3.5 The incredible shrinking chip

This course focuses on the creation of a semiconductor transistor – a versatile tiny transistor that is now at the heart of the electronics industry. In video clips the history of the incredible shrinking chip, its Scottish connections and an explanation of the physics that make chips work are accompanied by a reconstruction of the making of a transistor using the crude techniques of yesteryear.

In this course we follow two Scottish computer engineers with little or no physics knowled
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

2.1 Overview

The Scottish education system is distinctive and has a long independent history. The courses within this section cover the national curriculum framework in Scotland and give examples of learning in some Scottish schools.

In teachers' professional development, The Open University works with The General Teaching Council for Scotland (the independent regulatory body for the teaching profession in Scotland) to develop courses and qualifications specifically tailored to Scotland's needs, e.g
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

1.2.3 Scottish history

1.1.2 Professional development in Scotland

Scotland's legal and education systems are distinctive and differ from those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This therefore leads to differences in frameworks and standards of professional recognition within the United Kingdom.

This section of OpenLearn Scotland introduces learners to areas of professional development where The Open University has developed curricula specifically to meet the needs of students and employers in Scotland.


  • Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Copyright © 2016 The Open University

1.1.1 Culture and society in Scotland

Scotland has a rich and distinctive cultural heritage based on many aspects including language, history, music and literature. For a small country whose population has never been much in excess of five million, Scotland can be justifiably proud of its past achievements. However there have been significant changes in Scotland over the last decade, principally arising from devolution in 1999. This section of OpenLearn Scotland introduces learners to a wide range of topics reflecting both Scotla
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

1.1 Overview

This course provides a gateway to over 30 other courses that have been specifically developed to have a particular relevance to Scotland.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

3.3 How others see us

The relative nature of poverty is an old theme in social science. Adam Smith, the eighteenth century writer who is often regarded as the founding father of economics, put it this way: ‘By necessaries I understand not only the commodities that are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even the lowest orders, to be without’ (Smith, 1776, quoted in Sen, 1981).

Ideas of what it is to be poor are
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

3.1 ‘Making ends meet’

When you say that someone is ‘poor’, what do you mean?

Do people whom others call ‘poor’ always see themselves in that way?

One group whose identities are greatly constrained by income are the poor. But, as the questions above suggest, poverty is not a simple fact of some lives: rather, it is a concept with different meanings, and a label that we may accept or reject. This section c
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

2.2 Gender categories

Young children's gender categories are highly stereotyped. This can lead to assured predictions of an individual's preferences based upon knowledge of their gender, and the kinds of activities that they may typically engage in. Children develop such rigid gender categories in their search for certainty about gender. These categories are essentialist, having a simple in-group and out-group distinction that children use for understanding masculinity and femininity, and for defining their own ge
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

2.1 The development of gender identity

In this section we are going to look at where we come from in terms of childhood experience and the development of gender identities in childhood. Gender identity involves the construction and use of gender categories. Children's gender categories are at first rather simplistic; but, as we shall see, children refine their categories so that they become more reliable and useful for their social lives. Studying the development of gender identity in children reveals that this is a story of a sea
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

1.2.1 Summary

  • The passport example illustrates the tension between how I see myself and how I am seen by others, between the personal and the social.

  • Institutions such as the state play an important role in constructing identities.

  • Difference is very clearly marked in relation to national identity.

  • Such official categories contain omissions and cannot fully accommodate the personal investment we have in our identities, nor the
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Copyright © 2016 The Open University

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • provide a definition of identity

  • recognise how gender and socio-economic categories such as class can be used as a source of identity

  • discuss social structures in terms of gender, class and nation.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

3.2 Looking at the family

Activity 3

2.2 Theories, documents and knowledge

Documentary evidence is often messy and inconsistent, and even where it seems to be ‘factual’ (for example in the form of official records) its precise meaning in terms of wider social processes is far from clear. There is uncertainty about what it means, as well as the representation of uncertainty and diversity in the images. In every case, the meaning of the evidence is dependent on interpretation, that is, the part of the theory we employ to understand what is going on.
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

2.1 Photographs as documentary evidence

As the discussion of context makes clear, we can begin to ask many questions about the role that images may play in the social sciences. Photographs are documents and like other documentary records they are a physical trace of an actual event. However, as with all documentary evidence, their meaning is not fixed. Other examples of documents used by the social sciences can demonstrate this point.

Documentary evidence can come from official records such as a marriage certificate, a census
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

References

Arber, S. and Ginn, J. (1995) Connecting Gender and Ageing, Buckingham, Open University Press.
Bardasi, E. and Jenkins, S. (2002) Income in Later Life: Work History Matters, Bristol, Policy Press and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Blackburn, R. (2002) Banking on Death or, Investing in Life: The History and Future of Pensions, London, Verso.
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

5 Conclusion

As we have seen, pensions are both inherently personal and political. Pensions and other social policies are heavily implicated in shaping the way older people experience their personal lives, and the way in which these personal lives have become constructed as ‘other’. Providing a means by which older lives could be ‘divided up’ and divided out of the domain of paid employment, and reconstituted through the arena of public and private welfare, this process is also informed by differe
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University

3.2 The 1908 Pensions Act and the inter-war years: counting age and discounting older workers

The 1908 Pensions Act represented the first time welfare interventions in older age were based on chronological age. It set the pension age at 70 years. Prior to this, although chronological age was often noted in Poor Law records, it did not constitute the basis of eligibility. Rather, age, and older age specifically, was constructed in terms of particular forms of embodiment, with older people being defined as those whose bodies were ‘past’ work, ‘worn out’ by work or ‘too frail
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Copyright © 2016 The Open University