, p. 12).

Furthermore, the remarkable development of the internet creates an idea of “information revolution” of society, whereby information is free and available to all the people around the world (Given, 1998). Individuals are now more powerful and considerably have access to a new dimension of information, knowledge and experience where they themselves can be independent media producers (Geidner, 2006, p. 342). An example of this matter would be the role of youtube, where people specifically young citizens, can create their own video content as well as uploading them to be shared to the rest of the world.  This opportunity can contribute to the changing of users self perception and identity towards themselves and also determining their own destiny (Giddens, 1991; Lull, 2006; Moores, 2005, McRobbie, 2006, cited in Geidner, 2006, p. 343).

The use of the internet in obtaining information has become very fashionable because people can get the information in more flexible and convenient ways. Moreover, some authors concur that two thirds of news consumers use online news resources and the World Wide Web to seek information and this number is increasing as audiences will demand more and more news websites(Conley & Lamble, 2006; Foust, 2005; Fallows, 2004, cited in Westerwick, Sharma, Hansen & Alter, 2005). However, traditional information resources will then encounter the fact that online media is now taking control over the news reporting.

The negative impacts of the internet on traditional media are truly evident. There are a lot of predictions on the extinction of traditional media (Nguyen, 2006). Nguyen states that the role of the internet as a powerful medium of information is now taking over the dominance of traditional media industries since 1990s. According to Gilder (1992), television will soon give its way to the computer, because most people spend more time searching online news websites rather than watching TV (Conley & Lamble, 2006). Furthermore, the establishment of digital or satellite television in America, Europe, Asia and Latin America in 1980s has created a sophisticated network that challenges the conventional television (Castells, 1996). Castells argue that this development has formulated a huge television network, where the number of satellite television is increasing rapidly. This has also lead to the development of HDTV where people can enjoy good quality of images and texts through the installation of the internet into television.

The newspaper in the past was arguably the most powerful medium that could reach a huge of audiences. However, today’s newspapers have lost their dominant role. According to Franklin (2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010), some particular newspapers no longer exist, while others survive on one edition per day. Furthermore, the decline of newspapers shows that newspapers are losing their readership due to the dominant role of online media (Franklin 2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010; Curtice and Mair, 2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010). Kawamoto (2003) adds that printed newspapers will continue to lose readers but they will potentially survive if they can embrace new technology and restructure their organization and content, so their readers will find them relevant and topical. Gilder (1992) states that the online newspaper is far more beneficial compared to the print version because online newspaper provides the readers with further detailed of information and links that are relevant to the particular stories and events. With one simple click, information is available to readers.

There are many predictions that the daily printed newspapers will disappear over the next few years. In contrast, Cole & Harcup (2010; Dizard, 2000) state that the newspaper is not dead, but rather is just in shock. They are adjusting their style, contents and design to the new technology that they encounter in the news environment. Newspapers are going through a transition or even evolving into completely different forms. Newspapers are on the Internet, and online newspapers have become a trend amongst people. The consumers are generally young people and relevant to those who are under thirty years of age (Morgan 2006, as cited in Cole and Harcup, 2010). It is very important that the investigating nature of newspapers is not lost but preserved and maintained as they evolve.

Similarly, radio is also losing its listeners because nowadays people prefer to browse the internet or listen to online news. There used to be lots of journalism crossover with this media. Howeever, Starkey & Crisell, (2009) argue that since the internet is now able to provide information from the previous day which the radio cannot, people are now turning their habits of listening to the radio over the internet. Even though it is said that radio is losing its readership, there are still people who are consistent in consuming this media. In the UK for example, 91 percent of the citizen are still listening to radio every week (Chantler & Stewart, 2009). Due to the existence of the internet, radio is now available in the forms of digital radio, cable and satellite radio and internet radio.

In conclusion, the internet plays a pivotal role in spreading information to public. The flexibility of the internet allows people to break the time and space boundaries in both accessing and sharing new message to other people and the rest of the world. People are now more knowledgeable and independent in creating their own information through online broadcast. This will give the public freedom to choose and determine their own pathway of living, as well as allowing them to be creative in the media environment. However, this sophistication of information is seen as a hindrance and threat to broadcast media. It is said that traditional journalism media is at the edge of extinction and will not survive unless they can embrace new technology and restructure the content to be more topical and relevant in these information age. In order to keep the traditional media on air, there needs to be a proper regulation on the way people consume the media. Therefore, traditional media can still produce the contents and maintain its existence as source of information, so that the coming generation can still witness and enjoy the experience that the traditional media has to offer.

 

References

Castells, M. (2003). The internet galaxy: Reflections on the internet, business and society. New York: Oxfor University Press.

Chantler, P. & Stewart, P. (2003). Basic radio journalism. London: Focal Press.

Conley, D. & Lamble, S. (2006). The daily miracle: An Introduction to Journalism (3rd eds). New York: Oxford University Press.

Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2003). Media society: Industries, images and audiences (3rd eds). London: Pine Forge Press.

Dizard, W, Jr. (2000). Old media new media: Mass communications in the information age (3rd eds). New York: Longman.

Geidner, NW. (2006). The rise of the individual and the dichotomy of modern media, in Review of communication, 6(4), pp. 342-347.

Gilder, G. (1992). The rise and fall of television, in Life after television: The coming transformation of media and American life. London: Norton, pp. 35-49.

Given, J. (1998). The death of broadcasting?: Media’s digital future. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Holmes, D. (2005). Communication theory: Media, technology, society. London: Sage, pp. 1-19.

Kawamoto, K. (2003). Digital journalism: Emerging media and the changing horizons of journalism. In Kevin Kawamoto (ed). Digital journalism. Emerging media and the changing horizons of journalism (11). New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital. New York: Vintage Books.

 

Nguyen, A & Western, M. (2006). The complementary relationship between the internet and traditional mass media: The case of online news and information, in Information research, 11(3). From http://informationr.net/ir/11-3/paper259.html, accessed on 19th September, 2011.

Poster, M. (1995). Social theory and the new media, in The second media age, Cambridge, MA: Polity, pp. 3-22.

Starkey, G. & Crisell, A. (2009). Radio journalism: Journalism studies: Key texts. Singapore: SAGE Publication.

Westerwick, S.K., Sharma, N., Hansen, D.L. & Alter, S. (2005). Impact of popularity indications on readers’ selective exposure to online news: Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, 49(3), 296-313.

Yoon, SJ. & Kim, JH. (2001). Is the internet more effective than traditional media?: Factors affecting the choice of media, in Journal of advertising research, pp. 53-60.

 

 

Transactional VS Transformational leadership

In what organisational situations is the use of a transformational leadership style more effective than using a transactional leadership style?

In this contemporary business world, leadership and the process of leading in an organisation play a fundamental role in creating, developing and maintaining a successful business. Leadership is defined as “the ability to influence people towards the attainment of organisational goals” (Samson and Daft 2009, p. 552). A well-performed leadership is important to promote a successful company. Leadership theories and practices in these days are in some ways different compared to leadership approaches in the past as a result of particular factors. Diversity in workplaces for example, is one factor that differs conventional from modern leadership styles. In the past, it could be said that organisation might only have workers who came from similar social and cultural background. These days, it is found that organisations have diverse workers who come from different language, educational, and cultural background. The development of information technology is another factor that distinguishes contemporary leadership. This development allows leaders to have wider access to new knowledge and learning opportunities as well gaining new leadership experience. These have shifted the theoretical and practical paradigm of leadership. There are varieties of leadership styles that organisations use to improve their performance as well as to meet customers’ satisfaction. The leadership implementations may vary from its contextual and organisational circumstances. An example of this would be the use of transactional and transformational leadership styles that this essay will examine.

It is the aim of this essay to discuss the use of transformational and transactional leadership approaches in organisational situations as well as the roles of both in deriving employees’ high level of performances.  This paper will firstly demonstrate the theoretical background of transactional leadership style as well as the effectiveness of using this method in organisations. Secondly, this essay will also examine the notion of transactional leadership approach and its implementations within companies. The third part of this paper will be comparing both leadership styles and providing arguments on the notion of as to what extent of organisational circumstances the use of transformational leadership approach is more effective than transactional leadership mode.

First of all, Bennis (2001, cited in Bass, Avolio, Jung & Berson, 2003) argue that adaptive leaders work effectively in environmental uncertainty and cooperate well with followers to emphasize positive solutions in confronting challenges. They argue that adaptive leaders can maximally perform their jobs in unstable circumstances and should be able to work cooperatively with subordinates to respond to those situations. In these particular situations, managers play pivotal role as motivators and inspirations to improve workers’ performances. Bass (1985, cited in Bass, et al., 2003) describes this leadership style as “transformational” leadership (p. 207).

Transformational leadership is distinguished by its capacity to promote the idea of “innovation and change” (Samson and Daft, 2009, p. 571). According to Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber (2009; Avolio & Yammarino, 2002; Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978, cited in Wang, Oh, Courtright & Colbert, 2011; Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1998; Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993; Podsakoff et al., 1990; van Knippenberg & van Knippenberg, 2005, cited in Wang et al., 2011), transformational leadership is a manner that encourages subordinates to excel in performing their job and to move far beyond their personal goals and attain targets that benefit the organisation as a whole. Scholars have proposed that there is a very strong correlation between transformational leadership and followers performances (Samson & Daft, 2009; (Liao & Chuang, 2007; MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Rich, 2001; , cited in Wang et al., 2011). Avolio (1999; Bass, 1998, cited in Bass et al., 2003) sum up this theoretical framework by saying that transformational leaders should be able to emphasize higher expectations to challenge workers in being creative and innovative to solve complicated problems  and have a sense of willingness to exceed in their job delivery.

There are four main components that construct transformational leadership style (Bass (1985; Bennis, 2001, cited in Bass et al., 2003, p. 208; Bass 1985, cited in Wang et al., 2011, p. 230). The first component is “idealised influence’ emphasizes the idea of leaders being an inspiration for subordinates. Employees’ needs are more important than leaders’ needs, and leaders share risks with staff according to policies and organisational values. Secondly, leaders encourage followers to be optimistic and enthusiastic in dealing with challenges through “inspirational motivation”. The third core function is “intellectual stimulations”, provides the idea of managers framing problems so that subordinates become innovative and problem solving oriented. Lastly, managers provide learning opportunity for employees to improve their skill and performance through coaching and training (Howell & Hall-Merenda, 1999, cited in Wang et al., 2011, p. 230). This is called “individualised consideration”.

Transactional leadership on the other hand, is said to be different from transformational leadership approach. Samson and Daft (2009) believe that transformational leadership style plays a pivotal role in organizations. This leadership style is built up upon “exchange-based forms” (Bass, 1985, cited in Wang et al., 2011). Similarly, House (1996, cited in Vecchio, Justin & Pearce, 2008) examine the relationship between transactional leadership style and the use of contingency rewards. They proposed that transformational leadership approach is dependent on the use of contingent rewards to encourage followers in improving their job performance.

This kind of leadership practice is described as a leadership style that also uses praises and appreciation from leaders to motivate followers to improve both individual and team performances (Wang et al., 2011). House (1996, cited in Vecchio et al., 2008) argues that the use of contingent rewards is an important factor that derives transactional leadership style. Transactional leadership method requires managers to have a clear clarification of employees’ roles and tasks, as well as the importance of leaders facilitating suitable rewards for subordinates when roles and goals are well-delivered (Podsakoff, Todor & Skov, 1982, cited in Bass et al., 2003). Leaders might also propose “disciplinary actions” when assignments are not being delivered accordingly (Bass et al., 2009). What this means is that by providing appropriate rewards, high level of performance can be stimulated.

In regards to leaders using contingent rewards to emphasize employees’ performance, it is very important to understand the use of “path-goal theory” (Evans, 1970, 1970b; Georgopoulos et, al., 1957, cited in Samson & Daft, 2009, p. 565).  The authors believe that this theory refers to the idea of leaders or managers must be able to encourage followers to improve their level of performance by providing strategic “management functions”. This includes identifying what kind of rewards that followers need to attain, as well as clarifying particular rewards that are more important to be achieved (Evans, 1974 cited in Samson & Daft, 2009).

In organisational situations where environmental uncertainty, turbulence and difficult challenges are evident, transformational leadership is more effectively used and well-applied than transactional leadership. According to Bass (1995, cited in Bass et al., 2003), transformational leadership approach is well applied in “distress” and emphasize the idea of how leaders value this difficult challenge in the process of goals attainment. A practical example of this would be the Queensland’s premier Anna Bligh in regards to floods that occurred in Queensland few months ago. This is an appropriate example of how the premier Anna Bligh set herself by example in dealing with the crisis and showed a very “inspiring vision of the future” (Bass, 1997, cited in Rowold & Rohmann, 2009, p. 42). She believed that Queensland will recover and move forward. Anna Bligh encouraged not only the people in Queensland, but also the entire Australian as a nation and the whole world to support and help Queensland to recover from the disaster.

In addition to this, international scholars have found that cultural contexts are relevant in examining the effectiveness of transformational leadership (Pawar & Eastman, 1997; Walumbwa & Lawler, 2003, cited in Rowold & Rohmann, 2009). Transactional leadership model is intended to exist in public organisations and non-profit institutions such as schools, banks and political or governmental institutions rather than private contexts such as industries (Lowe, Kroeck, and Sivasubramaniam, 1996, cited in Rowold &Rohmann, 2009).  For example, in Austrian banks, it is found that the relationship between transformational leadership and “short versus long term performance” is well integrated (Geyer and Steyrer, 1998, cited in Bass et al., 2003). They argue that the effectiveness of transformational leadership style in Austrian banks may be due to the fact that transformational managers are very inspiring and commitment oriented.

Another organisational context that uses transformational leadership more effectively is when workers are being discriminative and stereotypical towards themselves or other employees. Managers should also be able to pay attention to particular situations where followers are having some degree of doubts and unfaithful behaviours about their qualification in pursuing the organisational goals (Shamir, House, and Arthur (1993, cited in Bass et al., 2003). The authors believe that transformational leaders should manage to transform workers’ perception towards themselves and others, as well as at the same time to ensure that employees have a sense of collective belonging where they share common interests and mutual benefits solely for the organisation. Through this process, subordinates will build up stronger ties with relatives and develop their “group involvement, commitment and potency” to attain goals (Bass et al., 2003, p. 209; Guzzo, Yoss, Campbell & Shea, 1993, cited in Bas et al., 2003).

Furthermore, transformational leadership style is also more effective in non-profit organisation such as an orchestra. The use of this leadership approach is more relatively closer to outcome criteria and performance (Fuller, Patterson, Hester, and Stringer, 1996; Judge and Piccolo, 2004; Lowe, Kroeck, and Sivasubramaniam, 1996, cited in Rowold & Rohmann, 2009). Boerner, Krause and Grebert (2004, cited in Rowold and Rohmann, 2009) argue that even though the members of orchestra are amateur and work for non-profits organisation, they are still able to commit themselves in performing at high level. At this stage, leaders or musical conductors play important role to motivate and influence the musicians to deliver the performance at their best.

Transformational leadership is very useful to be implemented in military context. According to U.S. Army doctrine Field Manual 22-100, transformational leadership has a very significant function in deriving followers’ performance (Bass et al., 2003). Bass et al argue that in this military context, leaders are expected to be “ethical and moral conduct”. If leaders in this case lieutenants are capable of behaving in such way, platoons will be inspired and motivated to deliver their assignments and roles accordingly.

According to the research that was conducted by Shamir et al. (1998, cited in Bass et al., 2003), transformational leadership style that is used in military context resulted in a high performance and serious commitment within the unit group on the “leaders behalf”.  What this is referring to is that the lieutenants play important role in creating a serious commitment and sacrifices from their followers. However, transactional leadership also tends to exist in the context that was previously mentioned. The use of contingency rewards in military context is also evident in improving soldiers’ performance. This idea is derived from what Bass et all. (2003, p. 210) meant by platoons “concentrate full attention” in order to avoid mistakes. By performing jobs well, soldiers avoid mistakes and failure and at the same time could possibly gain rewards, leaders’ appreciation and positive recognition. These rewards may include promotion to a higher position in the department, recognition through medals and certificate and less casualty of soldiers being killed in carrying out their duties.

In conclusion, leadership is a fundamental aspect in organisation. A good leadership approach that suits the organisational will determine and indicate how successful the company will be in dealing with challenges that organisations encounter in this competitive business environment. As discussed above, transformational leaders serve fundamental roles in creating, developing and maintaining a good relationship between leaders and followers. If leaders are capable of performing their roles in a manner that can transform and motivate subordinates, they will be leading the organisation in a forward direction. This will certainly promote the idea of followers being inspired and motivated by leaders in delivering as well as improving their capability to perform their assignments at a high level.

Transactional leadership approach is also relevant in the reinforcement of high quality job performance. This can be seen through the use of contingency rewards such as promotion to a higher position, bonus and special recognition through medals and certificate. Leaders should be able to provide a strategic and appropriate rewards and certain kind of recognition if followers attain the organisational goals. This will reinforce creativity and innovation from subordinates. This will also attract a serious commitment from employees to work effectively for the benefits of the entire organisation. Above all, compared to transactional leadership style, transformational leadership will be more effectively implemented when organisations encounter difficult challenges, environmental changes and business turbulences. Transformational leadership approach will also prevent bias, discriminative and stereotypical behaviour towards personal and other employees in the organisations.

References

Avolio, BJ., Walumbwa, FO. and Weber, TJ. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions.  Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421-449.

Bass, BM., Avolio, BJ., Jung, DI and Berson, Y. (2003). Predicting unit performance by assessing transformational and transactional leadership, Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 207-218.

Rowold, J and Rohmann, A. (2009). Transformational and transactional leadership styles, followers’ positive and negative emotion, and performance in German nonprofit orchestras. Nonprofit management and leadership, 20(1), 41-59

Samson, D. & Daft, R. (2009). Leading in organisations (chapter 15). In Management (3rd Asia Pacific ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

Vecchio, RP., Justin, JE., and Pearce, CL. (2008). The utility of transformational and transactional leaderships for predicting performance and satisfaction within a path-goal theory framework. Journal of occupational and organisational psychology, 71, 71-81.

Wang, G., Oh, I., Courtright, S. & Colbert, A. (2011). Transformational leadership and performance across criteria and levels: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of research. Group & Organization Management, 36(2), 223-270.


Literacy and Third world development

What role does literacy play in third world development?

In this contemporary world, literacy plays such a pivotal role in creating and maintaining the development of a society. The importance of literacy and its connection with education has also become stronger than what it was thought of and perceived in the eighteenth century (Olson & Torrence, 2001, p. 3). This is due to the fact that literacy is an essential part of a community where it is often linked to authority and social status as well as the psychological and social life of a modern society (Dyer, 2008, p. 868; Olson & Torrence, 2001, p. 3). This means that literacy and its practices can also give the citizens the ability to access new learning experiences and new skills that will allow people to enhance their live. Therefore, the idea of “great divide” seems to strongly emphasize that being literate is considerably important. This is because through this idea, people can distinguish a conventional and modern ways of living (Basu, Maddox & Robinson-Pant, 2008, p. 770), where in modern life writing is seen as a “technology of the intellect” and a powerful tool that can extend someone’s ability to do things (Goody, 1999; 1986; 1968, cited in Basu, Maddox & Robinson-Pant, 2008, p. 771).

However, there is a social phenomenon where in some particular countries in the world, literacy is not well practised and developed. Taking the third world as an example, the society found it hard to practice the very basic literacy skills such as reading and writing. This may be due to the fact that there are no teachers who are committed to perform the duty and the fact that there are no adequate learning facilities such as books. These might also relate to the political and social circumstances in the nations where corruption is evident. This also has a very strong connection with education where without educational institution exist in the third world countries’ society, literacy practices will be difficult to pursue. It is undeniable that literacy is an important aspect of reducing poverty and wellbeing (Basu, Maddox & Robinson-Pant, 2008, p. 769).

There are also a lot of discussions to the extent of functions that literacy has in the third world. Therefore, it is the contention of this paper to discuss and examine the roles of literacy practices in under developed countries. This essay will firstly define what the terms “literacy” and “development” mean. Secondly, this paper will look at some important roles that literacy serves to the poor nations. These roles include the notion of helping those people to get out from poverty. This idea will cover the importance of having basic reading and writing as well as numeracy skills that will allow people to do their daily basis activities such as engaging in agricultural activities. The further importance of literacy in the development of under developed countries is that through basic literacy skills such as reading, writing and numeracy skills, the people will have the chance to further study at higher educational institution such as university. Those people will continue to learn to and have the access to technology and wider knowledge that will allow them to be well-educated. This will give them the chance to further consolidate their learning and training process.

First of all, it is necessary for this essay to provide practical background knowledge of what the terms “literacy” and “development” mean. The term literacy is simply described as having the ability to read and write. Barton & Hamilton (1998, p. 3) described the concept of literacy as  activities that people engage in everyday lives, in which it is situated amongst people in their daily interaction with others. According to the authors, the notion of literacy is linked to the way different types of social group use reading and writing skills to do their daily-basis-activities (Barton & Hamilton, 1998, p. 3). According to Trudell (2009, p. 73), the term “development” is defined as a continuous process of improving “human well-being as well as continuing national economic growth”. This development definitely relies on some important factors including literacy skills, as it is said that to a “successful and sustainable development, language issues is crucial” (Djite, 2008, cited in Trudell, 2009, p. 74). He further argues that in order to have a sense of “real development” the contribution of local literacy and all human capital needs to be considered. This means that the link between language and the educational outcome and the development of technology and science in African continental is crucial (Chumbow, 2005, cited in Trudell, 2009, p. 75). Therefore, since the notion of literacy and development has a very strong correlation to the enhancement of live in under developed countries, the following arguments will provide how literacy works and how it links to the enhancement of lives in poor nations.

In the first place, literacy is crucial in helping those poor people to get out from poverty. It is evident that poverty is a real social phenomenon that results in children having “failure in academic, grade retention, increase in drop-out rate, and need for special education” (Piramal & Law, 2001, p. 222). In this case, educational institution is very crucial where the community can gain access to learn to read and write. Literacy is a significant factor in education as a human right (Global Monitoring Report (GMR), 2006, cited in Dyer, 2008, p. 863). Within the past few decades, the world has been engaging in providing assistance and helping the poor countries in Africa to get out from poverty (Engelbrecht, 2007, p. 166). According to Tahir (1991; Kratli, 2001; Carr-Hill, 2006; McCaffery et al., 2006 cited in Dyer, 2008, p. 864), in some countries like Nigeria, Kenya  and Ethiopia, educational institutions and their policies start to gain serious attention . Bangladesh is another case where the rural society is now having access to learn to read and write through education (Maddox, 2001, p. 137). This is because the government start to realise that through educational programs, literacy practices can be pursue, and it will then promote the idea of people being educated and the life expectancy rate will also increase. In so doing, the main aim of improving the community’s education is to promote, and by the time being, enhance the literacy level of the community itself.

One important factor that determines the successfulness of this notion is by providing and implementing human resources that have the spirit of commitment and strong social responsibilities. According to Patel (2005; Poetner, 1994, cited in Engelbrecht, 2007, p. 167), humanitarians should be able to commit their time in providing information and learning opportunity for the member of the community. This is very important because performing the job and role especially in teaching people in rural areas or poor countries to read and write with limited access to technology and teaching materials is not an easy job. There are not so many people who have the skills and patience to help those people in under developed countries. Engelbrecht (2007, p. 167) argues that social workers should have a sense of “transformative power and action oriented” that will then transform the social life and enhance the quality of life. Therefore, one important idea to pursue this goal is by providing “assistance” (Trudell, 2009, p. 74). She believed that social workers are now performing their duty to address the educational, economic and health-related concerns in the African continent. More importantly, the real concern is to provide social guidance and strategic development programs that will promote the idea of economic reform and eventually produce human capital and reduce the poverty rate (Engelbrecht, 2007, p. 167). In addition to this, providing access to materials such as books is extremely important to develop literacy skills for the poor. Therefore, the existence of library is fundamental, as Olden (2005, p. 421) argued, that “for poor nations, a library service is vital”. Olden argue that in countries like Tanzania and mainland of Zanzibar, the library serves fundamental role in providing the community with access to books and materials that will help them to practice literacy and be able to start basic skills in reading.

Furthermore, by becoming literate, the community will have the opportunity and greater access to better and higher education as well as having a sense of academic freedom (Egbo, 2000, Paran & Williams, 2007, cited in Trudell, 2009, p. 76). For instance, people from Africa, India, Pakistan and some other under-developed areas around the world are now having the chance to study overseas and gain experience and knowledge that will give them opportunity to enhance their live. This is because education is linked to the idea of exchanging, innovating and transferring knowledge on behalf of economic development (Blewit, 2010, p. 477). The author believes that education and training provides the opportunity to pursue human resources that will then create a potential labour force and job opportunities. University for example is one of the most essential educational institutions that “drives regional economic development” (Presmus et al., 2003; Woollard et al., 2007; Drucker and Goldstein, 2007, cited in Blewit, 2010, p. 477). One practical example of this is that through the existence of one campus of Monash University in South Africa, the community is now able to gain better access to education and university life experience. Some students from South Africa may possibly engage in students exchange to study in Monash University Australia. They can also learn other culture and engage in wider social interaction with people from different countries and social background. In so doing, through literacy and knowledge that they gain at university, the younger generation will be more critical in their thinking process and reflective towards other peoples’ opinion. It is certainly undeniable that if the literacy level increases, the chance of employment and productivity opportunities will also increase (Prusty, 2009, p. 62). The author concluded that In India particularly, literacy level is one factor that determines the poverty reduction, and is said to have a long term impact on per capita personal income.

Furthermore, the role of literacy is important for the poor to be able to do their day-to-day lives such as in the area of agricultural production (Kell, 2008, p. 892). According to the author, the role of literacy in this aspect includes the idea of knowing how to plant and take care of their agricultural production and irrigation, as well as knowing the instruction on how to use fertilizer or pesticides (Dyer, 2008, p. 865). This will certainly lead to the idea of being literate in   “economic activity” (Maddox, 2001, p. 139) such as marketing their agricultural production. This includes selling and buying goods as well as calculating profits and loss.  This idea is promoted by helping them to read and write as well as having numeracy skills that will allow them to engage in those activities.  This, however, does not entirely cover the concept of managing personal financial resources, but through being literate in economic engagement, individuals are expected to be able to make better daily economic decision (South Africa President’s Council Committee for Economic Affairs, 1993, cited in Engelbrecht, 2007, p. 168). This means knowing how to make better decision in managing assets, conducting transaction and being able to bargain for a better financial deal. These activities require proficiency in literacy, therefore literacy skills in economic engagement is absolutely important.

In conclusion, literacy and its practices serve fundamental roles in peoples’ lives. As what this essay has examined, literacy also plays important roles in under-developed community. The very basic notion of being able to read and write will give the poor citizens the ability to engage in their daily basis activities such as knowing how to farm and market their agricultural production. The greater benefits of being able to read and write is that they can have the opportunity to attend schools and universities and at the same time providing the poor community with the learning experience and knowledge. This will equip them to gain success and better life, as well as providing the younger generation to build up the family and the community as a whole to become better community with better quality of life. This however, can only be achieved if there are a serious contribution and stronger commitment from authorities or government and the world organisations to assist the poor nations. This can be achieved through providing necessary materials such as books, and more importantly, people who commit to and ready for the job of building up the poor community. The job is hard, but the spiritual reward of helping others to get out from the poverty is even greater. If this is achievable, we can see and enjoy the sense of better life in the third world countries. It is one people, one world.

Reference List

Barton, D. & Hamilton, M. (1998). Local literacies: Reading and writing in one community. London: Routledge. (Chapter 1).

Basu, K., Maddox, B., & Robison-Pant, A. (2008). Literacies, identities and social change: Interdisciplinary approaches to literacy and development, in Journal of development studies, 44(6), pp. 769-778.

Blewitt, J. (2010). Higher education for a sustainable world, in Education+training, 52(6), pp. 477-488.

Dyer, C. (2008). Literacies and discourses of development among the rabaris of kutch, India, in Journal of development studies, 44(6), pp. 863-879.

Engelbrecht, L. (2008). Economic literacy and the war on poverty: A social work challenge? in International journal of social welfare, 17, pp. 166-173.

Kell, C. (2008). ‘Making things happen’: Literacy and agency in housing struggles in south africa, in Journal of development studies, 44(6), pp. 892-912.

Law, J. & Piramal, R. (2001). Evaluating a programme to enhance vocabulary development in pre-schoolers, in International journal of language & communication disorders / Royal college of speech & language therapists, 36(2), pp. 222-227.

Maddox, B. (2001). Litracy and the market: The economic use of literacy among peasantry in north-west bangladesh, in Brian Street (ed). Literacy and deelopment: Ethnographic perspectives, pp. 137-151.

Olden, A. (2005). “For poor nations, a library service is vital”: Establishing a national public library service in tanzania in the 1960s, in The library quarterly, 75(4), pp. 421-445.

Olson, D. R. & Torrance N. (2001). Conceptualising literacy as a personal skill and as a social practice, in David R. Olson & Nancy Torrance (eds). The making of literate societies. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 3-18.

Prusty, S. (2009). Analysis of poverty, openness and literacy in india, in Paradigm, 13(2), pp. 57-63.

Trudell, B. (2009). Local-language literacy and sustainable development in africa, in International journal of educational development, 29, pp. 73-79.

Work-related stress

What are the effects of work-related stress, and how can it be reduced?

In the daily basis activities, it is undeniable that people are getting even more stressed. Similarly, in today’s competitive business environment, employers and employees are getting more stressed due to so many factors such as performing the jobs that are physically and mentally demanding, unsupportive working environment and some other issues that can lead to occupational-related stress. The notion of work-stress is very crucial to be put into account, due to the reason that all of the jobs in the world exclusively cause stress (Usman et al., 2011, p. 203). Stress often refers to a bad feeling of anxiety when people cannot deal with their personal and social issues. There are so many people who cannot deal with stress, which may eventually lead them to physical or mental illness. Meanwhile, there are a lot of organisations who their main organisational purpose is to promote the idea of a healthy and safe workforce.

In academia furthermore, there has been a lot of research on the area of work-related stress, what causes the stress itself and how to tackle them as well as things that can be undertaken to reduce the risks of stress (Sauter et al., 2002; Schaufeli & Kompier, 2001, cited in Cox, Karanika, Griffiths and Houdmont, 2007, p. 349; Usman, Ahmed, Ahmed and Akbar, 2011, p. 202; Cox 1993, cited in Cousins, Mackay, Clarke, Kelly, Kelly and McCaig, 2004, p. 114). This is very important because the concerns of “employee health and well-being have gained increasing societal attention” (Smith, Karsh, Carayon & Conway, 2003, cited in  Nixon, Mazzola, Bauer, Krueger and Spector, 2011, p. 1;   Belkic, Landbergis, Schnall and Baker, 2004; Ferrie, Westerlund, Virtanen, Vahtera and Kivimaki, 2008, cited in Bloom, Geurts, Taris, Sonnentag, Weeth and Kompier, 2010, p. 198) and have also thibecome a serious concern in today’s business environment. It is said that workplace conflict is considered to be one of the most potent stressors in working life (Bolger, Delongis, Kessler, & Schilling, 1989; Newton & Keenan, 1985, cited in Dijkstra, Beersma and Evers, 2011, p. 169).

The aim of this essay is to discuss the notion of stress in occupational environment. First of all, this paper will attempt to provide definition as to what stress is. As this essay will also examine the effects of stress in working environment, it is fundamental for this essay to provide background information on stressors, which are factors that can cause stress. The effects of stress on both individuals and the entire organisation will also be delivered. Furthermore, relevant methods that can be used to cope with stress will be discussed.

The term stress is often referred to have negative impacts. The general notion of stress is simply having a bad felling when people are anxious because they cannot deal with their internal and external problems. These can be personal issues, family-related problems or even in broader circumstance, social relationship. There are factors that lead to stress. These factors are called stressors, which refer to things that can cause strains (Lepine, Podsakoff and Lepine, 2005, p. 764). “Strains include psychological, physical and behavioural reactions such as anxiety, exhaustion, depression and burnout” (Jex, 1998, cited in Lepine et al., 2005, p. 764; Nixon, Mazzola, Bauer, Krueger and Spector, 2011, p. 2). According to Lazarus (1966, 1999; Lazarus and Folkman 1984, cited in Carver and Smith, 2010, p. 684), stress is evident when people encounter a difficult situation where they cannot deal with, or the difficulties area higher than their ability to manage them. In addition to this, Carver and Smith (2010, p. 684) argue that a person can be really stressful when they have to cope with “obstacles or impediment or looming threat”.

There are a lot of factors that can cause stress in the workplace. The first critical stressor is workplace bullying, which refers to a situation where “negative acts are systematically directed at one or more employees over a period of time” (Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf, & Cooper, 2003, cited in Baillien, Rodriguez-Munoz, Broeck and Witte, 2011, p. 128; Heames, Harvey and Treadway, 2006, p. 348). It has long been assumed that stressful working condition may eventually lead to the development of workforce bullying (Leymann, 1996, cited in Hauge, Skogstad and Einarsen, 2009, p. 349). Leymann believed that bullying in workplaces may relate to both the personality of targeted individuals and the perpetrators. What this means is that when the targeted individuals indicate “weakness” such as “shyness” and “low social skills” (Einarsen, Raknes, & Matthiesen, 1994; Zapf, 1999, cited in Baillien et al., 2011, p. 129) the perpetrators will use this opportunity to bully them.

In the case of workforce bullying, the targeted individuals will in a sense be in the situation of inferiority, while the perpetrators become more superior (Einarsen and Skogstad, 1996, cited in Baillien et al., 2011, p. 128; Brodsky, 1976, cited in Hauge, Skogstad and Einarsen, 2009, p. 350). The reason behind this can probably be the age gap, level of seniority or having a higher position in the organisation (Hauge et al., 2009, p. 352) as well as gender issue (The Pearson, 1999, cited in Heames et al., 2006, p. 349). This often occurs when employers or even senior employees see themselves as having more experience and knowledge as well as the feeling of superiority. The targeted individuals are in a sense controlled by perpetrators in the way that they have to do and follow what the perpetrators ask them to do. Another case is that individuals who are being bullied in the workplace are not allowed to give opinion and having said their thoughts.

Furthermore, diversity in workplace also contributes to occupational related stress. Spataro (2002, cited in Heames et al., 2006, p. 349) argue that in the organisations, diversity is a very hard issue to deal with, as it is hard to integrate individuals with different attitudes, family background, social status, educational background, personal values and religious believes into teamwork. This will often create conflicts and may eventually lead to a distressful situation. In terms of diversity in religious beliefs for instance, Adventist employees may consider Saturday as the day when they should not work, meanwhile other religion may see Saturday as a normal day where people can go to work regardless whatever it takes. The stress will arise when managers require them to work on Saturday, by which they are pushed into a dilemma, where working on Sabbath is religiously forbidden but on the other hand, they may lose their job if they refuse to.

Another factor is job security. “Job insecurity can be one of the more important stressors in employment situations’’ (Hartley, Jacobson, Klandermans, and van Vuuren, 1991, cited Hansson, Vingard, Arnetz and Anderzen, 2008, p. 70). Furthermore, Lazarus and Folkman (1984, cited in Hansson et al., 2008, p. 70) believed that feeling of job insecurity can potentially have both direct and long-term negative implications. Direct stress implication can be in a form of carrier dissatisfaction and may affect employees’ involvement and participation within the organisation (De Cuyper & De Witte, 2007, cited in Hansson et al., 2008, p. 70). The long term consequence involves continuous frustration and lack of effective dealing strategy. One practical example of this stressor would be when an employee in an organisation has very limited skills and knowledge in performing the organisational tasks. The feeling of job insecurity will exist simply because there could be thousands of job seekers out there who are very competitive and have the skills and high standard knowledge that employers need. In this sense, the employee will encounter the situation where they may lose their job. They can easily get frustrated by the fact that they have to find a new job which is considerably difficult in today’s competitive business world.

Furthermore, Usman, Ahmed, Ahmed and Akbar (2011, p. 202) believed that the effects of globalisation in this contemporary business world can also promote stress. This refers to the idea that business world is getting more competitive, by which companies will also have to increase their organisational performances. To achieve this, employees are forced to perform far beyond the companies’ expectations. This will be a stressful situation because job pressure is getting higher and physically and psychologically demanding.

Additionally, Nixon et al. (2001, p. 1) argue that occupational-related stress can occur because workers are uncertain with what their roles are, regarding what they should do and what they should not do.  Role ambiguity occurs when an employee experiences some degree of uncertainty and unclear direction on performing particular organisational tasks (Robbins et al.,2009; Fry et al., 1986; Johnston et al., 1990a; Netemeyer et al., 1990; Sager, 1994, cited in Usman et al., 2011, p. 204). The potential conflict can be in a form of confusion as to who is doing what or which, as well as what the organisations expect from them in terms of achieving the organisational goals. This role ambiguity may eventually result in job stress. The authors also added that long working hours, workload and inadequate control skills will potentially promote stress.

Stress can have negative effects on both individuals and the organisations as a whole. In regards to its effects on the individuals, “stress can have negative effects on individual’s mental and physical health (Health and Safety Executive, 2001; Cooper et al., 2001, cited in Johnson, Cooper, Cartwright, Donald, Taylor and Millet, 2005, p. 178; Sverke et al., 2002, cited in Hansson et al., 2008, p. 70). Stress can cause “physical symptoms” such as headache, eye strain, sleeping disturbance and stomach distress” (Nixon et al., 2011, p. 2). However, authors did not mention that the effects of stress on individuals can be even more severe than those. In a lot of cases, there are employees who end up committing suicide because the job is physiologically and psychologically frustrating and the level of stress is just too high and they cannot manage to deal with it.

In addition to this, occupational related stress also affects individuals’ mental and psychological well-being (Hauge et al., 2009, p. 350). They believed that stressor individuals encounter in the workforce may reinforce negative feelings and emotions within themselves, which may potentially lead them to be emotionally aggressive towards other people. Spector and Fox (2005, cited in Hauge et al., 2009, p. 350) added that role ambiguity, role conflict and poor interpersonal communication skill may potentially cause individuals to engage in aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, job-related stress is said to have a positive relationship with job satisfaction. Landsbergis (1988; Fletcher and Payne, 1980, cited in Usman et al., 2011, p. 204) argue that if the level of work stress is higher, the level of job satisfaction will be low. This means that job dissatisfaction is the result of stressful working environment because workers who are under a stressful situation are not normally satisfied with their job.

In relation to its effects on the organisational performance, stress is strongly linked to organisational commitment and participation. It is hard for individuals who experience too much stress to stay in the organisation. If employees experience too much stressful situation in the organisation, they would consider themselves to quit and leave the company. It is evident that turnover intention has a very strong and positive relationship with occupational-related stress (Zhang and Lee, 2010, p. 268). They argue that organisational lost due to employees resigning their job can be even higher. This is because when the workers quit, the organisation will have to consider finding new employees, hire trainers to train them along with the administrative costs that will come across. This will eventually lead to the decrease in the quality of organisational performance, and may also lead to poor customer satisfaction.

There are varieties of different ways that people can undertake to minimise the effects of occupational-related stress. Different personalities would have different point of views on managing themselves in regards to minimising the negative implications of workforce-related stress. Firstly, individuals have to have the right and positive perception towards themselves (Treven, 2010, p. 1). What this means is that people should believe in themselves and be confident that they have the ability and the capacity to manage conflicts. Individuals who have higher confidence and self esteem tend to react to stress more positively than those who have negative perception towards themselves (Davis et al, 2000, cited in Treven, 2010, p. 1). Another important aspect is “control, cope and problem-solving conflict management” (Dikjstra et al., 2011, p. 170). They argue that coping behaviour is very beneficial if individuals are able to control their level of stress. In this case, individuals focus on their problems with clear mind so that they can be in charge of the conflicts and not be controlled by them (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992, cited in Dikjstra et al., 2011, p. 170).

Individuals can have personal methods in coping with occupational-related stress. According to Treven (2010, p. 2), this methods can be regular physical exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling. These exercises can improve breathing quality, self efficiency, discipline and overall well-being. In addition to this meditation is also important in balancing and relaxing the body, mind and soul.

Managers play pivotal roles in helping their subordinates to reduce the risks of stress (Lepine, Podsakoff and Lepine, 2005, p. 770). They said that managers can promote communicative activities to reduce physical strain, getting more involved in social relationship with workers through providing some time off for exercising and relaxation. Lepine et al., also added that managers could facilitate training on how to deal with organisational challenges and how to prioritise assignments. Furthermore, it is also important to maintain positive sense of social belonging and identity (Fiske, 1992, cited in Dijkstra, Beersma and Evers, 2011, p. 168). This can be done through creating a better relationship and maintaining stronger ties with others (Baumeister, 1995, cited in Dijkstra et al., 2011, p. 168). Another important aspect is to have “key partner” in handling the work-related stress (Health and Safety Commission, 2000, cited in Cousins, MacKay, Clarke, Kelly, Kelly and McCaig, 2004, p. 115). What this means is basically having someone to talk to about the conflicts, ask them for opinion and advice so that individuals can have friends whom they can share their burdens with.

In conclusion, work-related stress always exists in organisations. This is simply because all jobs cause stress. It is found that people are even more stressed with their occupations than they were. It has been discussed that there are varieties of different factors that can induce stress in working environment. Workforce bullying for instance, is said to be a critical stressor. It occurs when some particular employers and employee have the feeling of being more superior and influential than others in the organisations. This superiority can be in a form of age gap, having more knowledge and experience, higher position and gender. Stress can also be caused by diversity, where different attitudes and social values may result in organisational conflicts which will eventually lead to stress. Job insecurity is another example of stressor, where individuals are forced to perform beyond the limits to meet the organisational expectations. If they do not, they may potentially lose their carrier. This high pressure will promote stress and depression. Role ambiguity also contributes to stress, where individuals are having some degree of uncertainty on what tasks they should do and what the organisations expect from them.  Work-related stress can affect both the individuals and organisations. The effects on individuals can be physical symptoms such as headache and sleeping disturbance. Psychologically, individuals will be emotionally aggressive which will cause them to engage in aggressive behaviour towards other people. The effects on organisations can be linked to turnover intention, by which employees will consider to leave the organisation if they feel too much stress throughout their career. After all, there are varieties of different methods that can be used to minimise the risks of job-related stress. Regular physical exercises such as jogging, walking, cycling and swimming can be very effective. These activities help to improve breathing quality, self efficiency and discipline. Recreation such as picnics and fishing are also beneficial. Above all, it is the individuals themselves who have to have the right and positive self perception. Having high self confidence self esteem are crucial when dealing with critical and stressful situations.

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