As the Midwest and Northeastern United States thaw out from our early January “Polar Vortex,” I can’t help but wish governments and corporations would make self-improvement resolutions like so many people do during this time of year. Corporations are, after all, afforded the rights of “personhood,” so why not? What would their lists include? In my dream scenario these bodies would resolve to abolish themselves but, assuming this won’t happen any time soon, I significantly lower the bar. Perhaps something like, “This year, I resolve to stop exacerbating climate change. I will try really hard to protect the earth and respect the people who live on it.” Sadly, such self-initiatives are also unlikely. Fortunately, collective action has a history of forcing governments and corporations to halt their rampant destruction. more...
Crime is a global phenomenon. From the most highly developed states to the least developed ones, crime represents a significant threat to social well-being. And because of its ubiquity, unsavoriness, and harmful qualities, criminal activity has the distinction of being a social event that is often blamed on the individuals who live on the fringes of a society. For immigrants, this tendency to place the blame of crime on the less well-off members of a society is particularly dangerous since they often find themselves occupying some of the lowest rungs on a nation’s social ladder. Unsurprisingly, the consequences of criminal allegations against immigrants are likely to be severe; such allegations are also likely to reinforce the strong and enduring belief found in many countries that immigrants bring with them high criminal propensities (Citrin and Sides 2008; Ousey and Kubrin 2009). more...
Bob Howard of the BBC has recently published an article looking at a scheme to combat sex offender recidivism. Originating in Canada, friendship circles are ‘based on the premise that while some offenders have friends and family to return to when they come out of prison, others have not and the more isolated they are, the more likely they are to re-offend’. Throughout the article, Sarah from London talks about her experiences as a volunteer for the child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
Given the emotive nature of the crimes these particular offenders have been found guilty of, it is unsurprising that Sarah admits to some trepidation and concern prior to volunteering for the scheme. However, taking into account the positive results reported by Canada (currently a reduction in reoffending of 70%) it would appear to be more effective than traditional and arguably, more punitive methods.
Perhaps understandably, the scheme is not without its critics. For example Peter Saunders of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood suggests that electronic tagging would be a more appropriate response. Judging by the angry public comments which invariably follow any news story on the rehabilitation of sex offenders (this one included) it would seem that supporters of this scheme will have their work cut out.
China aims to experience 8% economic growth in 2010, even after accounting for the global downturn. Since Beijing has targeted 8% economic growth in the past several years and has reached its goal each year, analysts consider China’s target as reasonable.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects China to exceed its goal, experiencing at least 9% economic growth in 2010. Meanwhile, the IMF only expects India to grow by 6.4%, Canada by 2.1%, Japan by 1.7%, the United States by 1.5%, and the United Kingdom and France by 0.9%.
China expects to experience economic growth because of implemented government stimulus measures and increased industrial production. Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong states: “Based on the central government’s target for around 8% economic growth, we’re aiming for around 11% growth in industrial output.” Since industrial output increased 19.2% in the previous year, it is possible for industrial input to increase 11% this year.
The links between illegal drug use and crime, particularly acquisitive, have long been recognised as problematic. Recent statistics published in The Independent suggest that as few as ten percent of addicts commit 75 percent of all acquisitive crime. In spite of these consistently dispiriting figures, the familiar approach is one of punishment, with some attempt at rehabilitation. Moreover, all of these programmes have at their foundations an aim to ensure their clients maintain complete desistance from drug use.
However, recent trials—first at the Maudsley Hospital in London, but later extended to Darlington and Brighton—suggest that the way to break the link between drugs and crime should be tackled in an entirely different way. The creation of so-called NHS “shooting galleries”, where long-term addicts can get a regular, monitored fix of heroin, would appear to be having success, not only in cutting crime, but also in reducing drug use. This week the UK National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse is expected to call for a network of these clinics to be created across the country.
However, illegal drug (ab)use is often seen very emotively, and while this initiative may make good economic and indeed, medical sense, there will be many critics. First, the programme is not cheap (although cheaper than prison), second, the already over stretched budgets of the NHS, and finally, the moral dimension, as to whether those criminalised should be given free drugs, regardless of benefit to society. No doubt this debate will continue for some considerable time.
Due to increasing fears surrounding the spread of the influenza A (H1N1) or Swine Flu, participating countries in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations are banning pork products and increasing trade restrictions, all in an atempt to contain the virus. The irony of the situation, as some environmentalists and other critics argue, is that the lax rules and regulations surrounding free trade agreements such as NAFTA are partially to blame for creating the necessary conditions leading to such an outbreak. Sewage-filled lagoons at pig farms and heavily polluted towns near industrial factories in Mexico are cited as the products of NAFTA deals which have evaded environmental and health protection laws, otherwise enforced in Canada and the U.S.
The situation lends itself to a number of interesting sociological perspectives which draw upon a diverse multidisciplinary framework. The examination of inherent inequalities of free trade agreements for particular groups and countries is long overdue. The increasing polarization between the global North and South to some degree can be attributed to the impacts of globalization. Another related important field of study is the geographic distribution of diseases and well-being. The distribution of infectious diseases is not only related to the geographic conditions of countries but also the social and environmental conditions that differ across groups.
With a little background research for context, the attached map of the global distribution of diseases demonstrates the prevalence of certain types of diseases in certain geographic regions. HealthMap.Org provide users to examine the distribution of different diseases worldwide.
The success and integration of immigrant minority groups in North American labour markets have always been quite futile in comparison to their North-American and European-born counterparts. Recent findings from the 2006 census, released by Statistics Canada, show that the children of Chinese and South Asian immigrants to Canada fare much better over time than children of Blacks, Filipinos and Latin Americans. Second- and third-generation Chinese and Japanese Canadians have surpassed the income of all other groups of newcomers, including whites. The sociological concept, segmented assimilation, can help us understand why some children of immigrants may do better or worse than others. Segmented assimilation refers to the potential outcomes evolving out of adapting to particular groups in the host society. It suggests that people adapt to certain societal norms, but not others because of the groups they identify themselves with (race, class, etc.). So it could be that those who are doing better are associating themselves with the “right” groups. Many other factors contribute to the success and integration of immigrant groups, however, the groups we choose to associate ourselves with can open or close many doors.