At age 7, equal numbers of men and women want to be president of the United States when they grow up (about 30% of the kids). Ask the same question when they are 15, and the proportion of women who want to be president drops off dramatically. This trend goes beyond politics; we live in a cultural system where people are socialized by gender to believe certain industries and positions are for men or women (as well as other types of minority statuses).
In 2009, American advertisers spent $235.6 billion on advertising. Not only does the media pervade every aspect of our culture, it only offers limited number of portrayals of girls and women. Women are told to measure their worth through their bodies’ adherence to an impossible cultural standard perpetuated by the media. In today’s age of technology, that physical standard is easily manipulated and exaggerated through the use of photo-shopped enhancements. The results of this pressure on women alter every aspect of life: from career ambitions to emotional state. Continue reading →
In November of 2010, Nicaraguan officials started a construction project on a piece of land that was culturally accepted to belong to Costa Rica. Officials from Nicaragua justified this move through the use of Google Maps- which claimed that the land belonged to Nicaragua. The ownership of this area, which only spans a few square miles, has been disputed for hundreds of years (For more information, look up the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of 1858 and the arbitration of the dispute by President Grover Cleveland in 1888).The countries and Google debated the correct border for a few days; in the meantime, Nicaraguan troops occupied the space. While Google didn’t start a war, it played a role in perpetuating tensions between the two countries. Continue reading →
One can learn quite a bit about societal perceptions of gender roles through listening to music. What happens when you switch “he” and “she” pronouns in a song (this is called the Willis test)? Does it still send the same message? Usually it doesn’t due to gender differences that result from sexism and misogyny. For example, if we were to take David Guetta’s “Sexy Chick” (at least that’s the name of the edited version). After changing the gender pronouns, the song seems humorous and unrealistic.
I was drawn towards choosing a rap song for this week’s ethical analysis. Rap music provides many critiques of our world, especially as they relate to race, money, gender, and forms of criminal activity. I chose Tupac Shakur’s “Keep Ya Head Up” because delivers a positive message to one of the most oppressed groups in the US: poor, black women. The song is dedicated to Latasha Harlins, a fifteen-year-old woman shot and killed by a shop owner in LA. Her death is cited as one of the causes of the LA riots in 1992. Continue reading →
The Blog Council loved reading your posts this week! Everyone chose fascinating topics and seemed to learn quite a bit. Thanks for sharing the knowledge you gained with the rest of us. Make sure you’re adding an analysis and your opinion in future posts. Remember to comment; we love to hear your thoughts!
History of Breast Cancer’s Cultural Reception and the Birth of Komen
The largest breast cancer organization in the United States emerged as part of a national phenomenon of health activism in the United States in the 1980s (Klawiter). Prior to the 1980s, public discourse about the disease was accompanied by notions of shame and disfigurement. One patient who underwent treatment in 1979 noted, “In 1979 people just wanted you to have surgery and they didn’t want to talk about it…you were in and out of the hospital and that was that! There was no social workers, no support groups…” (Klawiter 858). The emergence of health activism changed the identities of those affected from victims to survivors, “…The health activist groups that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, while diverse in their agendas, shared a sense of the importance of disease identity categories that suggested live, active, and empowered individuals, “(King 106). Continue reading →
My focus for Paper 2 is Susan G. Komen for the Cure, so I searched for a Ted Talk on the business strategy of charities. Dan Pallotta created the Avon 3 day walk for the cure (that supports Komen), so I was pleased to find his talk on “The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong.” His premise is that charities are necessary to create a world in which everyone benefits because the for profit sector will only aid those with at least some form of spending power. Social problems of the world are massive, and the organizations that combat them are tiny in comparison. Pallotta argues that the capacity of charities to enact change is limited by the different sets of rules that govern the for profit sector and the philanthropic sector.
5 Rules of For Profit vs. Charities
1. Compensation: People are uncomfortable when charity executives are compensated well. Pallotta is baffled by the basic concept that “we have a problem with people who make money off of helping other people but no problem with people who make money off of NOT helping other people” (3:37). In this case our system of “ethics” deters the brightest business minds from entering the philanthropy sector, and for good reason. On average, MBA’s ten years out of Stanford are making $400,000 (with bonus), while the CEOs of Medical Charities make an average of $232,568, and the CEOs of hunger charities make an average of $84,028. Continue reading →
As I prepared my Paper 2 outline, I noticed that one author, Samantha King, repeatedly showed up in my citations (I’ve been using Zotero to compile citations). I decided to search the Bertrand Library catalogue for books by Samantha King, and found one called, “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” I’ve seen a documentary by the same name, and loved it. Samantha King has also authored an essay on the same topic. I looked up the call number, used a map in the library to locate the book, and hiked up to the third floor.
I scored 6/10 on the Health Reform quiz, which seems to be the average for the class. A few weeks ago I attended an informational session on the Afforable Care Act, where I learned the basics of what the act does (presented by Brandn Green and Carl Milofsky). The presentation didn’t have a political agenda; the speakers wanted to spread knowledge about what the act does and how to sign up for insurance.
I was surprised to see that the Kaiser Family summary of the PPACA specifically addressed abortion, so I did research on how the act confronts the issue of abortion. Viewpoints on abortion tend to be polarized along party lines, therefore I expected “Obamacare” to increase access to abortion and decrease the cost of abortion. Though abortion is a controversial piece of the act, I found that the PPACA doesn’t address it in a radical way.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows for federal subsides to be used for abortion services permitted under the Hyde Amendment. This amendment was passed in 1977 in response to Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. The Hyde Amendment particularly affects Medicare; it prevents federal funds from paying for abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger, or she is a victim of rape or incest. The Hyde Amendment applies to the new health insurance exchanges. Those who wish to purchase abortion coverage can choose a specific plan (if their state allows) where their payments will go into two different accounts: one for abortion coverage and one for the remainder of the premium. The abortion coverage payment must be at least one dollar per month per enrollee. Continue reading →
After watching the film, I definitely agree that the notion of firms being “too big to fail” still exists today, and in more industries than just investment banking. The 2008 financial crisis showed that investment banks are interconnected and rely on each other’s financial wellbeing. In the film, this interconnectedness could be seen after the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy filing. Investment banks saw immediate hits to their businesses as a result of the dwindling confidence in the industry. Other firms, such as GE, saw that their operations were affected by the lessening access to capital from investment banks. To the dismay of many, the notion of “too big to fail” means that the government may be required to aid the financial system at large when the market is unstable. Continue reading →
After watching Bucknell’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I contemplate the purpose of theatre. Does theatre exist to bring us closer to ultimate truths? For one reason or another, watching this play, rather than listening to Mike Daisy perform it, changed its meaning. It seems as if, when someone else performs the play (other than Mike Daisy), I question the validity of it because it is not first hand, and therefore I am less upset when the validity of the stories is questioned. Though Mike Daisy, when he speaks of experiences he had, seems to silence questions listeners would have otherwise.
Viewing this theatrical performance caused me to questions the role of truth in plays and performances. All performances serve to elicit meaning from the audience. Often the theatrical element can cause the audience to feel emotional about a topic, and therefore theatre often functions as a “call to action.” How genuine is this “truth” that we experience through our emotional response to theatre?
Another question this play brought up was the attention we give to certain causes. There are so many problems in the world, so how do we decide which to give our attention to? Media publicity leads us to certain problems. Which issues go unnoticed? Sometimes it seems as if there are so many problems in the world; I question where my energy should be placed.
At the end of the segment, Ira Glass asked New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg how consumers of Apple products should feel about their Apple purchases. Duhigg’s initial response was that his job as a reporter is to present facts to aid the reader in developing his or her own opinion, but when pressed he revealed that he doesn’t believe that consumers should be satisfied about working conditions abroad. Duhigg explains there have been times in United States’ history when we had poor working conditions. Change was created when we decided, as a nation, that those conditions were unacceptable. In the globalized world we live in, why haven’t we exported our standard of care to stakeholders in other countries?
This is a complex question that is guaranteed to elicit a wide range of answers. America’s highly individualized culture encourages individuals to make decisions based on short term personal benefit. I think the fundamental problem in this age of consumerism is that many people in our globalized world lack concern and care for people who they do not know and the environment that they do not see get destroyed.
Mike Daisy’s monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, humanizes our consumer driven culture through analyzing Apple through the perspective of vulnerable stakeholders, the Chinese workers. While he shouldn’t have categorized his work as journalism, I think his work still deserves attention. I just googled images of working conditions during the American industrial revolution and the result was faces, sad faces. For comparison, I googled images of Chinese industrial working conditions and the result was zoomed out shots of uniformly arranged people, who all looked the same. The fundamental issue is the same in both of these searches (working conditions), and yet we are characterizing those who are affected in very different ways. I can think back to high school history textbooks that explain the industrial revolution working conditions as an awful short term trend that we learned from and have overcome. For one reason or another, we justify Chinese industrial working conditions.
While it is interesting to think about how we developed this disconnected mentality, it’s also important to think about where the information comes from that informs our opinions. Mike Daisy’s semi- fabricated account was based on news articles and second hand stories he had heard about working conditions. He believes these sources to be accurate and based in truth, while others may contest that belief. At this age, so much of what we know comes from other people telling us what they believe to be the truth, rather than the truth that we experience for ourselves. My personal reaction to the issue of working conditions is based on what I perceive working conditions to be like in Asia. I picture the inside of factories through news reports that focus on negative aspects of the impersonal industrial production system, therefore, I think very negatively of them. The media has incentive to exaggerate or fabricate claims (For example, today I heard of a case where a celebrity pulled his car over to help a homeless man, whose belongings who had been scattered across the street. The reporters published stories claiming this celebrity had hit the homeless man with his car.) but companies have incentive to minimize publicity of negative aspects of their business. Unfortunately, businesses are likely to be the ones with the most accurate information, but have incentive to keep information from the public.
Here is an SNL skit that confronts the issue of the divide between the American consumer’s concern with the Iphone and the Foxconn employees perspective of the Iphone. The video quality is horrendous but the clip is worth watching.
Mike Daisy’s monologue about globalization, industrial production and Apple is a great application of theatre to confront social issues. While I think that Mike Daisy knew the story he wanted to tell prior to the interviews he did, I loved the theme of the piece. He looks at industrial facilities, the source products we use everyday, through a perspective that values humans. He blatantly takes a stakeholder viewpoint of how businesses should be run.
One of Daisy’s thoughts that stuck with me is the question of how change is created in organizations. Mike Daisy said that “change requires caring” and that stakeholders at all levels (Apple, consumers) have turned a blind eye to the working conditions in places like the one Mike visited in China. Mike Daisy makes this clear that we should feel concerned about the working conditions. Hearing about the working conditions makes me wonder how economists can argue that the free market is the solution for the ills of our society. If anything, Shen jen, an area that has had recent economic growth, is now making large profits for some while ruining the quality of life for many (sometimes to the point of suicide).
I thoroughly appreciated the issue that Mike Daisy’s monologue brings to light. He adds value and humanity into the story of the “stuff” that we use.
I’ve been doing some outside research on an eye glasses supplier, Warby Parker, that has created record earnings over the past two years. Warby Parker is a eye glasses company that sells vintage, hip frames for roughly $100, which is much less than the stylish competitor (where designer frames can cost $200- $400 more). Business Week interviewed the founders of the organization after it met its revenue goals in the first three weeks of opening. While the organization is incredibly profitable, their vision and goals would align with the way that Ed Freeman views organizations.
The organization has the potential to make much more than they currently do in profit, but instead it gives glasses to visually impaired people in less developed countries with its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program. The organization extensively identifies the stakeholders affected by their business and are not shy to let people know, via their website. The company labels itself a “Good Company,” and has information on the organization’s influence on their employees, customers, community, and environment (they even sponsor a local little league team). As Ed Freeman said in his article, “In Colins and Porras’ ‘Built to Last’ they have detailed company after company that has outstanding performance in part because the companies have a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning that is transferred to their employees” (p. 174). I believe Freeman would applaud the employee management at Warby Parker. Online, the business lists ways and manners in which they are helping their employees flourish. All of this involvement is great to generate goodwill, as Milton Freedman would stress, their involvement outside of profit generating activities stress the firm’s societal concerns.
Milton Freedman would most likely be critical of Warby Parker for addressing societal concerns that they are not necessary qualified to change. But the organization is not publicly owned, so he may argue that if the owners’ preferences are being adhered to, then let the firm do as it is.