12/31/2009

Why demand for transport is a derived demand

Well, first of all:

Derived demand - demand for a good or service not for its own sake, but for what it produces.

In case of transport we can see 2 types of derived demand for transport:

1st is passenger demand, usually we need transportation to our workplaces, shops, schools, red bull factories etc. we need no ride on bus\car\train\whatever itself but we need to be somewhere. this is the final product of transport - getting somewhere you need to get.

2nd is freight transport demand. The companies usually transport all sorts of goods around the world not because they like how lots of boxes with Red Bull cans look in the vehicles\huge containers, but because their consumers want to get it. Or somebody needs raw materials to produce their good, let's say, books. Transportation itself is not doing anything to the product, but eventually the raw materials get from A to B - and that is what demanded, that is what the final product of transport.

Characteristics of the main modes of transport

Passenger transport:

Private car.
Advantages: most flexible and convenient, the only mode of transport that is able to give door to door service, is used for all types of journey purpose, can carry luggage and shopping stuff
Disadvantages: the least environmentally friendly type mode

Bus.
Advantages: most effective on the main corridors in large towns and cities, most attractive (when there are short waiting times)
Disadvantages: users are limited by the service provided

Rail.
Advantages: speedy carrier of large volumes of passengers, very effective on middle and long distances, has a good access to the cities
Disadvantages: may not be so effective on short distances

Air.
Advantages: moving passengers over longer distances at speed
Disadvantages: limited use for internal transport in th UK, but widely used elsewhere


Freight transport:

Road vehicles.
Advantages: convenience, flexibility, connectivity + is suitable for carriage of the most goods
Disadvantages: environmental problems arise, dependence on congestion levels

Rail.
Advantages: best suited for moving bulk loads, efficient and speedy for transporting over distance
Disadvantages: the problems of interchange can reduce its efficiency

Air.
Advantages: appropriate for moving time-sensitive and expensive cargo, mainly over long distances
Disadvantages: not so effective on short distances (?)

Sea.
Advantages: cheap, moves bulk cargoes & containers
Disadvantages: quite slow, efficient mainly on long distances

10/05/2009

Market failure in transport economics


yeah, blah blah blah, I was going on and on about the market failure topic last year and you probably know all about it. but yeah, I need to remind myself.

So, market failure itself is inefficiency of the price mechanism in markets, or, in other words, when allocative and\or productive efficiencies are not achieved.
Allocative effciency is when the consumer's needs are satisfied and price equals marginal cost.
Productive efficiency is when the resources are used effectively, eg the least possible amount of scarce resources are used to produce the maximum output.

There are several types of market failure:
- existance of positive and\or negative externalities, which are quite difficult to calculate in order to include their value in the price.
- information failure
- government failure
- possibly smth else, but i dun remember actually, lol, I have to revise

So, in case of transport, what kind of market failure might arise.
Lots of negative externalities, negative effects on the third party, obviously, such as:
- atmospheric pollution
- noise pollution
- accidents
- congestion (traffic jams)
- visual intrusion
- blight

The government is trying to deal with those by different methods, but there still is one main problem - how to estimate those external costs, which arise from pollution, congestion, accidents, etc.
Even though the costs ARE estimated, another problem is how to include them in the price. The government tends to do it through different types of indirect taxation, as well as applying other methods like road pricing, various regulations, subsidies to support public transport, information provision.
Or introdcuing shadow price - a relative price that is proportional to the opportunity cost for the economy, as so much time is lost in traffic jams, for instance.
The revenue from tax could be allocated to different purposes, such as improvement of infrastructure, extendind roads etc.

For further info, for God's sake, read the freaking texbook!

ps, yeah, I would have commented on that efficent road pricing diagram, but I have already done it in my mock, which I did on Friday. so lol, sorry, no boring diagrams for today.

10/01/2009

Oligopoly

An oligopoly is another type of market structure. It means that there are several firms in the market, which are dominating. The concentration ratio is high.
The other characteristics would be:
- high barriers to entry - the dominant firms are not likely to give away their market share to other firms, as this might lead to the loss of their position as price makers.
- price stability for long periods. this is because of the kinked demand curve, which actually explains the behaviour of dominating firms in an oligopolistic market. if a firm rises the price, it is likely to lose its customers, who will probably switch to a cheaper service\product provided by its competitor. this will lead to a loss in a firm's market share. lowering the price will lead to a war price, where eventually all the firms will lose out. The behaviour of oligopolistic firms is difficult to predict, that's why the game theory concept, which models the behaviour of firms. It is also know as prisoners dilemma, which is easier to understand for nom-economists. Also I suggest you to read this post, which talks about the main idea of the game theory and its founder, John Nash.
now, coming back to the kinked demand curve:
Chris is very strict to us D:
lol this diagram, nicely presented by tutor2u website, is actually wrong! the marginal revenue curve, which is under an oligopolists' demand curve, should continue starting from Q1 point, not higher that point.
On the diagram we can see that firstly the demand curve is relatively elastic, and the, at a certain point, where the price is set, it becomes relatively inelastic. This actually illustrates what I've said before about pricing strategies of an oligopolistic market.
However, firms might agree with each other about pricing in order to gain higher levels of profits, but it's illegal and restricted by the Competition Commission. Although the firms can still tacticly raise the prices with an unwritten agreement with each other. This is called a collusion, and it's really difficult to prove its existance so the firms cant actually be fined.
- because of inability to play with the price, firms usually have a non-price competition, which includes branding, location, ASS (After Sales Service), product range etc. Everything that might attract customers except for price.

9/30/2009

Monopoly

A theory suggests that a monopoly in its purest form has total control of a market. A firm itself becomes an industry in this case, this means that we can assume that average revenue curve is actually the market's demand curve.
a pure monopoly, yaaaay :D
The equillibrium of a monopoly is at the point where MC=MR. In this case the firm will be a price maker, which will enable it to make abnormal profits and, well, be the only one. As it is assumed, one of the main firms' target is profit maximisation. On the picture above, we can see that at the price P1 a pure monopoly generates the amount of revenue which exceeds the amount of costs, hence, making a supernormal profit (shaded in grey). In a competitive market everything would be different, but if we assume that a competitive market has the same costs as a monopolistic market, then the equillibrium would be at the point where AR=MC. it is obvious, that in this case a firm would have to supply more but at a lower price, which means much less profit than in a monopolistic market.
Of course, no firm likes competitors, so one of the main features of a monopolistic market are high barriers to entry, which prevent new firms from entering the market. There are several types of barriers to entry, such as:
Structural barriers (innocent entry barriers) – arising from differences in production costs
Strategic barriers (see the notes below on strategic entry deterrence)
Statutory barriers - entry barriers given force of law (e.g. patent protection of franchises such as the National Lottery or television and radio broadcasting licences)

However, we should remember that a pure monopoly does not exist in the real life, although some firms are using the same principles, because they, not completely, but dominate the market.
The UK recognises any firm that has more than 25% of market share is able to act like a monopoly, according to the Competition Act of 1998. A firm with more than 40% of market share is seen as dominant in the market.
The power of monopoly gives a firm an opportunity to make supernormal profits by setting a high price and having a resticred output at the same time. Although the Competition Act seeks to prevent such firms from setting unreasonable high prices by intervening in markets.

9/27/2009

A2 Socio - Crime Stats

There are two main measures of crime in Britain:
1) Police recorded crime - those recorded by the police from which official stats on crime are drawn.
2) the British Crime Survey - a number of interviews with adults, in which people are asked whether they have been a victims of any crime during previous year. The sample group is very representative.

However, these statistics are not as representative and as valid as they should be. We can say that many of the crimes are not reported or are just not recorded by the police. These crimes are called 'dark-figure' or 'hidden-figure'. The existance of such numbers is due to the following reasons:
- the official stats does not record all known types of crime. Summary offences - those crime, which were dealt with by Magistrates' Courts as opposed to Crown Courts. they were not involved in official stats until 1998. For instance, the crimes involving driving after consuming alcohol over the legal limits. Or the cases when businesses did not included all the sales information in order to avoid paying high tax rates. also Summary offences - those crime, which were dealt with by Magistrates' Courts as opposed to Crown Courts. they were not involved in official stats until 1998.
- according to Simmons & Dodd (2003), over 30% of commited crime was not recorded in 2002\03 period. Even though that the police has an obligation to record crimes, some of the crimes are not recorded because they are seen as not worth the attention of a policeman. Because of this discretion, some areas may appear much more criminal than the others. An example would be a fact that Nottingamshire was named the most criminal area in the contry in 1981, simply because the police forces recorded all the crimes, even those which included 10 pounds or less (Holdaway, 1988). also, a crime might be committed several times but only the most serious offence is counted (Maguire, 2002). For instance, domestic violence.
- police might prioritise the crimes in order to have a better detection rate and not record some of the 'unsolved' crimes. as well as the police might have been forced to pay special attention to a particular type of crime, because local authoritites or mass media are expecially conserned about this type of crime.
- some cases might not be recorded. some types of crimes are more likely to be reported than others (Kershaw et al., 2008).
or, maybe, not realising that the crime has been committed - fraud, for instance.
the victim might also be too scared or powerless to actually report about the crime, it usually happens with child abuse and domestic violence.
the triviality of the crime might also be the issue - vandalism.
prostitution is obviously not reported much because there's no victim.
also people might not trust the police or think that nothing can be done - so what's the point in reporting anyway?
or the matter was dealt with privately, because some people don't want the police to be involved.

But a relative quantity of a particular crime committed doesn't mean that it shouldn't be dealt with or they are not significant. For instance, sexual offences make a small proportion of overall crimes, but they still have a very negative effect on the victim.

Crime statistics are a social construction - they are constructed during the process of social interaction and are based on a series of interpretations, definitions and decisions, which are influenced by a variety of factors and differ from situation to situation.

If we tax petrol, this does not efficiently internalise the externalities that are attributed to motor vehicle transport.

Internalising either positive or negative effect on the third party, also known as internalizing the externalities, is an attempt to deal with the externalities by bringing an external cost or benefit into the price system. The main problems with internalising is a relative difficulty of calculating an approximal ‘value’ of the externalities as well as taking into account all the possible externalities, which is quite difficult and requires a lot of analysis.
Transport industries create a market failure in considerable amounts. In particular, there are many externalities related to petrol, both positive and negative. The most obvious one is pollution, because cars run on petrol produce a lot of exhaust fumes, which harm the nature and people’s health. Closing our eyes on out coming global problems such as global warming, there are still many other related problems. Worsening health of people who live in big and medium size cities means that more money is needed to be spent on National Health Insurance. More money spent on the health of citizens means that something else on the list of government to spent money on would be sacrificed, for example, educational sphere, hence it is an opportunity cost. On the other hand, petrol runs most of the transport in the world, which enables to freely trade all over the world. Through transport petrol provides an opportunity to develop businesses, international relationships, increasing living standards over the world, not to mention moving towards higher levels of productivity every day, etc. The transport system itself provides an infinite number of positive externalities as well as negative externalities. If we consider only the externalities from motor vehicle transport, it would still have an enormous impact on people and the nature. The fact that there are 426 motor vehicles per 1000 people in the UK clearly shows - this is a quite serious issue for the United Kingdom. Traffic congestion is already a big problem in cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham.
If a tax is put on petrol prices, first thing that should be considered is not whether it will be effective in dealing with externalities but the size of the tax. We should remember that the demand for transport is a derived demand, which means that it depends upon the final output produced. Therefore, many industries are highly dependent on transport, hence, on the petrol and its price, as well as just citizens of the country using private vehicles. If the tax is relatively high, many people would still buy petrol, as the demand for petrol is highly inelastic, though some people would switch to public transport, such as buses and trains. Those transport companies are likely to raise ticket prices as well, as the demand for public transport is likely to raise and also because of the increased cost of running the motor vehicles. Freight transport companies are likely to increase the price as well, which may lead to a reduction of supply in a number of industries. Sole traders and small transport companies even can go bankrupt because of the suddenly raised costs and fallen demand. Will the money collected from the taxation internalize the externalities? Not likely. Traffic congestion will still be an issue in the big cities, as the taxation is not likely to bring a huge reduction in the number of cars used – big transport companies may expand and more buses and freight transports will fill the roads, while the number of private cars will still be bigger that the maximum capacity of the roads. In addition to that, the money raised from taxation is not going to reduce the pollution. However, the people who would have to switch to public transport may become less productive because they would still have to spend time in traffic jams and also because of waiting for buses, possible stress from overcrowded public transport, so the growth of overall human productivity is likely to become slower or even negative. Obviously, a big tax on petrol will not be able to cover up all the costs and benefits. Even if that money would be spent on improving the infrastructure or environmental situation, the country may not be able to handle the consequences of an unnecessary big raise in petrol prices. Hypothecation, redirecting the tax revenue on particular purposes, would have simplified the process of internatianolising externalities, but still wouldn’t have given any impressive results.
On the other hand, a small raise in price is not likely to scare off the users of motor vehicle cars, as this is almost an essential good for a modern British person. Freight and passenger companies are likely to deal with the rise in costs by a small increase in the price for their services. Hence, demand patterns are not likely to be changed by a small tax imposed on the price of petrol. A small raise in price of petrol is not likely to have big affects on the numbers of motor vehicles cars used, even though that the revenue from this taxation is likely to be very high, but still not enough to even be close to covering up external costs and benefits.
However, there are other ways of internationalising externalities created by transport industries. For instance, road pricings or congestion charges, direct charges for the use of a road space, could be used. This would reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and also bring some revenue to the government, which could be spent on reducing the negative effects – preventing from all kinds of pollution like noise pollution, air pollution etc. Another example would be subsidizing in order to encourage greater use of public transport, which would also reduce the number of vehicles on the road and therefore reduce the amounts of pollution.
Overall, petrol tax, whenever it’s a high tax or a low tax, would bring the government much more revenue, which means increased government spending. This would lead to improvements in infrastructure and reducing the externalities, but not completely. The value of all the externalities brought by the transport industry just cannot be included in a petrol price simply because it cannot be calculated completely.

9/26/2009

What is 'inflation adjusted' and is such an adjustment a valid way of comparing prices?

Inflation-adjustment of economic indicators and the prices of goods and services from different tie periods to the same price level. To adjust for inflation, an indicator is divided by the inflation index.
OK, so is this a valid way of comparing prices? Well, to answer that we should at other ways of comparing prices. We can look at nominal prices of the goods and services, which do not include inflation changes.

If we look at the graph above, we can see that the blue line stands for the nominal house prices in the US and the red line stands for inflation adjustmestment house prices. As we can see, comparison of these two prices give us an idea of the economic situation in particular years. For instance, in 1977 the inflation adjustment price for houses peaked a lot in comparison with the nominal price of that year which seems to be in a stable growth at that period.
If we are talking about the better way of comparing prices, either nominal or inflation adjusted, we should consider the purposes of this consideration. In this case, i mean the house prices, i think it's better to look at the nominal prices, because inflation doesn't give us a detailed picture of the situation as the inflation adjustment does. Though they both dramatically fall in 2008-09 period. In some other cases, such as oil prices, we should look at the nominal prices as well.
The nominal prices comparison does not, actually, give us an idea of the price in previous years if we are not supplied with the inforation like economic situation and inflation rates. We actually see two different prices which exist in two different economic situations.
The inflation adjustment actually enables us to see how the prices have changed over the period of time. For the graphic above we can clearly see that the house which value would be 150000$ in 1979 in the current economic situation is now approximately 175000$ worth, so we can easily conclude that the value of the house increased by 25000$.

this post is so crappy.

9/24/2009

Firms and their objectives: Profit maximisation

Firm is a unit of decision making, aims of which are:
- profit maximisation
- avoidance of risk
- growth in the long-term

It could be a sole trader or a huge company like Microsoft. In the theory of firms it's an a priori that they are searching for the highest levels of profits possible. Profit maximasation is achieved when MC=MR. More profit can be made by increasing the output if MR>MC. IF MC is greater than MR, that means that the firm's profit is below its maximum.

Though firms cannot actually know the exact profit maximisation point, becaus they are unlikely to know their MR or MC.

Economies of scale

If over a period of time the short run average cost becomes lower due to a number of reasons, a firm gains benefits through this expansion. These benefits of producing on a larger scale are called economies of scale.

There are internal and external economies of scale. Internal EoS's happen due to decisions made within a firm, and External EoS's happen due to reasons which are not dependant on a firm's actions.

Technical EoS's are internal, they are achieved by improving the technology or increasing capacity. They usually result in LRAC.
Purchasing EoS's are achieved when a firm bulk buys something - a purchase of materials or capital in big quantitites usually gives an opportunity to have a discount, so average variable cost will fall.

Managerial EoS's are due to specialisation of the employees. It's easier to employ a multi-task manager, but it will be more efficient if there is at least one manager in different departments such as finance, human resources, marketing etc. Obviously, this type of EoS is also internal.

Now, about external economies of scale. They are available when the whole industry grows.

Transport and communication links improve, for instance, building of new roads and motorways, which make it easier to get from A to B. Maybe improvement of quality of roads will reduce sunk costs which arise from damages of vechicals on bad roads.

Training and education. For instance, more unis offer courses closely tighted with the transport industry, so more specialists join the industry, so labour supply increases and firms are able to employ specialists in exchange for lower wages, because there will be a competition among the potential job holders. Or the government might provide some support for people going to transport industry by offering special trainin courses etc.

Grow of other industries, which are connected with the industry. Maybe suppliers of the materials extend and have a branch near the firm hence lower material costs. It enables to find a high-quality supplier for a cheaper price.

Revenues

Revenues are the receipts from sales. As well as costs there are several types:
Total revenue is calculated simply - quantity sold multiplied by the given price.
Average revenue is a revenue per unit.
Marginal revenue is an addition to total revenue from one additional sale - one more passenger, for example.

MR will always be longer than AR because the firm can sell more by reducing the price of all units.
The total revenue curve has an upside-down U-shape, because it indicates how customers react to different prices due to variations in PED. The total revenue is maximised where the PED = 1.

9/23/2009

Costs

Costs are values of inputs. There are several types of costs:
Fixed costs, those are independent of output produced. For transport it is usually rent or interest paid pn loans. With an increase of output, the fixed cost could be spread out across the business.
Variable costs vary with the output produced, for transport we could say that labour and fuel are variable costs.
Total costs are obviously = FC + VC

Average cost is the unit cost of production.
Marginal cost is the change in total cost which will occur when one more unit is produced. In transport it is usually an extra passenger or an extra cargo.


Ok, so in the diagram above:

1) A marginal cost curve (MC)

2) An average cost curve (AC)

3) An average variable cost curve (AVC)

4) An average fixed cost curve (AFC)



Ok, so now some explanations about why the curves are like this. If we look at the AFC, it falls down, because the fixed costs will stay the same when there's an increase in output. So, with more output the average fixed cost will be falling. This is also known as the economies of scale.
As output increases, AVC will initially decline before rising again, which explains the U-shape. With the rise of output, at some point average variable costs will exceed the falling average fixed costs, which will make the average cost curve rise.
A priori, the marginal cost curve will always cross the AVC and AC curves at their lowest points.

9/22/2009

A2 Econs Transport

Transport is the movement of people and goods for personal and business reasons.
It takes an important part in economics, the demand for transport is growing every day, as it is responsible for delivering goods and services, resources and international trade is just impossible without highly developed transport system.

The important aspects if transport are:
- the mode of transport - means of transport such as road, rail, air and sea transport.
- infrastructure - anything needed for the effective functioning of transport.

The function of transport is to meet the needs of people and firms.

There are two types of transport: passenger transoprt is used by individuals and freight transport is used by businesses.

The demand for transport is a derived demand. Derived demand is a demand that depends upon the final output that is produced. In other words, the type or even a need of transport is determined by our needs to be somewhere or to carry something. Or the size of the products or the quantity of the products for businesses.

What are the determinants of a household's demand for transport by any given mode (eg do they have their own car or do they use a bus or a train or a bicycle)? Well,
- the cost of the transport (tickets price, the cost of running a car)
- relative prices of other types of transport
- household income
- availability of transport
- size of household
- journey time\ traffic jams levels\ convenience

So what are the determinants for choosing the right freight transport for a business?
- the costs of transport
- how easy it is to deliver and to collect products
- the type of a product
- the level of transport service provided

And now some small characteristics of transport types:

Passenger transport:
private car - flexible and convenient, widely used for all types of journey purpose, used for carrying shopping things and luggage. the only one which can give a door-to-door service, though is the least enviroment acceptable of main modes.
bus - users are limited by the service, though very effective on main corridors in large towns and cities, attractive by a cheap cost and short waiting times.
train is good for middle and long distances to carry a lot of passengers and products.
air - good for transporting products and passengers overseas and long distances fairly quickly.

Freight transport:
road - convenience, flexibility and connectvity - strong parts. can carry almost any type of a product.
rail - good for transporting bulk loads over many distances, very quick but the problems might occur in interchange.
air - appropriate for moving time-sensitive goods, but only for long distances.
sea - cheap but slow; used for bulk loads over long distances.

9/21/2009

A2 Sociology - Crime and Deviance intro

While the further maths group was away on a maths trip, the first A2 Sociology lesson had a place to be. I'm catching up with the class now, as I missed it.

Deviance is consideres as actions, which deviate from the norms and values of society. In other words, those actions of an individual which are considered as unaproppriate for the society, actions which are against dominant values an norms of the society.
Crime is a form of deviance, which is against the law in a given society. This form of deviance is not only unsupported by a society, but is also punished for.

A crime is determined by relativity - it varies from culture to culture and from time to time. For instance, killing was not always seen as a crime 500 years ago.

There are different types of deviance:
- secret and private ones. the examples could include being a homosexualist but not revealing this to the society.
- open and public ones, the ones that the society is awared of.
- situational deviance, when an action is a deviance only in a given case but not in another.
- societal deviance - behaviour which is seen as unaproppriate by the majority of people in a society.

9/20/2009

Philosophy AS, Reason and Expirience notes

'Tabula rasa' theory.

Tabula rasa means 'blank slate', which stand for an idea that every idea of an object or even that we have is built up on experience that we had with that object or event. This idea is supported by philosophers John Locke (1632-1704) and David Hume (1711-76).

Hume's reasons for saying 'every idea ... is copied from a similar impression'.
Hume was developing Locke's idea that everything that we have on our mind is based on our expirience. Without an experience we are unable to correspond to an idea. The following extract proves this Hume's view:
'If it happen, from a detect of the organ, that a man is not suspectible of any species of sensation, we always find that he is as little suspectible of the correspondent ideas. A blind man can form no notion of colours; a deaf man of sounds.'
In this extract it is proved that without a sence of sight or sound you are not able to have an idea of colours or sounds.

How Hume tells difference between 'impressions' and 'ideas'.
An impression is a far more strong feeling than an idea, as it is 'all strong and sensible' and 'admits not of ambiguity', also they may 'throw light on their correspondent ideas'. An idea is a 'lighter' version of what a person felt when having an experience, ideas are 'naturally faint and obscure'. Actually, an idea is based on an impression and to Hume's view it isn't 'easy to fall into any error or mistake with regard to them' (impressions). In other words, it is difficult not to see any difference between an impression and an idea, as only 'disordered by disease or madness' will not be able to do that.

Hume's account on how imagination works and why does Hume need to give an account of the imagination.
Sometimes an idea can appear without having an experience that it was based on. There was an example of 'a golden mountain' - everyone can surely imagine it at some point even though nobody have actually experienced it, simply because such thing does not exist. Yes, we could interpret this as a combination of two ideas of a mountain and a gold, though the idea of a golden mountain would be stringer if we had experienced it. However, we still may have an idea of a golden mountain through an experience happening in our minds and imagination is the key. Imagination 'escapes all human power and authority' and also 'is not restrained within the limits of nature and reality'. But still, if we look at the imagination process in depth, we would see that it's 'confined within narrow limits', because our imagination is still based on what we experienced and sensed.

The philosophical significance Hume draws from his analysis of the origin of ideas.
The perception of the world around us comes from our ideas and experiences. Our mind is a blank page, we fill it with ideas, which we get from our experiences. Experiences provide 'strong and vivid' impressions which clarify an idea, which itself is 'naturally faint and obscure ... apt to be confounded with other resembling ideas; and when we have often employed any term, though without any distinct meaning, we are apt to imagine it has a determined idea annexed to it'. 'Words in their primary or immediate signification, stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them', which simply means that words are created just to indicate an idea. However, the perception is also based on our imagination, which helps us to have an idea of some things that we have not experienced. Though Hume argues that imagination itself is 'no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience'.

9/09/2009

a pair of spectacles

the monthly DAILY blog is back!!!

today i'm going to summarise an article on a philosophy topic on our perception of "right" and "wrong" things.

The article is started with a weird story about a girl called Virtue, who was taken for a town trip by some random aliens. They observe the city, being invisible to everyone else. The spot a man trying to steal a purse from some random lady and Virtue says that it is wrong. The aliens and Virtue start to talk about how earth beings sort 'right' and 'wrong' things. They came to a conclusion that the five senses have nothing to do with spotting the 'wrongness'. In the end of the story they found out that 'wrongness' neither can be legitialy inferred or seen/heard.

Then there is more hard stuff - the author gives us some solutions.

David Hume (1711 - 1776) has suggested that we detect 'wrong' and 'right' basing on our moral properties, which are created by our emotions. So, we have like a pair of spectacles, where the linses are our moral values. This is called 'the spectacles theory'. But there is a problem - where do we get our moral values and properties then?

G. E. Moore (1873 - 1958) gives a solution - people have the sixth sense called 'intuition'. We accept our values because we feel that way and we think that it should be right for us. But then another problem appears - where does the intuition comes from? And sadly there is no proper answer and it cannot be explained yet.

So, coming back to Hume's spectacles model. The main three versions of how we get these spectacles.

- the first version is Subjectvism. We claim that something is wrong because it seems wrong to us as individuals. the problem with this model is that different people have different views on 'right' and 'wrong' things. So, for one person drinking Red Bull is right cuz she feels like it. She is right, because she bases on her feeling and says the truth which she approves. Yet another person thinks that drinking red bull is wrong cuz it's his opinion. And again, he cannot be wrong: for him things are this way. So two people with different views are both right.

- the second version is Intersubjectivism. It is similar to Subjectivism, but the 'spectacles' were created not by a person, but by a community where he or she exists. Once again, different communities have different views. But the point is.. if a community thinks that something is wrong, surely that doesn't 100% mean that the things are really wrong! There is no proof that it is wrong, so how can people and communities decide?

- the third version is called Emotivism. The principle of Emotivism is that we do not state whether a thing is 'right' or 'wrong'. We don't claim, we express. There is nothing behind what we say. We just say it, there is no fact behind our saying. It's like saying 'Happy Halloween', i'm not saying whether it's true or false, right or wrong, I just express myself. So, if we view the phrase 'drinking red bull is right' in the emotivism way it is the same is 'yaaaay for red bull!'.

All these three versions state that moral value is not a feature of objective reality though.

In the end of the article the 'objective property' is discussed. If we say that our school has 20 floors that doesn't change the fact that it has just 2 floors. But from a view from a plane it could seem that it does have 20 floors. The point is - we can be mistaken anyway, without knowing it, and things are either right or wrong. And it doesnt matter what we think about it - it will still be right or wrong because it's an objective property.

There is also a possibility of an error considered. It could turn out that actually nothing is right or wrong, and even this 'error' point of view is right and wrong.

So, on what do we base our right-wrong feelings? If on moral values, then which ones? How do we decide which values are good enough to base an opinion on?

Or are there any moral values that created all those right-wrong feeling? Maybe it was installed in us by the nature? Where do moral values come from anyway???

All those questions were left by the author to think of by ourselves.

5/14/2009

Positivists vs Interpretivists

Halfpenny (1984) said that there are two main researcg traditions: interpretivism and postivism. Their views on the aims of researches differ, so they prefer different methods of collecting data.

POSITIVISM looks at the institutions in the society - macro sociology.
Positivists are concerned that sociology is scientific and anakyse social facts. Social facts affect individuals' behavour and can be easily measured. These factors are social external, for example, laws.
They look for what has caused a particular relationship and what are the effects of this relationship.
They favour quantitative data which can be easily turned into numbers and statistics.
They prefer using official statistics, structured interviews and questionnaires with close-ended questions.

INTERPRETIVISM (INTERACTIONISM) looks at the individual in the society - micro sociology.
Interpretivists are looking for meanings and motives behind people's actions like behaviour or interaction with others.
They criticise positivists, because statistics and numbers can't tell much about human's behaviour and that sociology is not a science. The methods that positivists used are also criticised - for example, respodents may not understand a question in a questionnaire or lie.
Interpretivists favour qualitative data - they try to analyse human's behaviour in depth and from the point of view of the individual. That's why they prefer unstructured interviews, where you can ask more about the question you are interested in and ask for details, and participant observation, which helps to understand the behaviour of the studied group by doing the same things and being in their atmosphere all the time.

5/13/2009

Choosing a topic

This is the first thing you have to do when you decided to conduct a sociological research.
You should consider the following factors:

- Who is funding your research? The source of funding is very important. Charitable foundations (for example, Joseph Rowntree Foundation) will favour researches of lone-parent families or healthcare. Government organisations (Economic and Social Research Council) will support researches on political and economic views and on living conditions researches. Industries will fund market researches etc.
- Availability of the data on chosen topic, FBI is difficult to interview lol.
- Theoretical issues - Marxists will concentrate on the class, Feminists - on women etc.
- Researcher's values - what he thinks is important to study.
- Society's values - researcher might aim to change so stereotype views and therefore change society's views and values. Ann Oakley made the society to pay more attention to women's rights and equality with men, for instance.

Choosing a research method

When choosing an appropriate research method for a chosen topic, sociologists consider the following issues:

1. PRACTICAL
- Is it dangerous?
For example, studying gangs and crime authorities.
- How much will it cost?
- How much time will you have to spend on the research?
- How big will the sample be? Will it represent the population? Will it be easy to generalise the collected data?
- Is enough data available? Obviously, it's almost impossible to study FBI.

2. THEORETICAL
- Positivists tend to concentrate on the quantitative, 'hard', data like statistics. They are looking for causes and effects and prefer scientific approach. They will prefer questionnaires with close-ended questions and structured interviews.
- Interpretivists prefer qualitative data as it shows the meanings beyond the actions. They are more likely to use observation and unstructured interviews to get the data.

3. ETHICAL
- Privacy. The respondents might regret about giving particular info during unstructured interview, for example.
- Confidentiality. Should the identity of the respondents be revealed? The Statement of Ethical Practise (1996) says that confidentiality must be honoured 'unless there are clear and overriding reasons to do otherwise'. For example, Homan (1991) says that the identity of people in powerful positions should be named if they misuse their power.
- Protection. The collected data might bring harm to someone. For example, Ditton's study (1977) of workers in a bread factoty revealed petty thefts - the publication his research might have affected them.
- Informed consent\deception. Should the respondents be informed that they are studied?
Many sociologists argue that the respondents should be informed about the research, its aims and process. However, awareness of the respondents might affect their behaviour thus provide inreliable or invalid results. This is known as the Hawthorne Effect.
On the other hand, there is deception - not informing respondents about a research or providing wrong information about the purpose of the study. This might be considered as unethical, but sometimes it's the only way to collect data. Cover observation includes deception. Or another example - Humphreys (1970) gathered info about gay men pretending that he was doing a health survey.

Primary data

Primary data is collected by researches. This includes:
- interviews
- questionnaires
- observations
- ethnography
- experiments

Both qualitative and quantative data can be collected.

You don't rely on other sociologists, you choose the most suitable method for you in order to make data valid and reliable. Primary data is up to date.
Some methods of collecting primary data are expensive and time-consuming, also dangerous.
You have to consider practical and ethical issues of your research, including the solution of the informed consent question (or your choice will be deception? isn't it unethical?).
Bias can occur if the reseacher is unobjective and his values might affect the result of the process.
Sometimes you cannot access the group you want to study.

Secondary data

Secondary data includes:

- official stats

- diaries

- letters

- memoirs

- emails

- TV documentaries

- newspapers

It's quickly collectable and easily comparable. 

It gives info about the past therefore the past and the present can be compared.

No need to worry about informed consent (making people awared that they are a part of a research or study)

HOWEVER:

- the data might be unreliable or invalid

- official stats might be biased

- sometimes the area you are particularly interested has not been studies before

- the original researcher's values might affect the way the data is presented - possiblity of misinterpretations is high

Content analysis

Quantitative content analysis - a research method which seeks to classify and quantify the content of a document.

- it can effectively measure simple straigtforward aspects of content

- it is easy to obtain and to make comparisons

- it's reliable

- however, researchers' interpretations might be biased or they might not agree with the content

- further explanation and interpretation of the data is needed

Qualitative content analysis looks for themes and meanings in media and documents. Interpretivists prefer this method because it uncovers hidden meanings. 

- it's valid

- however, because of different interpretations of the data, it's unreliable

John Scott (1990) says that sociologists should be very careful when analysing secondary data:

- the data might be fake

- the data might be not creditable - the researcher is lying

- the data might not be representative

- the data might be too old-fashioned and thus lots of old-fashioned meanings might affect the understanding of the content

Triangulation

Triangulation is when sociologists try to combine different methods or data to get the best out of all of them.

- it gives a more detailed picture and it's more valid

- it's reliable, because you can check different sets of data against each other

- it can be expensive and time-consuming

- sometimes triangulation cannot be done - not enough sources of data available, for example

5/10/2009

sociology notes on education

today I will talk about labelling and self-fulfilling prophecy.

If people are defined in a certain way, this definition includes a prediction of their future behaviour. If others act as if the prophecy is true, then there is a tendency for it to come to fulfill itself.

In education there is a very common thing - labelling. If someone is labelled is as a certain kind of person, others will respond to them in terms of label.

I will give you some examples.
A student called D is labelled as the best one in class. The teacher puts this label on the student because of the student's abilities in a particular subject (simply because he has learned the subject in depth before). The teacher builds up his relationships with the student basing on this label, paying more attention to his progress etc.
A student called R is labelled as lazy and not working at all. The labelling happened after a certain period of time, when the student actually didn't show any interest or effort. Of course the teacher didn't realise that this might be because the student R saw how the student D was treated and understood that he is not able to achieve the same level (students are praised ONLY if they are at the same level with D), so he gives up.
Student K and L feel pretty the same as R and therefore don't do their best as they don't see any point in that.
Some students, like B, who tried to go against the label of the student D, were said to be angry and distruptive.
The student M is labelled as a troublemaker. Because of this label, he is never praised (label does not allow him to be praised), so the only thing he can do is actually.. deal with it. However, the student is accused of being the cause of the class's overall underachievement, just because of the label.

Or another example.
Students E and D are performing exactly the same in subject S - just perfect.
However, only one of them is frequently praised. Why is that? Maybe because of labelling.
Another student, M (do not confuse with the other one, who is an awful troublemaker and the cause of all problems), gave up after only one student in her class was praised. he was treated as a weak and confused student and in the end he gave up 2 weeks before the exams.

4/28/2009

Costs, revenues and profits

Brief notes on econs

Costs
Fixed cost - a cost that do not vary with output.
Average Fixed Cost (AFC) = total FC/output

Variable cost - a cost that varies with output
Average Variable Cost (AVC) = total VC/output

Average Total Cost = TC/output

Marginal cost - the change in Total Cost from an increase in output by one extra unit. It's linked with marginal productivity of labour
If Marginal Cost raises then Average Total Cost increases (on condition that an increase in Average Variable Coxt is more than a decrease in Average Fixed cost when there is an increase in output

Revenues
Revenue (turnover) - the income generated from the sale of output in product markets

Average Revenue (AR) is a price per unit = Total Revenue/output

Marginal Revenue (MR) is a change in revenue from selling one extra unit of output

Profits
Normal profit - the minimum level of profit required to keed the factors of production in their current use in the long-run (AR=AC)

Sub-normal profit - any profit which is more than normal profit (the price is less than Average Total Cost)

Abnormal (a.k.a supernormal) profit - any profit achieved in excess of normal profit (persists in the long-run imperfectly competitive markets)

Profits are maximised at the point where MR=MC

4/26/2009

Sociology notes (part 1) might be updated.

Murdock (1949):
Nuclear family - a basic nucleus of husband + wife and one or more children. Nuclear family is a universal social grouping - can be found in all societies.
Extended families contain kin - relatives based on 'blood' or marriage. (polygamy, 3rd generations, uncles\aunts)
Family - a universal institution with universal functions, which are vital for the well-being society:
- sexual
- economic
- reproduction
- educational

Felicity Edholm (1982):
Nuclear family and kinship relationships are socially constructed. Relatives are not born but made.
She argues that the family is a social construction based on culture rather than biology. She rejects the view that the nuclear family is universal. Cross-cultural evidence indicates that family forms vary considerably.

Scanzoni (1989): term 'family' should be replaced with 'primary relationships' in order to include diversity in family systems.

Parsons (1955):
He focuses on the nuclear famil in modern industrial society. According to him, the family has become increasingly specialised. Parsons claims that the family retains two 'basic and irreducible' functions:
- the primary socialisation of children
- the stabilisation of adult personalities
Industrialisation has led to the isolated nuclear family (isolated from wider kinship). This is because of:
- loss of functions
- the status is now achieved rather than ascribed
- geographical mobility

Dennis & Erdos (2000):
Lots of children are born outside marriage and raised by single mothers. On average, those children have poorer health and lower educational attainment than children from two-parent families. Families without fathers are not an adequate alternative to the nuclear families, because they fail to give adequate primary socialisation.

Friedrich Engels:
- the modern nuclear family developed in capitalist society
- monogamous nuclear family gave men control over women

Delphy & Leonard (1992):
Women make the main contribution to family life, men recieve the main benefits.
Wives rather than husbands provide emotional support (they are more likely to symphatise, to understand, to exuse and to flatter)

Benston (1972):
Wife's unpaid labour is invaluable to capitalism

Hopkins (2000):
Domestic violence is widespread and the majority if victims is women.

Saunders (2000) (New Right):
Explicitly favour married parenthood over all other choices for raising children.
Family diversity should be discouraged.

Bernardes (1997):
Government policy should support all family types.

Lewis (2001) on Labour policies:
There was no 'back to basics' but no 'anything goes' either. Labour has been careful not to condemn alternatives to the nuclear family.
Labour's policies focus on money & work - children money, parents have a responsibility to work.

Peter Laslett (1965, 1977):
He claims that his research shows that nuclear families were the norm in pre-industrial England. It's not possible to discover how much cooperation occured between kin who lived in different households.

Michael Anderson (1971):
The early stages of industrialisation may have encouraged the development of extended families.

Ann Oakley (1974):
Women were seen by many men as a threat to their employment since 1819.
Industialisation had the following effects on the role of women:
- the separation of men from the daily routines of domestic life
- the economic dependence of women and children on men
- isolation of housework and childcare from other work.
The mother-housewife role became the primary role for all women.

Young & Willmott:
Extended family - a combination of families who to some degree form one domestic unit but do not share the same household.
Stages of the family:
- the pre-industrial family - production family, cottage industries.
- the early industrial family - unity of the family is distrupted by industrial revolution. Kinship networks are extended. Men went into industrial employment. Poverty is widespread.
- the symmetrical family. 3 main characteristics: 1) nuclear, 2) home-centered and privatised, 3) the roles of husband and wife are increasingly similar. Occured through a process of stratified diffusion - new ideas of family life were started by the higher social classes and gradually filtered down to the lower classes.
- the assymetrical family, men - into work. women - into domestic responsibilities. couples spend less time in joint activities.

Goldthrope and Lockwood:
Criticisms of stratified diffusion - manual workers still retained a distinctive working-class outlook on life.

McMahon (1999):
Against the concept of symmetrical family - women are still mainly responsible for cooking\cleaning.

McRae (1999):
Love is the most common reason people give for cohabiting.
The rise of divorce means that the view of marriage as a 'union for life' has less power. Some people actually give 'fear of divorce' as a reason for cohabiting.

Allan & Crow (2001):
Effective contraception made it possible for couples to cohabit with little fear of pregnancy.

Robert Chester (1984):
An increase in divorce rates reflects an increase in marital breakdown. (though he admits this cannot be proved)

Ronald Fletcher (1966):
A higher divorce rate reflects a higher value placed on marriage.

Anthony Giddens (1992):
'Confluent love' trend. This form of love focuses on intimacy, closeness and emotion,

Coontz (2006):
Less close relationships with friends and relatives means demanding more from partners - leads to 'overloading' marriage.

4/20/2009

US unis admissions, SATs and Harvard

just copying myself some stuff to read sometime later.. obviously, not now, I need to sleep lol
maybe someone will find it helpful

how to apply to US unis:
1. intro from TSR Wiki
2. TSR tread (external links provided)

SATs info:
1. TSR's SATs short intro
2. College Admissions Requirements - SAT Subject Tests

NB: Yale does not require SAT II, they can be replaced by A-level results. => to do a research on Yale

Harvard:
1. TSR Harvard thread
+ Bonus, Factors influencing ur admission to Harvard:

Most important factors
- Strong SAT/ACT scores
- Rigorous transcript with good grades/results
- Strong dedication to a few extracurricular activities
- Excellent essays (read On Writing the College Application Essay by Harry Bauld)
- Excellent letters of recommendation from teachers who know you well
- Special talents/abilities, also known as a "hook" (e.g. gold medalist in IMO)

Important factors
- Employment/volunteer experience
- Interview
- Minority status
- First generation status
- Legacy status

4/19/2009

Command words

Account for:
Asks students to explain a particular situation or a particular outcome. Students are expected to present a reasoned case for the existence of something. For example: Account for the rise in unemployment shown in the table of data.

Analyse: Here you are being asked to provide a comparison in detail of the causes and any possible effects of how the thing under consideration has developed or happened. Wherever it is possible ,try to give examples, this is especially true if the material offered has examples within it. If the term “critically" is prior to the term analyse. This is telling you that you need to make suggestions as to possibly why or why not something may or may not, in your own opinion, be appropriate considering the issue or event being analysed. Always try to offer support to your findings and/or opinions. For example: Analyse the extent to which foreign aid promotes economic development.

Apply: This as the word suggests is asking you to apply your knowledge of a particular thing, say the monetary or fiscal policy, to a given situation. It is asking you to relate your own specific knowledge of the issue from the syllabus area to the particular situation that has been given to you.

Assess: Asks students to measure and judge the magnitude or quality of something. Students may offer differing assessments as they present the reasoning for their conclusion. For example: Assess the economic implications of the movement of many eastern and central European countries from planned economies to market economies.

Calculate: This type of question is normally asking you to use specific knowledge' that you should have i.e. a formula. When doing a question like this it is important to show each step or stage of an calculation used. For example: Calculate the PED for a price change of $4.00 to $4.40.

Comment: A comment question requires you to draw some conclusions about the issue under consideration. This is often from the result of your considerations, workings and/or calculations have told you about the problem that you have been given.

Compare/Compare and contrast: Asks students to describe two situations and present the similarities and differences between them. A description of the two situations does not on its own meet the requirements of this key term. For example: Compare the effectiveness of demand-side policies to supply-side policies in reducing the level of unemployment.

Consider: A consider question is asking for reflections on the different options/alternatives that may exist to resolve / solve / defeat or possibly correct the problem that has been posed.

Define: When asked to define it is essential that a very clear and correct definition is given of a specific word or concept. For example: Define what is meant by a free-trade area.

Describe: Asks students to provide a description of a given situation. It is a neutral request to present a detailed picture. For example: Describe the main roles of the IMF and the World Bank.

Discuss: Asks students to consider a statement or to offer a considered review of or balanced argument about a particular topic. For example: Discus the view that trade is more effective than aid in promoting economic development.

Distinguish: Asks students to make clear their understanding of similar terms. For example: Distinguish between normal and supernormal profit.

Evaluate: Invites students to make an appraisal of a situation. Students should weigh the nature of the evidence available and discuss the convincing aspects of an argument as well as its implications and limitations, and the less convincing elements within an argument. For example: Evaluate alternative policies designed to reduce inflation.

Evaluation occurs when a judgment is made. It is the weighing or measuring of factors followed by an attempt to give relative weight to those factors. Questions that begin "evaluate", "assess", "critically assess", "discuss" or "to what extent" require students to show their skills of evaluation in order to reach the highest achievement levels.

There are many ways that students can be encouraged to improve their skills of evaluation.

 - When factors such as causes, consequences or remedies are asked for, students should attempt to identify the most important ones and then to justify the reason for the choice.

- When advantages and disadvantages are asked for, students should attempt to identify the most important advantage (or disadvantage) and then justify the reason for the choice.

- When strategies are asked for, students should attempt to assess the short term and long term implications.

- When data is offered, students may question its validity, in terms of whether it is appropriate, whether it is reliable, or whether it is still relevant

- When summarizing a theory, students may question its validity, in terms of whether it is appropriate, whether it is reliable, or whether it is still relevant.


Explain: Directs students to describe clearly, make intelligible and give reasons for a concept or idea. For example: Explain why a monopolist may charge different prices to different customers for the same service.

How: A how question requires the details be explained about how something is achieved or has been stopped or whatever other exercise the question is asking you to perform.

Justify: A justify question is asking a student to explain the reasons why or for what reason something is happening or maybe not happening.

Outline: Outline really only requires the main features relating to the issue to be given. Try to say the reason why a thing may or may not happen.

To what extent: Asks students to evaluate the success or otherwise of one argument or concept over another. Students should present a conclusion, supported by arguments. For example: To what extent should LDCs adopt outward-oriented strategies rather than inward-oriented strategies to promote economic development?

What: Asks students to clarify the nature of something, in contrast to either a temporal dimension (when?) or a spatial dimension (where?) For example: What is the difference between a tariff and a quota? .

What is: This question calls for the student to give an explanation about something. It should be fairly obvious as to what is the central theme or part of a question and the topic you are being asked to address.

Which: This question is asking you to make a decision from the range of choices, decisions or methods etc. You must offer reasons as to why you chose to support the decision that you did.

Why: Invites students to present reasons for the existence of something. This command word implies a powerful requirement to present a judgment. It is similar to the Invitation "account for". For example: Why do prices tend to be stable in an oligopolistic industry?

it's almost May - 6 months until UCAS applications

i've continued my research on universities.

i think it would be interesting to share what I've found out.

first of all, here you will find helpful advice from LSE about writing your personal statement. Durham university also gives you some hints about writing a PS.

It might be a good idea to even mention your blog in your personal statement - who knows, it might impress a tutor if you go to an interview.

maybe someone is also thinking of applying to an American university like I do. however, I consider only Harvard.

and, by the way, the university of Oxford has updated the website - check out new info and even admisson statistics of 2008!

4/18/2009

Examine the reasons for changes in the position of children in the last 200 years.

Children were treated in a completely different way 200 years ago. Accoring to Phillipe Aries (1962), whose research was based on analysis of letters and other documents of that time in Medieval Europe, children were not seen as a different part of the society and were mostly treated like adults - they were wearing adult clothes, they were working in the same conditions with adults and their behaviour was similar to adults'.
The changes in the position of children began when the upper class started to send their children to schools in order to educate them. During the process of industrialisation, this tendency in the upper classes was developing, while children from lower classes were still treated like adults and didn't have any privilleges or special conditions - they were working side by side with adults. In the 19th century, a series of Labour Acts restricted children from work in factories and mines, as well as education of children was becoming more and more common - elementary state education was compulsory in many European countries.
Then the experts specialising in children in medicine, education and psychology started to develop, and since then, according to Aries, children were seen as different from adults. Children have their own needs and interests.
Stainton Rogers (2001) identified two images of children in the 20th century: 'the sinful and wicked child', whose behaviour is anti-social and, therefore, it should be controlled and disciplined; and 'the innocent child', who should be protected from the violence of the adult world. This 'welfare view' was supported by many social policies, such as the Children Act of 1989, where court is obliged to make decisions based on interests and benefits of children.
However, nowadays the position of children is changing as well. Neil Postman (1983) suggests that the childhood is disappearing because today children are not protected from the adult world and this is mostly because of mass media, which destroyes the boundaries between childhood and adulthood. Nick Lee (2001), objects that point view saying that childhood is not disappearing, but becoming more complex and ambiguous. Children are still dependent on their parents, but have their own opinions and views, which makes them independent to some extend.

4/17/2009

Examine the effects of urbanisation and industrialisation on the family and household structure.

The family and household structure has changed a lot since 18th century, mostly because of many changes in society and technology.
Before the industrialisation the family members were performing some production functions as a unit in order to provide the family with vital goods and services. This type of production is often called 'cottage industry'. As it was very difficult to provide the whole family with essential goods and services, the society was kin-based - the extended nuclear family type was dominating as well as kin-based relationships were very strong even if the relatives didn't live 'under one roof' - more people were needed so that a family could successfully perform as a production unit.
The move to the production of manufactured goods in factories changed these trends. Families didn't need to perform the functions of production unit anymore, they became units of consumption. This affected the relationships of kin-based relatives and families have become more independent from their relatives. Talcott Parsons (1951) describes this new type of family as the 'isolated' nuclear family, which was formed due to the process of industrialisation, because married couples and their children were isolated from wider kinship. Also, many men left to work on factories, and the industrial society requires family mobility - an ability to change the location of the family to meet the demand for labour force in area where it is needed. For big families with strong connections with their kin it's very difficult to perform this function. The development of technology and use of these technologies in factories made the cottage industries' businesses uncompetitive, which also made strong kinship relationships unnecessary.
The process of industrialisation caused another process - urbanisation - families became to concentrate in large urban areas rather than in small town in countryside. The large urban areas has developed because of close location of factories nearby.
The government also has developed its functions and started to offer some important services like education and healthcare, which also made wider kinship connections not so important.
The feminists, particularly Ann Oakley (1974) argue that at the times of the industrial societies women's and children's rights were neglected and the series of Acts prohibited them from working at the factories, making them dependent on men - they were restricted to home. This is when the 'traditional' family images appeared - the male bread-winner and the mother-housewife.
The further developments of family during the industrialisation process were proposed by Young and Willmott, who identified three stages of family: pre-industrial, early industrial and symmetrical. With the development of industrial societies, the difference between social levels started to grow, dividing the ruling class from the subject class. The Marxists started to develop their theories about family being shaped to fit the needs of capitalism. Young and Willmott proposed the concept of the stratified diffusion, where all the changes in family standards of the ruling class were adopted by the middle class. That's why the symmetrical family type has appeared, where men and women share their domestic responsibilities and are becoming more equal in rights and opportunities. However, the feminists, according to McMahon, have criticised this view because women still are mainly responsible for childcare and most of the housework.

4/08/2009

AQA Jan Unit 1 exam questions for Sociology

Found on TSR:

Family and Households Questions.

a) Explain what is ment by the expressive role?
b) Suggest two ways in which 'family life may have a harmful effect on women'
c) Suggests three reasons for the decrease in the death rate since the 1900
d) Examine the ways in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed.
e) Use material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm.

2B item -
A popular image of the family has been the 'cereal pakcet' nuclear family norm of a married couple and two children who are the couple's biological offspring. The husband is the main breadwinner and the wife is primarily oncerned with housework and childcare.

It could be aruged that this nuclear family is no longer the norm. A number of changes have taken place, such as the rise in the number of same-sex couples and of lone parents. these have resulted in families becoming much more diverse.

However Somerville (2000) argues that these changes are exaggerated. The apparent diversity of family life is based on a snapshot at any one time and, if a life cycle approach is taken, many people have a famirly conventional experience of the family.

3/24/2009

TQM

TQM is a specific approach to quality assurance that aims to develop a quality culture throughout the firm. Each sphere of the business is broken into quality chains, which makes it easier to look after each sphere and provide the right enviroment, support, training and supervision in order to achieve zero defect target and products being made 'right first time'.

TQM:
- reduces waste in production and, therefore, reduces costs of production
- quality is improved as well as productivity which is likely to improve selling price, revenues and sales volume
- makes workers feel as a part of the team, therefore, they are more motivated which is likely to reduce labour turnover rates ans increase output and productivity
- improves the image of the business

Japanese management

Japanese management includes:
1. TQM - Total Quality Management, a business quality culture which means approaching high quality in all spheres of a business from finance to management.
2. Theory Z by Ouchy. "A company for life", which trains you, educates you, provides you with a home and you stay with this company all your life.
3. Just in Time approach, which enables to have high stock, because everything is supplied just in time, so you won't feel lack of any materials\products.
4. Production Quality Circle.
5. Ken I D I O T Kaizen - continious improvement. Can be applied to evrything in a business.
6. Lean production improves quality and reduces costs, because it minimised waste.

Video evaluation

The video is weird.
Okok.
The picture. As we can see in this video, it is obviously divided into three different types of video: beautiful scenery, EF facilities\accomodation\study and interviews.
Beutiful scenery is EF Oxford's USP - they are so proud of being located near Oxford university. Yes, the atmosphere, nice views of parks and colleges do their job. Customers like this flaffy stuff. How did you like the girl who was reading dictionary as if it was the latest bestseller from Borders or Waterstones? Lol yeah right, let's show London and Cambridge - they will reduce time that EF will have to spend on talking about studying and EF. Omg, spending more than 40 seconds on showing the dinning hall in Christ Church! lol lol lol brainwashers.
EF Oxford is presented as a big modern school with lots of facilities and great learning opportunities. I got really angry when they showed the rooms in the residence: they filmed them that way that the rooms looked actually much bigger than they are in the real life. And, wow, roommates are nice and clean (lol, how ironical). Look at the activities rooms - wow, a not broken pool table! wow, there are no loud or not very intelligent spanish speaking people in the lounge! And, ahahaha, I like how they presented the 'delicious' cafeteria food - "fish and chips and other international food". I cannot argue with this - cereal is international as well as burger. How on Earth can any food be called not-international?? Hey, look at the grass in the yard! It actually exists lol!
The interviews. Well, ok, teachers are obviously well-prepared. The girl spoke in English really good and I think EF actually paid her.

Well, obviously, EF won't tell anything bad about the school but..
Their advertisement is very good as they turned their disadvantages into advantages and paid a lot og attention to their USP.

3/23/2009

Blog summary-6

tutor2u econs blog, "Business Economics"

That ought to be a huge topic - economics and business are really close and have lots of things in common. recession affected all the businesses in the world, even gartantum companies collapsed. surely there will be something to discuss.

yeah, I'm right, lots of things. the most interesting ones in my brief explanations:

First of all, a collection of newspapers' business reviews 2008. really good for expanding your knowledge both in economics and business.

SPEW! Haahahaha, it's a mnemonics to remember some of the effects of monopoly power in markets! So funny)

This choconomics post states that there are counter-cyclical products, the demand for these rises at economic downturns. As an example they presented chocolates, which were really popular at the times of the Great Depression (1929-1934).

This is a post made last summer about Starbucks closing every 20th shop in US, this means -600 shops. The reasons are unprofitable locations and inability to make any profits in future. This happened BEFORE the recession. Now people tend to spend their money in cheaper coffee shops, so I dare to say that Starbucks might close even more shops around the world. It is very sad, because their USP was perfect service and quality. I still love them, I'm a loyal customer, who, despite the recession, will still buy a medium caramel frappuchino every Saturday)

Blog summary-5


tutor2u econs blog, tag "Russia economy"..

omg that is much more complicated. I read news about russian economy every day on russian news sites.. well, the only difference here will be the language then. ....uh, surprisingly, not so many posts on this topic.

This post simply states that Moscow is the most expensive city in the world. Well, thanks for that, I didn't know lol. They make comparisons on an example of the price for a cup of coffee:
The survey found that one cup of coffee including service would cost on average £2.20 in London, compared with £5.19 in Moscow and £2.57 in Tokyo
Well, I can add something about that from my own experience. You can get drunk in Moscow by just buying a low alcohol drink in a bottle (1 litre) for 50 rubles (0.90 pounds), but then you will be fined 1000 rubles (almost 20 pounds) by local police lol.

And this post using an example of Russian roadbuilding shows how it might affect economic growth, and also applies many AS and A2 topics (multiplier\accelerator\cost-benefit analysis etc)

Blog summary-4

tutor2u econs blog, Game theory tag.

this is becoming one of the most interesting topics in economics for me. it is a part of behavioural economics and I have already written a lot about it. tomorrow we are going to LSE on a lecture on behavioural economics, and the game theory will be discussed there as well.

There are not so many posts with this tag on this blog, and I have already commented on the most of them in my previous blog summaries.

The most interesting post is this one, I would say that it is a small intoduction into the game theory and then some discussions on socio-biology themes: are our emotions irrational? are our actions always determined by our aiming for self well-being? All those topics are briefly outlined in this post, discussing Robert Frank's works on that.

3/18/2009

Business Studies revision. Chapter 24

Quality

Business Studies revision. Chapter 23

Marketing operational decisions



Blog summary-3

once again, tutor2u econs blog. ag "behavioural economics"

First of all, behavioural economics - a field that specialises in studying how our emotions and biases effect our day to day decisions. Behavioural economics is a much more interesting topic than BoP boring stuff, this section is full of examples from real life and you can clearly understand that economics is everywhere. I just couldn't pick the most interesting topics..there were so many of those! I also liked book reviews and advice for further reading.

- for example, they mention a new book "The Mind of the Market", in which it is stated that markets have a collective mind, which drives them. They also provide us an extract from that book. And, surprise-surprise!, it works with the game theory! uhhh I start to like this theory.

- then I found this interesting video. Tim Harford explains the principles of segregation, also known as chessboard experiments of Tomas Schelling. Tim states that the world we live in is sometimes irrational, but people are not:


- then there is more on the game theory

- and here is a post about the book from which Mr. Chris took all those questions about fridges, kamikadze pilots and international model that he gave us in September. by the way, I have a copy of that book and it's really funny.

- and in the end I would like to talk about some more serious stuff. This post is about expectations in economics. Expectations are predictions of people about future market situations, prices, taxes, interest rates etc. Expectations are a really powerful tool and if enough people believe in these expectations they may become real, e.g. become a "self-fulfilling prophecy". From speculative behaviour in commodity markets, to the carry trade in foreign exchange and to expectations of changes in tax policy, how our expectations are formed and the factors that might cause them to change matter a great deal. Students can score higher marks for critical evaluation if they bring in the concept of expectations into their discussions.

3/17/2009

Blog summary-2

tutor2u econs blog, tag "Balance of Payments".

I don't know why, but this is my least favourite topic in the whole AS econs syllabus.. oh well, work is work, it has to be done.

- this post is about UK's biggest trade deficit in goods in services since the records were started in 1657. The deficit exceeds £8.238bn. As it can be seen from the graph below, the gap has been growing since 1998, but now because of the crisis the speed of growth has increased dramatically. Despite the competitive boost given by a depreciating currency, weakening demand in many of the UK’s major export markets is providing an important dampener on the ability of export businesses to provide a rebalancing of aggegate demand in the UK. Imports are also falling as the national belt is collectively tightened.


- another pretty interesting post helps us to answer an essay economics question: "Explain the factors which may help to determine an economy’s export performance". They provide the revision notes which will be helpful when writing an aswer. First of all they define exports and mention the UK's exports, which shows their UK's economy knowledge. After that they say how exports perfomance is measured (% change in volume of exports (real value at constant prices) OR % share of international markets / global trade). Then they provide a list of factors influencing exports perfomance (cost price factors and non-price factors). I think it will be useful for everybody if I copy it here:

Cost and price factors:

1. Unit labour costs: labour costs per unit of output, determined by wages relative to productivity. Thus wage inflation and productivity growth are becoming important
2. Average production costs – driven in the long run by exploiting increasing returns / economies of scale
3. Much depends on the scale of capital investment in export sectors – to drive unit costs down and to build the productive capacity for selling output overseas
4. Export subsidies – can reduce the overseas price of exports – a form of protectionism
5. Changes in the exchange rate
a. A depreciation reduces the foreign price of exported output (cet par) and increases the profitability of exporting
b. Assumes exporters change their prices when the currency moves
c. Appreciation has the opposite effect
d. Much depends on the price elasticity of demand for X and the elasticity of supply of the export sector (i.e. is there sufficient spare capacity)
6. Impact of tariffs and other forms of import control on the prices of exports

Non-price factors (i.e. non-price competitiveness)

1. Quality of product, reliability, after-sales service, design
2. Marketing and branding – ability to sell in different countries and different cultures
3. Importance of innovation, research and development in developing new products, extending brands

Blog summary

tutor2u econs blog, tag "AS Micro".

This is a pretty big part of the blog: many things can be reffered to as AS Micro. Microeconomics deals with the processes of consumption and production on the level of households and firms.

I've read 4-5 first pages..

- this post is talking abou classification of luxury cars according to demand elasticity. they were thought to be veblen goods (when price goes up, demand goes up as well), however, it is no truth any longer as it is proved in this the Times article. then tutor2u blog discusses the impact that the recession has on luxury cars companies' profits.

- moving on with types of goods, this post discusses an increased demand for inferior goods. inferior goods are those goods that have a negative relationship between quantity demanded and income. in other words, people buy those goods when their real income is low. however, it doesn't mean that those goods are poor quality, they just have more competitive and popular substitutes.

- this post describes a Wispa phenomenon - it was launched 25 years ago and left the market at the beginning of its third decade. people were saying that Wispa had passed all the stages of the product life cycle and now it was in history. however, the power of technology and consumer demand successfully brought it back. actually its producers who decide on marketing and development of a product, but in this case the consumers initiated Wispa's return - they used Facebook to show Cadbury that they want Wispa back. and they didn't lie - the sales of Wispa in 2007 were incredibly high. Cadbury even entered into a joint venture with McDonald’s to sell a Wispa McFlurry, which also brought profits. yay for chocolates!

Sociology notes-4

Comparative method, also known as grounded theory, is a systematic qualitative research methodology in the social sciences emphasizing generation of theory from data in the process of conducting research. It was developed by two sociologists, Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss.
The structutre of comparative method is completely opposite to a scientific method of a research.
First of all, all the various data is collected. After that some key points are taken from the data and they are marked with a series of codes. The codes are grouped into similar concepts, in order to make them more workable. From these concepts categories are formed, which are the basis for the creation of a theory.

Sociology notes-3

Close-ended questions.
Close-ended question means that the choice of answers on this question is limited. Close-ended questions are usually used for collecting data for a statistical survey in a structured interview.
A structured interview is a type of an interview when each interviwee is asked the same questions in the same order.

Researches:
Structured interviews can also be used as a qualitative research methodology (Kvale, 1996). These types of interviews are best suited for engaging in respondent or focus group studies in which it would be beneficial to compare/contrast participant responses in order to answer a research question (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). For structured qualitative interviews, it is usually necessary for researchers to develop an interview schedule which lists the wording and sequencing of questions (Patton, 1990). Interview schedules are sometimes considered a means by which researchers can increase the reliability and credibility of research data (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002).

Sociology notes-2

Bourgeoisie. The term bourgeoisie is widely used in many non-English speaking countries as an approximate equivalent of upper class under capitalism.

Marxism defines the bourgeoisie as the social class which owns the means of production in a capitalist society. Marxism sees the proletariat (wage labourers) and bourgeoisie as directly waging an ongoing class struggle, in that capitalists exploit workers and workers try to resist exploitation. This exploitation takes place as follows: the workers, who own no means of production of their own, must seek employment in order to make a living. They get hired by a capitalist and work for him, producing some sort of goods or services.