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Questions for review and discussion

Question 9

Suppose a firm uses 200 hours of labour per day and produces 4000 mobile phones. It then reduces its labour inputs to 100 hours per day and finds it can produce 3000 phones. Which one of the following is a correct statement
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4.3 Live fast, die young

Both the automobile and PC industries were characterised by a great deal of turbulence in the first 20 to 30 years of their existence. In both cases, many new firms entered the industry, introduced new varieties of the product, and soon left the industry, leaving only a few dozen firms to compete during the growth phase. By 1926 only 33 per cent of the firms that had started producing automobiles during the previous 22 years had survived. In the case of PCs, by 1999 only 20 per cent of the fi
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2.1 Industrial revolutions and technological change

In this section I shall look at the way that technological innovations in previous eras, such as the invention of electricity in the early 1900s, radically affected the way society organised production and at how these changes spurred general economic growth. In many instances, the changes were so large that they defined an entire period, just as the rise of information technologies has led some to call the current era the ‘information age’.

The way that technological change can fun
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you have an understanding and awareness of:

  • the measurements of poverty in Scotland;

  • living with poverty in Scotland;

  • groups vulnerable to poverty in Scotland;

  • rural poverty, community-based responses, financial exclusion, local taxation, employability and health.


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2.1 Introduction

Reflecting upon the economic activities mentioned in ‘10 p.m. Friday evening’ suggests three possible ways of understanding what is actually happening to the economy, how it is changing. First, it is widely believed that we live in an increasingly globalised economy in the sense that economic activity in different countries is
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Introduction

This unit considers four ways in which some social scientists have claimed that there might be a ‘new economy’ coming in to being: the switch from manufacturing to services, globalisation, new technology and flexible labour markets. The good and bad points of economic change, its benefits and costs, are discussed. For example, what does it mean for people trying desparately to balnace the urgent demands of work and life?

This unit is an adapted extract from the course Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • give examples of racial violence from a European perspective.


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Introduction

The material presented here focuses on the politics of racial violence in Britain. The material is an audio file, originally 30 minutes in length, and examines the issues around this subject. It was recorded in 1995.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Crime, order and social control (D315) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this Author(s): The Open University

3.3 By genre

A second categorisation which operates on the ‘type’ of text involved is genre. Most writing on genre looks either at literature or film, yet it can equally be used for other media. In the following reading, Steve Neale places much importance on what he calls ‘intertextual relay’, where links between a number of texts are made explicit, for example by the marketing of cultural products. In this way the expectations of viewers and readers are channelled; they can therefor
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1.1 A contentious issue

This unit discusses a contentious issue in economics: why particular groups, such as women or ethnic minorities, are disadvantaged in the labour market. It compares different theoretical and empirical explanations for why such systematic labour market disadvantage is experienced by some groups in society.

Click on 'View document' below to read 'The neoclassical school of thought and its rivals'

Introduction

This unit will give you a stimulating and insightful account of the ways in which economists have tried to understand what labour market discrimination is and what its sources are. Notice the reference to the ‘ways [plural] … economists have tried to understand’. The most basic message of this unit is that economics is not a subject in which there is one single correct answer.

This unit will also assist you in developing your ability to use and evaluate economic theory, and help y
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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

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7.3 Summary

The idea of discourse alerts us to a number of issues about the social construction of social problems. It suggests that we need to look beyond competing theories or perspectives to look at how knowledge is organised around central themes that allow the different theories to compete. Discourses define what the problem is, and it is because theories share the definition of the problem that they can compete and argue. Perspectives that start somewhere else – or do not share the definition of
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7.2 The institutionalisation of discourses

We can see discourses as ways of organising knowledge. They define what the problem is; they say what is worth knowing and what can be said. They produce the ‘norms’ against which deviation or abnormality is marked (the norm of ‘not being poor’, for example). But discourses are not just about words. Discourses shape and become institutionalised in social policies and the organisations through which they are carried out. This is not just a matter of the big policy ideas – the pressur
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7.1 Ideologies and discourses

Some social scientists, following the French writer Michel Foucault (1972, 1976, 1979), have argued that the view of ideology developed in Section 6 is too narrow because of the link that it creates between sets of ideas and the interests of specific social groups – for example, in identifying a capitalist ideology as if ideas go around with number plates on their back which allow us to see whose ideas they are. They suggest that we need a more complex view of how social knowledges are orga
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6.1 Legitimating the powerful

The labelling perspective associated with Berger and Luckmann focuses on the processes by which some behaviours and types of people become marked out for social disapproval – targeted by the wider society as different and requiring some form of social response. Its virtue is that it challenges conventional assumptions that social problems exist ‘out there’ as obvious and commonly understood facts. Berger and Luckmann's perspective stresses the importance of language in shaping how we de
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5.2 From social construction to social constructionism

The notion of social construction, we have argued, is fundamental to a social science approach to the analysis of social problems. However, some authors have developed the notion further into a more focused perspective, which may be called social constructionism. This perspective starts by emphasising one essential feature of human societies – the role of language. In human societies, action is preceded by understanding and intention. We intend our actions to have meaningful outcomes
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5.1 Common sense revisited

It is worth taking a little time to reflect on what we have discovered so far. Starting from ‘what everybody knows’ about a social problem – or what are sometimes called the common-sense understandings – allows us to see a number of things if we apply the scepticism of being a stranger in our own society.

First, there is a question about whether particular issues are commonly understood to be social problems. As we have seen, there are views which say either that poverty
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4.3 Summary

In this section we have tried to sketch some of the main lines of division in social constructions of social issues. The distinction between the natural and the social in constructing the causes that underlie social issues is a profound and recurrent one. A ‘social’ orientation involves the construction of social causes and conditions as the explanations for social issues. However, it is also important to bear in mind that such an orientation will itself be complicated by differences of p
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4.1 Natural/social

In the previous section we looked at the issue of competing explanations of social problems. Here we want to take a rather different approach by starting from one of the major dividing lines between different types of explanation. These dividing lines are ones that recur in the definition, interpretation and explanation of a range of social issues: for example, patterns of inequality between men and women; crime and juvenile delinquency; the persistence of poverty, and so on. Despite the fact
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