Categories
Culture

ANZ Anz Culture Study: Management Principles

Question 1) Explain the term ‘corporate (or organizational) culture’, and discuss its importance to the operational success, or failure, or organisations.
Corporate culture, also known as organisational culture is ‘the system of shared values and beliefs that develops within an organisation and guides the behaviour of its members’ (Schermerhorn,et al, pg 45, 2004). Robbins, et al, pg 70, 2003, explain that culture is a perception, and people perceive culture to be what they see hear or experience within the organisation. This is one reason that corporate culture is so important, as it just becomes part of daily routine or ‘the way we do things here’ (Schermerhorn,et al, pg 45, 2004). Therefore if these common practices are good practices there is a strong chance the organisation will be more successful.
The culture of an organisation is very important and can for a large part determine the success of organisations. As culture is a perception, it is concerned with how its members perceive the organisation and not whether they like it, (Robbins, et al, pg 70, 2003). If its members like the culture, the organisation is more likely to succeed. Organisations that have a good culture often perform at high levels, which also corresponds with staff morale. Robbins et al, pg 73, 2003 refer to a case study involving Virgin Blue, who have a different recruiting policy and job roles than other airlines in Australia. Virgin Blue want their staff to show their outgoing personality and interact with their customers during flights. Virgin Blue staff say morale is high and management gets on well with the workforce. The perception of Virgin Blue is that it is a little different to the other airlines in Australia, and that it is a fun outgoing organisation to be a part of, which is a perception Virgin Blue appears to promote and are proud of.

Question 2) Examine and summerize the cultural shifts that occurred on the ANZ over this period and the benefits they brought to various stakeholders.
The ANZ like most banks in the late 1990’s had a poor public image. Banks were criticised for bank fees, branch closures and scandals, as a result morale for bank employees was also poor.
ANZ conducted a staff survey, which confirmed morale was low and staff satisfaction was below 50%. The survey results were quite clear that staff did not feel valued in their workplace, and employees were asked to nominate words they felt best describes the ANZ bank. Words rating at the top of the list were cost reduction, profit and shareholder value.
The ANZ initiated a program, ‘the breakout program’ which was designed to shift the culture, as the bank wanted to create a new public image or perception that distinguished them from other banks. Executives of the ANZ realized a shift if employees mind set was needed to regain the trust of their staff and assist with this intended culture change. This was done with various workshops and subsidising computers for its staff, which in particular was very well received by its staff.
As well as increasing staff morale by subsidising computers, staff were given the opportunity to use skills they had acquired by assisting and educating customers with money matters. This was something staff were very passionate about, and by giving them the opportunity to complete such duties may have been a factor to increased morale.
ANZ claim a complete transformation in organisational culture, believing their culture has changed for ever. Judging by further surveys conducted since the change in culture, staff morale is high, and this also coincides with customer satisfaction.
Question 3) Evaluate the leadership style/s that would have been used by McFarlane and other senior executives in ANZ to implement this cultural shift in the ANZ and describe other leadership styles that may not have been beneficial in doing so.
It is quite likely that more than one leadership style or a combination of styles was used by ANZ to initiate its change in organisational culture.
One particular style that may have been used is the path-goal theory. ‘A leadership theory that says it is the leaders job to assist their followers in attaining their goals and to provide the direction or support needed to ensure that their goals are compatible with the overall objectives of the groups or organisation’ (Robbins, et al, pg 577, 2006).
At the ANZ bank staff morale was low and its public image poor, and to change that McFarlane used the path-goal leadership style to attempt to increase morale, which would also lead to enhancing its public image. The path-goal theory discusses input from staff, this was done by taking information from the staff survey, and gaining an understanding of what is important to staff. Change was then implemented so staff could start working in an environment which they feel much more comfortable, more likely to succeed and have higher job and customer satisfaction. The staff were given direction (path) and could see the rewards or goals, the leader helps facilitate this transition.
Mcfarlane changed his leadership style, to give staff more involvement by conducting staff surveys, then implementing change due to results of the survey, this is further evidence to using path-goal theory. As the path goal leadership style assumes that leaders are flexible and can change their behaviours (Robbins, et al, pg 587, 2006). This is contrast to another leadership style, Fielders contingency model, which suggests that leaders could not change their behavior. If using this theory it would been very difficult for ANZ to change its culture as the leader would be unwilling to change their own behaviour in order to facilitate the required changes to result in the change in culture.
Question 4) Discuss the challenges faced by McFarlane and his executive team in introducing change across ANZ.
For change to occur, someone must take responsibility for managing the change process, the person who does this, who is also usually a manager, is known as a change agent (Robbins and Coulter, pg 360, 2007). At ANZ their CEO McFarlane is the change agent, and he may have encountered significant resistance change.
There are numerous reasons why people within organisations resist change. Kreitner & Kiniki pg 546 – 547, 2008 explain that individual and group behaviour following organizational change can take many forms, from extreme ranges of acceptance to active resistance. This resistance to change is an emotional /behavioural response to real or imagined threats to an established work routine. One particular reason discussed by Kreitner & Kiniki, 2008 is an individuals predisposition to change, which is highly personal and deeply ingrained. With so many employees at the ANZ there is a strong chance that there would have been quite a lot of people who just resist change for personal reasons.
Another reason for resistance to change is due to a climate of mistrust (Kreitner & Kiniki pg 547, 2008). This may have been the biggest resistance to change within the ANZ. Prior to the change employee morale was low, employees perceptions of ANZ were that they did not care about their staff and were more concerned with profits, cost reduction etc. ANZ were aware of their employees feelings, the lack of trust and realized the importance of having employees trust. Therefore when ANZ were initiating change staff may have found it difficult to adjust and believe that the change was going to be a change for the good.
Question 5) Discuss whether or not the executive management instigated changes to the culture of the ANZ are ethical.
Ethical behaviour is described as ‘behaviour that conforms to generally accepted social norms’ (Davidson & Griffen, pg 106, 2003). The workplace info case study mentions that most banks in the late 1990’s had a poor public image due to bank fees, branch closures etc. Although it is common practice amongst banks to operate under the conditions, .it is not considered acceptable behavior by the wider community, namely its customers.
The ANZ bank wanted to be different to the other banks, it wanted its culture to be a point of difference from the others. It could be said that the ANZ felt it had a responsibility to change peoples perceptions of itself and banks in general. Davidson & Griffen, pg 117, 2003 explain that ‘ethics relate to individuals. Organisations themselves do not have ethics, but organisations do relate to their environment in ways that often involve ethical dilemmas and decisions. Social responsibility is the set of obligations an organisation has to protect and enhance the society in which it functions’. The society for the ANZ bank is the banking community, general community (customers) and its staff.
The ANZ bank felt it had responsibilities to their customers, by providing a higher level of customer service in order to enhance its public image, but it had a responsibility to its staff, as they are the people who are to implement the changes. The ANZ may have avoided an ethical issue when it decided that its staff could choose where it could spend time volunteering. ANZ originally controlled where staff would go to volunteer, but this was quickly changed, possibly as a result to ethical dilemmas that may have arose.
While there may have been some resistance by staff to change, it did occur and its staff and customer satisfaction have increased, without any major ethical dilemmas arising.
Question 6) Determine the organisational structure that would best facilitate the implementation of these new practices.
Organisational structure is the formal arrangement of jobs within an organisation. When managers develop change or structure, they’re engaged in organisational design, which involves 6 key elements (Robbins and Coulter, pg 266, 2007). Therefore to develop an organisational structure the manager must consider the elements of organisational design.
One of these elements that would have been used by ANZ would have been p of control, which would then also lead to either having a tall or flat organisation structure. Span of control is determining how many people will report to each supervisor or manager (Davidson & Griffen, pg 357, 2003). The decision about p of control determines the overall structure of the organistaion, which will be either a flat or tall organization (Davidson & Griffen, pg 358, 2003).
The ANZ may have shifted from a tall organizational structure to a flat structure. Davidson & Griffen, pg 106, 2003 explain that many experts agree that business run more effectively with fewer layers of organisations, which depicts a flat organisational structure. Flat organisations often lead to increased staff morale, productivity as well as increased managerial responsibility (Davidson & Griffen, pg 358, 2003). ANZ structure may look like a tall organization due to the large number of employees, braches and therefore managers for each branch, however a change occurred which would have resulted in less layers, which increased communication from employees to management which assisted in the culture change at ANZ.
Question 7) Explain the importance of informal groups in achieving the managerial objective of cultural change.
Groups are defined as ‘two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to achieve specific goals’ (Robbins and Coulter, pg 424, 2007). For example, an ANZ branch might have a customer service team, who get together regularly to discuss new ways to increase customer satisfaction. The members in this group are from same ‘team’, and perhaps if not for working within close proximity of each other would not socialise, they are organised formal groups.
Contrast to this is informal groups, which Davidson and Griffen, pg 645, 2003, descibe as ‘A group created by its members for purposes that may or may not be relevant to the organisation’s goals’. Informal groups may form while standing around in the morning making coffee, some informal groups are formed by an interpersonal attraction (Davidson and Griffen, pg 646, 2003).
Whatever the reason informal groups are formed, they will be important in assisting in the shift for cultural change. When informal groups are formed, they are likely to become cohesive groups, Davidson and Griffen, pg 653, 2003, explain cohesiveness as ‘the extent to which members are loyal and committed to a group; the degree of mutual attractiveness in the group’. Therefore if informal groups within an organisation are open to change it is more likely that the organisation will be able to achieve its objectives, and it this case that is assist with a cultural change.
The ANZ bank appears to have undergone a successful cultural transformation, with a focus of staff morale, which increased customer satisfaction. This change has been so well received by staff it now embedded in its staff, and will become the norm for all future staff, regardless of their personality or who is managing them.

Categories
Culture

Vietnamese Culture Evaluation

Assement 1 (1000 words): Discusss the key dimensions of national culture in your domicile (home) country using the frameworks of Hofstede (2001) including: Power Distance; Uncertainty avoidance; Individualism/ Collectivism; Masculinity/ femininity; long term orientation. Introduction In the “flat” world today, opening a business on abroad will be easier than before (Friedman, 2005). The manager from other countries will need to face with other culture aspect that they never met before.
In order to solve this problem, Hofstede’s dimensions (1970) suggested that his model with 5 dimensions: Power Distance, Uncertain Avoidance Individualism/ collectivism, Masculinity/ femininity, Long-term orientation, which refer to any culture on the globe, and Vietnam in this case. For this essay requirement, the Power Distance and Long-term Orientation will be discussed in this essay, how it is effective on this constructed in international business management as well as the disadvantage of Hofstede’s module.
Hofstede’s module suggests that national culture can be influence behaviour and management in workplace. His research suggested that differences of behaviour are accounted for nationality and national culture determinants. In addition, understanding the cultural differences could be done by drawing on these dimensions. Hofstede stated that there are many national differences in work-related values, beliefs, norms and self-descriptions and societal variables, could be explained in five key dimensions of national culture. Power Distance

Power distance score of Vietnam was given a high value of 70 by Hofstede’s study(2013) as mesuased by the scores in his 1970s IBM internal cultural test system, in which describe power distance as dealing with the need of a society for independence versus interdependence. In other research which is carried out by McCleland suggests that the need for power is to have influences over others and tend to be gained more privilege than other. Additionally, Individuals with high power distance will tend to achieve target or choose a job which responsibility, feedback and a medium percentage of risk.
Hofstede (1984) also suggested that in a high power distance score, Vietnam in this case, he/she is more likely to accept unequal distributions of power. It could be take away power, control mechanism or decision making, but they will easy accept this situation in higher power distance rather than lower one. However, economic system and environment are needed to take in to account as others factors which might have strongly influence power distance. In a research is carried out by Hoang (2008),a researcher from Capabella, USA, within 20 managers who are Vietnamese gave us a differences result.
The research was pointed out that the managers get lower score in Power Distance, who tend be cooperate with the lower staff rather than made their decision on their own. Long-term Orientation. In Vietnamese culture, modest is highly evaluated (Te, H. D. , 1987; Cao, X. H. , 1999). In another hand, Hofstede also claimed that Vietnam got a high score on Long-term Orientation, which was influenced by Confucius, who emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.
Thus, society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view ( Hofstede, 2001). It means that the Longterm Orientation is a result to develop this high score of Power Distance in Vietnam. In Hofstede website, he also claimed that Vietnam score is 80, that making it is long-term orientation. In different words, Vietnam, is a country, who believed in pragmatism, where achieving goal a task and getting virtue is prioritized.
As a result, the manager can aware that the employees push their adaption up to limit if it is the requirement of the job and sometimes, working for money mind not top goal for the bread-maker. Respect from employers, peers or colleagues (Tatum, 1997 quoted by Harvery and Allard, 2009) is all so an reward for them. Despite the fact that Hofstede model is most famous theory in human resource in manager, there are some critics on it. According to Mc Sweenry (2002), Hofstede’s module was assumed that national culture is equal with company culture as well as put the Confucian Dynamism on the top of the table in his research.
In Vietnamese context, beside the Confucian, Buddhism is needed to be taking in to account as well. Back in 1000 years ago, when Ly Dynasty chooses Hanoi the capital of Van Xuan, old name of Vietnam, Buddhism was become the national religious (Tran, 1997;Phan, 1992 ) until Nguyen Dynasty in 18th century. In additional, Ly Dynasty also introduced the teaching of 3 regilous: Buddhism, Confucian, Taoism at the same times in the past. This philosophy is still now alive and can be known in other name is Cao Dai religious with 3 million fellows. So Vietnam culture and behaviour will depended on religious rather than Confucian only.
Conclusion. Vietnam is a developing country where is people are open-minded and easy to cooperate with other people and Money –oriented people mind be the minority, due to the reason that, the long-term goal for respect and job security is their goal of life. Two dimensions linking could be seen in the Hofstede’s module where the score of Power Distance and Long-term Orientation are 70 and 80 receptively. However, the Hofstede’s module may be still lack of evaluation in particular situation like Vietnamese behaviour in foreign countries or the over-evaluation of Hofstede on Confucian must be reviewed.
From manager point of view, Hofstede’s module is still an initial step to start with. References: 1. Cao, Xuan Hao, 1999. Contributions of linguistic researches to the understanding of Vietnamese thought and Vietnamese culture 2. Confucius, a bibiography http://www. confucius. org/lunyu/edbio. htm 3. Hofstede,G. , cited in Minkov,M. , The evolution of Hofstede’s doctrine, P. 11 4. Phan, H. C. , 1992. L? ch Tri? u Hi? n Chuong Lo? i Chi (Records on Administrative Systems of Successive Dynasties). Vols. 1-2-3. Trans. by Vi? n S? H? c Vi? t Nam. Ha N? i: Khoa H? c Xa H? i Press. 5.
Te, Huynh Dinh, 1987 Introduction to Vietnamese Culture. 6. Tran, Q. V. , 1997 Tim hieu van hoa dan gian Hanoi (Understanding folk culture of Hanoi). 7. Hoang. H. , 2008, Culure and Management: A study of Vietnamese cultural influences on management style. Capella University, USA Department of Business Management HRM subject group Avoiding academic irregularity: plagiarism/ghost-writing checklist * coursework submission cover sheet Before you submit coursework, in accordance with University regulations, you should be able to confirm that the coursework that you are submitting is your own original work and that you have: read and understood the guidance on academic irregularity and plagiarism in the module handbook; * clearly referenced, both within the text and on the end reference page/s, all sources used in the work; * based your work on academic sources from academic search engines such as the American Business Index (ABI). Student sources should not be used. * used inverted commas and the full reference details (including page numbers) for all text quoted from books, journals, web-based other sources; * provided the sources for all data in tables and figures that are not your own work; not made use of the work of any other student(s) past or present without acknowledgement. This includes any of your own work that has been previously, or concurrently, submitted for assessment, either at this or any other educational institution, including school; * not sought or used the services of any professional agencies such as ghost writers or other individuals, to produce this work; * retained all the material collected in the process of developing your coursework; and * in addition, you understand that any false claim in respect of this work may result in disciplinary action in accordance with University regulations.
Remember, the Learning Development Centre offers advice on academic writing. Please tick to confirm that you have observed the points above in your coursework and submit a signed copy of this complete form (2 pages) with your coursework submission. Name| | Matriculation Number| | Degree Programme| | Module Title| | Module/Seminar Tutor| | Date| | This is my own original work; it has not been submitted elsewhere in fulfilment of the requirements of this or any other award. Signed ………………………………………………………………………………|

Categories
Culture

Narrative on Culture

Culture Crossing Do you ever look at a complete stranger and immediately categorize that person? I will be the first to admit that I have done so more than I would care to acknowledge. I was definitely raised to look down upon people, especially the Jewish, in spite of what my parents will tell you. Although I was never actually told not to like or associate with a Jewish person, the adults in my family made it known that it was unacceptable by saying unpleasant things about them. I heard the jewish would come to nice neighborhoods, take them over, and ruin them.
I also heard that they killed Jesus. It was inevitable that I too would see Jewish people as inferior to me. With all the bad things I heard, it only seemed natural. I thought Jewish people were arrogant, greedy, conniving, and uneducated. I thought they should leave our country because their religion and cultural beliefs were un-American. From the time I was a little girl through my early twenties I looked down upon Jewish people until I met Joel one day while I was working. It was a typical Friday at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It was fifteen minutes until closing time and the place was packed. I was about to call my next customer when a short man dressed in black and white from head to toe with long chin-brushing curls as sideburns wearing a black hat approached my window. He was a Hasidic Jew and I was not happy. I acknowledged him. “Yes? ” “Are you going to call this ticket number? ” “Nope. Have a seat,” I said annoyed. “I’m sorry to have bothered you. ” As he was sitting back down I noticed the ticket number he had in his hands. It was a dealer ticket. We stop calling dealers at 4:30 p. m because it’s time consuming.

I was contemplating if I was going to tell him this or let him find out the hard way. There was a big sign by the ticket machine that clearly states that we don’t accept dealer paperwork after 4:30 p. m. Some of my coworkers noticed him and started making fun of his clothes, yiddish accent and, stupidity for not reading the sign. Although I tended to agree with them, I decided to be nice and help this man because I was sick and tired of hearing my coworkers ridiculing him. He was, after all, in hearing distance. I motioned the Hasidic man up to my window with my index finger. Sir, I normally would not help you because we don’t accept dealers after 4:30 p. m but, I see you only have one deal so I will help you just this one time. ” He smiled from ear to ear and thanked me. I knew from experience that Hasidic men are not allowed to touch an object at the same time as someone from the opposite sex so, I was very surprised when he handed me the papers through the bars rather than sliding them underneath the window barrier. I didn’t know what to do. Should I let the papers fall to the desk? I did not want to be impolite so I took the papers from him.
After looking at his papers I soon realized that I would be unable to process the transaction and I delivered the bad news to him. Expecting the worst, I was ready for the hostile reply I usually get from anyone I give unpleasant news to. Instead, he was polite and humble. He thanked me over and over for taking him. I was pleasantly surprised and smiled. I told him the additional papers he needed and even wished him a good evening. He was walking away when he turned and asked, “What is your name? ” “Ann” I suspiciously replied. “My name is Joel. Have a great weekend Ann!
I will see you first thing on Monday,” he said cheerfully as he walked towards the door. I wondered what was wrong with him. I had never came across a Hasidic man like him. As the metal gates lifted to the D. M. V entrance Monday morning, I noticed Joel was the first in line. He waved. Oh, geez. That was weird. My coworkers took notice of him and started to tease me. “Look, there’s Annie’s special friend,” said one. “Annie’s curly locks is here,” snorted another. I chose to ignore their snide remarks and called him up to my window. “Good Morning Ann! How was your weekend? ” Joel asked.
He placed a small tin of cookies on the counter. “These are for you. They are from my brother’s bakery in Brooklyn,” he joyfully said as he slid the tin underneath the window bars. I told him that I couldn’t accept them and thanked him. “You have kids? Yes? Please take them home to your children then,” he insisted. I took the cookies and hid them in my desk draw. “Thank you Joel, that was very kind of you. My children will love the cookies. ” I hoped no one noticed the exchange. I did not want to be teased my coworkers. While editing and processing his paperwork, Joel started telling me jokes.
They were funny but I didn’t dare laugh because they were about the Jewish. “Not all Hasidic’s are extremists, Ann,” he laughed. I didn’t know how to respond. I never met a Hasidic man that was as friendly and talkative as Joel. I wondered if he was from Kiryas Joel, the village within the town of Monroe where it’s residents strictly observe the Torah and its commandments. If he is, I’m thinking he shouldn’t be talking to me like this. Hasidic men are proscribed from associating with woman who are not their wives or relatives. What if another Hasidic witnessed him talking to me? Joel, do you live in Kiryas Joel? ” I shyly asked. “Yes, I do. Why do you ask? ” “Um, can’t you get in trouble for talking to me? ” I had a hard time getting the words out. I was embarrassed. “I have many rules but it doesn’t mean that I follow them to a T? ” I was intrigued. I knew little about Hasidism. I determined this would be an excellent opportunity to learn. “Would you mind if I asked you questions about your religion? ” I quietly asked. Joel gave me permission to ask him anything. As time went on, I called him right up to my window.
None of my coworkers wanted to help him anyway and, I looked forward to our conversations. I asked him questions about everything from having sex through a hole in the sheet to having a holiday that they are ordered to get drunk. Joel eagerly shared his experiences in detail leaving nothing out. He explained holidays, the importance of tradition, and beliefs. I learned the life of a Hasidic from birth through marriage. Joel educated me on why they dress all in black, what kind of education they receive, gender roles, acceptable entertainment, and any other aspect that I thought to ask him about.
He explained the discipline involved to abstain mainstream American culture. When he spoke about his arranged marriage, I began to understand and respect the idea behind it. It did seem safer in the big picture because partners were picked that were good for a lifetime not short infatuations. I was amazed how open-minded I was becoming. I had gained respect for his religion and became quite fond of Joel. I saw him as a whole person rather than the Hasidic Jew I once seen. My religious and cultural upbringing fostered my ignorance.
I grew up feeling superior to people outside my culture and religion because I simply didn’t know any better. Meeting Joel changed my view on culture and religion. Through sharing his traditions and beliefs, I realized that other cultures interact differently and it’s often misconceived as rudeness, anger and, foolishness. Getting to know Joel made me see that our cultural and religious beliefs didn’t make us any less or any more of a person. Based on our common humanity, I learned to respect cultural and religious diversity.

Categories
Culture

Harmful Algal Blooms and Aquaculture

Harmful Algal Blooms and how they are Linked to Aquaculture Abstract Harmful algal blooms cause a wide range of negative effects on aquaculture. These effects are come from the complexity of harmful algal species; the toxins they create and morphology they have adapted. Science still lacks a full understanding of factors that are envolved in blooms formation. Aquaculture and harmful algal blooms are directly related because it is one of many anthropogenic factors that unintentionally produce the conditions that promote harmful algal blooms.
The methods of production, feeds used, waste produced can lead to nutrient loading and eutrophic conditions by releasing essential nutrients into water that are necessary for algal growth. Phosphorus and nitrogen compounds are two of the main byproducts or aquaculture that are associated with bloom formation. To minimize the effects of harmful algal blooms on aquaculture you must understand the diversity and complexity of harmful algal blooms and their relationship with aquaculture. Abstract Harmful algal blooms cause a wide range of negative effects on aquaculture.
These effects are come from the complexity of harmful algal species; the toxins they create and morphology they have adapted. Science still lacks a full understanding of factors that are envolved in blooms formation. Aquaculture and harmful algal blooms are directly related because it is one of many anthropogenic factors that unintentionally produce the conditions that promote harmful algal blooms. The methods of production, feeds used, waste produced can lead to nutrient loading and eutrophic conditions by releasing essential nutrients into water that are necessary for algal growth.

Phosphorus and nitrogen compounds are two of the main byproducts or aquaculture that are associated with bloom formation. To minimize the effects of harmful algal blooms on aquaculture you must understand the diversity and complexity of harmful algal blooms and their relationship with aquaculture. Andrew Blajda Introduction Over the last several decades harmful algal blooms events or HABs are believed to be increasing in frequency and geographic range. The reported increase is a major concern because of the wide scale impact they have on he environment and human activities. The effect of HABs on aquaculture can be very damaging with reduced growth, mortalities or accumulation of toxins. If aquaculture operations take place in the open bodies of water they have little or no way of avoiding incoming blooms. Harmful algal bloom events that come in contact with aquaculture operations often have negative effects that can include student growth, weakened immunity, mortalities, and on economic losses.
One of the bigger concerns today is the apparent increase in harmful bloom events. Researchers have linked this increase with anthropogenic activities, aquaculture being one of them. Aquaculture operations adds additional nutrients to the system, this lowers nutrients that limits algal growth. A better understand of the dynamics and characters the form and make up a bloom combined with the a better understanding of nutrient loading of aquaculture could potentially help reduce the negative effects harmful algal blooms have on aquaculture.
Single celled microscopic algae like phytoplankton are the most globally abundant species and one of the oceans’ most important resources. These autotrophic primary producers form the bottom of the food pyramid, acting as the primary source of food for larval finfish, crustaceans, filter feeding bivalves, and other species (Hallengraeff, 1995). In normal concentrations, these single celled algae work in balance with the ocean and its inhabitants, filling important roles in chemical and nutrient cycles. They act as primary producers, providing nutrients and food for variety of different species.
These simple microscopic species are vitally important to the success of both fisheries and aquaculture, but in some situations they can also have detrimental effects on the marine and coastal environment and numerous terrestrial and marine species. A combination of physical, chemical, biological, hydrological, and meteorological events can generate appropriate conditions that allow these simple single celled microalgae can exhibit exponential growth and reproduction. These natural events create the opportunity for algal bloom formation with potential large scale negative effects throughout the area they cover (Graham, 2007).
Algal blooms can be very diverse and differ from one another in many ways . How they form, the algal specie of causation, characteristics and dynamics of a blooms, the species they affect, and impacts they cause are some of the complex factors that are found in blooms (Zingone & Enevoldsen, 2000). The specific characteristics used to define a harmful bloom vary by sources. Hans Paerl, among others, defined harmful blooms by using several characteristics. Paerl also defined harmful blooms at their most basic level by classifying them as having nuisance conditions, meaning ecological and/or economic impacts (Paerl, 1988).
As harmful algal blooms move across the ocean, the observable effects they cause go beyond the ocean and marine species it covers. These events will also have wide spread negative impacts on costal terrestrial organism and both human health and activities. Algal species produce sevral different toxins that are detrimental effects to human health, causing various illnesses and mortalities. About 10% of foodborne disease in the United States results from algal toxins; worldwide they cause more than 60,000 intoxications a year. Van Dolah, 2000) Economic losses due harmful algal blooms have been estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, from costs of beach clean ups, decreased tourism, and closing or stopping sales of commercial fisheries and aquaculture (Van Dolah et al. , 2001). Over the past several decades there has been an apparent increase in the frequency and geographic range of harmful algal blooms. This apparent increase has been attributed to both increased observations and focus on harmful algal blooms and increased inputs from anthropogenic sources.
Aquaculture is one of many anthropogenic activities that is believed to be hypernutrification and eutrophic conditions in surrounding bodies of water. This paper will attempt to gain a better understanding of diversity of harmful algal blooms and also the effect aquaculture has on the environment in adding in formation of harmful algal blooms. Algal Blooms Historically algal blooms are a naturally occurring phenomenon in earth’s oceans and have been observed throughout recorded history (Hallegraeff, 1993).
These events are often beneficial to bivalves by supplying an abundant food supply to these filters feeding that relay on microalgae for their source of nutrients. Algal blooms can quickly turn into detrimental to the environment and its inhabitants are various ways (Leverone, 2007). Sources from human history including the bible may contain the first documented cases of algal blooms. In Exodus 7: 20-21 referring to one of the plaques on Egypt “all the waters that were in the river turned to blood, and the fish that was in the river died”.
Some historians and scientist now believe this biblical reference from 1,000BC could be the first written record of an algal bloom. (Hallegraeff, 1993) Other historical sources may have unknowing recorded written evidence on algal blooms, in China around 200AD general Zhu Ge-Ling documented sicknesses and losses of military personnel after drinking from a river that was stained green. (Chorus & Bartram, 1999) Examination of fossil algal specimens and historical reference compounding evidence that these event are not a new phenomenon and have been occurring in earth’s oceans for thousands if not millions of years.
Recent finding from numerous long term studies conducted around the world has brought a strong belief in the scientific community that algal blooms have been increasing in their frequency and geographic distribution. Even though most scientiest support the idea of a global increase of blooms and twith strong evidence supporting this theroy there is still a major dissagreement about what is causing the increase (Pelley, 1998). The apparent increase of algal blooms, along with the global impacts on aquatic organisms, the environment, human health, and activities has increased interest and research being done on these events (Li et al. 2002; Van Dolah et al. , 2001). The exact characteristics and descriptions that define an algal bloom are fairly broad and very from source to source. I was unable to find a universal definition of algal blooms. The description and definition I came across were similar but differed in many aspects; this included sizes, formation factors, impacts, and algal species. Overall algal blooms are generally defined significant increase in biomass due to a rapid reproduction of a single microalgal species.
The problem with this source is there can also be macroalgal blooms. Others described them as forming high density populations, with some species creating visible discoloration of the water. (Carstensen, Henriksen, & Heiskanen, 2007; Diersing, 2009) Others define blooms by impacts they cause; displacing indigenes species, destroy habitat, oxygen depletion, and alter biochemical cycles. (Hoagland et al. , 2002) A more generalized definition was given by Hallegraeff, adding that a bloom must have at least million cells per liter (Hallegraeff, 1993).
The defining characteristic that differentiates a bloom from a harmful algal bloom is when they takes on a destructive roll and causes environment impacts. The term harmful is defined more specifically as causing negative impacts on the environment and adverse effects on both aquatic and terrestrial organisms. This is due to factors such as toxins they produce, specie specific cell physical structure causing damage to aquatic organisms or by accumulation of biomass affect naturally occurring organisms causing alterations food web dynamics and biochemical cycles (Anderson et al. 2002). Depending on the species, some algae produce toxins that can affect crustaceans, fish, shellfish, birds and mammals including humans; nontoxic species can still causes damage by blocking light from penetrating the water column, clogging or damaging gills, and creating anoxic conditions from accelerated decomposition as they die off (Silver et al. , 2006; Sellner et al. , 2003) Harmful alga can also have impacts on shoreline coastal habitats, toxins can be transported onto the shore by sea spray (Hoagland et al. , 2002).
There are over 5,000 know photoplanktonic algal species that inhabit the marine waters only a small portion, about 300 species are known to have blooming capabilities and even fewer, about 40-80 species or 2-3% of all photoplantonic algal species are known to have toxic chemicals producing capabilities; this includes members that form red tides (Hallegraeff, 1993; Smayda, 1997). Nontoxic red tides are not uncommon, today people often incorrectly or mistakenly refer to toxic algal blooms as red tides even when brown, green or colorless (Anderson, 1994).
Toxic and other harmful algal species are ubiquitous throughout the marine and freshwater environment; the majority of the time they present at low population densities that cause few, if any and only minor impacts on the environment and its local inhabitants (Van Dolah, 2000). There are a variety of different phycotoxins algal species are able to synthesize; individual species will only produce one type of toxin. The evolutionary advantages of these toxins are not fully understood; they are believed to play a role in bloom formation and predator protecting (Nehring, 1993).
The different phycotoxins vary from one another in terms of the impacts and degree of damage they have on marine and terrestrial organisms, depending on the toxicity, the concentration, and the organisms. Toxicity vary among algal species Dinophysis is one example, they have the ability to produce toxins that have negative effects at densities as low as 100 cells per L-1 (Sellner et al. , 2003). The most toxic algal species are mainly found in dinoflagellets (Table 1) with some having toxicity greater than venomous snakes. Table 1.
Toxicity of several phycotoxins created different organisms including algae. (Van Dolah, 2000) The taxonomic algal groups’ dinoflagellets, raphidophyetes, cynobactria, and some diatoms are known to have the capabilities of phycotoxins production; these species are often the culprit behind harmful algal blooms. Phycotoxins are toxic chemicals created biologically by photosynthetic organisms. Dinoflagellets are one of the predominate species that forms red tides; members of this group also produce toxin that lead to foodborne illness and human mortalities (Li et al. , 2002; Hallegraeff et al. 1995). Human induced illnesses are not an uncommon result from consumption of seafood. Many algal toxins are potentially dangerous and even deadly to humans. Toxins accumulate in tissues of organisms like shellfish, finfish, and crustaceans that come in contact with a toxic bloom. These species are usually far less affected by algal toxins having adaptive mechanisms that lower the effects on the organisms associated with toxic blooms. However toxins still accumulate within the tissues and detoxification can take weeks before they reach levels safe for human consumption.
Algal toxins cause for concerns for humans not only because they maintain their toxicity long after the bloom but more importantly because they can withstanding heat from cooking. Algal toxin foodborne diseases are caused by various species or toxins and come from different vectors. Bivalve vectors can induce human illness that include (Table 2) paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP), amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP); other vectors can lead to various other diseases as well (Van Dolah, 2000).
The popular term of red tide given to harmful algal bloom comes from compact, high densities of algal cells that containing red photosynthetic pigments, causing the water to appear red (Carstensen et al. , 2007). These toxic species can normally be found in low concentrations have no impacts on organisms and environment. The adverse effects on organism often deepened on cell concentration; in blooms toxic algae aggregate and are more dangerous (Van Dolah, 2000).
Some toxic algal species have developed unique life cycles and morphological characteristics that allow them to occupy a specific niche that will be further examined. Table 2. Foodborne and environmental disease caused by harmful algal species, the toxin produced and the primary vector they inhabit. (Van Dolah, 2000) Harmful algal species have many adverse impacts on bivalves’ this includes a wide range of sub-lethal and lethal effects; some algal species are more detrimental than others (Leverone, 2007). It is believed that increase frequency of blooms is partially due to the introduction of non-indigenous algal species.
Non-indigenous species potentially will create a specific niche, and/or out compete native species. Indigenous naturally occurring harmful algal species are far less direct effects on bivalves; this is because they have been able to naturally adapt to their presence over time. Native algal species in most case do not have as bad direct, detrimental impacts on shellfish and are usually not associated with large scale bivalve die off. The exception to this is in cases of intense blooms (Matsuyama & Shumway, 2009; Nehring, 1993; Zingone & Enevoldsen, 2000).
It’s still hard to truly say many large scale die-offs and increase sub-lethal impacts are directly due to non-indigenous algal species because identification is sometimes difficult, longer term data individual algal species geographic ranges are limited combined, and the theory anthropogenic factors are causing an overall increase in blooms. In many circumstance of HAB mortalities it’s difficult to differentiate whether they resulted from the algal specie or unfavorable water quality that coincide with blooms (Anderson et al. , 2002; Leverone, 2007).
Complex morphology are found in many harmful algal species that helps protect them from predation and the environment and help obtain nutrients. Diatom algae are members of the Bacillariophyceae class; they have been around for over 180 million years helping to create earth’s atmosphere and also play a major role in nutrient and chemical cycles. Over their evolutionary history diatoms have developed a variety of different exterior cellular morphology for protection from the environment and predation. They have a range of cell shapes and sizes and also form unique frustule cell walls made from silica.
The frustule cell wall is made up of two over lapping overlapping silica bands forming a protective shell. The 100,000 diatom species have developed “seeming infinite variations” of cell wall micropatterns and structures; including ridges, spines and plates (Kroger & Poulsen, 2008) These cellular morphological characteristics help protect them under adverse environmental conditions and restrict or prevent predation. Some species of diatoms have developed such strong cell walls with structural properties that enable them to survive ingestion and escape after passing through the digestive system. (Merkel, et al. 2003) The benefits of these structures do have negative effects and come at the expense of motile abilities, limits growth, and makes the cell very dense; motile restorations and high cell densities make diatoms much more likely to sink out of the high nutrient water column. Bloom Formation The intricacy of bloom formation is due to both the abiotic(environmental and anthropogenic factors) and biotic factors; these being the algae themselves. Adaptations of life cycle, morphology, and environmental conditions enable rapid reproduction of certain algal species that have developed specific niches (Sellner et al. 2003; Zingone & Enevoldsen, 2000). Algal blooms formation driven by the complex relation between the environmental factors and algal species; although we understand the basics of formation there are still many unknowns. There are seemingly endless amounts of variables and factors that play a role in creating of a bloom. The main driving factors of when and where a bloom forms are a combination of environmental/anthropogenic factors (nutrient cycles and inputs) and algal morphology (Pinckney et al. , 1997; Sellner et al. ,2003).
As simple as it sounds, there are countless variables including natural condition, anthropogenic effects, algal physiological and morphological characteristics that lead to the unpredictability and overall misunderstanding we still have on blooms. (Sellner et al. , 2003; Anderson, 1994) The belief that algal blooms are increasing in frequency and geographic range is a popular belief that is backed by numerous studies. The cause of this apparent increase has been attributed to the expanding human population (anthropogenic effects).
Some still argue that the increase in blooms is due to the increase in observations from studies worldwide, a better understanding of blooms and better record keeping; but with overwhelming evidence supporting the lateral it’s hard to believe the human race is not playing a major roll. (Sellner et al. , 2003) Looking at the numer of literary reference to harmful algal bloom over 70 years(figure 1) shows a dramitic increase algal blooms from the 1920’s through late 1990’s (Hallegraeff, 1993). This also give arguments that increase research and technology contriubute to the increase ovserevd.
Figure 1. Literary references of harmful algal blooms from Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstract (AFSA) publications over about 70 years. The increase can be attributed to a combination of anthropogenic factors or increased observations and present arguments for both sides. (Hallegraeff, 1993) Today we have an understanding of the natural environmental processes and factors that lead to bloom formation; but the effects humans apply to the environment alter the natural cycles making it more difficult to predict blooms (Paerl, 1988).
Blooms occur under irregular conditions that promote growth and reproduction allowing some species to flourish. The conditions found in blooms broad and often species’ specific adding to the complexity and unpredictability of blooms. In general the conditions associated with blooms are abundance (eutrophic), or an imbalance of nutrients, along with favorable water conditions (temperature, DO, salinity, etc. ). Natural processes like atmospheric deposition, water column turnover, upwelling, oceanic currents, storms, and anomalous weather events (El Nino) work together and fluctuate over time effecting mixing rates, water quality.
Nutrients pools build up over time from organic decomposition in benthic sediment. Mixing of the sediment perelapses the nutrient pools and bring about eutrophic conditions or alter the water chemistry that enable specific species of algae to flourish (Sellner et al. , 2003; Van Dolah, 2000; Paerl, 1988). Natural mixing rates occur during regularly during temporal or seasonal with environmental fluxes or randomly from disturbances (natural anthropogenic). Sediment mixing are very important environment processes, releasing nutrients back into the water column allowing for increased primary producer growth.
Seasonal and temporal sediment mixing produce lead to the specific conditions that form blooms. Eutrophication has been defined as “an increase in supply of organic matter to the ecosystem; in terms of algal bloom this refers to an increase in nutrients that allows an increase of primary production” (Bonsdorff et al. , 1997). Three key nutrients, nitrates ammonia and phosphates are associated with eutrophication and considered the driving forces behind bloom (Sheng, Jinghong, Shiqiang, Jixi, Dingyong, & Ke, 2006). The levels found in marine waters are driven naturally based on natural events discussed above.
Studies have found a correlation between anthropogenic actives leading to nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient loading and the apparent increase in frequency of algal blooms along with alteration of natural nitrogen/phosphorus ratio (Bonsdorff et al. , 1997; Paerl, 2009). There are various anthropogenic activities that have led to the both local and global increase of nutrients in fresh and marine waters. Aquaculture is just one of many of these activities. Many studies have shown that aquaculture operations have byproducts that can cause eutrophic conditions.
Nutrient loading from aquaculture only has local effects and the amount of effects it causes is size dependent (Anderson et al. , 2002). Aquaculture and Nutrient Loading It is important to understand the relationship between aquaculture and harmful algal blooms. Additional nutrients from the feed used, effluent discharge, and waste products are some of the source that lead to nutrient loading (Tacon & Forster, 2003). The amount of additional nutrients added to a system increases based on how intensive the operation is.
HABs have wide spread negative impacts on aquaculture, the hope of significantly minimizing these impacts are still years away. To minimize the effects on aquaculture you must understand characteristics and dynamics of blooms, this includes the diversity of species involved and the factors associated with bloom formation. The apparent increase frequency and geographic range of harmful algal blooms is very important to aquaculture because aquaculture plays a role in helping create the conditions necessary for bloom formation.
Aquaculture operations provided year round nutrient inputs in a local aspect, this eliminates nutrient limitations in those areas (Bonsdorff et al. , 1997). This section will discuss and review the relationship aquaculture has with nutrient loading and eutrophication of the surrounding water. Nitrogen and phosphors are to key elements that take on various forms necessary for bloom formation. Both nitrogen and phosphors in the forms of nitrates, ammonia, phosphates and other compounds are byproducts of aquaculture.
Algal growth is limited by nutrient availability, mainly based on availability of nitrogen and phosphors in the environment. Nitrogen in the forms of nitrates and ammonia are water soluble and enter the system from either dissolved feeds, effluent discharge, or from waste produced by fish. Phosphates often accumulate mainly in the sediment and during mixing events are released into the water in high quantities (Karakassis, Pitta, & Krom, 2005). Nutrient loading from aquaculture that leads to eutrophic conditions come from several sources. The amount and source of the nutrients depends on the operation.
Location of farm (open ocean, ponds, raceways etc. ), what is being cultured (shrimp, finfish, bivalves), what are the inputs (feeds, fertilizer, etc. ) and how intensive the operation is. The source of local nutrient loading from aquaculture can be traced back to where the operation is taking place. Open ocean farming of finfish for instance causes eutrophic conditions right around the cages. On the other hand inland facilities such as pond systems and other flow through systems release effluent discharge causing nutrient in the and around the bodies of water they run into.
The species being cultured also plays a major role. Bivalves for instance play a role in limiting algal growth by filter feeding, while finfish inputs and excreting essential nutrients in their waste is a major source of nutrients (Soto & Mena, 1991). How intensive an operation is and the actual inputs into the system are directly related. The more intensive an operation the more inputs and the more inputs the greater chance of hypernutrification and eutrophic conditions. Different operations require different inputs and these inputs have different nutrient atios. Culture of some juvenile finfish require fertilization to promote phytoplankton growth for feed this puts the essential nutrients for algal growth directly into the system. The feeds used in aquaculture vary on the nutrients they are made up of, how stable they are and whether they float or sink. These factors are all in play in nutrient loading that come directly from aquaculture (Islam, 2005). The effects of aquaculture feeds on nutrient loading depend on several factors. There are three main factors these include; 1) the amount of wasted feed.
This is due to poor farming and management practice and floating Vs. sinking feeds. Poor management practices means over or an improper feeding technique that puts more feed in the water. Floating and sinking feed choices is also important. Sinking feeds may not be eaten by finfish if they go through the bottom of a net or cage, or if they sit on the bottom. On the other hand floating feeds may be less stable or uneaten if they are transported out of a system or to a place where they are unable to be eaten. 2) The actual quality of the feed.
This poor stability and high solubility of feed pellets in water mean that once they are in the water they will be broken down and release more and nutrients and in less time. The final factor is deals is loosely related to the previous two. 3) Once the feed is ingested factors such as limitations of absorption and retention of the nutrients from the feed. This factor deals mainly with poor digestibility or metabolism of the species being culture to the feed they are given. The nutrients in the feeds many not be utilized to their full potential once ingested fish will excrete the excess nutrients (Soto & Mena, 1991).
Feed and nutrient inputs play a major role in nutrient loading and creating the conditions that promote algal growth either directly in the form of uneaten feeds or nutrients leaching or dissolving from the feeds, or indirectly from the digestion, metabolism and waste products from the species being cultured (Tacon & Forster, 2003). The important of feeds in nutrient loading must not be overlooked one study estimated that 70% of phosphorus and 30-50% of nitrogen in feeds is not utilized by fish and is released into the environment (Soto & Mena, 1991).
This only shows two of the most essential nutrients associated with bloom formation and not the various other nutrients that are also released and are important for algal growth. This also shows the significance of feeds based on the large amount of nutrients that are not utilized and instead entering the environment, promoting algal growth. Over all aquaculture farm operations lead to excessive amounts of inorganic and organic fertilizer, feeds, and wastes that are put into local water bodies with high concentrations nutrient, that lead to nutrient loading and eutrophic conditions.
Discussion and Conclusions Aquaculture over the last several decades has grown globally in both its production and popularity. In the future aquaculture will continue to grow in its importance to the human population as alternative food source to agriculture and wild fisheries, as well as helping with the depleted ocean stocks. As of now it appear that we will be seeing an increase in aquaculture around the world in the years to come. Although there are many benefits to aquaculture and the potential of increased production may have we must measure the benefits against the environment impacts they cause.
Nutrient loading is just one of the environmental impacts associated with aquaculture and the effects of nutrient loading go beyond promotion of algal blooms. The global increase in aquaculture coincides with the apparent increase in harmful algal. Although there are many other anthropogenic factors that are at play in global nutrient loading aquaculture is a major local point-source form. We must understand the specific conditions that are associated blooms and the role aquaculture plays along with how complex and diverse blooms can if we hope to develop mechanisms that can significantly reduce the impacts on aquaculture.
I choose the topic of harmful algal blooms and aquaculture effects of nutrient loading because it fits in perfect with our class: aquaculture and the environment. The purpose of this paper was to gain a general understanding of harmful algal blooms, and also to review the factors of aquaculture that lead to nutrient loading, eutrophic conditions, and the aid in bloom formation. This topic caught my attention because of similar topics I’ve cover and work I’ve done this semester in this class and others classes.
Harmful algal blooms in general are very interesting because of the diversity of blooms, the range of effects they have, how unique the species involved are, and because of the complexity and over all lack of understanding have in factors of bloom formation. The purpose of this class included reviewing the impact of aquaculture on the environment and methods of reducing or eliminating those impacts. This paper focuses on harmful algal blooms and how aquaculture creates conditions that promoted bloom formation.
I focused a great deal of this paper on harmful algal blooms because if you hope to minimize the impacts they cause you must appreciate and understand their complexity and also understand the relation they have with aquaculture. The purpose of this paper was not to examine direct ways in which to minimize nutrient inputs of harmful algal blooms but the information given on harmful algal blooms and the role aquaculture plays in promoting bloom formation is useful to future studies and reviews focusing on ways to minimize the impacts of HABs on aquaculture and help reduce the factors of aquaculture that promote harmful bloom formation.
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Categories
Culture

Venezuela Culture

In all cultures, there are different dimensions that can be categorized into a continuum. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck have functions of cultural patterns such as common human problems, preferred solutions and most importantly, a continuum. A continuum is how things are rated by percentages. For example, happiness. It could be either more or less in certain situations. In Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, there are two topics and only one can be higher in certain cultures than others. The country I chose to do is the culture of Venezuela.
Venezuela is very similar to the rest of the Latin American countries but has exceptional characteristics when it comes to the dimensions that Hofstede describes. The dimensions of culture that will be discussed fall into the four common ones: collectivism, power distance, masculinity and low uncertainty avoidance. Venezuela is a unique country with many different ideas that relate to their culture. Venezuela falls into the collectivism category. This means that the country unites as one, focusing on the needs of groups rather than the individual themselves. The other side of the dimension is individualism.
Individualism, as its name says, focuses on the individual where they have to sand up for themselves. Collectivists tend to have large, extended families which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty (Individualism 2009). Also, they work on becoming very skilled at something they are interested in. Venezuelan people are all about being loyal to each other. They see more good in a group, than good in the individual. In Venezuela, the labor force has grown a lot over the past few decades. The unemployment rate has been very low and even woman have been getting jobs.

The government has worked together so that almost everyone is employed. Labor relations in Venezuela were consultative rather than confrontational, and the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers had good working relationships with the major business group, the Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce and Production (Haggerty, 1993). Compared to other Latin American countries, there wasn’t a bad case of labor relations. The government wanted to make sure everyone in Venezuela was working. It’s good to be a collectivism culture because everyone comes and works together as a group.
Power distance is another dimension that can be classified as either high or low. This is determined by how much a culture has respect for authority. High power distance focuses more on higher status of power. Teachers, parents and supervisors are treated with respect and are expected to show authority. Low power distance is a little more laid back. People can talk to whomever they want about anything. For example, an employee is able to talk to their manager about comments for the company or business they work for. Venezuela falls into the high power distance category.
People with elite status are more educated and focus mainly on their business and professions. Venezuela was one of the very few countries in Latin America where a number of elite-supported scholarly and community welfare foundations provided support for an imaginative variety of programs and scholarships (Haggerty 1993). People in middle class respect the elite. Thought it is possible to move up from middle class to elite, this can only happen through successful business deals or by marriage. Either way, Venezuelans know to respect the authority wherever they are. Venezuela has a president and vice president who serve five year terms.
The president chooses his cabinet and determines the number of ministries. The president is the main leader in charge whom everyone looks up to. He commands the armed forces, calls special sessions of the Congress, and exercises sole control of foreign policy (Haggerty 1993). Venezuela follows a governmental policy where the president has the highest status, followed by the vice president, then it gets lower from then on. Having high power distance does not necessarily undermine the population, but is accepted by the whole Venezuelan culture as one. Masculinity versus femininity, contrary to it’s name, has more to do than just gender roles.
Some masculine characteristics focus on a competitive economy, working hard to get by, and fighting as a result of conflicts. Cultures with this dimension are more aggressive. Femininity on the other hand focuses on more calming features. For example, negotiating to resolve conflicts, women are representing in the government and working to live a good life. Venezuela in this case is more masculine. They are more aggressive than other cultures. Violence and crime increased appreciably in the last decades of the twentieth century and have become major issues of popular concern (Dinneen 2003).
Having higher crime rates, though that’s not always a good thing, shows the masculinity in the culture. Men take the majority of the power when it comes to government. Although the Constitution of 1960 declared that men and women were formally equal under the law, women who had been active in the struggle for democracy found themselves devoid of its privileges and marginalized from politics (Wagner 2005). Though it said women were just as equal as men, that didn’t live up to its word. Women were still not allowed to participate in higher politics and businesses.
They were expected to stay at home and take care of the house and children. Venezuela is ranked higher in the masculine dimension among all of the other Latin American countries. Venezuela’s uncertainty avoidance is considered lower than the other Latin American countries. Some traits of low uncertainty avoidance include openness to change, tolerance of diversity and hold back emotions. Where as in high uncertainty avoidance, they tend to follow strict rules, express emotions, and have a weak interest in politics. The goal of the culture is to control almost everything in order to avoid the unexpected.
Thanks to their need for security, Venezuelan managers take fewer risks, govern with more written rules and experience lower labor turnover (Workman 2008). There have been processes of social and political changes. Theses processes have attracted more international attention over the years and for more to come. Venezuela was the world’s leading exporter of oil. Venezuelan’s leaders wanted to concentrate on the oil industry as the main source of financing for their reformist economic and social policies (Haggerty 1993). They weren’t afraid to find new non cabinet ministries and form new policies to expand their economy.
Even with the economic crises that occurred with the collapse of the financial system in 1994, the government worked to get it back up. When it comes to differences, Venezuelans try to explore the issue. They are curious to what is going on. If they need to make a change, they will do so and take the risk. For example, during the 1980’s Venezuela had a huge foreign-exchange revenue from oil. Because of this, they developed a voracious demand for imported luxury goods that persisted even as oil prices ebbed in the mid do late 1980’s (Haggerty 1993).
This resulted in a weakness in the Venezuelan economy. Even though this happened, the government wasn’t afraid to take the risk. In conclusion, Venezuela has many different characteristics that make them a unique culture. Being a collective culture, they unite as one. They like to focus on everyone as a group to make sure everyone is satisfied. They also fall into the high power distance category. Venezuela has high power authority that is respected by everyone. If they have questions, the people with high status will have all the answers.
Venezuela is also a masculine culture. Men dominate over women for occupations and power. Also, this makes the country more aggressive than others. They stand up for themselves and aren’t afraid of anything that comes in contact with them. Finally, Venezuela has low uncertainty avoidance. They will take a risk if they want to and they aren’t afraid to show emotion. This shows they are a strong country that will make changes if it is a concern. Venezuela is a very well-rounded culture with many great qualities about them.

Categories
Culture

How does Culture and Environment Affect Institutions and Their Management?

Define the Problem:
What went wrong during Ms. Myers tenure from your point of view? Ms. Myers was a smart individual that got caught up in the hype of a new and promising job. Like many people these days the sound of an executive position is tempting and wanted by many, however most do not have the skills or the knowledge needed to survive and be a part of that new environment. It is great to want to invent the wheel again, but it’s not great to step on toes while trying be inventive.
Ms. Myers started out good but failed in what her objective was. “When Linda Myers accepted a human resources position at SK Telecom in South Korea, she thought it was the opportunity she’d long been working toward. Not only would she break ground as one of the first American female executives at a Korean company, she would also lead an initiative to make the organization more global. For someone who’d spent years consulting on expatriate transitions, this seemed like a dream job.” Green 2011. If she had made a few changes, her objective would have been achieved, making a stand for women around the world and getting a foot hold for Asian women in Korea.

Analyze the Cause:
Explain the problem Ms. Myers is encountering using Hofstede’s five dimensions of culture to compare Korean and American assumptions about interpersonal relationships and management.
1. Power/Distance (PD) – This refers to the degree of inequality that exists – and is accepted – among people with and without power. On the ground in Seoul, Myers quickly realized just how far she was from her native Baltimore. One early shock was the homogeneity of not only her office but also the city: Government estimates indicate that foreigners account for 2.4% of the population.
That’s compared with just over 18% for Singapore and 27% for New York and London, according to the Migration Policy Institute. (Green) Because Mrs. Myers was used to being in the states and was not acclimated to the Asian environment, she felt that she was far from comfort. Also, early on, she asked employees to dispense with calling her “Sang Mu Linda,” her title at the company, and to use Linda, the norm in a U.S. company, to create a less formal environment.
“But by removing the label, I plummeted in their eyes,” she recalls. What she regarded as a “participative leadership style” looked wishy-washy to the people at SK. (Green) Power can be seen as a position that you have gained by promotion. Because she was already in a position of management, she had the power over many people. How she used that power was her downfall. In the Korean environment she was the “Sang Mu” which was a management position. Once she tried to associate with the workers as equals she fell from that role in the eyes of the workers.
2. Individualism (IDV) – The degree to which individuals are integrated into groups”. In individualistic societies, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights. People are expected to stand up for themselves and their immediate family, and to choose their own affiliations. In contrast, in collectivist societies, individuals act predominantly as members of a lifelong and cohesive group or organization. People have large extended families, which are used as a protection in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.
3. Masculinity (MAS) – This refers to how much a society sticks with, and values, traditional male and female roles. Myers was constantly aware of being female. Aside from secretaries, she was almost always the only woman in the room. She was also unprepared for the company’s rigid hierarchy. But as Myers saw it, “there were basically four levels: VP, director, manager, and worker bee. You only talked to people at your level.” (Green) Not all societies have equalized the field of female and male relationships. In the Asian cultures the roles of male being dominate and Females are the lesser of human social role.
4. Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) – This relates to the degree of anxiety society members feel when in uncertain or unknown situations. Her lack of Korean turned out to be a vexing problem. She recalls having to ask for an interpreter at her first meetings at SK. And even with an assistant and colleagues who spoke English, she found it difficult to get the information she needed. “Asking questions was the only way I knew to learn,” she explains. “But it was not always productive.” As she saw it, even diplomatic inquiries could be construed as confrontational and critical. (Green) When the Higher CEOs and upper management felt that they were being stepped on by her way management they started to ostersize her and shield her from information
5. Long Term Orientation (LTO) ) – This refers to how much society values long-standing – as opposed to short term – traditions and values.
Propose a Solution:
Five key issues
1. Creating a climate for change
In terms of creating a climate for change, culture is only effective if it is applied to the relevant area needing change or is tied to some organizational issue.
2. Employee engagement and empowerment
Employee engagement and empowerment is crucial to ensure that the culture is effectively managed and aligned with the cultural assumptions of the organization as a whole.
3. Team orientation
Team work is a common feature in most organizations, in terms of crossing existing barriers and as a useful means of promoting and disseminating new cultural traits. In terms of individual and organizational development, teams are seen as a way of investing in talent development.
4. Tracking cultural change
Tracking cultural change is important in terms of assessing whether the culture has become misaligned in terms of subgroup cultures’ practices, or whether there are issues or challenges to be addressed which could undermine the cultural ethos and underlying assumptions of the organization.
5. Training, rewards and recognition
Training in terms of culture awareness is viewed differently in various
organizations. Culture is an aspect of general management training in some organizations. In other organizations, it is deemed appropriate to learn from leaders and managers about the prevalent cultural norms and assumptions. Rewards and recognition is given when individuals or teams step outside the box and rise above the norm. It is an acknowledgment that there has been a significant change and/or a new operating standard has been started.
From reviewing Green’s fictional case study, (Green, 2011), the author acknowledges some good points for consideration when one has to determine how much a culture and environment will affect institutions and their management. In this review, Green explores the challenges faced by Ms. Linda Myers when she accepted a job as a VP in a Seoul, South Korea with SK Telecom.
Ms. Myers had what seemed to be all of the right credentials on paper that would make her the ideal candidate for a foreign assignment, except one, she was female. Although she had realized that later, being a female would be overbearing for her and she was not able to hang-on to the position due to many cultural factors, discussed earlier. (Green, 2011). When analyzing this case in depth and reviewing the entire tenure of Ms. Myers time with SK Telecom in Seoul, important issues surfaced, which caused this job scenario to go terribly wrong for Ms. Myers.
Concluding remarks
This understanding in relation to effectively managing culture in public sector organizations and also to provide lessons from initiatives implemented to date in both the public and private sectors. The importance of managing and manipulating culture in public sector organizations cannot be misjudged in terms of its impact on the innovation outline. Developing appropriate measures to address cultural issues in organizations in terms of increasing structural capability and performance is an important issue that should be addressed unilaterally. While the implications of such approaches are wide-ranging, fundamentally the key to effective culture management is leadership.
Leadership must be committed to managing culture in terms of developing and sustaining organizational performance, while managers throughout the organization are responsible for its effective development.
There is much that remains to be done to address the gap between the influence of cultural issues and the approaches adopted by managers, approaches which are elementary in many public sector organizations. The organizations provide useful examples of how organizations can effectively manage organization culture as an integral part of both corporate strategies and organizational change measures to enhance performance and innovation. This case study contributes to the awareness and understanding of culture management in public sector organizations.
One of the first clues that things were going wrong in South Korea was that Ms. Myers should have realized occurred long before her accepting the job in South Korea and she choose to ignore it. That clue being the preliminary assumption by the agency sent to recruit a VP that she was male, not female, as mentioned earlier. The second red flag that should have been raised by Ms. Myers occurred when she contacted the Society of Human Resources and asked them to put her into contact with a female executive who had worked in South Korea to help her prepare for her assignment. The basis of ethical or moral decision-making involves choice and balance; it is a guide to discard bad choices in favor of good ones.

Categories
Culture

International Management and Ethics: Culture Dimensions

INTERCULTURAL MANAGEMENT & ETHICS ACTIV-1 ACTIVITY 1 – TOPIC 1: CULTURAL DIMENSIONS DIALOGUE 1 1) Which cultural differences cause the misunderstanding or confusion? Which cultural dimensions can help us understand the situation? On my understanding of the situation – bearing in mind that when in a multicultural dialogue, many meanings can be found or understood by just context without the use of words – I believe that the confusion has its origin by the cultural difference amongh both characters. The conversation lied on Mr. Bakr’shoulders although Mr.
Amstrong tried to redirect it to the field that was occupying his mind but without success. Mr Bakr has the strongest part of the dialogue: having a flexible concept of time, paying more attention to social talks –business small talks in this specific case – , focusing to address the conversation to become more social and mentioning the religion makes Mr. Amstrong to have a conflict with his cultural dimensions. Mr Bakr coming from an arab culture through this dialogue shows to be polychronic, particularistic, control oriented and collectivist.
The reality could be a little bit different from my own words here. We need also to bear in mind the context where this conversation is taking place, the circumstances and sometimes, even the mood of the interlocutors. Mr Amstrong really wants to skip the social talk to stick into business but should he knew that Mr Bakr’s culture gives more importance to social talk rambling would have accept it and take some more time on this to try to redirect the conversation to his key point afterwards. 2) How do you think that the people involved feel in regards to his / her partner?

How would they interpret the other party’s answers? I think in this case Mr Amstrong may have felt a feeling of frustration as well as distressed since he can think that Mr Bakr has been rude to him for avoiding the topic he wanted to talk about it. Mr Bakr may have not probably even noticed Mr Amstrong’s troubles otherwaise he could have done something change it during their conversation. However Mr Bakr could also feel upset for Mr Amstrong’s insistence on the distribution subject. So from a small thing could become a big misunderstanding and depending on the context this could be a very grave problem.
Maite Molina Sabate MIBTM INTERCULTURAL MANAGEMENT & ETHICS ACTIV-1 3) What would be helpful to avoid misunderstandings? Why is Mr. Amstrong unsuccessful trying to get the conversation where he wanted? This may be due to that Amstrong’s and Bakr’s cultural dimensions were just opposite to each other’s and neither of them tried to understand each other’s different cultures and respect that it is necessary to adapt oneself to other’s at some stage and show respect. And this should have been done by both parts. In real life this is not happening as often as it should.
Most situations are resolved by one of the characters taking the lead and the other respecting the culture difference and filling the gap as better as possible showing respect. But before introducing ourselves in another culture context –either by a meeting, a business trip or any sort of communication with someone from abroad – we should need be more conscious about the possible cultural differences and learn a little bit about customs and facts from that other culture in order to understand better the person who we will communicate with and the communication we will be holding.
DIALOGUE 2 1) Which cultural differences cause the misunderstanding or confusion? Which cultural dimensions can help us understand the situation? I don’t see any confusion or misunderstanding in this second dialogue but an understanding. However if a subliminal confusion or misunderstanding is flowing it might be for the situation itself. Carolina’s priority is her daughter’s illness and so taking her at the doctor’s appointment whilst Alice is thinking in setting up a time to hold a meeting.
Fortunately this meeting can be reschuled so there’s not a big problem on this situation. Cultural dimensions that could bring this situation would be from Carolina: polycronic (her sense of times and priorities can be diverse from anglo’s Alice), particularistic (decisions can be made by subjective decisions like in this case), a little bit egalitarian (in this case there’s no hierarchical since the meeting will be moved for everybody due to Carolina’s personal reasons and this brings us to the individualist concept as well.
For Alice could be as follows: Hierarchical, collectivist (she moves the meeting’s day to meet Carolina’schedule) and harmony oriented since she is willing to adapt her and the fellow colleagues to Carolina’s needs. 2) How do you think that the people involved feel in regards to his / her partner? How would they interpret the other party’s answers? I believe that in this situation Alice may feel frustrated since she cannot help but moving the meeting to help Carolina’schedule. Very understandable and comprehensive by her side but leaving business hierarchy and control aside.
If every employee would ask for a change that would be needed and finding a date for a single meeting could be a nightmare every time that the question would arise. So some organization should be on demand or company’s policy to try to organize this gap at Maite Molina Sabate MIBTM INTERCULTURAL MANAGEMENT & ETHICS ACTIV-1 the same time as supporting employees that need some sort of help with personal and professional lifes. Carolina can feel very relieved to have Alice’s acceptance and support for the situation and very valuable for the company since not just understand the situation but change the date so she can assist. ) What would be helpful to avoid misunderstandings? In this case a good communication and having an internal policy to follow that would organize this and support either the employees as well as managers. Good communication is important because Alice could knew about Carolina’s problem earlier and reschedule the meeting beforehand and not just the day before. Carolina should know that a company needs an organization a hierarchegy so if she needs some time off that should be regulated and everybody that should need to be informed beforehand. Maite Molina Sabate MIBTM

Categories
Culture

Sociocultural Forces

Before starting to plan to franchise a Mc Donald’s in another country. They obtain the relevant information from the target market in addition to the individual customers of the organization. They find out the shifts in areas like the consumer behaviour and purchasing patterns of the market. Fundamentally, this is the key condition for executing a suitable customer relationship management system. Some of the Sociocultural forces from the countries where they were planning to enter that Mc Donald’s took into consideration Cultural
Cultural: McDonald’s international restaurants satisfy local tastes and customs by offering unique products, services and other items to the menu. Customers in Norway can order McLaks – a fresh grilled salmon sandwich with dill sauce on a whole-grain bun. McDonald’s fans in the Netherlands can have vegetable burger and in Italy and Greece customers can help themselves at a fresh salad bar.
Population Changes: Changes in population demographics have many potential consequences for organizations. As the total population changes, the demand for products and services also changes. When McDonald’s opens restaurants in a new country, the jobs it creates stimulate the national economy and broaden the local tax base. Besides the new jobs directly linked with McDonald’s restaurants, the company indirectly supports other segments of a country’s workforce by hiring local construction firms and purchasing from local suppliers, local farmers and local distributors.

Educational Levels: All the staff and employees at McDonald’s are given a handsome salary package and attractive incentives in accordance with the level at which the person is working. That’s why employees at McDonald’s in other countries are satisfied and motivated. Higher educational levels allow people to earn higher incomes than would have been possible otherwise. The increase in income has created opportunities to purchase additional goods and services, and to raise the overall standard of living of a large segment of the population.
The educational level has also led to increased expectations of workers, and has increased job mobility. Workers are less accepting of undesirable working conditions than were workers a generation ago. Better working conditions, stable employment, and opportunities for training and development are a few of the demands businesses confront more frequently as the result of a more educated workforce.
Norms and Values: McDonald’s has an open-door culture; any employee can go to the Restaurant Manager and can discuss any problem or new ideas for the improvement of the restaurant. Nobody has any hang-ups; everybody does everything. McDonald’s also believes in value to the customer, that is, why prices are value oriented “… nothing sells forever unless it is value for money.”
Norms (standard accepted forms of behavior) and values (attitudes toward right and wrong), differ across time and between geographical areas. Lifestyles differ as well among different ethnic groups. As an example, the application in the United States of Japanese-influenced approaches to management has caused firms to reevaluate the concept of quality. Customers have also come to expect increasing quality in products. Many firms have found it necessary to reexamine production and marketing strategies to respond to changes in consumer expectations.
Social Responsibility : is the expectation that a business or individual will strive to improve the welfare of society. From a business perspective, this translates into the public expecting businesses to take active steps to make society better by virtue of the business being in existence. McDonald’s is firmly committed to give back to the community where we operate. They are happy to become involved because they recognize that organizations have a role to play in helping communities to work successfully.

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Culture

The defining feature of Modern culture

Modern culture is a direct derivative of and at the same time antithesis of co-existence with nature. The defining feature of Modern culture (adopting the Herder’s definition as “the practices and beliefs which form the self-identity of a tribe” and not the Humboldt’s version of distinguishing common and high cultures)(Scruton 2) is its increasing distance from the nature and its attempts to understand and divulge the secrets or facets of nature, hither to left unappreciated or not understood.
In the history of human civilization (ironically, Civilization means the history of city dwelling population) the pace at which technology improved has grown exponentially since the late 19th century. This growth in technology has spurred the redefining of central values attached to human life. The beneficiaries of the technological advances, the huge sections of societies, seldom bother themselves with the philosophical depths of questions that the increasing use of technology and the alienation form nature poses to their central core.
However, the tension that resonates between nature and technology is a legacy of inherited historical human values pitted against the negation of the basis of these values in technology. Technology seeks to explore and lay bare while a co-existence with nature demands a certain amount of surrender. Since these two approaches have to be combined in the modern life, there is ambivalence in the approach people are forced to take to their existence.

As George Simmel mentions in his work “The Metropolis and Mental Life”, the deepest problems of modern life are because of the attempts of man to maintain his individuality in the face of changing historic and technological perspectives. (Simmel 11) One basic shift in the modern life to the other forms of society which had a greater correlation with nature is the change in approach to Life in general. Modern life, with it increasing use of technology aims to quantify everything while co-existence with nature left a lot of qualitative and subjective parameters in place.
The resultant void is generally seen as the force that generates the tension between nature and technology. (The dismantling of the religious structure by socialist countries without placing an alternate belief system in place, which saw a huge spurt in religious activity once the socialist structures themselves, crumbled, is an example of a void based on qualitative beliefs and necessity of such beliefs).
Modern culture instills a sense of measurement to everything involved in daily life, while co-existence with nature demands suspension of reason to a certain extent. There is an Indian Proverb which roughly translates to “Plucking the petals of the Rose will not reveal where its beauty lies”. Same is the case with the stimuli caused by nature where suspension of reason is a primary requisite to respond to them. A magnificient sunset is a visual pleasure accorded by nature which cannot be deciphered by any technological quantification measures.
“Whilst Man involuntarily moulds his Life according to the notions he has gathered from his arbitrary views of Nature, and embalms their intuitive expression in Religion: these notions become for him in Science the subject of conscious, intentional review and scrutiny. ” (Richard Wagner, 73). In trying to explain the basic differences between Nature and technology Wagner also indicates almost accurately at the reasons for conflict. When viewed in the light of Simmel’s description of man’s emotional responses as he says “Man is a creature whose existence is dependent on differences, i.
e. his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those that have preceded. ” (Simmel 325). But the rapidity with which a person part of the modern culture is accosted by such stimuli is what differentiates his responses. The increasing proximity to his species and in a way that would not have been possible to any of his preceding generations creates a sense of detachment from most stimuli and prevents him from reacting with the same intensity compared to only a few generations earlier. In short, modern culture forces man to react with his head than his heart.
This, Simmel argues creates a blase attitude – a defining characteristic of modern culture. “…incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy constitutes in fact that blase attitude which every child of a large city evinces hen compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu” Simmel 14 Advancement in technology creates increased urbanization where people are removed from nature and so closely compressed with one another that their nervous stimulation is hyper excited to become blase.
This leads to a state of denial to all other impulses accorded by nature, which are inherently non-quantifiable. Wagner articulates this alienation of Science and nature in more vocal and less scientific terms. Technology, as mentioned earlier is a result of efforts to understand and harness the energies available in nature, acquires arrogance through its practitioners that it tries to rob the soul of all human interactions with nature. “And truly Science, in her overweening arrogance, has dreamed of such a triumph; as witness our tight-reined State and modern Art, the sexless, barren children of this dream.
” This tension between nature and its instincts as expressed in human emotions and the increasing needs of rational responses conditioned by a technology-driven society are reflected in the probing questions of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century literature and art forms. Kafkaesque depictions of society not recognizing its traditional pains and bonds due to the demands of the modern culture are common in most art forms. To drive the point home, in his novella “Metamorphosis” Kafka paints a picture of the emptiness of modern existence.
Seen by many as the gateway to modern literature, it justifies Simmel’s views that the values of modern culture create certain bluntness to responses to stimuli. While it is important to acknowledge the tension between technology (or the changes in life due to technology) and nature as an essential part of the modern cultural set up, it is a learning to understand how this disparity or tension is dealt with. The creation of the modern idiom is largely an effect of the interplay between nature and technology. Additionally, the increased integration of technology has made people more used to viewing their renewed values in a different light.
In fact most surviving sensibilities are modern in nature and the exotic feel accorded to romantic art of the previous generations is precisely the result of the contrast. Besides, modern art does adopt the modern life and especially urban living aspect of modern life more readily than was anticipated by the early proponents of modernism. As Wagner argues, Art as an expression of man’s interaction with nature and the resultant emotions – awe or aversion, hope or despair, love or revulsion, harmony or agitation- has in fact been aided by the modern culture. In his typically poetic prose Wagner describes,
“ This did the life-force, the life-need, of telluric Nature nurture once those baleful forces – or rather the potentiality of those alliances and, offspring of the elements – which blocked her way in giving true and fitting utterance to the fullness of her vital energy”(Wagner 9) He also seems to say that the potential for abundance brought on by the revolutionary availability of technology affords the luxury of pursuing art for art’s sake for people pf the modern era – all the while remembering that art is the truest form of depicting or connecting with Nature, both internal and external.
Besides, a fuller and more complete appreciation of Nature as a separate entity and an ally has blossomed after the initial years of tension with Technology. Though initial years of modern culture and civilization were alarming in the fact that the alienation with nature was at once complete and seemingly irreparable, yet the situation has changed. As with everything and as Darwin would have proudly pointed out, mankind has adapted quite well to this dichotomy of Nature and Technology and has realized the necessity to keep both these aspects of his existence in good humor – all the time.
Though it can be argued that most ailments of modern society, like the environmental degradation, lack of trust in human interactions, increasing and pointless violence, or the break down of civilized society in some pockets are essentially the manifestations of the tension between a nature-embracing living and Technology dependent living, it is the way forward. As Man has learnt continuously from all his endeavors both successful and perilously unsuccessful, modern culture has given a unique perspective to watch Nature in all its glory and make it an ally in pursuing higher spiritual goals.
Works Cited Wagner, Richard. The Art Work of the Future. Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2004 Simmel, Georg & Kurt Wolff. The sociology of Georg Simmel. Translated by kurt Wolff Washington DC: Free Press, 1950 Scruton, Roger. Modern Culture. NewYork: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007

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Culture

Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance

Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance Julian Tanner, University of Toronto Mark Asbridge, Dalhousie University Scot Wortley, University of Toronto This research compares representations of rap music with the self-reported criminal behavior and resistant artirudes of the music’s core audience. Our database is a large sample of Toronro high school studenrs (n = 3,393) from which we identify a group of listeners, whose combination of musical likes and dislikes distinguish them as rap univores.
We then examine the relationship between their cultural preference for rap music and involvement in a culture of crime and their perceptions of social injustice and inequity. We find thar the rap univores, also known as urban music enthusiasts, report significantly more delinquent behavior and stronger feelings of inequity and injustice than listeners with other musical tastes. However, we also find thar the nature and strengths of those relationships vary according to rhe racial identity of different groups within urban music enthusiasts.
Black and white subgroups align themselves with resistance representations while Asians do not; whites and Asians report significant involvement in crime and delinquency, while blacks do not. Finally, we discuss our findings in light of research on media effects and audience reception, youth subcultures and post-subcultural analysis, and the sociology of cultural consumption. Thinking About Rap The emergence and spectacular growth of rap is probably the most important development in popular music since the rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1940s.

Radio airplay, music video programming and sales figures are obvious testimonies to its popularity and commercial success. This was made particularly evident in October 2003 when, according to the recording industry bible Billboard mzgnzme, all top 10 acts in the United States were rap or hip-hop artists;’ and again in 2006, when the Academy award for Best Song went to It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp, a rap song by the group Husde & Flow. Such developments may also signal rap’s increasing social acceptance and cultural legitimization (Baumann 2007). However, its reputation and status in the musical field has, hitherto, been a controversial one.
Like new music before it (jazz, rock ‘n’ roll), rap has been critically reviewed as a corrosive influence on young and impressionable listeners (Best 1990; Tatum 1999; Tanner 2001; Sacco and Kennedy 2002; Alexander 2003). Whether rap has been reviled as much as jazz and rock ‘n’ roll once were is a moot point; rather more certain is its pre-eminent role as a problematic contemporary musical genre. Direct correspondence to Julian Tanner, Department of Social Science University of Toronto at Scarborough, 1265Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, MIC 1A4. Telephone: (416) 287-7293.
E-mail: Julian. [email protected] ca. ” rh8 Uniiersily of North Carolina Press Social Forces 88121 693-722, December 2009 694 • Social Forces 88(2) In an important study of representations of popular music. Binder (1993) examined how print journalists wrote about rap and heavy metal in the 1980s and 1990s. While both are devalued genres (Roe 1995), she nevertheless contends that they are framed differently: the presumed harmful effects of heavy metal are limited to the listeners themselves, whereas rap is seen as more socially damaging (for a similar distinction, see Rose 1994).
The lyrical content of the two genres is established as one source of this differential framing: rap lyrics are found to be more explicit and provocative (greater usage of “hard” swear words, for example) than heavy metal lyrics. The second factor involves assumptions made (by journalists) about the racial composition of audiences for heavy metal and rap-the former believed to be white suburban youth, the latter urban black youth. According to Binder, rap invites more public concern and censorious complaint than heavy metal because of what was assumed to be its largely black fan base.
At the same time, she identifies an important counter frame, one component of which elevates rap (but not heavy metal) to the status of an art form with serious political content. In both the mainstream press (i. e.. The New York Times) and publications targeting a predominately black readership (i. e.. Ebony and/^i), she finds rap lauded for the salutary lessons that it imparts to black youth regarding the realities of urban living; likewise, rap artists are applauded for their importance as role models and mentors to inner-city black youth.
Thus, while rap has been framed negatively, as a contributor to an array of social problems, crime and delinquency in particular, it has also been celebrated and championed as an authentic expression of cultural resistance by underdogs against racial exploitation and disadvantage. How these differing representations of rap might resonate with audience members was not part of Binder’s research mandate. ^ Furthermore, while she does acknowledge that ournalistic perceptions of the racial composition of the rap audience are not necessarily accurate-that more white suburban youth, even in the 1980s and 1990s, might have been consuming the music than black inner-city youth-this acknowledgment does not alter her enterprise or her argument. At this point in time, when the listening audience for rap music has both expanded and become increasingly diverse, our research concerns how young black, white and Asian rap fans in Toronto, Canada relate to a musical form still viewed primarily in terms of its criminal and resistant meanings.
Researching Rap Much of the early work on audiences preoccupied itself with investigating the harmful effects of media exposure, especially the effects of depictions of violence in movies and TV on real life criminal events. Results have generally been inconclusive, with considerable disagreement in the social science research community regarding the influence of the media on those watching the large ot small screen (Curran 1990; Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998; Freedman 2002; Sacco and Kennedy 2002; Alexander 2003; Newman 2004; Savage 2004; Longhurst 2007). Listening to Rap • 695
Listening to popular music has, on occasion, been said to produce similarly negative effects, although these too have proven difficult to verify. For example, in one high profile case in the 1980s, the heavy metal band Judas Priest was accused of producing recorded material (songs) that contained subliminal messaging diat led to the suicides of two fans. This claim was not, however, legally validated because the judge hearing the case remained unconvinced about a causal linkage between the music and the self-destructive behavior of two individuals (Walser 1993).
Strong arguments for the ill effects of media consumption rest on the assumption that audiences are easily and direcdy influenced by the media, with frequent analogies made to hypodermic syringes that inject messages into gullible and homogenous audiences (Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998; Alexander 2003; Longhurst 2007). In contesting this view of audience passivity, critics also propose that texts are open to more than one interpretation. Again, TV udiences have been studied more frequently than audiences for popular music, although research on the latter has illustrated how song lyrics are not necessarily construed the same way by adolescents and adults. Research conducted by Prinsky and Rosenbaum (1987) indicates that songs identified by adults as containing deviant content (references to sex, violence, alcohol and drug use, Satanism) were not similarly categorized by adolescents.
Evidence that there are diflferent ways of watching television or listening to recorded music has led to an alternative conception of audiences-one more concerned with what audiences do with the media than what the media does to audiences. The development within communications research of the uses and gratifications model (McQuail 1984) is one result, with TV once more the media form most commonly investigated.
Nonetheless, a few studies have documented how young people listen to popular music in order to satisfy needs for entertainment and relaxation (among other priorities), and utilize it as an accompaniment to other everyday activities, such as homework and household chores (Roe 1985; Prinsky and Rosenbaum 1987). More recent research has added identity construction as a need that popular music might fill for young listeners (Roe 1999; Gracyk 2001; Laughey 2006).
One particular usage emphasized by British cultural Marxists associated with the now defunct Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies has focused attention on how active media audiences counter dominant cultural messages in their consumption of popular culture. In what has, by now, become a familiar story, a series of music-based, post-war youth cultures (Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Skinheads, Punks) in the United Kingdom have been represented as symbolically resisting the dominant normative order (Hall and Jefferson 1976; Hebdige 1979).
This argument has, however, relied on a reading of cultural texts and artifacts for its evidentiary base, rather than observations of, or information from, subcultural participants themselves (Cohen 1980; Frith 1985; Tanner 2001; Bennett 2002; Alexander 2003). 696 • Social Forces 8S(2) More recently, the utility of the term subculture for understanding young people’s collective involvements in music has been questioned. The focus of this criticism is, once again, the Birmingham school and its conceptualization of subculture. Its critics argue that, nder conditions of post modernity, music audiences have fragmented, and young people are no longer participants in distinctive subcultural groups (Bennett 1999b; Muggleton 2000). Instead of subcultures, they are now involved v^^ith neo tribes and scenes (i. e. , Bennett 1999b; Bennett and Kahn-Harris 2004; Hesmondhalgh 2005; Longhurst 2007; Hodkinson 2008). Post subcultural research has been much less inclined than the Birmingham era researchers to decode and decipher texts, and much more likely to engage in ethnographic studies of music and youth groups (Bennett 2002).
However, while there has been occasional work on modes of (female) resistance in the “tween scene” (Lowe 2004) and “riot girrrl scene” (Schily 2004), there has been no equivalent research on rap scenes and resistance. Examinations of audience receptions of rap are not numerous and have been of two main kinds: a few studies have explored how young people perceive and evaluate the music, while others have studied the harmful effects of rap by trying to link consumption of the music with various negative consequences.
An early study by Kuwahara (1992) finds rap to be more popular with black than white college students, and more popular among males than females. However, reasons for liking the music varied little by race, with both black and white audience members prioritizing the beat over the message. A more recent study by Sullivan (2003) reports few racial differences in liking the music, although black teenagers were more committed to the genre and more likely to view rap as life affirming (Berry 1994) than those from other racial backgrounds.
In a small but important study conducted in California, Mahiri and Connor (2003) investigated 41 black middle school students’ perceptions of violence and thoughts about rap music. In focus group sessions and personal interviews, informants revealed a strong liking for rap music, valuing the fact that it spoke to their everyday concerns about growing up in a poorly resourced community. They did not, however, like the way that rap music on occasion (mis)represented the experiences of black people in the United States.
They challenged the misogyny evident in some rap videos and rejected what they saw as the glamorization of violence. Overall, their critical and nuanced engagement with rap music fitted poorly with depictions of media audiences as easily swayed by popular culture (Sacco 2005). The search for the harmful effects of rap music has yielded no more definitive results than earlier quests for media effects.
While some studies report evidence of increased violence, delinquency, substance use, and unsafe sexual activity resulting from young people’s exposure to rap music (Wingood et al. 2003; Chen et al. 2006), other researchers have failed to find such a link or have exercised extreme caution when interpreting apparent links. One review of the literature, conducted in the 1990s, could find a total of only nine investigations-all of them Listening to Rap • 697 mall-scale, none involving the general adolescent population-and concluded that there was an even split hetween those that found some sort of an association between exposure to the music and various deviant or undesirable outcomes, and those that could find no connection at all Moreover, in those studies where the music and the wrongdoing were linked, investigators were very circumspect about whether or not they were observing a causal relationship, and if so, which came first, the music or the violent dispositions (Tatum 1999). A mote recent investigation conducted in Montreal is illustrative of such interpretative problems.
While a preference for rap was found to predict deviant behavior among 348 Frenchspeaking adolescents, causal ordering could not be established, nor an additional possibility ruled out: that other factors might be responsible for both the musical taste and the deviant behavior (Miranda and Claes 2004). The notion that rap is or can be represented as cultural resistance-the counter frame identified by Binder-has become increasingly prominent in the rap literature over the past 20 years (Rose 1994; Krims 2000; Keyes 2002; Quinn 2005). In his influential book.
Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the new Reality ofRace in America, Kitwana (2005) expounds at length on his emancipatory view of rap’s history and development. Kitwana sees hip-hop as a form of protest music, offering its listeners a message ofresistance. He also makes the additional claim that the resistive appeal of hip-hop is not restricted to black youth. Indeed, as the tide of his book suggests, he is patticularly interested in the patronage of rap music by white youth, those young people who might be seen as the contemporary equivalents of Mailer’s “White Negro” or Keys’ “Negro Wannabes. (Keyes 2002:250) In his view, the global diffusion of rap rests on the music’s capacity for resonating with the experiences ofthe downtrodden and marginalized in a variety of cultural contexts. Quinn (2005) similarly explains the crossover appeal of gangsta rap in the United States in terms ofthe “common sensibilities and insecurities shated by post Fordist youth. ” She continues: “many young whites, facing bleak labor market prospects, were also eager for stories about fast money and authentic belonging to ward off a creeping sense of placelessness and dispossession. (Quinn 2005:85-86) Thus, rap’s appeal is as much about class as it is about race. Nor is the resistive view of rap restricted to the North American continent. At least one French study-conducted in advance ofthe riots in the fall of 2005 -has noted how French Rap has become the music of choice for young people of visible minority descent who have grown up in the suburban ghettos (Les Cities) of major cities. They have been routinely exposed to police harassment on the streets, subjected to prejudice and discrimination at school, and struggled to find decent housing and appropriate jobs (Bouchier 1999, cited in Miranda and Claes 2004).
The idea that popular music might serve as an important reference point for rebellious or resistive adolescents is not a new one. As we have already noted, this is how a British school of subcultural analysis once interpreted the cultural activity of wotking-class youth in the United Kingdom (Hall and Jefferson 1976; Hebdige 698 • Social Forces 88(2) 1979). Some attempt has been made to understand rap fandom in similar terms. Bennett’s (1999a) ethnographic study, set in Newcastle, reveals how one group of white rappers translate the racial politics of blacks into the language of class divisions in the United Kingdom.
However, for the most part there has been limited application of this kind of analysis to young people’s involvement with rap music. Rap scholars who construe the music as an authentic expression of cultural resistance directed against exploitation and disadvantages at school, on the streets, or in the labor market, do so primarily without much input from the young people who make up its listening audience. Because they have not often been canvassed for their views about the music, we do not know to what degree they share in or identify with the message of resistance readily ound in content analysis of the rap idiom (Martinez 1997; Negus 1997; Krims 2000; Stephens and Wright 2000; Bennett 2001; Sullivan 2003; Kubrin 2005; Quinn 2005; Lena 2006). Thus contemporary rap scholarship follows British subcultural theory in gleaning evidence of resistance from the texts, not the audience. Resistance is sought, and found, in the words and music rather than in the activities and ideologies of subcultures or audience members. We can suggest, echoing Alexander’s (2003) earlier critique of British cultural studies, that the audience for rap music has been theorized rather more thoroughly than it has been investigated.
The Present Study The present study is concerned with three key questions: First, is there a relationship between audiences for rap and representations of the music? Second, as compared to other listening audiences, are serious rap fans participants in cultures of crime and resistance? Third, if such a link is found, what are the sources of variation in their participation in these cultures of crime and resistance? The need to address these questions, as we see it, emerges from several limitations in the existing research on rap.
These limitations are as follows: First, there is a significant disjuncture between dominant representations of the music as a source of social harms and evidence unambiguously supportive of this proposition. Second, the case for a resistant view of rap music is usually advanced, as we have already intimated, by examination of the designs and intentions of musical creators, both artists and producers, as well as music critics. We do not know whether or not resistant messages register and resonate with those who listen to the music.
Third, we do not have an accurate gauging of the sociodemographic composition, particularly racial and ethnic, of the audience for rap music. Rap’s dominance of the youth market is widely understood as a crossover effect-the original black audience now joined by legions of white fans (Spiegler 1996; Yousman 2003). However, purchasing habits-the usual arbiter for claims about rap’s increasing popularity with white consumers-may not be an entirely reliable measure of either rap’s popularity or racial and ethnic variations therein (Krims 2000; Quinn 2005).
The system devised by the recording industry to gauge record Listening to Rap • 699 sales-Nielson Soundscape-does not gather data on the race, or indeed any other personal characteristic, of purchasers. What it does do is categorize sales in terms of whether they were made in retail stores in high-income locations or in lowincome locations. Record companies, journalists or academics then choose to equate those high-income sales with white suburban youth, and low-income sales with inner-city black youth, but are doing so without any direct measures of the racial background or identity of buyers (Kitwana 2005).
Moreover, it has been argued that sales figures “under represent the taste preferences of the poor. ” (Quinn 2005:83) As Rose (1994) explains it, in the black community, particularly in impoverished neighborhoods, many more rap CDs are listened to than bought-a single purchase being passed on from one fan to another. Similarly, homemade tapes and bootleg CDs are often produced and shared within local fan networks.
The implications of this point are clear enough: the appropriation of rap music by suburban white teens might not be as extensive as is commonly supposed. Finally, we do not know whether or how the rap audience relates to the dominant frame of the music as a catalyst for crime and delinquency or to the counter frame of the music as an articulator of social inequity. The mainstreaming of rap may have cost the genre its underground or counter-culture status as protest music, or made it less attractive to delinquent rebels.
Rap also may play no part in crime or resistance subcultures because, under post modern conditions, young people have become increasingly eclectic and individualized in their musical tastes; the close relationship between musical tastes and lifestyles, implied by subcultural theory, no longer applies. On this formulation, therefore, we would not expect to find strong connections between a preference for rap music and subcultures of crime and subcultures of resistance. On the other hand, reasons for believing that rap music may be a basis for subcultural lifestyles, at least among black youth, are more compelling.
At the time that we were conducting our research there was considerable debate, in the local media and among local politicians, about issues involving race and crime-racial profiling and the desirability of collecting race-based crime statistics, for example. Contributing to this debate were findings from another study, confirming what black youths in Canada have always suspected, namely that they are much more likely to be arbitrarily stopped and searched by police officers than are members of other racial and ethnic groups-even when their own self-repotted deviant activity is statistically controlled for (Wordey and Tanner 2005).
In addition, contemporaneous research on the media coverage of race and crime in Toronto newspapers carried out by Wortley (2002), found black people disproportionately portrayed in a narrow range of roles and activities (principally those involving crime, sports and entertainment) than members of other racial and ethnic groups; and when featured in crime stories, depicted primarily as offenders. Capricious policing and media misrepresentation may therefore contribute to a sense of injustice among black youth, a sense of injustice that has them gravitating to rap as an emblem of cultural resistance. 00 • Social Forces SS{2) Commercial success and artistic valorization has not diminished rap music’s capacity to provoke moral panic. The music is still seen as threatening, dangerous and socially damaging by many political figures and established authority. ‘ Previous research suggests that negative media coverage ofthe cultural preferences and practices of adolescents often intensifies subcultural identifications (Cohen 1973; Fine and Kleinman 1979; Thornton 1995). Rap based moral panics may therefore tighten connections between the music and delinquent lifestyles and/or resistive attitudes and behaviors.
The lack of attention paid to rap’s consumers renders these questions relatively open ones, the meaning of rap music still to be discovered. Methods Whereas most contemporary research on rap focuses on those who create the music-artists and producers, and those who write about it, music critics-we pose questions about rap’s audience. Further, while audience studies usually employ qualitative data-gathering techniques (for example, Morley 1980; Radway 1984; Shively 1992), we use the methods of survey research. We are more concerned with how audience members interact with the music than with the issue of cause and effect.
We are interested in how music might be used as a resource in their everyday lives (Willis 1990; DeNora 2000), how it might contribute to identity formation (Roe 1999) and, especially, how audiences might align themselves with (or distance themselves from) cultures of crime and resistance. Nonetheless, in our analyses, we treat rap fandom as a dependent variable. While there is considerable academic and public debate about whether music produces or is a product of cultural activities, legal or otherwise, existing research has failed to provide a compelling or consistent rationale for any particular causal logic.
As we have seen, the idea that exposure to rap music causes crime is not unequivocally supported in the research literature. Research on resistant youth cultures, by contrast, is much more likely to reverse the relationship and see musical style as a result of subcultural activity (Willis 1978; Hebdige 1979). Hebdige, for example, infers that punk rock in the United Kingdom was a cultural response to the subordination of existing working-class youth groups. Laing (1985) has countered that punk the musical genre existed before punk the subculture.
In the absence of agreement about the direction of the relationship between musical taste and cultural practices, our decision to operationalize rap appreciation as a dependent variable is made more for pragmatic, heuristic reasons than unassailable theoretical ones. Our strategy is to focus on listening preferences rather than purchasing habits. By asking students to report on and evaluate the music that they like, dislike and in what combinations, we gain a clearer and more detailed picture of where rap is situated in the consumption patterns of groups of students differentiated by, among other factors, their racial identity.
Our goals are to: (1. distinguish students with a serious, exclusive taste for rap from more casual fans; (2. to calculate the Listening to Rap • 701 size and racial makeup of rap music’s prime audience; and (3. to map relationships between that core audience and resistant and delinquent repertoires. Few surveys of general populations of young people have established any kind of connection between rap and deviancy, net of other factors. We contend that rap’s reputation as a corrosive force is validated by that linkage, and that without it that representation becomes more ontestable. A similar logic applies to the relationship between rap and social protest. The claim that the music carries a serious message-that it is an expression of resistant values and perceptions-is substantiated with evidence of a link between the music and a collective sense of inequity, and weakened by its absence. Data The data for this research are drawn from the Toronto Youth Crime and Victimization Study, a stratified cross-sectional survey of Toronto adolescents carried out from 1998 through 2000 (Tanner and Wordey 2002).
Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 3,393 Toronto students ages 13-18, from 30 Metropolitan Toronto high schools in both die Cadiolic (10 schools) and larger Public School (20 schools) systems. Within each school, one class from each grade, 9 (ages 13 and 14) through 13 (ages 18 and 19), was randomly selected. The overall response rate was 83 percent (83. 4% for Catholic vs. 83. 1% for public schools), and is a conservative estimate as it was based on the number of students enrolled in each class rather than those present the day of the study.
Informed consent was given for participation in the study. Surveys were completed during class under the supervision of a member of the research team (and without a teacher present) and took approximately 45 minutes to complete. The survey asked young people about a broad range of topics, including family life, educational experiences, leisure activities, delinquent involvement, victimization experiences and so forth. The survey instrument was designed by members of the research team and evolved out of a series of 11 focus groups with adolescents in Toronto schools.
The completed survey was reviewed by a series of institutional ethics boards, including those at the University of Toronto, the Toronto Public School Board and the Catholic School Board. As the survey does not include high school dropouts, institutionalized youth and street youth, it is a school sample and thus any generalizations speak only to the experiences of school-based adolescents. Our sample is ethnically and racially diverse and is representative of the Metropolitan Toronto high school population. Measures
Musical Preferences Guided by Bourdieu’s work (1984) and Peterson’s recasting of musical taste in terms of omnivorous and univorous patterns (1992), we focus our attention on 702 • Social Forces 88(2] how musical choices are combined: if young people liked (or disliked) one style or genre, what other styles or genres did they like or dislike (what Van Eijck 2001 has referred to as “combinatorial logic”). Indicators of musical taste were derived from the question: “How much do you like each of the following types of music? Respondents were then asked to evaluate each of 11 contempotary musical genres: Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Hip/Hop and Rap, Reggae and Dance Hall, Classical and Opera, Country and New Country, Pop, Alternative (including Punk, Grunge), Heavy Metal (Hard Rock), Ethnic Music (traditional/ cultural), and Techno (Dance). Musical tastes were assessed on a five-point Likert scale that addresses whether respondents liked the musical genre very much, quite a lot, a little bit, not very much or not at all.
Unlike previous research that dichotomized musical tastes, focusing exclusively on the musical genres most liked (Peterson and Kern 1996) or disliked (Bryson 1996), we target the level of appreciation (or lack of appreciation) each respondent has for a particular musical genre. For space considerations a detailed overview of the clustering procedure has been omitted but is available upon request. We employed a two-stage cluster analysis (hierarchical agglomerative and ^-means) procedure to derive groupings of adolescent musical tastes.
Cluster analysis assembles respondents based on their common responses to questions/ measures, and is useful for identifying relatively homogenous groups, groups that are highly intetnally homogenous (members are similar to one another) and highly externally heterogeneous (members are not like members of other clusters) (Aldenderfer and Blashfield 1984). Employing cluster analysis techniques, we uncovered seven musical taste clustets. Table 1 outlines the results of our cluster analysis.
The largest group (n = 616) was the Club Kids, composed of those who report an above average enjoyment of techno and dance, mainstream pop, and hip-hop and rap. Next were the Urban Music Enthusiasts (n = 605). Members of this group combined a strong appreciation of Rap and Hip Hop with considerable disinterest in most other musical styles. These adolescents are the primary focus ofthe current study. Then there was a fairly large (n = 482) group of youth, the New Traditionalists, who have an above average liking of classical music and opera, jazz, soul, R&B, country music and mainstream pop.
The fourth largest (n = 425) group, the Hard Rockers, comprised a sizeable number of heavy metal and hard rock, alternative, punk and grunge fans. Then there was a surprisingly large (n = 384) group of adolescents, the Musical Abstainers, who are only marginally interested in any kind of music. The group we call the Ethnic Culturalists (n = 380) were so described because of a dominant preference for a quite wide range of ethnic music, as well as a greater than average liking for soul and R&B, jazz, classical music and opera, country music techno and dance, and mainstream pop.
The smallest group (n = 338), the Musical Omnivores, was composed of those who have an above average appreciation for all 11 musical genres. These clusters vary considerably, not only in the musical Listening to Rap • 703 Q-CM O O U O O U O O U O O -COIOCOCOCNJCJ>COIO ” • ^ – T— c3^ h ^ h… c o 3’ UJ CD o .Si i -T— COCOCDCO s m eu rocMincDco -T— CMC3 co co i Q. CL tu . S o .2 U) o tu tpcooin CNJcOCOCOcdcOCMCOM-‘^COCNI co T—CMOCI5 ? CO en (U ro “o 0} Q. CL ro “o en CM CM co “cD t n tu . 2 2 Oi tn -D C to to CZJ eu co CNI co o tD tu. —. _ 2 CD “O en ! c: o c: 03 sa | ^ sV ndical . 0011 V CL ro o tu . S P o | idd tn tu V p. 704 • Social Forces 8H2) likes and dislikes, but also with respect to sociodemographic, socioeconomic class indicators, and measures of school experience, cultural capital, leisure patterns and subcultural delinquency (Tanner, Asbridge and Wortley 2008). Social Injustice, Property Crime and Violent Crime The sense of injustice that rap is said to speak to often involves the dealings that young people have with the police and courts.
Six items in our questionnaire invited respondents to evaluate their perceptions of the equity of the criminal justice system, fairness in the educational system, and more general perceptions of the equality of opportunity in Canada. Some of the questions addressed racebased inequality, while others invoked age, class- and gender-based discrimination. These six items were condensed into a scale and standardized (alpha = . 65) with higher values indicating greater feelings of social injustice. Respondents were also invited to report their participation in illegal activities.
Our measures of crime and delinquency covered a spectrum of activities, varied by type and seriousness. Two scales items are constructed based on the following question: “How many times in the past year have you done any of the following things? Would you say never, once or twice, several times, or many times? ” The first scale captures involvement in property crime, including self-reported property damage, theft under $50, breaking into a car, stealing a car, stealing a bike, breaking and entering a home, drug dealing and theft over $50 (alpha = . 6). The second scale measures violent offending and includes carrying a hidden weapon such as a gun or knife in public, using physical force on another person to get money or other things, attacking someone with the idea of seriously hurting him or her, hitting or threatening to hit a parent or teacher, getting into a physical fight with someone, and taking part in a fight where a group of friends were up against another group (alpha = . 81). SES, School Measures and Cultural Capital
The impact of students’ sociodemographic backgrounds is initially examined in terms of demographic variables-age, gender, Canadian identity (“Do you think of yourself as Canadian? “-a measure of perceived inclusion in Canadian society), and race. Socioeconomic status is captured through indicators of parents and family situation, and includes measures of parental educational attainment (whether or not they had attended postsecondary education), family intactness (whether or not respondents grew up in a two-parent household), a measure of subjective social class based on perceptions of family income.
Next we include a set of measures related to educational attainment, experiences and expectations: self-reported grades (proportion receiving mostly As), skipping school, suspension from school, educational stream (general or academic stream) and a more evaluative question about the degree of importance that young people attached to education. Listening to Rap • 705 Finally, we include a measure of respondents’ own cultural capital activities.
While mainly used as an explanation of educational and occupational attainment (DiMaggio 1982; DiMaggio and Mohr 1995; Aschaffenburg and Maas 1997), measures of cultural capital have also been deployed to uncover dispositions, or orientations, towards the arts (Bourdieu 1984; Swartz 1997). We use it here as a further measure ofthe characteristics and lifestyles ofthe audience for rap-its possession bestowing status upon individuals and the music that they listen to, its absence denoting the opposite.
Our seven-item cultural capital index comprises both traditional highbrow pursuits-going to the symphony, visiting museums-and the sorts of respectable leisure activities (playing a musical instrument, attending cultural events, going to the library, reading a book for pleasure and hobbies) that contribute to the cultural resources available to young people. The sum of these seven items is standardized and has an alpha of . 65. Descriptive statistics and other details on all measures can be found in Appendix A. Analytic Procedure Multivariate logistic regression is employed in four separate analyses.
First, a strong preference for Rap and Hip/Hop-being an Urban Music Enthusiast-is regressed on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures. Next, we regress being an Urban Music Enthusiast on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures for three racial groups-white, black and Asian/South Asian youth. For each racial group we run four separate models that include baseline measures only, followed by models that add social injustice, property crime and violent crime. All analyses were conducted with the Stata 8. computer program (StataCorp 2001) using the survey commands that account for intra-cluster correlation due to the complex sampling strategy. Results We can quickly confirm the enormous popularity of rap with our respondents. It has the highest average approval rating of any musical genre, with some 33 percent of students saying that they liked it “very much,” and 21 percent saying that they liked it “quite a lot. ” Rap clearly appeals to a broad range of young listeners and is, therefore very much part of a common music culture among high school students.
But our cluster analysis (Table 1) also isolates a group of students who enjoy rap music and little else. Examining the approval radng for each music genre relative to the cluster means, where scores approaching 1 indicate a strong approval ofthe genre, and scores approaching 5 indicate a strong dislike, demonstrates that Urban Music Enthusiasts have a strong preference for rap and hip-hop, reggae and dance hall; a more moderate liking for soul and R&B, and a below average liking for all other musical genres.
We think that our Urban Music Enthusiasts fit the profile of music univores-individuals who appreciate a few musical styles while disliking everything 706 • Social Forces mi) else-as described in the research of Peterson (1992) and Bryson (1997). Bryson links univorous taste among American adults to low status, particular racial and ethnic groups, and regional differences. She also notes that univorous taste, when compared to omnivorous taste, is more likely to be related to what she calls “subcultural spheres. ” (Bryson 1997:147) Our Urban Music Enthusiasts appear to be rap univores who may also be adhering to “sub-cultural spheres. Of the 605 Urban Music Enthusiasts in our sample, 275 {A6%) are black, 117 (19%) are white, 115 (19%) are Asian or South Asian, and 98 (16%) are from other racial groups. These figures tell us that young black people still comprise the central component of the rap audience; moreover, roughly 57 percent of black youth is Urban Music Enthusiasts). At the same time, we observe evidence of a significant racial crossover. White Urban Music Enthusiasts constitute 8. 6 percent of the white students in our sample, while Asian Urban Music Enthusiasts make up 9. 5 percent of all Asian students.
The racial composition of the Urban Music Enthusiast taste culture prompts two further questions: Eirst, of the black students surveyed, what factors in addition to race predict their univorous interest in rap? Second, of white and Asian students, what factors encourage their involvement in an essentially black music culture, an involvement that clearly sets them apart from other white and Asian students? Table 2 provides results for Urban Music Enthusiasts membership regressed on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures, with separate analyses for white, black and Asian/South Asian young people.
Paying particular attention to the findings for each racial group, what is common to all three groups of Urban Music Enthusiasts is that, compared to other students in our sample, they are poorly endowed with cultural capital and are not especially good students. Few other background factors have any significant or consistent impact upon a disposition towards Urban Music. For white students, parental SES, family structure and subjective social class, have no bearing upon their musical preferences, whereas school suspension and poor grades are strong predictors.
For black students. Urban Music enthusiasm is more common among younger students and those less likely to identify as Canadian. Being a black youth identified as an Urban Music Enthusiast is also strongly related to growing up in a single-parent family and skipping school. For their part, Asian/South Asian youth are something of an anomaly-among them. Urban Music Enthusiasm is positively associated with social class and having well-educated mothers-but like other Urban Music Enthusiasts it is also strongly related to school suspension and skipping school.
We are less interested, however, in the sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors that may lead to being an Urban Music Enthusiast than in the relationship between being a Urban Music Enthusiast and representations of rap-either as part of a culture of resistance and/or as a basis for subcultural delinquency. Tables 3 through 5 describe the distribution of being an Urban Music Enthusiast across three racial groups (white, black, Asian/South Asian) as shaped by perceptions Listening to Rap • 707 I i I u (O re (/> CO o (U 1. 76 4. 37 ,01a ‘V— re . r; o — U; c n t – – CO CO cr; – ^ • ^ CD – ^ CO CO CD CM CNl T – CD CN? -“i^
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Dependent Measures Yes ~ Urban Music Enthusiasts No Social Injustice (index of amount of agreement or Z-score disagreement regarding the following statements: people from my racial group are more likely to be unfairly stopped and questioned by the police than people from other racial groups; discrimination makes it hard for people from my racial group to find a good job; discrimination makes it difficult for people from my racial group to get good marks in school; students from rich families have an easier time getting ahead than students from poor families; everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead in Canada; it is rare for an innocent person to be wrongly sent to jail, with an a=. 65). continued on the following page 722 • Social Forces 88(2] Appendix A. ontinued Coding Variables Independent Measures Property Crime (index of frequency of involvement Z-score in breaking into cars, minor theft under $50, property damage, stealing bikes, breaking and entering into homes, stealing cars, major theft over $50, and drug dealing, with an pi=. 86), _ . ^ Violent Crime (index of frequency of carrying a hidden Z-score weapon like a gun or knife in public, using physical force on another person to get money or other things; attacked someone with the idea of seriously hurting that person, hit or threatened to hit a parent or teacher, getting into a physical fight with someone, and taken part in a fight where a group of friends were up against another arouD. with an a=. 81). Mean/ Cases Percent 3344 3288 Copyright of Social Forces is the property of University of North Carolina Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or