Category Archives: Individual research

A. Nicot – Individual Research: Global Citizenship is the Death of Civilization

The concept of global citizenship, or of some sort of attachment to humanity as a whole beyond traditional identities, is the death of civilization.

A citizen is defined in opposition to something. The concept is wholly Western in its origin, beginning amongst the polis of Ancient Greece, when all levels of society were in danger of  being eradicated or enslaved by warfare. The Athenians themselves, as much as they are lauded for being the founders of a classical civilization to a certain extent, and for creating “democracy” apparently, were great advocates of the violent methods of subjugation and eradication of foreign peoples. During the Peloponnesian War, in which the Athenian-controlled Delian League faced off against the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League, multiple cities were destroyed (some down to the last child) by both sides. After an eventual Spartan victory, Athens was placed under a puppet government.

In this war we see two opposing concepts of what society should be like, fought for vociferously by combatants, tied in with strategic geopolitical interests as well. Citizens fought to avoid being slaves or to mark their differentiation from slaves. But they fought for their city, their polis. They were presented in opposition to another concept and another geopolitical force.

Similarly the concept evolved under the Roman Republic and then Empire, where being a citizen showed that you had an active participation within the social and political sphere, that you contributed in a major way, and you were rewarded with privileges. Similarly there were many slaves and non-citizen freedmen in Rome who did not have these privileges. Rome also presented itself in opposition to disorder as a concept, not having any major political rival-states in its period of dominance. The very concept of anti-order was anti-Roman and Rome’s universal call to domination, imperium without end, it claimed was the mission of its unique people, and that all should seek to be a part of it, or be forced into it. Rome had an exclusionary concept of their own citizenship too, because they picked up the Greek concept of barbaroi, making them the embodiment of disorder. To the Romans, not having whatever they judged as necessary for a people to posses “culture and tradition” meant that you were unworthy of citizenship.

As Rome fell and was replaced by warring kingdoms the idea of citizenship became limited in its role to the simple belonging to civic societies in urban settings. This was supplemented by the feudal order which operated through the concept of privilege by birthright and not by public duty, though that concept was still present in many religious respects. With the birth of the nation-state in the Renaissance and the Early Modern Period, citizenship became associated with nationhood. Nationalism demanded all members of nations be active participants in their society to build a better future for nations, and so all members should be citizens of their nations. The concept of citizenship was then attached thoroughly to the differentiable nation-states of Europe and the world (we are primarily discussing this Western concept), nation-states which opposed each other fiercely on the world stage, in competition for ideals and for geopolitical interests, like the polis of antiquity.

Today we are told that despite the resurgence of identity-based nationalism in Europe, nations will cease to be important to the average human, and that the general international reliance of nations upon each other, primarily might it be emphasized for commercial and economic reasons, will mean the advent of a class of person known as the global citizen will emerge.

If, as many scholars claim, the nation is an “imagined community” based on a constructed identity rather than the communities that individuals can construct themselves through social interaction with their neighbors and friend, then surely the “globe”, the concept of humanity as an identity, is even more constructed and artificial. The people of the earth share no common language, culture, or religious tradition. They share no common history of struggles against an external enemy or internal ones, they share no concept of their own identity as members of the same species beyond the purely taxonomic.

However.

The concept of global citizenship exists, and obviously a certain amount of people have sincerely attached themselves to it. Let us look at the example of the “Africa for Norway” people, who in the desire to show their appreciation for a sense of global belonging, have gathered resources to help Norwegians struggling with harsh winter. The whole project has the potential to make one incredibly uneasy, as Norway has one of the richest societies on earth, and the majority of African countries, well… not so much. The dynamic is not equal, and the illusion that the organizers of “Africa for Norway” seem to suffer from is that it is. the fact is that the people who can afford to be global citizens and who can afford to entertain these ideas for the groups of people they are responsible for, are a certain class of elites in the West primarily, but also-Western educated and Western-influenced non-Westerners. Such as certain Africans. These are the people who will be global citizens because they are the ones participating in the globalist structure, which as mentioned is primarily economic, but also cultural to some degree under the influence of economic factors: consumer culture, commercialization of culture, and internet-based culture are all byproducts of this economic globalism. They are the products and targets of globalization and its culture, they are the wealthy members of the West.

Not exclusively Westerners though, but Westerns are as a product of their recent intellectual history receptive to anti-nationalist concepts and have lived under the effects of economic and cultural globalization for longer than the rest of the world. And since they are overall wealthier than the rest of the world, they have the luxury of entertaining the idea that they are connected somehow to a farmer in Bangladesh.

As in the ancient Greek polis, and as in the Roman concept of imperium, there has to be an oppositional structure to counter globalization and the heralds of its arrival. These are anti-globalists, nationalists, or just people unreceptive to those concepts. Primarily these will be people who do not live in urban environments and are not in higher-levels of education and whose livelihoods are hurt by or non-dependent on globalization. Farmers in France for example, whose industry has been suffering for years as a result of E.U.-imposed agricultural policies fail to protect them. And why should they in Europeist logic, or globalist logic? The citizens of globalization won’t be every man and woman in the human race, because a global society will be unlike a nation-state, and more like an ancient society in how we judge the worth of the participants. The educated and wealthy classes will place themselves in a sort of opposition to the “lower orders” so to speak. Stateless society will be class-based society.

This is all to some degree an entirely speculative approach to the problems of globalization, though much of it is based on current perceptions of myself, a person who is a member of the “global citizen” class. I believe that in courses such as this which cover globalization, not enough attention is payed to the catastrophic consequences which may result from an event and a series of events as profoundly transformative as globalism. Idealism should not cloud cynical analyses of processes which aren’t idealistic in their behavior.

“Africa for Norway – News Collection.” YouTube. YouTube, 05 Dec. 2012. Web. 29 June 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l17zUTOtkY>.

Anderson, Benedict R. O’G. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991.

Davies, Ian, Mark Evans, and Alan Reid. “Globalising Citizenship Education? A Critique Of ‘Global Education’ And ‘Citizenship Education’.” British Journal of Educational Studies 53.1 (2005): 66-89.

Mittelman, James H. The Globalization Syndrome: Transformation and Resistance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2000.

Munck, R. “Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Class, State, and Nation in the Age of Globalization.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 35.2 (2006): 168.

 

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I Shop, Therefore I Am

ishop

As is discussed in War Games, people must be informed of the situation and context of humanitarian aid before supplying it (Polman). The same should go for not only donating money and items to humanitarian aid organizations, but also cause-related marketing products. These are everyday products we find in stores with seals supporting NGOs and charities. “If I am to spend money on a product,” the everyday American thinks, “why not spend an extra couple dollars for the same product that donates to charity?” Things we must think of is how much money is actually going towards these charities, who is gaining the most profit and are these companies actually doing as well as the could be.

First we must start with evidence that consumers are buying into these cause-related marketing products, and then we can delve into how affective they actually are in providing aid.

“According to a 1999 survey by Cone/Roper, two-thirds of consumers report that they would favor retailer or brands associated with a good cause…” (Elfenbein and McManus 28). This may make sense to you, but to dig deeper, we ask must ask why people are interested in purchasing these products. Some reasons for these aulturistic behaviors are outlined by Strahilevitz: “…aspiration to “do the right thing”…a quest for moral satisfaction…a need to view oneself as good and kind…and the desire to experience a “warm glow”…What these explanations have in common is the underlying assumption that helping others leads one to experience positive emotions. This suggests that one way of thinking about charitable giving in the context of consumer behavior is to view those engaged in altruistic acts as consumers seeking the emotional benefits derived from giving” (Strahilevitz 216).

There have been many studies on different kinds of cause-related marketing, all leading to the same conclusions–people want the “warm glow” from donating to charity:

  • On research done on EBay:  “…we provide evidence that consumers will not merely announce an intention to favor charity-linked products; they pay higher prices in auctions to do so. In the online auction market we investigate, we find that consumers are willing to pay about 6 percent more, on average, when some or all of their payment goes to a charitable cause selected by a seller” (Elfenbein and McManus 29).
  • This research outlines specific location of the cause and marketing strategies work best: “Findings reveal that local donations and positive message framing serve as effective message cues to produce favorable CRM [cause-related marketing] outcomes among this market segment that strategists consider fertile ground” (Grau and Folse 19).
  • This study looks at how cause-related marketing affects the profit gains for a certain brand: “…when the embedded CRM message involves high versus low brand/cause fit, consumer attitudes toward the ad and the brand are more favorable. Such positive effect for brand/cause fit, however, only emerges for consumers who are high in brand consciousness; for those who are low in brand consciousness, brand/cause fit has no impact on ad or brand evaluations” (Nan and Heo 63).

As we can see, cause-related marketing both appeals to consumers and is actually viewed as a business strategy for company gains rather than feeling the “warm glow” themselves even though over 85% of organization’s corporate members are using cause-related marketing strategies (Nan and Heo 63). Because cause-related marketing is being used as a business strategy, there have been certain charities and aid organizations that are left out in order to get better gains from these products. “For example, some causes are “less marketable” (e.g., prostate cancer), are not high-profile causes, or are chronic problems (e.g., hunger or homelessness) that have trouble sustaining high involvement levels…” (Grau and Folse 19). Real social problems are not being targeted with this cause-related marketing, and instead we see glamorized and dramatized diseases and crisises that make us believe they need our money. At times, the situation is made to look worse than it even is because in reality because as was pointed out in War Games, less than half of one percent are child soldiers, affected by the famine, or died of AIDs (Polman 42).

As we also saw in War Games, much of the money donated to aid organizations was not going directly to those who need the aid (Polman). Likewise with cause-related marketing, “…firms have promised as little as 0.05% of profits to the sponsored charities or set of charities…At the other end, marketers have offered as much as 100% of profits to charity…” (Strahilevitz 217). This is before charities get ahold of these small to large profits from cause-related marketing and try to put it to use, which has many issues which are touches on in War Games. 

toms-shoes-drop

One extremely popular cause-related marketing products is TOMS. TOMS Shoes have been praised by many, but as I have previously discussed, many of these cause-related marketing products are not actually benefiting those in need of aid as many believe. Other shoe programs has spun off of the TOMS idea such as: BOBS, Soles4Souls, Flipflops for Families and Project Haiti, which have received even more criticism than TOMS has (“TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing…”).

What is wrong with the TOMS’ BOGO (Buy One Get One) cause marketing? As said in an interview by Timmerman: “If you give a kid shoes,” she told me, “they wear out or they grow out of them, and then what do they have? If you give the kid’s parents a job, the whole family will always have shoes” (Timmerman). In other words, TOMS is not giving out the right kind of aid. TOMS promises: “With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for one” (“One For One Movement…”). But what real good are shoes doing for these people? Will shoes really improve their life?

These shoes donated are manufactured in China where some are shipped back to the United States to be sold and others are prepared for Shoe Drops, where volunteers and TOMS employees distribute shoes in low-income areas (Wilson). Criticisms about outsourcing manufacturing to countries like China instead of making them in America goes without saying, but these Shoe Drops have been a major criticism from several research sources. These Shoe Drops demonstrate the White Savior Complex (as seen in the photo above), promoting poverty tourism, and they are shipping in shoes that outcompete the local goods which can create long-term problems (“TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing…” and Wilson). In fact, Mangine talks about the TOMS effort in Haiti not being necessary: “Haiti doesn’t really have a shortage of shoes. There are PILES AND PILES AND PILES for sale (new and used) on practically every street and side street around here” (Mangine).

Mangine also suggests that there should not be specific guidelines on how those receiving TOMS shoes because if those people do not need shoes or instead would rather sell them for buying something like medication, this should be allowed because it is doing more good instead of marking TOMS “not for re-sale” (Mangine). TOMS is criticized for “raising awareness” by doing their annual One Day Without Shoes and that it is really a marketing ploy (“TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing…”).

How much profit is TOMS making off of their cause-related marketing, you ask? “There are shoes listed for sale on their website which retail for $140—meaning that, for $140, a girl in the U.S. can buy a pair of shoes which probably cost $5 to make and to transport, and a child in Argentina will receive a pair of shoes which also probably cost $5 to make and transport, and at TOMS shoes the company executives are laughing all the way to the bank” (Wilson).

This article may make you think twice before buying cause-related products next time, but the idea is not to shun these completely, but to do research and critical thinking before making a decision. Being informed is important before taking action with any type of humanitarian aid.

A video campaign that combats TOMS’ One Day Without Shoes: A Day Without Dignity Video

 

Works Cited:

Elfenbein, Daniel W., and Brian McManus. “A Greater Price for a Greater Good? Evidence That Consumers Pay More for Charity-Linked Products.” JSTOR. American Economic Association, May 2010. Web. 17 June 2013.

Grau, Stacy Landreth, and Judith Anne Garretson Folse. “Cause-Related Marketing (CRM): The Influence of Donation Proximity and Message-Framing Cues on the Less-Involved Consumer.” JSTOR. M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2007. Web. 17 June 2013.

Mangine, Gwenn. “The Life and Times of the Mangine Many: One for One?” The Life and Times of the Mangine Many: One for One? N.p., 24 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.mangine.org/2012/02/one-for-one.html>.

Nan, Xiaoli, and Kwangjun Heo. “Consumer Responses to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives: Examining the Role of Brand-Cause Fit in Cause-Related Marketing.” JSTOR. M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2007. Web. 17 June 2013.

“One For One Movement – A Pair Of New Shoes Is Given To A Child In Need With Every Pair Purchased.” TOMS. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.toms.com/our-movement/l>.

Polman, Linda. War Games. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

Strahilevitz, Michal. “The Effects of Product Type and Donation Magnitude on Willingness to Pay More for a Charity-Linked Brand.” JSTOR. Society for Consumer Psychology, 1999. Web. 17 June 2013.

Timmerman, Kelsey. “The Problem with TOMS Shoes & Its Critics.” What Am I Wearing? N.p., 4 June 2011. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://whereamiwearing.com/2011/04/toms-shoes/>.

“TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing – Bad Aid | Good Intentions Are Not Enough.” Good Intentions Are Not Enough TOMS Shoes Good Marketing Bad Aid Comments. N.p., 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://goodintents.org/in-kind-donations/toms-shoes>.

Wilson, Naomi. “The Tragedy of TOMS Shoes.” The Public Queue RSS. N.p., 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://thepublicqueue.com/2012/the-tragedy-of-toms-shoes/>.

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Individual research

Individual research

Each student will select a topic that they want to go more deeply into and/or that they have a special interest in or experience related to.  I will consult with you about this topic and we will mutually agree on a general thrust for this post.  Set up a phone and/or Skype conversation with me ASAP so that we can talk about this work.

I envision these essays as either weaving into one of the themes of the existing blog assignments or comprising a whole chapter by themselves.  Note the increased required word count.

Rubric:

  • Final draft due by 10:00pm EST July 1st.
  • Late posts will be downgraded at least one letter grade.
  • At least 5citations: at least one from text and/or other assigned reading, and at least two from outside academic sources.  
  • List references at the bottom of the page (MLA format).
  • At least one photo and/or video link.
  • Minimum 0f 750 words (excluding references).
  • Grade will be based on quality and quantity of  the post including adherence to the above benchmarks.
  • This is worth 10% of your total grade.
  • Keep in mind that you are writing for a broad audience that is educated and interested in this topic; infuse your post with the sociology you are learning/have learned in a non-jargonistic manner

Please check Individual research before you Publish.

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