Archive for May, 2010

Succession Planning

May 28, 2010

ontents

Introduction

The purpose of this report is to highlight a problem faced by the CEO of a company in deciding who will be the next person as his successor to take up the role as the next CEO of the company. This is an important issue that most of the companies in not only developing economies but also in developed economies face due to lack of future planning. Many companies spend huge amount of money and investments in order to research for the market conditions in the future. They conduct market analysis; make strategic policies and plans in order to drive the company smoothly over the years to its mission and vision that was set when the business was started. These are the companies which make a time line in which the specifically define what goals do they have to achieve in the short run and what goals will they achieve in the long run and how will they achieve these goals. However, what many of these companies do not think upon is who will be the person who will make it all happen or let things go in the right direction as it was planned initially.

This is where succession planning comes in. the purpose of succession planning is not just to identify the person when the time comes for the CEO or head of the company to retire, but it takes into account a comprehensive training program in which a couple of candidates are first identified to be eligible for the post, then one of the is short listed to be the best for the organization and then that particular person is trained under the supervision of the retiring CEO for around 4 to 5 years in which he learns how decisions are being taken and what is the basis or the essence behind making several decisions.

However, it is the responsibility of the Human Resource Department that it follows a strict succession plan procedure from the very start of the business. it should keep in mind when a CEO is about to come to its age of retiring and when should the search of a new CEO should be started. This is a long process and it has to be done with great care. The reason is the fact that the best policy is to bring someone from within the organization for the organization to let the transition be smooth. However, this will mean that when one layer is upgrades, many other layers down in the hierarchy of the business will have to be upgraded as well. or, it can be the case that there is no one in the lower posts capable enough to be given the higher posts. Thus, applicant search for that post is necessary as well. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the human resource managers and teams to identify who are the people with which the new CEO is comfortable and happy to work with and take decision more easily. With this, the human resource department has planned ahead already that when the new CEO will take charge, who will be the ones filling the posts down in the hierarchy and who will be the ones working close to the new CEOs in order to let him settle and to let the transfer of authorities and the power to be successful.

Thus, in this report, we will first start with a brief description of the problem that the company faces. Then we will discuss what succession is planning in its true sense and how it must be carried out. The paper will draw a picture of the problems that this particular company will face by not chalking out a succession plan way before time and how the company will lose focus from its goals and the essence of particular decisions in case of such a management inefficiency. The paper will also chalk out a two phase framework for succession planning in which the report will recommend how it should be done and how things can work out for this particular company. A chart showing the essentials of succession planning will also prove to be helpful for the readers to better understand the major elements of succession planning.

A brief analysis of the cost that the company will incur due to inefficient succession planning will also be presented in order to quantify the losses of inefficient succession planning or the benefits in case of timely and comprehensive succession planning (Forbes.com staff, 2008).

The Problem

The company that we are discussing to study the problem is Saudi Aramco. The current CEO of the company has been working with the company since around 25 years now and it is time for him to leave the company as he has reached his retirement age. The current CEO has gained a lot of experience in the company about the market and about how to handle the entire business as he has been there with the business in both good and bad times. The CEO was the one who had to make decision on behalf of the company by taking the risks on his shoulders thinking about a lot of people and stakeholders including shareholders, customers, employees, legal authorities, suppliers, distributers and the company’s image as well. All these responsibilities do appear to be small but when you have to decide and priorities which one of the stakeholders is to be given more importance in both good and bad times, it is the CEO who has to take a decision analyzing all that information and gut feeling that other members of the organization cannot even think of. The current CEO had the capability of behaving like the father of the company. The reason is the fact that just like the father who acts like the head of the family, he looks at situations in a totally different manner, he has that long term approach and a scope of thoughts and ideas that other members of the family cannot think. He knows what will be the implications of certain decisions and what other decisions have to be made in case of those implications. He has the future of the company as he wants it to be in his eyes and he takes decision.

Now the major problem that this particular CEO faces is that he has not actually planned who will be his successor and neither did he realize all this time that all the subordinate high post managers that were likely to be his successors are also going to retire shortly. Now there is no one to carry on all those activities, decisions, vision and planning that the current CEO had planned for the company to be taken into account in future and any other CEO from outside or from way below the top management would come and implement his own strategies (Business Week, 2007).

Although, optimistically speaking, we can say that the new blood in the organization refreshes it and gives it a new line of thinking and approach to make better decisions, but, the fear that the current CEO faces is the fact that there will be a lot of conflicts between the ideas of the new CEO and his own CEO. Although the goals and the mission will be the same, but, the current CEO might have taken a different approach towards the goal and it will now be time to show its results or take new decisions which the new CEO might not know. There he will take a different approach and both time and money will be wasted which can actually cause great losses. An example of this can be the fact that in order to start a new subsidiary, the current CEO might have invested into a project which will then be taken over in the future so that to provide expertise to the new subsidiary. However, when the new CEO comes in and looks at the investment in a project, the new CEO may think it as a useless investment and blockade of cash flows and insist in pulling out the resources. Although the new CEO will also work for the subsidiary but he doesn’t know the main reason why this investment was made in a project and what benefits would have been reaped.

The above discussion is just an over view of what we can experience in a situation where there is no succession planning, but, in the following discussion we will come up with theoretical knowledge of how the negative aspects of no succession planning will adversely affect the organization under discussion (Batridge, 2005).

The first negative impact that no succession planning had on the organization is that the CEO along with consultants and HR department was not able to make levels and differentiate people who will be brought up in the business to handle key jobs in the future including the post of the CEO. One of the implications that we see due to this is the fact that the potential candidates who are eligible to be screened for higher posts did not had any clue of what there capabilities were, how valued they were to the organization, what skills do they need to polish, what skills do they need to use more often and what lacking do they need to overcome. Succession planning is a way to keep the upcoming people in the top management motivated and keep them focused on the ladder that they have to climb, the amount of input they have to actually put in order to earn the seat of a top manager or a CEO or the level of expertise that they need to prove is needed. Therefore, there was no such thing in this organization which leads to confusions like we see today that there is no one who can be given this opportunity along with the subordinates of the CEO who are also going to be retired one after the other. The purpose is to bring a CEO who comes with an agenda, carries on those tasks which have been initiated by the previous one and add value to the operations to get to the goals and vision of the organization more quickly.

Moreover, the current CEO might have made strategic plans for the coming five ten or fifteen years. He might have planned how the company will arrange funds and what resources will the company need. But did he realize the fact that in order to execute these strategic plans and projects, the company will also need a strong successor or leader in the organization who will actually make this happen?

No the company did not do any such thing. The company looked for all the resources but not the human capital. It did not align the goals with the human capital abilities ten fifteen or twenty years down the line when someone else would be sitting in the CEO chair and controlling the empire.

Moreover, when we see problems such as no succession planning, no one even knows who is going to be brought and everyone is just looking forward to the lucky one whose name will be called out of the lucky draw. Although this is not the case as the current CEO will choose the best amongst the best, but it is also not sure that the decision is free from personal biases. Thus, it might be possible that the CEO chooses his best friends in the organization whom he trusts the most to take over the job and gives it to him leaving doubts and disgust in the hearts of other potential candidates. Succession planning has to be done systematically, proper screening process in complete transparency in an environment where ever body gets a chance. But in this case, this is also not done and now everyone in the organization who will find his chance will try to come close to the CEO in order to remember them when taking the decision (Sims, 2007).

Also, as there was no proper succession planning, any person who will be chose from the organization will most probably belong to a certain department of the organization with certain expertise. This person is not trained or exposed to all departments of the organization. For example, in Unilever Pakistan, the marketing director who was supposed to be promoted as the CEO of the organization was not promoted and the decision was freeze just because of the fact that he did not have any experience in the finance and sales department. For this reason, the same CEO was made director of all the departments of the organization in order to let him know what actually happens in a department inside out.

Furthermore, a company is often known by the culture it has, the values it gives and wants from the employees and the relations it has with the outside world. Who decides this policy and what is the thought process to actually help things happen in the way they are ought to be. The CEO obviously and all these activities are needed to be there in the next CEO of the company as well. If the new CEO will have all these qualities, he will have the main essence of the company.

Not to mention the losses that the company will have to face in the future, this negative impact will be discussed later in the report.

Moreover, as all the subordinates are actually on the age of retirement, thus the company might expect two or three changing CEOs every year as one after the other employees will get retired. Now every year, policies will change, every CEO will experience his new options and ideas. Even if the company now thinks about succession planning to be completed in the next three years, still, all the CEOs will train the new CEO in their own way. They will tell their own experiences and the efficiency of the new CEO will not be up to the mark as it was expected from the current CEO. The level of effort and time needed will be immense and a lot of critical decisions will go down the drain in pursuit of training and development programs for the successor (Business Week, 2007).

Phase plan

Now the plan that will be recommended in this part of the paper is simply divided into two parts. The first step would be train the upcoming CEO for his job for at least 5 years before the current CEO leaves the company. and the second phase will mark the 3 year plan in which the leaving CEO will help and assist the new CEO in order to help him take decisions and supervise and recommend to him in his decision making and vision process.

Starting with the first phase, we see that the presence of the existing CEO is important because of the fact that he is the most important and experienced person in the whole team. Therefore the fact that the new CEOs themselves need time for training and until the time they will be trained they will reach the retirement stage, therefore the existing CEO has to stay another five years with the business and wait until he comes up with a new fresh candidate who at least has the age of serving 10 to 15 years for the company after becoming the CEO. Therefore, the company will extend the contract of the existing CEO for another 5 years so as to identify the best person. This is not the job of the HR department, but this has to be done on the organizational level. One person has to be selected from so many candidates and also these candidates need to be verified with the staff to see whether the candidate is compatible with the work environment or not. Then this selected candidate will actually be trained in these senses that he will have to know some of the skills that the CEO has. He will be taught how he is responsible for the entire company and how broadly his vision has to be in terms of decision making and administrative powers. The upcoming CEO will be sent to different departments for more experience and now how of each of the department as the director of the respective departments so as to make him understand watch department carefully without earning disrespect from rest of the employees. Moreover, the new CEO will not be only polishing the technical skills that he must possess to run the origination but he should also know how to lead different teams and become a role model for the rest of the organization.

In the second phase we will see that the new CEO is now in the stage where he has been promoted and a lot of problems will start too stuck right away. He will be earning both resentment and recognition from the lower management. A lot of external pressure and problems will come in as a tool of frightening the new CEO from the competitor brands. The company has to let the new CEO try different things and take decisions in accordance to the percent that has already been set by the elders. The leaving CEO will supervise different situations and let the new CEO find out how important in nature are these decisions and how carefully they are to be taken. The new CEO will also have to learn how to perform in teams after the existing CEO leaves permanently after three years after leaving (Forbes.com staff, 2008).

Laslty, when we talk about the losses and profit that the company can make in both cases. We assume that the compensation of the existing CEO is $100000. The compensation of the new CEO is the same, but in case of no succession planning, this extra for 5 years along with some bonus in the remuneration of the upcoming CEO will be an extra cost on the firm in which the existing CEO is actually taking full remuneration but not adding much value to the company.

Also, the amount of projects and the investments that are halted and treated as junk value must also be included in the cost as it might cater to larger share.

Lastly, if there is no succession, the business can cost itself its own self. The reason again is that without a leader, a nation cannot be successful and rise. A revolution is needed in all over the world to start thinking as this is the time when all the opportunities can be explored.

Many CEOs who are being trained along the way in the appropriate manner save a large chunk of the company’s rules and values and this is what they have ingrained inside them. Thus, they are better able to understand the dynamics of the organization rather than hiring and HE consultant who charges heavy fees and then comes up with a good match. Nothing can be of better help then one owns self.

Estimates and Charts

Activity COST WITH SUCCESSION PLANNING COST WITH ‘OUT’ SUCCESSION PLANNING
Training of New CEO USD 25000 USD 100000
Extra Compensation to the Leaving CEO for another 3-5 Years

NONE

Number of Years*Last pay that leaving CEO recieved

Projects Completed (DEADLINE/COST) 1 Year / 1Million Dollars 1.5 Years/ 1.25-1.35 Million Dollars
Decision Making AS good as nothing happened, might increase costs by USD 20000 Very Slow, certain to increase costs and losses due to delays for more than USD 100000

Now, if we explain the above diagram, we see that the company will have to bare a couple of costs in case of not having a succession plan. Obviously, even with a succession plan, the company will bare some costs in training the new CEO, but, that cost will be much lesser. The fact is that when a new CEO is being trained under a succession plan, the HR team plans out events in such a way that the new CEO will get opportunity to look and handle real life situations as the Current CEO faces them. for example, when planning a meeting, the new CEO can go with the current CEO as well to attend and see how the goals and missions of the company are safeguarded in the meeting. No workshops and extra mock meetings will have to be called in order to make the new CEO fit and ready to handle situations.

Moreover, the leaving CEO will have to be paid additional compensation for training the new CEO. The reason is that if the succession plan was in place, he would have simply realized the right time and left the job. But, now he cannot and thus he will also expect from the company to compensate him throughout the process.

Also, projects and deadlines will also find problems without a succession plan. The reason is the fact that the new CEO without a succession plan will make changes in designs and strategies because he does not know why certain decisions were taken by the preceding CEO. This will cause in more time needed to make amendments and several thousand dollars to be spent in making costly alterations.

Following is the estimated rise in costs of the company in case of no succession planning.

Conclusion

Succession planning is very important and it must be done in all the companies as it is necessary for keeping a constant supply of leaders in the organization and a constant supply of expertise that is aligned with the initial goals and vision of the company. New CEO who comes from a non company background does not have an idea of the culture of the organization which is really important for the company’s employees to work comfortably. Thus these CEOs donor get a chance to serve long. Moreover the inside information of the company is kept into safer hands of the new CEO from the same company.

References

Batridge, T (2005, May, 4). Why is succession planning important?. Retrieved on December 14,2009 from http://www.ameinfo.com/59276.html

Business Week (2007, July, 30). Why Succession Planning Matters. Retrieved on December 14,2009 From http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jul2007/sb20070730_940924_page_2.htm

Ingbritsen, R (n.d). Why succesion planning. Retrieved on December 14,2009 from http://www.smallbusinessdelivered.com/whysuccessionplanning.html

Forbes.com Staff (2008, July, 01). Why Succession Planning Matters. Retrieved on December 14,2009 from http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/07/ceo-survey-executive-lead-ceo-cx_sm_0107succession.html

Semyour, S (2008, Jan, 17). The importance of Succession Planning. Retrieved on December 14,2009 from http://www.management-issues.com/2008/1/17/opinion/the-importance-of-succession-planning.asp

Rothwell, W (2005). Effective Succession Planning: Ensuring Leadership Continuity And Building Talent From Within. Amacom

Sims, D (2007). Building Tomorrow’s Talent: A Practitioner’s Guide to Talent Management and Succession Planning. Author House

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TACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION AND RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN

May 28, 2010

Tactical Implementation Plan (TIP)

The tactical implementation plan incorporates work break down structure and Grant Chart (JISC infoNet, 2010). The TIP illustrates how Mari Jayne tries to fulfil the requirements of building up infrastructure. The components that make up the infrastructure include harvesting, processing, shipping, storage, and packaging.

Work break down structure (Michigan Office of Strategic Policy, 2010)

No. Task Period Responsible Resources Availed Signature
1 Harvesting Q2 JK Equipments, finance, labour
2 Processing Q2,Q3 PL Plant, labour,
3 Shipping Q3,Q4 MM Transport machinery e.g. lorries
4 Storage Q2, Q3, Q4 RZ Warehouses, storekeepers
5 Packaging Q3 RS Packaging plant, wrappers, labour

Gant Chart

Task Sub-task Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Harvesting Purchasing tractors
Actual harvesting
Purchasing containers
Processing Processing process
Analysing steps followed
Quality control at the beginning (raw materials)
Quality control at the end (product)
Shipping Purchase of appropriate equipments
Records
Warehouses
Distribution channels
Storage Warehouses
Records; quantity, time
Maintenance
Pest & Pet control
Packaging Wrapping materials
Quality and quantity of products
Size of package

Milestones will be analysed at the end of each quarter and appropriate actions to determine the success and correction strategies formulated (Risk Management Basics, 2010).

Risk Management Plan

Risk Management Methodology

The entire project requires risk management process that is scalable to ensure that the type, level, visibility of risk management is commensurate with importance of the project and the risk (Microsoft TechNet, 2003).

Risk Identification

Some risks in carrying out the project include:

  • Quality of the seeds
  • Equipments and machinery failure
  • Incidents of fire, pollution and other environmental concerns
  • Availability of storage space
  • Availability of consumers
  • Human resource reliability and personal characteristics e.g. motivation

Assessing Probability

Since quantitative information is not available of the threat occurring, the assessment process will be based on common sense and experience (National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2002). This means that the assessment should be ongoing and evaluations of risks happening analysed periodically as the project proceeds, and thus, the likelihood of risks happening becomes clearer.

Assessing Impact

No Risk Impact
1 Quality of the seeds Medium
2 Equipments and machinery failure Low
3 Incidents of fire, pollution and other environmental concerns Medium
4 Availability of storage space Low
5 Availability of consumers Medium
6 Human resource reliability and personal characteristics e.g. motivation Low

Severity Calculation

No Risk Impact
1 Quality of the seeds Medium
2 Equipments and machinery failure Low
3 Incidents of fire, pollution and other environmental concerns Medium
4 Availability of storage space Low
5 Availability of consumers Medium
6 Human resource reliability and personal characteristics e.g. motivation Low

Contingency Plan

A contingency plan is applicable in those instances that something goes wrong at the time of the project. In the case of Mari Jayne project, the contingency plan will utilise three strategies, which are risk reduction, transfer and retention (Eslami, 2007).

  • Risk reduction – this involves employing strategies and methods that reduces the chance of risks occurring or reducing severity of risk if it may occur (Daft, 2007). The strategies that may be employed include maintaining the equipments, motivating and taking care of the employees, and ensuring policies and regulations are exclusively followed.
  • Risk transfer – this is the movement of risk from one party to a third party usually based on a contract. Thus, Mari Jayne will purchase insurance policy for the machine and staff, this will ensure the organisation resources will be maximised (Indiana University, 2003).
  • Risk retention – even though some risks can be transferred or reduced, other risks can be accepted as a necessary part of the project. Such risks include size of harvest, and efficiency of production process (Microsoft TechNet, 2003).

References

Daft, R. (2007). Management, 8th Ed. New York: Cengage Learning.

Eslami, M. (2007). Senior Design Experience: Lessons for Life, 2nd Ed. New York: Agile Press.

Indiana University. (2003). Business horizons, Volume 4. Indiana: Indiana University Graduate School of Business

JISC infoNet. (2010). Project Controls Database. Retrieved from http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/project-management/project-controls-database

Microsoft TechNet. (2003). Creating a Risk and Contingency Plan. Retrieved from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc759120%28WS.10%29.aspx

Michigan Office of Strategic Policy. (2010). Appendix D: IT Eighteen Month Tactical Plan. Retrieved from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Appendix_D_91626_7.pdf

National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2002). Contingency Planning Guide for Information Technology Systems. Retrieved from http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-34/sp800-34.pdf

Risk Management Basics. (2010). Risk Management – Contingency, horizon, and action plans. Retrieved from http://www.risk-management-basics.com/risk-management-contingency,-horizon-and-action-plan.shtml

Reading and writing experiences

May 28, 2010

Reading and Writing Experiences

Do you remember the first book you read? The first sentence you wrote? What your first essay was about? For most people, including me, reading and writing started as a task, homework. It was daunting and tiresome as it invariably ate into my play time. Why would I sit around and stare at linear black lines that formed tiny alphabetical figures and words on a page which would only give me a golden star, when I can be playing cops and robbers with my friends in the playground? Most of these lessons we learn too late, some day when we are old enough to start reading fairy tales once again.

I began reading fairy tales at the age of 4. My elder sister was an avid reader and had collected many books and novels before I was born. It was safe to say that I was born into a library of knowledge. No work was needed; the stories were patiently waiting to be read. My favorites were fairy tales; Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel were my friends when I was little. I read their stories every night and then recited my own to them, as if they were waiting to be told a story just to tuck them into bed every night. I met my fairy tale friends every day and told them my stories, about school, home and the neighborhood. I tried to simplify this for them as they had never been to where I lived. They made it so easy for me to visit their homes each day; I thought it to be most impolite not to return the favor. On one particular summer day when school was out for the holidays, I took up my fairy tale story book as I would have done by habit, but this time there was a shiny green marker lying right above it. Whose was it? Why was it there, above my story book just before I was to read it?! The sheer boldness of that action took me by surprise and I wondered for a few minutes what to do. I picked it up to examine it. It was thicker than the normal pens used by my parents or sister, it was a new and uncharted territory. I looked around and slyly picked it up as though I was breaking the law, and slipped it into my pocket for further examination. I perched myself on the couch to read my fairy tales, but opened the book and took out my newly found possession. I popped open the cap and the pungent scent of marker ink filled my little nose as I boldly wrote my name across Snow White’s pretty frilled dress. The sanctity of my fairy tale book was lost to the ink of my marker. It only took me a few holiday hours to fill the entire book with my name as I learnt the joy of color pencils and felt tipped pens. I was now fully introduced to the world of stationery and there was no looking back.

“Mine is better than yours!” These innocent words said by a 6 year old, are such innuendo heavy sentences only a decade later that we today are blindly searching where our innocence was lost! Collections; stamp collections, pebble collections, sports cards, shells, empty perfume bottles, dolls and action figures – the list is endless. That was the currency when we were kids! It still probably is, for those who live simply. We didn’t care for rectangular shaped paper strips that people carried around in their pockets; we were more interested in the latest action figure or sports card or the latest fuzzy stickers! How can we get one of those? Well, exactly how our ancestors did it – Trade. However the largest legal trade for those between the ages of 6 to 8 years was the Mr. Men and Little Miss book series. Mr. Strong, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Muddle, Mr. Rush and Mr. Topsy-Turvy joined by their Little Miss companions Little Miss Chatterbox, Little Miss Neat, Little Miss Late, Little Miss Shy, Little Miss Tiny and all their other friends were my life for almost two whole years. They humored me with their silly antics and moral filled endings. They became part of my routine, every day I met a new friend and was told their story. I did business and traded and reaped the fruit of my spoils. There were new characters to embrace, new stories to be heard, and new lives to be a part of each day.

“My Home”, the first essay to be ever written in my long list of future essays to come. I described my long open balcony, the space to run around in my hall, the full length mirror on my dad’s cupboard and every tiny detail that came to my averagely developed brain. The essay was a full twenty three lines in a bold charcoal black pencil and my running primary school handwriting. It was my first A+ and the first time I was rewarded with two gold stars. Life could not have been any sweeter!

Primary school seemed to be the most rule-filled years of my life. The “Do/Not Do List” was longer than any memorandum ever written. Therefore when the time came to go to middle school, it felt like freedom would come at last. After years of writing with lead and charcoal we were finally “old” enough to pick up ink pens and permanently put down our ideas in books. Until now, no teacher or parent, or student for that matter was confident enough to write a word in ink. “What if we got it wrong?” The sheer weight of a possibility of a mistake or spelling error hung over our heads like a guillotine. But once we picked up the pens and confidently scribbled in our notebooks not even the shadow of a possibility of a mistake entered into our minds.

School is not complete with a teacher which changed the very fabric of her job and made it accessible to you. A teacher would impart knowledge on grounds that they would always hold more cards of knowledge than their students. But ever so often there comes one who changes those rules and throws open the battleground for everyone to play in, not battle (ironically!). For me this person was my Sixth Standard English teacher. She was short and small built but with a voice that would carry on for miles. She had a very unusually divine habit of smiling every time she read out a text. She was the first one to make us question ourselves, question the language and our own beliefs on whose shaky foundations we built our English language building. Once conventionalism was out of the way we studied contemporary poetry by “Unknown” and writings in magazines and newspapers. She made us connect with what was around us now, not a hundred years ago written in a language from which English was derived. She made us pick up works that inspire us, thrill us and move us in way that was not normal for a Sixth grader. That year I wrote my very first poem. It was commonly titled “Love” but referred to the love I shared with my brand new computer. There were no rules, no limits and no conventions that year. It was the freest English had ever made me and that changed my life forever.

He was a small ratty-faced man with grey teeth. His eyes were dark and quick and clever, like the rat’s eyes, and his ears were slightly pointed at the top. He had a cloth cap on his head and he was wearing a grayish – colored jacket with enormous pockets. The grey jacket, together with the quick eyes and the pointed ears, made him look more than anything like some sort of a huge human rat. (Dahl 33)

The first entry in any book or journal is always carefully written and well thought out. It was the beginning after all and you never want to mess up the beginning. Sure, you can go off track a bit in the middle, but the beginning is always the most important. The above was the beginning to my “Expressions’ Book”. In the Eighth Grade my English teacher made us retain what she had titled an “Expressions’ Book”. This would hold all the prized expressions, phrases and words that we loved in any article, story or novel we ever read. The reason she made us maintain this book is because she believed that each and every one of her students had the ability to be a writer someday. And when that would happen we would look back at out expressions’ book and take from it to be inspired to write our own new expressions and phrases for future generation of students to write in their expressions’ books. This chain of events that she had started had been continuing for decades before us, only for us to realize that we were now unwittingly become a part of something bigger than us, greater than us, and that feeling of importance continued on till present day, only to become stronger by age.

Works Cited

Dahl, Roald “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – and six more”

Puffin Books (1995) 33.

Analysing Visual Representation

May 28, 2010

A war of words and visuals of peace

In 1972 National Lampoon, a leading American magazine, placed a full page advertisement for John and Yoko Lennon, that depicted New York’s Statue of Liberty but the product it was persuading people to ‘buy’ was so intangible that it must have seemed surreal to readers of the magazine. They were selling ‘peace’ or at least the prospect of the Vietnam War being over and the possibility of peace.

The readership for this highly irreverent, edgy magazine skewed to counter-culture, young people was in the millions so you can imagine the high profile given to this clever advertisement.

John Lennon, former Beatle; songwriter; and musician and Yoko his artist wife were iconic ambassadors for World peace, especially during the Vietnam War, a prolonged war from 1969 -1975 with American troops withdrawn in 1972.

In December 1971, the song Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band (4) was released prior to the actual end of the Vietnam War to encourage peace.

As anti-war activists John and Yoko created an amazing advertising campaign from 1969 “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko”. These billboards were shown across New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

They utilised billboard and magazine advertising to rally the public to accepting the reality that they were able to make peace happen if they wanted to; they just needed to ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

Their magazine advertisement in 1972 with the title of “Happy New Year” (1) used the Statue of Liberty as a highly emotive, iconic symbol that all Americans knew and loved, especially New Yorkers. It represents liberty, that all men are created equal and Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The dove imagery around the statue adds to the overall emotive appeal as a metaphor for freedom.

What a perfect emblem in an advertising campaign for peace. The black and white imagery is brilliant too as it is so stark and confronting. Simple bold text at the base of the advertisement is appealing as the graphic makes the biggest statement.

However if you notice the familiar torch which represents ‘Shining enlightenment on the World’ has been replaced with a male arm and fist in this advertisement. I believe Lennon’s anti-establishment ideals are showing that it wasn’t the government who won the war; it was the strength of the people (the soldiers) who gave their blood to win the war.

2. Appealing to the masses

In studying advertising, Jib Fowles formulated Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals to assist with understanding the philosophical and psychological needs that advertisers appeal to in order to effectively market a product. I believe this advertisement by John & Yoko Lennon is appealing to the twelfth basic appeal – the need to feel safe. “We want to be safe and secure; buy these products, advertisers are saying, and you’ll be safer than you are without them.” (2)

As this advertisement is highly unusual as it’s selling a ‘state of being’ not a product as such, this appeal to the safety aspect is still viable as it is telling the public “Happy New Year – War is Over” which is a double edged appeal to the readers’ inane desire for happiness and safety. Everyone wants to be free from threats of any kind especially war.

Philosopher Marshall McLuhan, wrote in Understanding Media that effective advertising works “by giving form to people’s deep-lying desires and picturing states of being that individuals privately yearns for.” (3) I can see how this advertisement placed in a high profile American magazine would be have been effective in gaining attention and affecting the type of communication that John & Yoko desired – let’s live for World Peace.

3. Ancient rhetoric for modern times

If you study the advertisement in terms of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos which are the forms of rhetoric that ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle related to the art of persuasion, then you can immediately visualise the thought process behind creating Lennon’s advertisement for “War is Over”.

Ethos rhetoric is obviously used in the advertisement as celebrity appeal is a dominant persuasive tool to create respect and engage attention. John & Yoko Lennon are well known world-wide, with John being an iconic figure because of his connection to the Beatles and talent as a songwriter. Since 1969 they were publically protesting against war and trying to create an ideology of World Peace.

So their names and greeting at the base of the Statue of Liberty graphic endorses the advertisement with a strong persona of celebrity prominence. Secondly pathos is another rhetoric tool used with immense appeal to the reader’s emotions through the use of an American iconic statue, the thought of liberty and freedom, rights of mankind, national pride, and the relief that it will be a Happy New Year and war is over.

As the rhetoric tool Logos appeals on logic or reason, I believe it is not used in this particular advertisement unless you analyze the way some readers may perceive or rationale that if the Lennons tell me ‘War is Over’ then it must be; but that seems more of an Ethos style.

A side element of this advertisement which is worth mentioning is that without stating any high-sell product information, the advertisement would have been implicit in bumping up Lennon’s sales of his records especially War is Over which was released two years earlier. The effectiveness of this type of soft-sell, emotive advertisement style is incredibly clever in how it appeals to a wide range of audiences, young and old.

It’s more like a personal card than an advertisement isn’t it? The handwritten signatures also add to the charm and personalising of this advertisement, along with the clever way of keeping Happy Xmas and writing in hand over it “Happy New Year (War is Over)” as that is a subtle reminder of Lennon’s record.

John and Yoko spoke in many interviews about their protests for peace and that they were selling peace like soap with this magazine advertising and their billboard advertising. They thought people (John actually said housewives) might look at the advertisements and think what are the products they’re selling? War or peace – oh well I’ll choose peace then!

Think PEACE, Act PEACE, Spread PEACE

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.”
(4)

Works Cited

1. Adflip. 70’s advertisements. Happy New Year magazine ad by John Lennon.

Web Feb. 2010

<www.adflip.com>

2. Fowles, Jib. Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals. Excerpt from Common

Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture. Ed. Michael

Petracca, Madeleine Sorapure. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998.

Web Feb. 2010

<http://www.cyberpat.com&gt;

3. McLuhan Marshall. The Media is the Message. Web Feb. 2010

<http://www.leaderu.com&gt;

4. Lennon, John. Imagine Lyrics. YouTube – John & Yoko Lennon interview,

Happy Christmas (War is Over). Web Feb. 2010

< http://www.youtube.com&gt;

Corperate Homicide: THE LIABILITY OF ARTIFICIAL PERSONS.

May 28, 2010

A corporation is an artificial being that has an entity separate and distinct from its board of members and the workforce behind it. As corporations are a major player in economy enhancement and development, the state confers upon them numerous legal rights in order to vouchsafe their existence. However, the modernity of times screams of the scant laws to secure people’s rights that corporations manage to disrespect.

There is a serious call to upgrade our laws addressing corporate criminal liability. Egregious labor violations, dissolution in order to escape criminal liability, even downright trespass of criminal laws are only some of the issues that are escalating in present time.

Albeit there is jurisprudence on the piercing of the corporate veil in order to make the directors liable for corporate criminality, the laws to be resorted to is still a work in progress.

Corporate misconduct has been addressed by civil, administrative and criminal laws. However, the criminal liability of corporations has been more controversial. Critics have expressed the efficiency and consistency with the principles of criminal law (Pop, 2006, 2-3).

The distinction of the person between the corporation and its directors should not work as a blanket protection in cases when crimes are committed by the corporation. For crime to exist, mens rea has to be established. And a corporation can only intend through its directors. The directors are the ones who think and consequently act for the corporation.

The critics’ position is well-taken. Vacuums will be created when we try to apply criminal the laws intended for a natural person. But as people are becoming more and more innovative in utilizing corporations as the perfect cover up in transgressing our laws, we have no choice for now but to apply the present criminal laws available and wait until the bills being lobbied for corporate criminal liability to be ratified.

If we are going to allow administrative and penal sanctions to make up for crimes committed by corporations, then we are looking into an unimaginable increase in corporate homicide and manslaughter in no time.

In essence, our criminal laws have to be applied to corporations with the same stringency and fervour when applied to man. Consequently, the different branches of the government especially the judiciary cannot allow corporations and their operators to circumvent the laws meant to protect the citizenry.

Reference:

Pop, A. I. (2006) Criminal Responsibility of Corporations: Comparative Jurisprudence, [online] available from: http://www.law.msu.edu/king/2006/2006_Pop.pdf, accessed on 28 February 2010

Batteries and electric cars

May 28, 2010

Introduction:

Technology has the potential to make our life easier. In fact, it has made our lives easier than we could have ever imagined. One of the most important inventions we use a multitude of times in our daily lives are batteries. From our laptops to cell phones, from wrist watches to mp3 players, even our cars are dependent on batteries.

In a nutshell, a battery is a can or a box full of chemicals. When these chemicals react they produce electrons. Such reactions are called electrochemical reactions and in the different type of batteries we encounter, different electrochemical reactions are going on.

All batteries are similarly built in that they all have two terminals, commonly referred to as positive and negative. For the electrochemical reaction to take place, it is necessary that the electron from one terminal to the other. Electrons gather on the negative terminal of a battery. If we were to connect both the terminals with simply a wire, the electrons would flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. Although all this would achieve would be to wear the battery out as quickly as possible, this is the basic mechanism of how every battery works. But what we need to do is connect a ‘load’ in between the terminals. A load means anything that we need to power, such as our cell phone or a light bulb. (Brain and Bryant)

The ability of a battery to have a shelf life, i.e. retain power when not in use is because of the fact that for electrochemical reactions to take place, it is necessary that the two terminals be connected. How we are able to harness this reaction is explained by something called the voltaic pile. Alessandro Volta was the man who created the first battery in 1800. He did so by making a ‘voltaic pile’ by using alternating layers of zinc, silver and bloating paper soaked in salt water. Because of the paper between the two types of metal, it is necessary to attach the ends of the stack with the wire to allow electrons to transfer. (Brain and Bryant)

One of the very first types of battery that was popularly used was called the ‘Daniel’ cell or the ‘wet’ cell. Before the electric generator was invented in the 1870’s, telegraph poles were mainly run on the Daniel cell, making them one of the most important inventions of their time. The Daniel cell consists of copper and zinc plates and copper and zinc sulfates. The most obvious disadvantage of the Daniel cell was the use of the sulfates as these liquids made the battery not very mobile-friendly. (Brain and Bryant)

Before moving on to some of the batteries more commonly found in use today, it is important to understand some of the terminology associated with the science. Most important is the term ‘energy density’, which measures how much energy a battery can hold. Simply put, a battery with a higher energy density will run for a longer period of time. (Brain and Bryant)

Nickel Cadmium Battery:

Next are the nickel-cadmium batteries. Invented in 1890, the nickel-cadmium battery has evolved over time and it now recombines the gases discharged during the electrochemical reaction. The nickel-cadmium battery is best for rigorous work as a fast charge/discharge is better suited to its electrochemical reaction. (Buchmann)

Advantages:

  • Relatively faster and simpler charge; better suited for prolonged storage.
  • A higher number of charge and discharge cycles.
  • Nickel-cadmium batteries have a long shelf life extending up to five years.
  • Relatively cheaper and economically priced as nickel-cadmium costs the least per cycle.

Disadvantages:

  • Nickel-cadmium contains toxic materials which makes it very environmentally unfriendly. Some countries even restrict its uses.
  • Relatively low energy density.

Nickel-metal-hydride battery:

The environmentally unfriendly nature of nickel-cadmium batteries prompted research to begin on the nickel-metal-hydride batteries during the 1970’s. Nickel-metal-hydride batteries quickly gained popularity because of their high energy density and the use of non-toxic, environmental friendly material. Nickel-metal-hydride batteries have replaced the nickel-cadmium batteries in a lot of its uses and are now commonly found in wireless and computer paraphernalia. (Buchmann)

Advantages:

  • An estimated 30-40% higher capacity compared to nickel-cadmium batteries.
  • Very environmentally friendly as it not only contains mild toxins but is also recyclable.

Disadvantages:

  • Compared to nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride batteries have a more limited service life.
  • Relatively shorter storage and shelf life, usually of around three years.
  • Relatively higher self discharge and performance has been known to decrease at higher temperatures.

The lithium-ion battery:

Research on a lithium based battery began as early as 1912 but it was not until the 1970’s that they became commercially viable. While lithium is a very light metal and is highly suitable for electrochemical reactions it is also inherently very unstable which led to safety problems. Because of this reason, the focus of research shifted towards the use of lithium-ions instead of lithium which led to Sony Corporation launching the first lithium-ion battery in 1991. (Buchmann, Is lithium-ion the ideal battery?)

The energy density of the lithium-ion is considered to be twice that of the nickel-cadmium battery discussed earlier. Coupled with its light weight, the lithium-ion battery quickly gained popularity and most cell phones today are run on lithium-ion batteries.

Advantages:

  • Very high energy density with the potential for an even higher capacity.
  • Relatively low discharge even when not in use
  • Can be used to provide very high current to hardware like power tools etc.

Disadvantages:

  • Lithium-ion batteries require a protection circuit to maintain current and voltage within safe limits.
  • Costlier to manufacture as material is more expensive. Costs can be as high as 40% more than nickel-cadmium batteries.

The lithium polymer battery:

The lithium polymer battery uses a different electrolyte from the conventional batteries. Initially a dry, solid polymer electrolyte was used but it suffered from relatively poor conductivity. Later, a gelled alternate was used which resulted in great success but lithium-ion batteries have only been able to find their niche in markets where portability is paramount and are now widely used in credit card and similar purposes. (Buchmann, Is lithium-ion the ideal battery?)

Advantages:

  • Lithium polymer batteries can be made with very low profiles which makes them ideal for credit cards.
  • Very flexible in terms of size – if the order is large enough, manufacturers find it economically viable to build them in any size.
  • The use of gelled electrolytes has made lithium polymer batteries to be one of the lightest in terms of weight.
  • Lithium polymer batteries are less prone electrolyte leakage and overcharging which makes them safer.

Disadvantages:

  • Lower energy density compared to lithium-ion batteries
  • Relatively more expensive to manufacture

The lead-acid battery:

The lead-acid battery was invented in 1859 by French physician Gaston Planté. 150 years later, it is still one of the most commonly used batteries in the world. The lead-acid battery is the battery of choice for cars, motorcycles, UPS systems and even wheelchairs. The reason for this popularity is that even today there is no battery available that is more cost effective for the uses stated above. (Buchmann)

There have been numerous developments in the lead-acid battery and while the fundamentals have remained the same, the lead-acid battery has evolved over time. During the mid 1970s, researchers developed the sealed lead-acid battery. This is the battery that we use today in our cars. The liquid electrolyte is filled in separate enclosures and the battery is sealed which makes enables it to better withstand motion. (Buchmann)

Another important development in the lead-acid battery was the use of glass mats between plates. Called the AGM batteries, they are sealed, virtually maintenance free and because the plates are rigidly mounted these batteries can withstand a higher degree of vibration, shock and jolts. (Buchmann)

Advantages:

  • Lead-acid batteries are one of the most inexpensive and simple batteries to manufacture.
  • Lead-acid batteries are durable, reliable and the technology is well understood.
  • The self discharge of lead-acid batteries is one of the lowest of all battery systems.
  • They are capable of very high discharge rates.

Disadvantages:

  • Low energy density allows for only limited application.
  • Lead-acid batteries cannot be stored when completely discharged – a cell voltage lower than 2.1V damages the battery.
  • Lead content and electrolyte makes the use of lead-acid batteries environmentally unfriendly.

Uses of Batteries:

One of the more recent uses batteries that is gaining momentum is their use as a substitute for fuel to power vehicles. It can be imagined how strong the batteries need to be to power a vehicle for a substantial period of time. The advantages of such a car are numerous and very obvious. Cars are one of the most polluting inventions as they not only emit carbon and sulfur into the air, the noise they create also contributes significantly to noise pollution. Electric cars are not only ‘green’ or environmentally friendly in that they don’t contribute to the air pollution, they are also silent. Imagine a New York City with no sound of traffic. Ever increasing costs of fuel have also added to the appeal of electric cars in recent times.

With the wide array of batteries that are available, the question to ask what type of battery is the most suitable to use in electric cars? Car manufacturers the world over have narrowed it down to three choices. Those choices are the lead-acid batteries, nickel-metal-hydride batteries and lithium-ion batteries. The basic mechanism of all three types of batteries, along with their advantages and disadvantages have already been discussed above. A lot of scientists believe that the lithium-ion batteries are the best choice to use in electric cars because of their light weight and relatively low likelihood to self-discharge. A lithium-ion polymer battery which is a variation of the lithium-ion battery and has also been discussed above is also considered to be a good choice for the electric car of the future. At present it’s very expensive to manufacture and because of that, it’s also not commercially viable to use in electric cars. (Lampton)

Problem of Batteries:

However, while experts have been able to narrow down the choice of battery most suitable for use in the electric car, there still remain a lot of questions. The greatest problem with electric cars is the need to recharge batteries. What is the best way to recharge a battery being used in an electric car? Presently the best possible solution to this problem is to recharge the car overnight once you’re home. Very similar to the way you might charge a laptop or cell phone, this seems to be the only logical solution as the batteries currently being used can take up to several hours to fully recharge. Since most electric cars being manufactured come with built-in charges, all that the user has to do is plug the car into an electric socket and he’s good to go the next morning. (Lampton)

The next problem that is associated with the use of electric cars is battery life. How far can your car take you before the batteries need to be recharged again? Lead-acid batteries have been found to have the shortest charge and on average can go up to 80 miles on a single charge. Nickel-metal-hydride batteries have been knows to perform better and have a range of approximately 120 miles before it needs to be recharged. Another reason that nickel-ion batteries are a popular choice for electric cars is that they excel when it comes to battery life. An electric car running on a nickel-ion battery can go up to 220 miles on a single charge. (Lampton)

Research has been going on to extend the battery life to enable commuters to travel greater distances on electric cars. A technology, known as regenerative braking has been developed which can substantially extend battery life. Regenerative braking uses the kinetic energy released when we use our car’s breaks to recharge the battery. Under optimal conditions, regenerative braking has been found to extend the battery life by up to 50%. (Lampton)

Ethical Issues:

While the most obvious advantage of using an electrical car is that they not going to create air or noise pollution, they are not completely environmentally friendly. Electric cars use the electricity stored in batteries to run and these batteries needs to be recharged. Currently, most of the electricity being produced in the world is through thermal energy i.e. through the burning of fossil fuels. (Lampton)

This leads to an ethical dillema. While electric cars in themselves green in that they do not burn fossil fuels, the electricity used to charge the batteries is generated through thermal means. This makes electric cars only as green as the electricity that we use them to charge with. Assuming that the battery being used in an electric vehicle is being charged on electricity from a coal-fired power station, then a car running on a diesel engine will emit approximately only half as much carbon dioxide when you take into account the emissions from power the power plant. (Energy Efficiency News)

Another concern for environmentalists is the use of lead-acid batteries in electric cars. Lead acid batteries contain toxins which are harmful for the environment. And since lead-acid batteries are one of the most commonly used batteries, this poses an ethical dilemma for manufacturers who claim that electric cars are ‘green’.

A major advantage of electric cars, and one which manufacturers flout often, is that batteries are completely recyclable and as such their disposal is not an issue. There is no concern that hazardous waste or improper disposal will cause any harm to the environment. (Lampton)

Further more, there has been research that the most efficient way to power a car is through gasoline because of gasoline’s high heating value or simply put because of the high amount of energy it is able to produce. However when gasoline is used to produce electricity, a lot of energy is wasted in the form of wasted heat and other losses. (Kantor)

Conclusion:

The debate whether electric cars are truly green or not is an ongoing one. If all our electricity needs were being met through green means such as nuclear power plants, solar energy and wind energy, electric cars would truly be green as the pollution related to thermal generation wouldn’t be a concern.

Works Cited

Brain, Marshall and Charles W. Bryant. How Batteries Work. n.d.17 February 2010 <http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/battery.htm&gt;.

Buchmann, Isidor. Can the lead-acid battery compete in modern times? n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-6.htm&gt;.

Buchmann, Isidor. Is lithium-ion the ideal battery? n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-5.htm&gt;.

Buchmann, Isidor. Is lithium-ion the ideal battery? n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-6.htm&gt;.

Buchmann, Isidor. The nickel-based battery, its dominance and the future. n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-4.htm&gt;.

Energy Efficiency News. How green are electric cars? 20 April 2009. 18 February 2010 <http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/transport/i/2026/&gt;.

Kantor, Andrew. Green technology isn’t always very green. 24 June 2005. 18 February 2010 <http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/andrewkantor/2005-06-24-green-tech_x.htm&gt;.

Lampton, Christopher How Electric Car Batteries Work . n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/electric-car-battery.htm&gt;.

Lampton, Christopher. Advantages and Disadvantages of EVs. n.d.,18 February 2010 <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/electric-car-battery3.htm&gt;.

Running head: Oil and the Foreign Policy of the United States

May 28, 2010

Introduction

There are a multitude of issues that shape and influence foreign policy in the United States. Throughout American history, the change in the way our government deals with other nations has evolved. From the conception of the United States as a sovereign country, the foreign policy of American leadership took on an isolationist posture. Since then, the United States government has relaxed this posture greatly. At least since the Carter administration, America’s dependence on foreign oil has had a major influence on American foreign policy in the Middle East.

It has been regarded many times that the United States foreign and international actions, policies and decisions in the last 50 years are inspired and directed in the super concepts such as freedom, democracy and humanity. However many critics argued that behind these banners being shown to the public eyes is a self motivated soul which aim to maintain its egoistical superiority and dominance. In this paper, we are going to examine how does a natural resource in the form of oil had influence the United States decisions, policies and actions in its foreign and international affairs.

The Importance of Middle East

The importance of the Middle Eastern Region especially the Gulf Region lies on its natural reserves of oil. According to Findlay (1994) the said region is the location of the largest known oil reserves in the globe. It was also been cited by Findlay that in 1990 the Middle Eastern region account for more than 65 percent of the total oil reserves in the whole world while the United States only had 3% of the total oil reserves in the globe. According to Collina (2005) in his report entitle Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Real Dangers, Realistic Solutions the United States imports almost 60% of its oil demand in 2005 and this is expected to increase for up to 70% in 2025. With this kind of arrangement, the United States economy and politics is determined by the supply of oil that is coming from one of the most unstable region in the globe. Also according to him, the growing dependence of the United States on imported oil is the primary driver of the United States foreign and military policy particularly in the Middle East.

The Importance of Oil

The importance of oil lies on the significant role ‘energy’ plays in our society and way of life. The food we eat and the clothes we wear and almost everything we do only became possible through our exploitation of energy. According to Harold Schobert (2002), “today more than ever, energy became so ubiquitous in our way of life that we seldom think about it”. To rip oil out of our lives is to freeze and starve the modern man. As Schobert said in his book Energy and Society, we will be reduced to a fairly brutish existence comparable to the poor of the medieval times if we ran out of energy.

This importance of energy primarily produced from oil or fossil fuels is magnified through its great demand and yet limited and finite supply. In our times wherein there is a worldwide conclusion that there is a limited amount of oil that can be extracted, countries are doing their best to position their selves to a place wherein they can access oil to feed their economic growth and stability.

The Carter Doctrine

The policy of the United States during Carter’s stay in office was summed up during his speech in his State of the Union Address in January 23, 1980. In that speech he said:

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”(Carter 1980)

It must be noted that the context in this time is turmoil, instability and strife especially in the region of the Middle East. In early 1979, the shah of Iran, the number one ally of the United States in the Middle East had been overthrown by the militant Islamic revolutionaries. Together with this major hit in the United States position, the Soviet Union which is its ‘archenemy’ by that time invaded Afghanistan which is interpreted by the United States as a primary step of the communist regime to take a hold in the vital region of oil in the gulf. (Lisiero 2008)

These two events alone, the overthrow of shah of Iran and the invasion of the Soviets on Afghanistan had been regarded as the most dangerous threats in the access of the United States in the oil of the Middle East. As a response to this threat, the US government had promised a commitment to protect oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia in exchange for the US special access to their oil supplies. Along with Reagan Doctrine, this also became the basis of the building up of the U.S. forces in the gulf such as the Rapid Deployment Forces and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) that are ready to be dispatched in case of any disturbances in the region that can affect the US interest and access to oil in the region (Collina 2005).

Though this is not really the start of the United States foreign policy defined by oil, Carter is the one who formalized and spoke publicly about his intention to protect the Middle East to take care the interest of the United States by securing the oil supply.

In fact, the use of military power to protect the flow of oil has been a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy since 1945. That was the year that President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia that the United States would protect the kingdom in return for special access to Saudi oil—a promise that governs U.S. foreign policy today. (Collina 2005)

George W. Bush Doctrine

According to Dario Lisiero (2008) in his work entitle American Doctrine, if there is one document that can summarize George Bush foreign policy, it is the revelation of the document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” According to him:

“This is the real Bush Doctrine; this is his political bible. All the rest, so nicely stated in his inaugural addresses, speeches and formal and informal conversations are mere smokescreens. . . the basic thesis of this document, repeatedly stated and emphasized, is that ‘the United States is the world’s only superpower, combining preeminent military power, global technological leadership, and the world’s largest economy.”

According to Lisiero (2008) the infamous attack of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001 had also been cited to favor the doctrine of Bush rather than harming it. The destruction of the symbol of United States commercialism, the attack on the Pentagon and the death of thousands of Americans became the most important reason and justification of the Bush administration to have a foothold in one of the richest land in oil in the Arab region. As stated by Lisiero (2008):

Finally, the American troops were on Arab soil. Finally, the authors of the modern imperial doctrine had achieved their secret goal: to have a permanent foothold on that forbidden land, the land of oil and riches.”

Disguising its motives to a more humanitarian cloak such as the sought for weapons of mass destruction hailing in Iraq and the liberation of the Iraqi against the oppressive regime of Hussein, the Bush government successfully managed to establish a foothold in the land of oil and riches.

From here, we are going to examine the document that has been regarded as one of the biggest influence on Bush international actions during his presidency, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.”

Rebuilding American Defense

The 80 pages document reported by The Project of New American Century is basically a set of specific guidelines and course of actions that defines what the United States should do to be able to maintain their status quo. As stated directly in the document:

The United States is the world’s only superpower, combining preeminent military power, global technological leadership, and the world’s largest economy. Moreover, an America stand at the head of a system of alliances which includes the world’s other leading democratic powers. At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible.

Examining the document, we can see how plans and course of action were outlined to establish footholds in different parts of the globe specially the strategic places like the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe. Along with this, it also pushes for the revival of the interest of the United States in nuclear technology which took its setback during Clinton’s administration. Lastly, it deals with the improvements in the military forces of the United States that can protect the nation and its allies against WMD threats, cyber space attacks and other possible attack in the future. (Donnelly et al. 2000)

This concludes that the doctrine of Bush is simple. The Americans should maintain its dominance in economic, political and military affairs that is why it needs to secure all the possible resources that it can access to maintain the status quo. Oil had been the most significant element in the economic growth making this a very vital resource which the United States should not be deprived to be able to maintain its position in the international community.

War for Oil in Iraq

In relation to Middle East particularly its recent war on Iraq, the United States had tried to address its future shortage on oil by using the military to protect supply routes. According to Collina (2005), the US managed to install regimes in the Arab Region that it found friendly and useful to continue the United States access to its oil supply. However, the case of Iran had shown the otherwise. After the invasion, Iraq is producing less oil than it did before the invasion. With the cost of war reaching to an estimate of $200 billion dollars, the Americans paid an astronomical price of resources and positive reputation in the globe for an underperforming investment. (Collina 2005)

America Today with Obama

If we are going to follow the theme of our discussion that speaks of the aim of the United States to maintain its superiority and apply it to the actions of the current president Obama, we can see that Obama in his actions today and even before he became a president is dominated with the very same task and goal that inspired Carter, Reagan and Bush.

Way back in Obama’s years as a senator, he co-authored a Senate bill which resembles the Nunn-Lugar program which aimed for the safeguarding and dismantling of the enormous Soviet stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons’ related materials and its delivery system (United States Senate n.d.). As a senator, Obama together with Lugar authored a bill that will authorize the president to carry out a program to provide assistance to foreign countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This will include nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The bill’s provisions were incorporated into a House bill that passed later that year and was signed into law in January 2007.

When he became a president, he pushed sanctions to nations that are said to be proliferating nuclear technology like Iran and North Korea ranging from banning United States companies from investing and trading with the said counties to financial restriction to its leaders, etc. The president is also encouraging the international community to perform the same sanctions to such nations that are proliferating weapons of mass destruction particularly nuclear technology. (BBC News)

When viewed in the perspective above, it is possible that the history of Iraq during the earlier administration is repeating. Iran seats in one of the most fertile region in terms of oil in the globe. If the United States can hold this vast rich land of Iran, the United States will maintain its access to one of the most sought resources of the modern world.

Analysis and Conclusion

It is becoming very clear to us that today much of the United States foreign policies, decisions and actions are really dominated with its quest for a viable access to a continuous oil supply. Though many critics will argue and judge this as evil and imperialistic, when we really think of it, we cannot blame the government if it is acting this way. The same with the human body, a state will always aim for its survival above anything else. A nation and a state will always act in such a way that it will ensure its continuous existence. In the United States however, there is greater task that was given. Being a superpower since the dawn of the 20th century and a victor of the Cold War, the United States found itself in such a place that it is very difficult to maintain. While other countries are doing the same actions and positioning that are comparable to the United States, our eyes focused its sight to this giant superpower due to its giant demand for resources. The message is simple, no matter which country or nation we place in the shoes of Uncle Sam, we will still see the same acts of imperialism and expansion to be able to maintain its dominance through the access to oil.

The enemy is neither the United States nor its quest for enormous access to fossil fuels. Our real enemy today is our dependence to a resource that is finite and nearing to its depletion. Conflicts will always rise due to scarcity and as long as there is scarcity, we can always assume that there will always be a conflict. Our goal and aim is simple: We must be able to provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels as a source of our energy. We cannot always let the foundation of our economic life and political aspirations to be determined to a resource that is finite and depleting. As long the American people and the rest of the world are dependent to such resources, we will always be tied to an obligation to feed ourselves first before we can give to others. Americans will always be at the mercy of the Middle East as long as we need them to feed the American economy. The humanitarian goals of the United States in the name of freedom, equality and democracy will never be attained as long as we depend on oil. No vital change and revolution in the globe will happen as long as we don’t manage to get out of the viscous cycle of oil dependence.

References

BBC News (2009) Obama renews US sanctions on Iran. Story from BBC News. Accessed March 30, 2010. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7941031.stm

Carter, Jimmy (1980) State of the Union Address. January 23, 1980. Accessed April 1, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/documents/speeches/su80jec.phtml

Collina, Tom (2005) Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Real Dangers, Realistic Solutions. Testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. October 19, 2005. United States Senate

Donnelly et al. (2000) Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. September 2000. The Project for the New American Century.

Findlay, Allan (1994) The Arab world. Routledge. London.

Lisiero, Dario (2008) American Doctrine. Library of Congress. United States

Schobert, Harold (2002) Energy and society: an introduction. Taylor & Francis. New York

United States Senate (n.d.) The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Accessed March 30, 2010. Retrieved from http://lugar.senate.gov/nunnlugar/

Building the Windows and Doors of An Eco-Friendly Home

May 28, 2010

Building the Windows and Doors of An Eco-Friendly Home

Introduction

The growing issues and concerns about the environment have upped the ante on reducing, recycling, and reusing. This is linked with the mounting problems on wastes at landfills, carbon footprints, rising temperatures, weather and climate changes, air, water, and soil pollution, fast deterioration of natural resources, and other health, socio-economic problems that nations are being alarmed with.

This report will provide details about building the windows and doors of an ecological or eco-friendly home. It will try to present photographs of an eco-friendly home as well as images and photographs of windows and doors. It will describe in details the features and the measurement of size of the windows and doors, and the materials that will be used from recycled materials. It will provide the design and performance, durability, colour and examples of other traditional windows and doors as well as the prices.

Discussion

History of Recycling

Recycling is believed to be practised even in ancient times as indicated by the scarcity of broken tools and pottery in ancient archaeological sites where waste dumps were believed to be (Black Dog, 2006). This suggested that where there was less new material, recycling was prevalent. Collected scrap bronze and other metals in pre-industrial Europe were also melted for more lasting use (The Economist, 2007). In the UK, ashes from wood and coal fires were used as base for brick-making while rags were remanufactured into shoddy wool or mungo so that it was a major industry in the towns of West Yorkshire in the 1860s (Black Dog, 2006). Recycling of metals heightened during the major wars most practical for countries with scarce resources such as Japan (The Economist, 2007).

Shortage of landfill space was highlighted when the garbage barge Mobro 4000 from New York sailed to North Carolina, to Belize and back only to be incinerated. The media caught the environmental groups’ advocacy and hysteria on garbage and recycling ignited (The Economist, 2007).

Ecological Homes

There are various ways to design ecological or earth-friendly homes. Emerging practices combine common sense, beauty, art and practical concerns to come up with ecological homes. Some designs aspire to control use of energy in homes so that solar panels are used to run electrical home supplies for energy-efficiency (Ecological Home Ideas, 2008). Techniques include harnessing heat escape and entry, manual and automatic shading systems, long-term energy savings using fabrics, window covering, amongst others. The Ecological Home Ideas reported that “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises homeowners to plant deciduous trees to block solar heat in the summer but let it in during the winter. To provide continuous shade or to block heavy winds, use dense evergreen trees or shrubs,” (Ecological Home Ideas, 2008, P 11). Others use natural materials to build their homes such as cob homes made of clay, mud or dirt, grass, stone, and other locally-sourced raw materials. This means minimum impact on the environment with advantages of material availability, inexpensive, straightforward and simple, use of few tools, strong and durable walls, hygroscopic or maintains consistent humidity, good circulation of indoor air, fireproof, flexibility to niches, shelves and benches which may be built-in (Snell and Callahan, 2005). The end aim for most styles and designs include less carbon footprint, less use of energy and new materials, less exploitation of natural resources, and an overall impact on the betterment of environment.

Recyclable Materials for Home Building

The innovative and adventurist spirit of artists and builders led to consideration of many used materials for recycling into buildings, specifically homes. Murphy (2009) reported several materials that were used by the construction company Phoenix Commotion to include license plates, crystal platters, frame samples, bottle corks, mismatched bricks, shards of ceramic tiles, shattered mirrors, bottle butts, wine corks, old DVDs and bones from cattle. From 14 homes (Appendix A) built by the company in Huntsville, Texas, eighty percent were recycled materials from trash heaps, picked from side of the roads, or salvaged from construction projects (Murphy, 2009).

While common materials recycled for building includes woods and metals, other emerging materials come from plastic and ceramics that are usually converted into tiles. Waste materials include light bulbs, glass bottles and window panes (Eco Business Links, 2010).

Recycled Windows and Doors

At XsStock, recycled products for doors and windows include used door panels, sliding aluminium and glass doors and windows, casement windows, glass and door combination sets, amongst others (XsStock, 2007).

Other ways of recycling in the manufacture of windows and doors for homes is that of the sustainable recycling of composite materials such as by-products. Small pieces of wood are finger-jointed reusing salvaged wood. These are also called re-constituted and were moulded from hardboard materials or earlier projects. It is recommended that doors and windows using finger-jointed materials be painted for aesthetic reasons and in controlled conditions, preferably in factories (Sustainable Sources, 2010).

Following is a comparative list of description and prices of various online vendors of doors and windows:

Eco-Friendly Others
Description Price Description Price
Used door panels, internal and external doors from demolished homes and buildings (Appendix B). Starts from £12.95 External Pine Hemlock Engineered Glued & Dowelled Pine Malton Flemish Pre-Glazed £100 (Door Depot, 2010)
Used aluminium sliding glass doors Starts from £129.46 Gliding glass door £1101.05
Assorted doors & French door set Starts from $150 Rio Hardwood French Door set 54mm, Factory-glazed with 24mm Low E insulating glass units;

Weather-stripped frame

£849.99
Used aluminium windows Starts from £32.36 Customised Est. starts at £64.73
Assorted casement windows Starts from £6.47 Andersen (DIY, 2010) Starts at £211.02
Recycled window and door combinations available in assorted sizes and styles to suit any era house Starts at £142.40 Customised Prices vary

In this period of economic instability, building homes has become such a challenge for ordinary families or partners wanting their own abode. Some cultures such as in the US, use of natural materials for eco-friendly purposes has become a trend in order to satiate personal goals and provide example to the global community (Snell and Callahan, 2005). As shown and described at Eco-Friendly Homes, families and friends work together to design and build homes such as the cob guest home (Alternative Housing, 2007). This also meant minimal cost for the home owners.

Previously, use of recycled materials in most aspects of consumer living meant a need to provide leeway for extra effort, time, skills and talent of recycling. Mass production in manufacturing has resulted to cost-efficient or lower prices for consumer products including building materials. But as landfills from demolished building and homes fill-up urban and suburban space, recycling has become inevitable. As Phoenix Commotion builder Dan Phillips has enumerated, there are the standard regulatory processes to building homes: meeting local building codes, consultations with professional engineers, electricians and plumbers for sound designs, layouts and workmanship, and if lucky, support from local or city government offices or agencies (Murphy, 2009). An eco-friendly home of 2,800 square foot with lower heating and cooling bills and better indoor-air quality has an additional £6472.94 on top of expense for regular new or raw materials (Max, 2007). This means that building eco-friendly homes differ with the purposes and use of eco-friendly materials. In their case, materials were chosen with the goal to reduce electric or energy consumption. This paper which focussed on the use of recycled doors and windows expect to save from £300 to £1,000 with those mentioned materials alone. Additional savings may be incurred with use of salvaged posts, wood frames, built-in cabinets and other features of the house. In total, an estimate of £3,000 may be saved using recycled materials in building a home.

Conclusion:

While it was argued earlier in the real estate industry that recycling is not cost efficient (Max, 2007), many families and individuals seek satisfaction derived from their awareness of contribution towards reduction of environment strain. Previously, new materials in housing have been a standard procedure followed by builders and supported by mass manufacturers. But they, too, are not immune of environmental problems from pollution, lack of available landfill space, climate changes, temperature and other concerns that nations are now jointly addressing. In fact, legislature mandates many localities to abide with environmental laws and support programs that help reduce human carbon footprint.

With growing awareness and more practice gained in education and spread of knowledge and skills in recycling, reusing, and reducing waste, cost of recycling has also been reduced. The cited examples in the use of recycled doors and windows provided in this report indicate this trend and it has the high probability to grow and expand in use and understanding. Both home owners and the environment become winners in this case.

Reference:

Alternative Housing. 2007. House Building with Cob: Videos to Inspire You. Accessed February 2010 from http://sicarius.typepad.com/althouse/ecofriendly_homes/

Andersen Windows and Doors. 2010. Sliding patio Doors. Accessed from http://www.andersenwindows.com/servlet/Satellite/AW/AWProductCategory/awProductCategoryList/AWProductCategory/1136264482563/1102951372828

Black Dog Publishing (2006). Recycle : a source book. London, UK: Black Dog Publishing

Do It Yourself. 2010. Casement Windows Prices. Accessed from http://www.doityourself.com/stry/casement-windows-prices

Door Depot. 2010. External Doors. Accessed February 2010 from http://www.doordepot.co.uk/store/external-wooden-doors/external-pinehemlock

Eco Business Links. 2010. Recycled Glass Tile Manufacturers. Accessed February 2010 from http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/recycled_glass_tiles.htm

Ecological Home Ideas. 2008. Shading Techniques Harness The Sun. Spring. Accessed from http://www.ecologicalhomeideas.com/resources/library.cfm

The Economist. 2007. “The truth about recycling”. The Economist. June 7, 2007. Accessed Feb 2010 from http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9249262

Max, Sarah. 2007. “Your Home: Is ‘going green’ worth the cost?.” CNN Money. June 21, Accessed from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/2007/01/01/8397399/index.htm

Murphy, Kate. 2009. One Man’s Thrash. New York Times, September 2. Accessed February 2010 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/garden/03recycle.html?_r=1

Snell, Clarke and Tim Callahan. 2005. Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods Earth Plaster * Straw Bale * Cordwood * Cob * Living Roofs. Lark Books.

Sustainable Sources. 2010. Windows and Doors. Accessed February 2010 from http://windowsdoors.sustainablesources.com/

XsStock. 2007. Recycled Doors and Windows. Accessed February 2010 from http://www.xsstock.com.au/easyweb3/ep_code-e002prdMoreInfo-prd_id-197844

Appendix:

A. Homes Made of Recycled Materials

EFFECTS OF STIGMATIZATION ON PEOPLE WHO ARE HIV-POSITIVE IN RELATION TO PHYSICAL DISABILITY

May 28, 2010

Introduction

Social workers are concerned with individuals in the society who suffer from disadvantage and social exclusion. This paper takes stigmatization as its central theme, considers its impacts for individuals and the community and those who may experience stigma through association. Evidence from research and practice will be used to explore a wide range of issues particularly concerned with HIV/AIDS. The focus of social work has been on anti-discriminatory practice and this corresponds with the need to provide individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS a safe haven where they can once again feel part of the community.

Initially, HIV/AIDS was not seen as a threat to the general public in United States and Europe owing to its association with stigmatized populations. Therefore, activists solicited political support for curbing the disease as a threat to general public health by proving that anyone could contract the virus and by showing that individuals suffering from the disease were being stigmatized unfairly (Mann 1996). During the initial years of the pandemic, policy and scientific literature on HIV/AIDS were centered on the identification of the agents of the disease and its modes of transmission, and looking for vaccines and cures. Today, the availability of HIV specific medical interventions and the fact that the virus affects an increasing number of world populations has resulted in problems that prevent the implementation of prevention and treatment strategies such as stigmatization to gain increased focus. The problem of stigma associated with HIV/AIDS has thus come to be highlighted in recent initiatives by various organizations.

From time immemorial, stigma has been a characteristic of numerous diseases particularly those that are transmitted sexually or terminal diseases. Currently, this problem is under investigation in various medical conditions that range from anorexia to stuttering, and encompassing sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The management, experience and incidence of medical conditions are today being seriously affected by stigma which quite often exacerbates the pandemic’s biological impact (McGrath 1992). Stigma has been used in the explanation of an array of varying problems. Particularly, it has been identified as a major reason behind the reluctance by many individuals to disclose their conditions, go for voluntary counseling and testing and health care. Stigma has also been recognized as a major cause of non-adherence to treatment (Black and Miles 2002). It has also been employed in explaining discrimination and negative attitude against PLHA (Bollinger 2002).

Disease stigma is a very common phenomenon with a multiplicity of causes and effects. It is also highly variable. Despite the recognition of the complicated nature of the subject and the depth of the factors that the term is used to explain, the available literatures fail to employ a common or coherent theory of disease stigma. The concept itself appear to be endlessly elastic; an idea with a wide scope that cannot maintain its core. According to Prior et al. (2003), stigma “is creaking under the burden of explaining a series of disparate, complex and unrelated process to such a degree that the employment of the term is in danger of obscuring as much as it enlightens.”

Literature Review

The majority of literature and research on HIV/AIDS stigma has been carried out in the United States. This is mainly because it has a wealth of research resources, heavy stigmatization of Haitian immigrants and African Americans as HIV/AIDS carriers and an early epidemic. In recent times, considerable attention is now being focused on HIV/AIDS research in Africa owing to the magnitude of the African epidemic, high levels of stigmatization in the region and the way HIV/AIDS issue has been politicized. However, there are still serious challenges facing the comprehension of HIV/AIDS related stigma because of the relative absence of scientific research on how HIV/AIDS associated stigma is manifested (Lorentzen & Morris 2003: 27).

The problem associated with HIV/AIDS stigma has been addressed in related research such as on hindrances to VCT, adherence, care and treatment; quality of life; and on social reactions to HIV/AIDS. Understanding HIV/AIDS stigma within the social, political, cultural and economic context is important as well as addressing stigma as among the causes of reluctance to test, discrimination and therapeutic non-compliance. However, it is important to clarify what is meant by stigma, its causes, and how it operates so as to highlight how it impacts on the society.

It may be said that a theory of stigma is irrelevant in evaluating its impacts on individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Integrating theory in this study is important in the sense that it enables a comprehensive understanding of stigma and its effects for the aim of coming up with a more integrated approach to anti-stigma interventions. It is more efficient to establish interventions established of careful analysis of the problem than to attempt new approaches that are likely to repeat the same mistakes. The way stigma is defined structures the comprehension of how it functions and the best way it can be addressed. Traditional psychological understanding of stigma implied that it is partly or entirely a problem of individual ignorance (Deacon et al., 2005:234). The implication of this view is that if people are provided with the facts, the silence that characterizes HIV/AIDS can be broken thus reducing ignorance while maximizing tolerance to people living with HIV/AIDS. Educational intervention for the general public is meant to serve this purpose.

However, stigma has not been eliminated by education. A critique of the traditional approach has been developed by some researchers in attempt to provide an explanation about this failure by education to eliminate stigma. According to these researchers, stigma is a complex social process associated with competition for power and integrated into the existing social processes of dominance and exclusion (Link & Phelan 2001; Fassin 2002; Stein 2003). They argue that it is important to explore issues of history, power and broader social functions of stigma. As such, they advocate for a view of stigma as a problem emanating from social inequality.

The importance of these approaches to stigma cannot be denied even though they contain some flaws. There is need to provide explanation for the functions or impacts of stigmatization without making reference to functionalism. There is also need to comprehend the role an individual plays in stigmatization without looking to individualism. The social and individual explanations have to be integrated in order to establish more holistic interventions. As suggested by Campbell (2001:6), there is need to establish an understanding of the complicated dialectic of the society and the individual which structure history, society and culture if they indeed shape health and sexuality. There is also need to comprehend stigmatization process and the particular context within which it takes place and its impacts so as to help in explaining its variable nature. Until this is done, there will not be any hope of developing effective interventions

Methodology

In racism, there has been a tendency to provide a definition of a concept such that it encompasses an ever widening array of phenomena. Such tendency has been referred to as conceptual inflation. Stigma, like racism, has fallen victim to conceptual inflation due to the fact that much of the literature on research either describes it as a phenomenon that results in discrimination or fail to clearly separate the two concepts. Combining stigma and discrimination is not always seen as a problem since the main concern about stigma is that it may result in unfair discrimination. Again, the tool most employed in the assessment of stigma is a questionnaire that measures self reported beliefs and intended behavior. Many research designs measure what individuals believe (stigma) and what they say they believe and what they do (discrimination) by what they say they will do. In this case, there is indirect measurement of discrimination rather than direct measurement. Questions concerning belief are combined with questions concerning intended behavior so as to establish ‘stigma index’. The assumption in this kind of research is that discrimination and stigmatizing attitudes are measures of the quantity of stigma that can be interchangeable since the common definition of stigma is held to be a phenomenon that leads to discrimination. In this regard, the stigma index is employed in determining the amount of problem caused by stigma in a given society and this is associated with its possible effects.

However, there are three reasons why this approach is problematic. First, what individuals say they do or believe cannot be directly translated into what they do (Joffe 1991). As much as some stigmatizing ideas may directly result in discrimination, there is no direct link between stigmatizing ideas and discriminatory actions. Not all discrimination is a consequence of stigma neither is all stigmatizing ideas results in discrimination. For instance, individuals living with HIV/AIDS may be denied a job owing to gender or racial prejudice and not because of stigma arising from HIV/AIDS. An individual holding stigmatizing beliefs towards people living with HIV/AIDS has very slim chances of acting on these beliefs. Combining stigmatizing ideology and discrimination obscures investigations into other probable causes of discrimination such as race, gender or class discrimination, and probably other channels for interventions against discrimination.

Secondly, the response of stigmatized individuals to stigma has no direct link to any degree of stigma in the general population. For instance, what people living with HIV/AIDS choose to do cannot be forecasted based on the amount of actual stigma or discrimination that they undergo personally. There are other factors that might affect the access and care by people living with HIV/AIDS such as the actions they may take in an attempt to avoid the kind of discrimination that people they know or media report, the particular meaning attached to HIV/AIDS and the level of confidentiality that the healthcare environment provides. It is difficult to accurately and effectively target interventions owing to lack of specific research on the relation between stigmatizing ideology and discrimination and how they affect access to treatment and care.

Consequently, a definition of stigma as something that leads to discrimination is also inadequate in the sense that it encourages a functionalist approach to stigma. The functionalist arguments have limitations because of its tendency to define the effect of something as its causal factor and because of the fact that they cannot be disproved owing to the cyclical nature of the arguments. For instance, if we assume the definition of stigma and discrimination as social processes that are associated with the reproduction of exclusion and inequality, deployed by solid and recognizable social actors seeking to legitimize their own dominant status within the structures of social inequality (Parker & Aggleton 2003: 18-19), it is clear that such a definition while explaining the persistence of stigma is a circular argument in its definition of stigma as something that leads to discrimination. This cyclical nature hinders debate and obscures investigations on the complex way in which stigma operates and how it relates with discrimination.

Results

The Impacts of Stigma on People Living with HIV/AIDS

The impacts of stigmatization on people living with aids can be understood from individual, social and health care perspectives. From an individual perspective, people may be discouraged from taking HIV test, sharing results and complying with treatment because of discrimination, fear of rejection and violence even when they are aware of the advantages of early detection. The sense of shame about the condition may also impact on an individual’s ability to take preventive actions. The stigma associated with HIV/AIDs also impact on the person’s access to work and health services apart from impacting on how they are treated by social, community and religious groups. For instance, in Uganda, the initial conception of AIDS as a terminal condition had a massive influence on resource allocation within the household and the provision of treatment (Goffman 1963:34). The patient’s or family denial of the symptoms was a common phenomenon which made it easier for resources to be diverted. Many HIV infected individuals were prevented from attending health care centers because of fear of stigmatization. In its place, they chose to be visited at home by health workers who visited at night. Among the economic consequences of the perception that AIDS was contagious was the fear to purchase produce from a family in which a member had contracted the virus.

In responding to fear of stigmatization and social isolation, many people living with HIV/AIDS avoid their involvement in community AIDS education even though this involvement offer them immense opportunity for correcting the numerous preconceptions concerning the virus and its mode of transmission (Wright 2000:6-7). There are also very slim chances of people who already belong to stigmatized populations to become involved with HIV prevention programs.

Families share in the effects of the infection and the related stigma. For instance, children whose parents died of the condition may be stigmatized by the community. Individual family members may also be compelled to endure physical and emotional stress that accompany caring for those infected particularly when they develop full blown AIDS (Sealey 1995: 108-119).

There are major psychosocial impacts experienced by AIDS orphans on the loss of parents and this may include stigmatization and difficulties in learning, low levels of social support, social ostracism, economic hardship and discrimination in every realm of life. These children may also be fearful of losing other individuals close to them. Other experiences include extreme loneliness, desolation, heightened levels of concealment as to the cause of parental death and unresolved grief (Devine & Graham 1999).

Discussion

Stigma is long known to have negative impacts particularly among those individuals who have life changing and devastating illnesses. In particular, the phenomenon is characteristic of people with HIV/AIDS illness. Apart from being subjected to life-altering changes in their daily activities, people living with HIV/AIDS also have to contend with the painful actions of others who often hold that these people should be further discriminated for their stereotypical deviant behavior. There are various forms of discrimination and stigma faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. These further result in the reduction of the overall quality of life and well-being.

The probable effect of stigma has been a major concern in addressing issues of HIV/AIDS. Stigma itself has been central to the worldwide AIDS challenge as the disease itself. Stigma at individual, community and societal level has had major implications for HIV/AIDS. Stigma is a common phenomenon when societies are faced with problems that appear to be beyond their control such as the HIV epidemic. When seen from the perspective of those individuals who feel discriminated, the direct consequences of stigma are terrible. In this paper, I will argue that the effects of stigma further impacts on the multiple dimensions of the lives of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and on a broader perspective, it affects the lives of the members of the society thereby creating disruptions in social functioning, increasing the vulnerability of individuals to infections and minimizing the overall caring capacity of communities. Stigma is a pervasive problem that impacts on global health while at the same time posing a major threat to one’s psychological and emotional wellbeing. Discrimination comprises of actions within which the context of stigma is applied whether at the societal level or individual level. the concept of stigma comprises of four components which are disparity in distinguishing and labeling, linking human differences with negative attributes, loss of status, and separating people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Stigma is also dependent on political, social and economic power since the introduction of stigmatization requires power. The stigmatized individual is often sapped of power which facilitates differences and minimizes the stigmatized individual or group’s self worth and social status (Link & Phelan, 2002).

The history of stigma and discrimination is nothing but shameful. The main role played by stigma in the establishment of difference and social hierarchy. It then legitimizes and perpetuates this social inequality (Parker et al. 2001). Discrimination on the other hand emanates from the point of disparity which can be consistently labeled. Such includes physical deformity, illness, racial differences or any other factor that makes an individual different to the perceived norm. Norm in this regard is defined with respect to power. Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation among other things has been the focus for discrimination. Discrimination has long been attached to illnesses. It has impacted on individuals with physical illnesses and mental disorder. Intervention has especially been difficult due to the complex nature of stigma and discrimination.

Stigma and discrimination are negative social processes that provide a feeling of protection to the powerful while maximizing the load on people who are victimized in the process. Stigma may be conceived of as a tool that more powerful groups employ as a protective mechanism. Its construction is such that it only affects those individuals to which it is directed and conceived to be at blame hence the justification of them being discriminated (Douglas 1995).

There are distinct characteristics possessed by stigma related with HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS related stigma is further heightened by the fact that it is layered with other kinds of stigma associated with drug use, homosexuality, gender, promiscuity, race, among others (Lee, Kochman & Sikkmema 2002:310). Communities that are viewed to be more affected by HIV/AIDS are often at the receiving end of discrimination. In this regard, stigma not only impact on the person who has been infected by the virus but also maximizes exclusion of those populations associated with that are already stigmatized. The initial years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States resulted in the fear of the gay community being isolated owing to the fact that the epidemic was large associated with the gay community. There were various attempts to dismiss the epidemic as a gay only disease and therefore there was no need for far reaching intervention.

There is danger of multiple stigmatizations in the case of AIDS. A person can fall victim to various forms of stigma and hence feel multiple burdens (Gilmore & Somerville, 1994). For instance, a physically handicapped HIV-positive woman would feel stigma in every dimension of difference with every kind of stigma isolating her from the various sectors of the community. In this regard, work based on combating HIV-related stigma need to interact with other stigmas that individuals experience (Brown 2004:65).

The establishment of discrimination on both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals have been associated with anger and fear (Kok, Kolker, de Vroome & Dijker, 1998). The development of stigma in HIV/AIDS has also been strongly linked with morality (Das, 2002; Golden, 1994). There has also been sharp distinction between those individuals who contracted HIV through organ or blood transfusion, women whose partners are not faithful and children of women with HIV; and people who are seen to be guilty and therefore deserve the disease (Schellenberg, Keil & Bem, 1995). Discrimination may also emanate from religious sector by making explicit and implicit judgments against people infected with HIV/AIDS (Paterson, 1996). There are documentations of attempts to label HIV/AIDS as punishment of sinners by God (Crawford, Allison, Robinson, Hughes & Samaryk, 1992).

The tendency to bale others is often reassuring psychologically since it separates the society into ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘Others’ are rendered guilty because of their unacceptable behavior. They are guilty of adopting modes of behavior that not only resulted in them being infected but also infecting other innocent individuals. This aspect maximizes the load of stigma carried by the population seen as responsible (Crewe, 1992). The link between HIV stigmas with gender discrimination has resulted in women being blamed for the spread of the disease. It is often expected that women should offer sexual services to men, be chaste and pure, and above all take the responsibility of not contracting disease and becoming pregnant (Leclerc-Madlala, 2002). The way of relating to someone who has contracted the disease also results in further difficulty.

There are numerous instances of discrimination introduced by various governments and these include policies that restrict admissions, deportation of foreigners, compulsory testing for those individuals seeking work permits and restricting individuals with HIV/AIDS to particular places.

A major effect of stigma and discrimination is that it conceals the magnitude of the epidemic thereby compelling individuals who have contracted HIV and any condition associated with it into hiding. It becomes difficult to acknowledge HIV/AIDS. Again, any relationship with the disease or individuals with HIV/AIDS can be a reason for that particular individual to be excluded from their community. The result is that the disease becomes concealed with the perceived threat being minimized. This also makes the disease to be someone else’s problem. The beliefs about stigma then start to facilitate the use of denial and distancing by individuals and communities as a defensive mechanism against the disease with the result that the need to adapt reduces (Skinner, 2001). Establishing barriers between infected individuals and the rest of the community consumes much energy which can be used profitably and steals the intervention of some of the most critical advocates for behavior change-those directly affected.

The result is that the epidemic disappears creating the chance for scapegoats concerning the individuals or groups associated with the condition. The scapegoat process may be dangerous as it pints the blame on a small percentage of the population while leaving the rest with a false conception that they are safe (Douglas, 1995). A major problem results when individuals who possess the power to construct interventions further use discrimination as a basis for failing to implement such interventions.

Discrimination has serious consequences on diagnosis and treatment. It may imply delay in treatment for the individual and hence delay in the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. It creates a situation in which the individual lacks the motivation to be tested as he/she fails to see the benefits since being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is equated with death apart from signing a warrant for discrimination. In particular contexts, people have been shown to be fear stigma associated with HIV/AIDS more than the disease itself (Lie & Biswalo 1994). Even for those individuals who know their status, discrimination may hinder their access to treatment. Many infected people are unlikely to acknowledge this fact to their families.

Stigma affects people living with HIV/AIDS themselves owing to the internalization of the stigma into their self-identity and self perception thereby affecting one’s perceptions and interactions. Research indicate that people living with HIV/AIDS feel a sense of isolation, guilt and shame which is normally integrated into identity (Kalichman, 2004). Therefore, stigmatization limits the general participation in life activities. The rejection experienced by people living with the disease affect their sense of self resulting in a feeling of compromise and blame for their condition. The way people living with HIV/AIDS see themselves and how they interact is influenced by internalization of stigma. This further affects the way the person copes with the condition.

Stigma has serious impact across various outcomes including self perception, motivation, group identification, social interaction, self-esteem, task performance and well-being. Individuals belonging to a stigmatized group are in most cases devalued, excluded or ignored. They may find it difficult to create a clear and accurate self concept particularly when it comes to realms that are relevant to stereotypes concerning the group. Because of their interaction with other individuals who are seen to hold negative stereotypes concerning the group, belong who belong to stigmatized groups may see themselves in ways that correspond with these stereotypes in an attempt to be socially accepted and maintain relations with them. General anxiety is maximized by constant negative experiences with stigmatization. Individuals who belong to stigmatized groups are also affected by their own experiences. The behavior of the members of such groups may also mirror negatively on them resulting in shame when seen as a confirmation of the negative stereotypes placed on their groups.

Research on the impacts of stigma has indicated wide and persistent impacts across an array of affective, behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Present work on stigma suggests that that there is much variation in responses across people, within people across time, and across situations. The available literatures also suggest that people who are stigmatized actively cope with the negative consequences of stigma.

Individual characteristics also influence how stigma affects an individual. The process of coping starts with appraising the threat and availability of coping responses. Characteristics of the stigmatized person in this process may impact on what is seen as threatening.

Stigma, Disability and HIV/AIDS

About 10 percent of the world’s population has some form of disability (Mont 2007). The link between HIV/AIDS and disability has not been accorded much attention even though individuals with disabilities are identified as among the major populations at a greater risk of being exposed to HIV/AIDS. Impairments may also be developed by people living with HIV/AIDS with the progression of the disease and may be therefore be considered have disability especially when economic, social and political hindrances limit their complete and effective participation in the community on an equal basis with other individuals.

The important social-psychological effects of HIV/AIDS and any other form of disability lies in how visual recognizable it is, the extent to which attention is drawn by the visibility, the perceived circumstances of the onset of the disability and the effort devoted by the victim in overcoming this condition (Heatherton, Kleck, Hebl & Hull, 2003:87). HIV/AIDS is known to result in some form of physical disability especially when it has developed into full blown AIDS. Owing to the fact that HIV incapacitates the immune system, the victim becomes vulnerable to numerous diseases which my disable him physically. Given the present state of empirical research on physical disability, very little is known concerning the moderating factors than we would have preferred to know and the magnitude of the knowledge we possess at the moment is limited to individuals who use wheelchairs.

There is need to discuss the non-equitable and dysfunctional interaction consequences that have been seen in physically disabled people. There is also need to discuss societal constraints that impact on the life outcomes of physically disadvantaged but are in most cases seen as irrelevant by individuals within the society who are not suffering from those physical limitations. The particular aspects that are associated with physical disability to a large extent influence social outcomes. For example, individuals whose stigmas are visible may be more affected negatively in both social interactions and in societal-level functioning as compared to those having invisible or non-obvious stigmas (Heatherton et al., 2003:102).

There is enough evidence from extensive empirical research which suggest that people with physical disabilities experience problematic social interactions on various realms (Heatherton et al). First person accounts indicate that individuals without any recognizable disability often muse at those who have physical disabilities (Goffman, 1963:21). A behavior that is especially disturbing to those with disabilities is the tendency of other individuals to want to assist them in numerous circumstances without being asked. This tendency is insulting but for people with full blown AIDS, this tendency is unlikely. This is mainly because of the stigma associated with the condition. However, this does not imply that people with HIV/AIDS experience any more satisfactory social interaction. If anything, their experience of social interactions is far much worse than those who are physically disabled for anything but HIV/AIDS.

However, there is an obvious limit to casual observation and first person accounts as methods for assessing the nature of social lives of individuals who are physically disadvantaged and stigmatized persons in general. Even though these accounts provide much information on how such individuals understand their interactions, the transactional nature of the processes of stigmatization is neglected. A complete comprehension of the nature of these processes may be greatly enhanced through a careful assessment of what transpires when stigmatized individuals interact with non-stigmatized individuals.

Studies conducted on such interactions suggest consistent evidence of non-equitable or dysfunctional outcomes. In earlier studies conducted on social interaction involving people with disabilities, Kleck et al. (1966) observed the behavior of people interviewing a confederate who either used or did not use a wheelchair. The results suggested that the participants were more aroused physiologically during the interaction, took more time in making a decision on what interview questions to ask, took a very short time to terminate the interview, and exhibited more behavioral inhibitions during interaction with physically disabled and non-disabled individuals (Kleck et al. 1966:200). Apart from this, the participants exuded a tendency of distorting their personal opinions to correspond with the opinions that are thought to be held by other people if that person was physically disabled rather than non-disabled. There is a clear indication of differential treatment in this study. However, interaction between individuals with HIV/AIDS and those who do not have adopts a dimension that suggests this non-equitable outcome even though at extreme levels since they are in most cases negative and evasive.

Similar studies also suggest this non-equal and avoidant behavior towards people with physical disabilities. Among the observations made among people without disabilities were minimized motoric behavior, minimized gestural behavior, and increased speaking distance when interacting with physically individuals. The majority of these responses are also observable in the interaction between individuals living with HIV/AIDS and those not suffering from the disease. People who do not suffer from the disease are also very protective of those close to them during such interactions. The most important findings in the above mentioned research are that non-disabled people may avoid interacting with physically disabled people if their motives are not detected.

Where such mixed interactions cannot be avoided, there could be serious communication difficulty. Individuals with physical disability are in most cases addressed in a simple language that is more appropriate to interacting with children. Additionally, people with disabilities are assessed more strictly for poor task performance (Ross & Levine, 2002: 97). They also receive verbal feedbacks that are anything but accurate. In various instances, people with physical disability are often accorded personality impressions that are excessively positive.

In many respects, any form of disability is a function of the environment as much as it is a function of the ability of those who inhabit it. Looked at from a social-psychological perspective, one’s self awareness of the disability and his/her sense of incompetence is exacerbated by an environment that is not easily accessible, or that demands unrealistic amounts of thought, energy and preparation. However, there is limited analysis of how the stigmatizing impact of physical disability is influenced by simple architectural barriers. At the lowest level, the pursuance of more active social life by physically disadvantaged individuals is seriously inhibited by architectural barriers. These hindrances may enhance psychological dynamics in such people to levels that maximize concentration on their limitations rather than their competencies.

The results of interaction and environment al constraints are not always constant across all forms of physical disabilities and contexts. For instance, a man who has acquired HIV/AIDS through blood transfusion may experience very different psychological situation as compared to a woman who has contracted the condition via sexual transmission. The two instances are different in a variety of dimensions even though this paper focuses on those that appear to be influential in determining that day to day interaction results and social lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and those with physical disabilities.

As such, the paper is concerned with the question of whether the stigma that is immediately visible has long been identified as critical in determining the results associated with a specific mark. Goffman (1963) differentiated stigmatized people into individuals with discrediting stigmas and those with discreditable stigmas. Under discreditable conditions with regard to HIV/AIDS blotches on the skin, excessive thinness or any other physical deformity. These are the most difficult to manage stigmas since those who suffer from them live in some form of glass houses. In other words, they are easily noticed. Discreditable stigmas are on the other hand difficult to manage for rather different reasons. It is normally upon the sufferer to decide when, how and to whom they are going to disclose the information about their stigma. There is always the risk of rejection whenever the time arrives for disclosure the victims are subject to withholding the stigma and act as if they do not exist. Various conditions fall within this category including homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.

The importance of visibility-invisibility aspect in the prediction of the consequences of interaction, self esteem, and overall social functioning has been noted by several researchers. The results of studies that have acknowledged the importance of these aspects suggest that disabled people whose stigmas are hidden or invisible have less problematic social interactions than those with visible stigma.

Another important aspect of stigma regards whether the disability is seen as controllable or uncontrollable (Heatherton et al., 2003:128). Research suggests that physical disability is mainly conceived to be uncontrollable (Carael et al., 2000:45). This view has led to non-stigmatized individuals to look at the bearers of such stigma with positivity, empathy and sympathy. However, this contrasts with stigmas that are seen to be controllable. Controllable stigmas are always met with hostility and negativity and it is within their category that HIV/AIDS fall. When physical disability can be attributed to factors that are outside one’s control, the individual may be accorded positive personality attributes, affects and skills than when it seen as a consequence of one’s actions (Heatherton et al., 2003:130). These findings correspond with those found in AIDS research. As mentioned, individuals who contract HIV/AIDS through sexually promiscuous and controllable behavior receive negative reaction as compared to those who contracted the disease through less controllable circumstances.

The controllability aspect is strongly associated with social theories of entitlement that individuals establish around stigma. Max Weber’s work on Protestant work ethic supports the view that people get what they really deserve and deserve what they get (Weber, 1904-1905). If a disabled or HIV positive individual is seen to have brought the condition on himself, it is very easy to attribute the condition to something that he deserved. There is always mixed reactions when the person is seen not to be responsible for the condition even though people will continue to attach some element of blame on the sick or disabled individual.

The degree to which sickness or disability impairs mobility is also another important feature that needs to be taken into consideration. The ease at which an individual can move around not only has physical consequences but also social and psychological consequences. A person with severe mobility limitations is always faced with various challenges including stares which constantly remind the individual of the stigma.

Stigmatized individuals as well as those not stigmatized seem to set expectations on the roles they play in interactions. These expectations however vary across two expectations: those who are not stigmatized concentrate don redefining or defining their sense of identities while stigmatized individuals undergo changes of personhood (Mo Kexteya, 2004:8). This is particularly true when the person has not had the condition for his entire life. When an individual becomes a member so a group that he/she had previously feared or pitied, he/she cannot avoid turning those feelings on himself or herself. The difficulty may lie in the fact that the social and psychological adjustments that are suddenly placed on the individual demand that he/she establishes strong coping skills. However, individuals with HIV/AIDS or any form of disability experience a range of strong emotions initially. Nevertheless, people are adaptive and can manage every kind of discomfort and difficulties. When people living with HIV/AIDS or physical disability ignore to focus on their disability and the resultant image problems, they may end up living a less restricted and narrowed life. There are possibilities of adjustment and various benefits can be derived from having such conditions such as awareness, compassion, self-assuredness and increased meaning in life (Sabatier, 1988:4-8).

For individuals without such conditions, their view may elicit stereotypes and stigma schemas. Such kinds of cognitive heuristics may be especially likely when there is no sufficient information about the person with the condition as compared to when much is known.

Conclusion

HIV/AIDS epidemic has been accompanied by stigma from its very beginning. The actual experience with stigma and discrimination and fear that characterize it minimize a person’s willingness to practice intervention, disclose his/her status, seek testing request for care and begin treatment. As the effort to address stigma and discrimination increase, so is the need for setting standard tested and validated stigma and discrimination indicators. However, there are limited measures that can describe and evaluate the existing environment.

Despite these inadequacies in measures for describing and evaluating the existing environment, there is a wide recognition that stigma and discrimination has negative consequences especially for those populations that are already isolated socially or have unequal status in society. These populations normally experience stigma founded on various markers referred to as multi-layered stigma. This paper has attempted to exhaustively look at the issue of stigma and discrimination and how it affects people living with HIV/AIDS especially with regard to physical disability. The paper has highlighted that the effects of stigma emanate from the fear of these effects which bar individuals from looking for information related with HIV/AIDS, getting tested and adopting preventive behavior.

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A CASE STUDY ABOUT A CLIENT WHO IS DEAF AND HAS ANGER MANEGMENT PROBLEM, SHE WAS SEPARATED FROM HER MOTHER WHEN SHE WAS 9MONTHS OLD

May 28, 2010

 

CONTENTS

Case Study

Introduction 2

The Subject: Jane 2

Systems Theory 3

The Attachment Theory 4

Service Users Needs and Issues 4

Intervention 6

Outcome 7

Values and Ethical Issues 9

Learning 10

Conclusion 11

References 13

Reflective Diary 14

References 18

CASE STUDY

Introduction

Working with patients with physical disabilities or sensory impairment offers one of the most interesting professions. Working in this kind of field has definitely been a fulfilling job, especially with the fact that I got to work with the families of these patients who are basically from different cultures and backgrounds.

The succeeding work on which I will reflect on shall focus on the point of referral. This reflection shall address questions that inevitably surfaced during the course of identifying the significance of this social work. This reflection shall try to answer what social work research knowledge which includes research work was drawn from this work? Moreover, it shall also reflect the result of the corresponding interventions. Apart from this, learning that involved values and ethical issues that inevitable arose from this work shall also be tackled. Such reflection shall present that realizations as well as the learning that were achieved in the course of the social work. Actions and decisions made shall also discuss in the objective of analyzing their significance to the decisions to be done in the future.

The Subject: Jane

The focus of this case study is an orphan who is to be guised in the name, Jane. For confidentiality purposes, her real identity shall be protected. I have been working with Jane since the October of 2008. A lot of issues were raised in the course of this case, and a lot of challenges were also presented before me that tested my ability to incorporate theories, my ability to research, my knowledge on legislation and policies as well as my knowledge in this kind of practice. Aside from the pleasure of exploring the wonders of social work as a profession, this case has also been a good opportunity which allowed me to deal with deaf service users as well as to recognize the anti-discriminatory practice issues related in this service user group.

The objective of this study shall delve on systems and attachment theory which has been utilized for this specific service user. Such theories shall be discussed in the succeeding parts of this discussion. To aid in fulfilling such an objective, the genogram below shall be used to represent the subject’s family situation:

Jane’s Genogram

First child

Second child

Mother

Father

Systems Theory

The Systems theory is an example of the complex interrelationship of ideology, theory and the resulting model of intervention. Hall and Fagen describe this theory as a set of onjects together with relationships between the objects and their attributes (cited in Vass, 1996 p21). The Systems theory offers social workers a perspective which encompasses both the individual and his or her social environment (Pincus and Minahan, 2007). However, it was also argued that this theory also tends to aid or destabilize systems, whether they are families, teams, or organization, so as to function efficiently. Apart from this, the concept of a system can also be problematic, as it may denote a set of organized social relationships that have almost a limitless scope (Vass, 1996).

The Attachment Theory

The Attachment theory deals with a long lasting emotional bond between two individuals, involving or seeking proximity between each other and finding pleasure in each other’s company (Bowlby, 1999). In relation to this theory, Bowlby argues that separation at an early age could become a disruption during the early stages of a person’s development. Over the years, Bowlby’s works together with other experts on this subject matter have been very significant within the field of social work as they bridge the gap between children’s emotional development and behavior, as well as the quality of their relationships with their parents and other significant personas. Consequently, the Attachment theory has been utilized extensively in day care settings, in residential and fostering facilities as part of child protection assessments (DOH, 1998).

Service Users’ Needs and Issues

Jane is a 22-year old Afro-Carribbean woman. She is a deaf service user and was separated from her birth mother at the age of nine months. Although she has a younger sister who is eight years younger than her, nobody could argue that Jane is literally an orphan since he never knew who her father is, since he fled just before she was even born. Jane lived under foster care for 15 years. In this span of time, Jane went to believe that the people who brought her up were her real parents. But at 15, she finally knew she was an adopted child. As what can be expected from a teenager who just discovered she was an orphan, Jane grew very irrational and disruptive from that moment on. She decided to move from her foster family to live in children’s home until the age of 18, when she had to move to a supported housing in Brent.

It was Jane’s key worker at the supported housing who referred her to the duty team. The social worker then obtained Jane’s personal information and updates personal details on the system including all equalities monitoring information. In this light, part of my role is putting details of service users on framework-I computer system. This system has been designed according to DOH regulations and best practice.

The first task of the key worker was to describe the main concerns and needs of Jane. He then stated that Jane has been expressing her unhappiness at the supported housing as she wanted to live independently. It was also said that she was very disruptive and irrational. Through the use of the fair access to care services criteria which determines an individual’s needs in four levels (critical, substantial, moderate and low), Jane’s level of needs and risks was verified during the referral stage. And thus, it was found that Jane is at the substantial level.

After determining Jane’s needs level, contact assessment was completed and recorded in framework-I within 48 hours of the first contact.

Jane’s situation met the eligibility criteria for assessment and service which was set at the earlier stages of this course. Thus, her case was discussed with duty manager who assigned the case to me for an overview assessment, which has to be completed within 28 days with accordance to the DOH guidelines.

The assessment was carried out under the section 47 of the National Health Service and Community Care Act of 1990. The assessment sought to identify the social care needs of service users, which cannot be met by their own resource systems, and aimed to promote independence as well (Parker & Bradley, 2003).

I coordinated with the staff at the supported housing regarding the booking of a date for the overview assessment. This was also done in order to make sure that the time is convenient with Jane and her foster father. I then booked an interpreter through the interpreting service for a BSL interpretation to enable me to converse and communicate well with Jane.

During the community care assessment, I introduced myself to Jane as a social work student. This part was not that easy for me during that time since I have not yet worked with deaf service users before. I became worried and somewhat scared to communicate with Jane since I have no idea during that time how to deal with deaf clients. Nonetheless, I was able to carry out such assessment through the assessment form. In the context of this case study, I would have to describe Jane’s assessment as a holistic and needs-led model. The following presenting problems were then identified: 1) hearing impairment, 2) weight problem (underweight), and 3) behavior problem (irrational and disruptive due to early age abandonment).

The theories and legislations that will be drawn upon this work shall include systems theory, attachment theory, NHSCCA 1990 and Data Protection Act of 1998.

Intervention

During the assessment, Jane expressed that she was not happy with the staff at the supported housing because it seemed to her that they really could not help her with her behavior problems. John, Jane’s foster father, explained that it has been difficult for Jane to live in the supported housing. Considering this predicament, I decided to utilize the Attachment theory of Bowlby (1999). To recall, the theory describes attachment as the long lasting emotional connection between two individuals which also involves seeking closeness between other as well as finding pleasure with each other’s company. Bowlby also explains that irrational behavior could be a result of a certain disruption in the emotional bond. This theory allowed me to understand that Jane’s behavior could be primarily due to her separation from her biological mother at a very young age.

Together with this theory, I also incorporated the Systems theory in this study so as to solve the dilemmas of Jane and her father regarding Jane’s wanting to live independently. This conflict made the dynamics within the group more apparent as Jane kept on insisting of living alone, while her father was left with holding her back since he was aware that Jane was not in the right emotional and physical state to live alone just yet – apart from the fact that her behavior also appears as a dilemma. As we went on with the interview, I was able to realize that Jane really needed some protection and guidance considering her situation, so I took the decision to let her stay at the supported housing.

NHS and Community Care Act 1990 is another legislation used in this work which deals with local authority carrying out assessment and having regard for assessment and provides care for the people who are eligible (Assessment and Care Management Manual, 2002).

In the assessment, through data gathered, it was deduced that Jane really needs counseling which will aid her in reducing her anxiety and frequent irritable tendencies. The intervention served as a very significant process where in I was able to connect and converse with Jane closely enough to understand her views, which eventually allowed me to forward some evaluation to her GP. I then discussed Jane’s anger management issues to her GP, and the GP agreed for a referral to the counseling services. I coordinated with all the professionals involved in Jane’s situation and we formed a planning meeting wherein we discussed Jane’s future housing. During the overview assessment, we planned to have a one-on-one session at the office with Jane. I then booked a BSL interpreter and a room for the said meeting.

Outcome

During the session, I felt a bit upset as Jane’s expression turned very frustrated due to her difficulty in communicating with me. Jane conveyed that she has been living from one children’s home to another since she left her foster parents. She explained that she wanted to meet her biological mother and that she did not know what she has done to deserve such a cruel fate of being abandoned at such an early age. I empathized with Jane at this point and felt a bit tearful when Jane mentioned what she just said. However, I opted not to show my emotions so as not to make her more upset and disturbed. In this part of working with Jane, I decided to incorporate the Systems theory. The Systems theory describes the understanding of social work based on analysis and activation of the human systems around the client (Pincus & Minahan, 2007). I was able to appreciate this ideal when I incorporated with other professionals such as GPs, psychologists and occupational therapists.

Going back to Jane’s sentiments, I was able to discover that Jane wanted to have her mother’s records so that she could contact her. However, I told her that that might not be possible since such information is being protected by the Data Protection Act of 1998. She discussed with me the possibility of meeting her half sister, and I explained to her that as much as I can I will try and contact her aunt to facilitate the meeting. Jane also revealed that she actually knows she has an anger management problem which she has to address. However she also expressed her difficulty in dealing with it. I then explained to her that it is normal for everybody to get angry; however it is important to understand that managing it is the key. I hoped to somehow alleviate her situation by suggesting that whenever she feels irritated, she could reduce her anger by writing her sentiments down. In incorporated such task to the task-centered approach by Payne (2005), which says that the task-centered approach is a social work approach which places strong emphasis on solving problems that clients consider as by the completion of a series of small tasks.

Jane continued to convey that her minicom has been broken and that I have to refer her to the Safe and Sound Department; however, the work was returned because she then lives in Brent, thus, the minicom needs to be provided by Brent social services since she pays her council tax in Brent since she has lived there for three years already.

After the session, a review meeting was set up. During the review meeting, Jane stated that she is unhappy at the supported housing, and that she wants to move on and live independently where she could live freely, following the life that she wants. The staff grew worried of Jane’s behavior, for even outside the housing facility she still appears to be at risk of discrimination because of her impairment. The outcome of this interview was to advice to Jane to sign a consent form for her file to be transferred to Brent, as Haringey social services are not ready to provide her with adequate support since she lives in Brent. Jane agreed for me to refer her to a housing facility in Brent. I then wrote a supported letter to Brent and assisted Jane to fill out a housing application. I then coordinated with her GP and requested him to carry out a mental capacity assessment just to ensure that Jane will be able to live independently in the community.

Values and Ethical Issues

Jane appeared neat and tidy, yet very thin during the first day of my visit. It was not easy to communicate with her as I had to make use of a BSL interpreter. However, I was able to manage to communicate with her in a sensitive manner, bearing in mind that we share some similarity as to gender and ethnicity (Banks, 2006). I was aware of my knowledge base and power imbalance during the assessment and service. I made a provision for a BSL interpreter so as not to make Jane’s impairment a hindrance to communication. And consequently, the conversations turned out just fine. This just shows how significant anti-discriminatory practices are especially when dealing troubled and impaired clients. I was also able to work closely with other professionals involved in the care provision to Jane. Furthermore, I was able to promote the use of assistive technology in reducing the risk and enhance independence. An example of this would be that particular situation when Jane complained about her minicom. I responded immediately by referring her to the safe and sound department in order to provide her with another minicom. I was also able to work in an anti-discriminatory practice by not threating Jane differently from others just because of her disability.

The major ethical issue that arose from this work is involved with her longing for a sense of belonging which made me empathize with her. However, the issue comes in with the fact that I cannot just give her the details and information regarding her biological parents since this will go against the Data Protection Act of 1998. I tried to contact he aunt, who appeared very difficult to deal with at first since she did not seem to be that interested in helping me to set up a meeting for Jane and her half sister. However in the end, I succeeded in organizing this meeting. During the anticipated, Jane expressed that her irrational behavior must have came as a result of her abandonment from her mother, since it was hard for her to grow up in a foster home. Her aunt explained to her that her mother was unwell at the time she was born that was why she could not look after her. Thus it was revealed that sending Jane to a foster home was not indeed her mother’s deliberate decision. With this, I used the systems theory by Pincus and Minahan (2007) which says explains that Jane’s disruptive and irrational behavior might have been brought by inadequate support and guidance. In was able to appreciate this theory well since I was able to know how to work and experience family dynamics. After the meeting, I closed Jane’s file as she will no longer be my service user anymore as her file has already been transferred to Brent.

Learning

Doing this work has allowed me to learn a lot of things. Firstly, I have learned to understand a client group, how to communicate with them as well as how to engage them in conversations. In the case of Jane, it was difficult for me to work with her initially. But I have learned to use the interpreter all the time, and this made me realize that indeed, communication will never be impossible. I have also learned that advocating on behalf of service users actually goes a long way by enabling and empowering them to live more independently in the community. I have also learned how to incorporate theories, legislations, policies as well as social work knowledge in this kind of practice. I realized the significance of working with other professionals when it comes to foster care. I realized how important it is to work closely with families when it comes to this kind of cases. I also learned that in this kind of work the principles underpinning the assessment framework of being client centered. I was also able to treat my client with respect and dignity by not being judgmental about her behavior as well as he physical disability.

If there is something I would have done differently, it is probably to see her more often than I did so as to get to know her more. However, due to the inconsistent availability of a BSL interpreter, this was not that easy to accomplish.

Conclusion

Doing this kind of work has given me a lot of realizations and learning relating to referral processes and care management. This has also given me a lot of information about how social workers go about their job. I was able to understand that working with deaf service users needs utmost focus and effort when it comes to communication since it appears to be the greatest challenge in these cases. I have learned the value of treating people equally regardless of their color, race, gender, religion and even their disability. A lot of issues arose, but through the help of theories and legislations, I was able to successfully manage such dilemmas. And aside from the fulfillment brought by helping another person, a deeper sense of fulfillment comes with the fact that I was able to at least make a person happier than what she was before.

References

Assessment and Care Management Manual (2002) Step by Step guide to assessment and care planning. Haringey Social Services.

Banks, S. (2006) Ethics and Values in social work, 3rd edition. BASW, Palgrave Macmillan.

Bowlby, J. (1999) Attachment, 2nd edition. Attachment and Loss. Vol.1, New York, Basic Books.

Coulshed, V & Orme, J. (2006) Social Work Practice, 4th edition. BASW, Palgrave Macmillan.

Data Protection Act (1998).

Department of Health (1988) Quality Protects Circular: Transforming Children’s Services. London, The Stationery Office.

National Health Service and Community Care Act (1990).

Parker, J & Bradley, G. (2003) Social work practice: assessment, planning, intervention and review. Great Britain, Learning Matters Ltd.

Payne, M. (2005) Modern Social Work Theory, 3rd edition. Great Britain, Palgrave Macmillan.

Pincus, A & Minahan, A. (2007) Women, the family and social work. Routledge Publisher.

Vass, A. (1996) Social Work Competencies: core knowledge, values and skills. London, Sage Publications Ltd.

REFLECTIVE DIARY

As part of my final year in social work training, I was placed in the Physical Disabilities/sensory impairment team. Part of my duties is to work with individuals, families, carers and groups of people with diverse background. Having been placed in a different setting from this, from my first placement, I saw this statutory placement as an opportunity of approaching my work differently. At the university, I became more knowledgeable about using social work theories such as systems theory, attachment theory, and interventions such as crisis intervention and Task-centred approach.

Systems theory is an example of interrelationship of ideology, theory and the resulting model of intervention. It offers the social worker a perspective which encompasses both individuals and their social environment (Pincus and Minahan 1973 cited in Vass, 1996 pg 21). I thought this theory was appropriate because it helped me in the case of JC in stabilising her emotional and physical well-being in order to function effectively and smoothly (Vass 1996).

My interventions focus on systems theory (Pincus and Minahan 2007) that proved useful in providing accounts of JC’s support, which in JC’s case revealed that she was a victim of prejudice attitude towards her substance. The reason I had for using this theory to inform my practice was because of JC’s family situation. She does not have any social contact and I felt that systems theory will be useful as it will give her the opportunity of working with other professionals which will form a social support in meeting her needs.

JC is a 41 year old British woman who has just been recently diagnosed with HIV. She is going through depression as a result of the illness. JC has no social contact as she is worried about issues of confidentiality (Parker & Bradley 2003). I was full of anxiety to work with JC as she had a history of substance misuse and she was depressed at that moment in time. When I got in there on the day of the assessment her flat was very messy and untidy. I felt a bit uncomfortable at that point but I had to re-adjust myself so as not to show my feelings to JC, since my first priority was to protect the rights and interests of my service user (Banks 2006). I knew from the day of the assessment that JC would like to live independently, therefore my focus was to do everything possible that will give her that privilege. I was able to work with JC in an anti-discriminatory manner by not treating her different from people who have no physical disability (Banks, 2006). Bearing in mind that JC had no social contact, I made referrals to other professionals on behalf of JC due to my knowledge of systems theory. As she did not meet the criteria for service provision for personal care since she was able to carry out her personal care, I referred her for an OT assessment to enable her in carrying out her personal care without difficulty. I showed her to places such as the drop-in centre where she can meet with other HIV positive people. This intervention was quite useful as she can hear from someone who has been living with HIV for 10 years or more, and that gave her hope. I liaised with her GP with her consent in order to disclose her medical record. I sent a referral to psychology service for counselling, as well as a referral to a supporting team to help her with benefit maximisation and other financial matters (Dominelli 2004).

Reflecting on my learning for the experience of applying theory to practice has made me understand that without theory it will be difficult to actually practice one’s learning. Systems theory has made it easier to work with JC as she is a newly diagnosed person with HIV (Surface, D 2007). I was able to help her cope with HIV in a wide variety of settings including referrals to hospitals, infectious disease clinics and HIV service organisations. I was able to build relationship of rapport and trust with JC, which is one of our strengths as social workers (Trevithick, 2000). The comment from the peer assessment feedback was also useful in this piece of work as it seems to be reflective of the work I have done, which was actually positive. I was able to change the theory I used in the peer assessment process as it was not one of the theories used in this module; but the systems theory has been quite appropriate with my work with JC as it focuses on problem solving.

My critical analysis of applying systems theory to practice is that the diverse range of skills, knowledge and approaches of social work are all relevant and needed in work with adults. Adults are amongst the poorest and most poorly housed members of society. This means that workers must have a good knowledge of the welfare and housing rights and legislation, or of where to find this information (Vass 1996 pg 122). This was the intervention I incorporated in my work with JC after the assessment.

I was able to recognize the confidentiality issues with JC as she does not have a social contact with family and friends due to the stigma attached to people who are HIV positive (Goffman, 1990) – and I am very much aware of these issues in working with JC. I treated JC with dignity and respect, even though I was a bit frightened at the initial stage of the assessment due to disposition, coupled with the fear of the unknown; but I was able to adjust myself not to show all such feelings.

Conclusion

This reflection has shown a contemplative view of work practise and the corresponding theory involved. This area of work also required great sensitivity and tact due to the serious implications of HIV. Having the time for reflection has shown how much skill and knowledge social workers must acquire to work effectively in this fragmented and sensitive field. Background reading and research have been very important in relating theory to practice. In addition to the skill at viewing the varied complexities of the clients’ lives, social workers dealing with HIV patients can benefit by becoming aware of the deeper cultural resonance of the clients’ condition. Sometimes, I think social workers have to struggle to learn about what AIDS really is (Cox cited in Surface 2007). It is indeed not just the medical facts. There is a bigger picture, a whole meaning system that is highly individualistic. It was a really stirring and inspiring experience to deal with because of the fact that there is still so much stigma attached to HIV worldwide.

References

Banks, S. (2006) Ethics and Values in social work, 3rd edition. BASW, Palgrave Macmillan.

Dominelli, L. (2004) Social Work; theory and practice for a changing profession. Oxford, Polity Press.

Goffman, E. (1990) Stigma. Penguin Books.

Parker, J & Bradley, G. (2003) Social Work Practice: assessment, planning, intervention and review. Great Britain, Learning Matters Ltd.

Pincus, A & Minahan, A. (2007) Women, the family and social work. Routledge Publisher.

Surface, D. (2007) Social Work Today: HIV/AIDS medication compliance, how social support works. Accessed @http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/septoct2007p20.shtml. On 22nd of February, 2009.

Trevithick, P.. (2000) Social Work Skills; a practice handbook. Great Britain, Open University Press.

Vass, A. (1996) Social Work Competencies: core knowledge, values and skills. London, Sage Publications Ltd.