Migration and Representation

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The position of Asylum seekers and refugees has regularly emerged as a vexed issue in Australian society since 1999 (Romano 2004). Regularly a political agenda, the media and government frame the ‘boat people’ in a negative light. Uneducated, violent males convey the stereotype presented in images put forth to the public. These images are interlinked to create a narrative fueled by myths and misrepresentation.

“Media representation of refugees in Australia, like everywhere else, depict a picture of humanitarian refugees as villains or victims, without ever offering a reading of the cultural complexity of refugee experience”. Salazar p7

Metaphors of invasion like ‘flooding the country’ are often used to describe citizens seeking asylum. The media has characterised asylum seekers by five negative themes; criminality, illegality, threats to national and local identity, economic threat and social deviance. These characteristics dehumanise refugees and many Australians believe that the ‘boat people’ are treated far to generously. Australian television show Today Tonight aired a segment that fueled the myth that refugees live in luxury, with the audience feed inflammatory nonsense, leading to misinterpretations (Media Watch, 2014). Politicians, opinion leaders and media outlets, make this interpretation respectable, further feeding into the fear of race, hate and violence.

The documentary Go Back To Where You Came From produced by the ABC, shows the political mess in a new light. Its aim is to show the personal sacrifice the refugees are marking, risking their lives to flee their devastated, (most likely) worn torn country.

I happened to watch this documentary when it aired in August 2012 and what ultimately shifted my opinion on the debate were the terrible conditions in the Refugee camps and the thousands of malnourished children who are no bigger than the size of your hand. The real question here is, how does the Australian public identify the gaps in the information being presented and how do we convince the government and journalists that not all Asylum seekers fit the stereotype of ‘poor, brown and destitute’ (Dauvergne, 2008)?

Diasporic media plays a vital role in removing the stereotype by encouraging participatory media production. By enhancing the confidence of minority ethnic individuals and communities, this grassroots approach shapes their new environment and familiarises them in a less intimidating way (Sukhmani, 2014). From this we can conclude that refugees are no longer passive consumers rather active participants due to the increasing access to media production.

References

Salazar, Juan Francisco. (2012). ‘Digital Stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’. 3CMedia: Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication, Issue 7. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezpr oxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?vid= 3&sid=c5373eb0-b85c-44ea- b3e5- cc2e901acc61%40sessionmgr40 03&hid=4201&bdata=JnNpdGU 9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db= ufh&AN=79551905. Accessed 20 May 2014

Romano, Angela R. (2004) Journalism’s role in mediating public conversation on Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia. Australian Journalism Review, 26(2), pp. 43-62, accessed via UOW Summon

Media Watch, 2011, TT’s False Facts Fuel Fear, 24 Oct, viewed 20 May 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3346987.htm

Sukhmani, K 2014, Diasporic Media, lecture, University Of Wollongong, 19 May, accessed via UOW Moodle 19 May 2014

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Workplace social media policies

As with most workplace policies, a social media policy has a dual role. The first aim is to provide guidance to employees so that their use of social media doesn’t get them into trouble (or at least, doesn’t get them into trouble in a way which concerns the employer). However, if trouble cannot be avoided, the second aim of the policy is to provide a firm basis for any disciplinary action (including dismissal) which the employer considers to be necessary.

In late 2011 Fair Work Australia reinstated an employee of Linfox who had been dismissed for material, which the employee has posted on Facebook. Linfox did not have a social media policy at the time of the employees dismissal, relying on their induction training and guidelines handbook hence why Fair Work Australia won the case and labeled Linfox’s use of the training guidelines as “non sufficient”.

Author of No Social Media Policy? “Not sufficient”, says Fair Work Australia, Angus Macinnis, identifies four broad areas in which social media use has the capacity to affect employment – leading to concern for the employee, thus social media policy action must take place.

The first area is social media use, which has the capacity to damage the employee’s professional reputation.

For example contact between a teacher and a student may give rise for favouritism.

The second area is social media use, which has the capacity to damage the reputation of the employer.

The following case study is an example of a prank gone wrong. Thanks to the power of social media, they ended up with felony charges, millions of disgusted viewers, and a company facing a public relations crisis. A week after the video went viral the franchisor’s share price fell by 10%. This is a clear example of how social media can turn small incidents into marketing crisis. Practitioners call this a digital crisis. Even though apologies were made and workers claim they didn’t serve any of the tainted food, they were still fired.

The third area is social media use, which has the capacity to damage the employee’s ability to work with their colleagues.

Harmless conversational banter at the pub with a work college can be justified, however once you put something online it there forever (change this wording)

The fourth area is social media use, which breaches another of the employer’s policies. This includes discrimination, harassment and the next case study, OH&S.

15 miners sacked and banned from company projects for life after shaking up work place policies. Surprisingly not all 15 were involved in the dance. on lookers were also sacked. Breach of Barminco’s “core values of safety, integrity and excellence”. The Harlem Shake as many of you already know is 30 seconds that can make or in this case break you!

 

There was one claim for unfair dismissal, Stephen Dixon, on the basis that it was harsh and unjust to sack him over the incident. Interestingly enough, the miners discussed safety before the dance ensuring they wore the necessary helmets, cap lamps, glasses and portable oxygen devices. Their reasoning for not wearing their long sleeve shirts was so the Barminco logo was not visible. The company still stuck to their policy regarding values and will not make any exceptions.

Making employees aware that social media use is relevant to employment is detrimental to the reputation of an employee, employer and a brand. Barminco is a contracting company, this case has severely damaged its professional reputation, which will hinder future contracts.

The Cosmic Law – Don’t post anything which you wouldn’t want to see next to your name on the front page of a newspaper.

 

 

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Lock up the Children | Technology, Anxieties & Regulation

History has told us that as every new technology emerges so does another anxiety. From the development of publishing and the idea that citizens will read and not work, to television stopping children from playing outside, anxiety towards technology is a common concern when placed in the traditional context of society. Furthermore we are seeing the demise of the ‘private space’ with our children accessing explicit content in their bedroom. This intrusion of domestic space further feeds into the already existing moral panic over technology and the availability and circulation of explicit content on the Internet.

Social media acts as a portal of empowerment, entertainment and communication for youths, however it has also brought upon new fears surrounding privacy concerns, digital footprints and the notion of its unhealthy environment. Due to their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents become a vulnerable aspect to the online environment when participating on social media platforms (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson 2011). Content on social media platforms and the Internet as a whole, exposes youth to explicit, sexualised and inappropriate content, hence why mandatory Internet filtration must be imposed. Whilst the public tends to focus on the implications of social media, we must not neglect the increased exposure to a wider variety of mediums such as television, music, advertising and video games which also prove to be harmful material (ALRC 2012).

When looking at the Internet as a whole, a neglected aspect of public policy that needs to be considered in the Internet filtering debate is the questions of how we sensibly balance the risks posed by online material, particularly to children verses the freedom of choice and responsibility for adults who want to consume and produce content online (Lumby et al 2009). We’ve all heard it before but I will say it again, where do we draw the line?

Our convergent media environment presents major new challenges; expectations by the wider community assume that with certain media content classification information will accompany it (ALRC 2012). These anxieties and concerns translate into pressure to regulate which leads to enforced regulations to protect children form the exposure to inappropriate media content, couched in the discourse of power.

But wait parents; the end of the world is not upon us. In order to keep out porn, gore, racism and cyberbullying, “Facebook has fashioned itself the clean, well-lit alternative to the scary open Internet for both users and advertisers” (Chen 2012). Whilst this excessive censorship is a horary from the parents, on the other hand, majority of the population are in serious uproar. From homophobia to the debate surrounding art verses pornography Chen (2012) states that these censorship scandals haven’t helped Facebook’s opacity regarding its content moderation process. The vague policy yet again adds to the ongoing debate of control verses regulation.

The following images are from an advertising campaign run by a French Advocacy group against protecting children from online predators. The humorous approach depicts real-life emoji’s, educating children on the dangers of online chat rooms and asks youths to questions who is behind the online conversation. For more information on the campaign click here.

 

References

ALRC, 2012, Classification – Content Regulation and Convergent Media, Report, Australian Government, 29 February, viewed 12 May 2014, accessed via UOW Moodle.

Chen, A 2012. “Inside Facebook’s Outsourced Anti-Porn and Gore Brigade, where ‘Camel Toes’ are More Offensive than ‘Crushed Heads.’” 16 Feb. 2012. Gawker, http://gawker.com/5885714/inside-facebooks-outsourced-anti-porn-and-gore-brigade-where-camel-toes-are-more-offensive-than-crushed-heads

Lumby, C. Green, L and Hartley, J 2009, Untangling the Net: The Scope of Content Caught by Mandatory Internet Filtering. Report, Viewed May 11 2014 via UOW Summon.

O’Keeffe G, Clarke-Pearson K, 2011, The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families, Pediatrics, Clinical Report, March 28, viewed May 12 2014, http://machadok.faculty.mjc.edu/SocialMediaImpact.pdf

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Multinational Corporations and Global Production

Media and cultural studies built largely on theories from the US and UK broadcast model are entering a stage of transition where a complex mediascape of vigorous changes and uneven context of local, national, transnational and regional media environments vary significantly (Tay & Turner 2008). No longer should our focus be on dominant monopolies in the West, rather, the minorities in the East must be viewed as an influential power in present and future media studies.

Globalisation refers to two related but separate processes that have implications for the media (Khorana 2014):

1. They ways in which technologies can overcome global distances, so that some people live in a world that seems borderless

2. They ways that one particular economic system – ‘the free market’ or global capitalism – now permeates most of the globe.

Whilst technological convergence has created what is called a global village, overcoming distance and removing boarders, conversely global production and circulation of communication technologies has resulted in controversies about the working conditions in Apple factories in china, the mounting problem of e-waste and the use of conflict minerals.

Apple has an incredibly fast refresh rate of new products and gadgets with technologies being out of date within 12 months of purchase. This is Apple’s business model for the entire consumer electronics industry and it’s unsustainable (Rees 2011). This ever-increasing consumption rate leads to problems regarding e-waste. There is a booming e-waste trade in Africa where thousands of vendors repair and sell imported used electronics. However beyond the thriving storefront and piles of refurbished wares, a darker picture emerges. A staggering 75% of electronics are irreparable junk, a capacity that thriving repair market cannot safely deal with, leading to landfill and ultimately resulting in toxic e-waste (Schmidt 2006).

Ralph Litzinger (2013) writes an excellent article detailing the consequence of the working conditions in the Chinese factory Foxconn and the workers fight against multinational corporations. In 2010 eighteen workers between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five attempted suicide, fourteen of which died. Within days the Chinese media dubbed the incidents “suicide express” and it soon caught momentum in blogosphere and Western media. Apple and other multinational corporation, including Dell and HP play a central role in the Foxconn factories. What amazed me the most was Foxconn’s response to the situation, the video below will explain…

A concentration of land in Congo’s eastern providence lies the Killing Fields, a region full of the worlds richest sources of gold, diamonds, timber and more recently, minerals such as tin and coltan, both critical to the high-tech circuitry found in popular electronics (Eichstaedt 2011). Due to its wealth a state of war has raged since 1996, marking the extensive and frequently illicit exploitation of mineral wealth in the region. Unfortunately for Apple, the brand was associated with the use of these minerals and the conflict in the Congo.

On a brighter note, in February 2014 Apple announced its plans to cease using conflict minerals, only sourcing supplies of cobalt, tin and gold from conflict-free smelters. For further information view Alex Hern’s article.

By exploiting workers in developing countries, multinational corporations are increasing the global divide. The irony here is, technology brings the Global west closer but pushes away the minoritised East.

References

Eichstaedt, P 2011, Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadliest Place, published by Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QgVih-DiaP8C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=conflict+minerals&ots=CQVwkQOBgB&sig=T2Qkh-xz7CfCsOlXiXqzw5D6mjA#v=onepage&q=conflict%20minerals&f=false

Khorana, S 2014, Globalisaiton and the Media, BCM310 Emerging Issues in Communication and Media, Lecture, 12 May 2014, accessed via UOW Moodle

Litzinger, R 2013, The Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 112, Issue 1, p. 172, accessed via UOW Summon

Rees, E 2011, Apple: The Hidden Cost of your Ipad and Iphone, 4 April, viewed 13 May 2014, http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/837185/apple_the_hidden_costs_of_your_ipad_and_iphone.html

Schmidt, C 2006, Unfair Trade e-Waste in Africa, Environ Health Perspect, viewed 13 May 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440802/

Tay J, Turner G, 2008, What is television? Comparing media systems in the post-broadcast era, Vol no 126, February 2008, accessed via UOW Moodle.

 

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The West and the Rest | Stereotypes in Pop Culture

Karen Smith famously said “So if you’re from Africa why are you white?”, contributing to the growing debate surrounding stereotypes in popular culture. This famous Mean Girls quote was surprisingly my first thought whilst watching novelist Chimamanda Adichie tell her story of finding her authentic voice. Ms Adichie exemplifies impressionable people’s vulnerability to pop culture and how a single framed approach leads to misinterpretations.

Children are feed multiple forms of media from literature to film; Adichi articulates the importance to teaching children to avoid stereotypes and forming a single story approach. Specifically focusing on Africa, poverty, violence and coloured skin forms the Western ideal of “authentic Africa”. The West is blinded by the growth of multiculturalism and the educated middle class men who do exist in Africa. Another significant point Ms Adichie exemplifies, is our ability to symbolize characteristics with an entire country, Africa is a continent and we (the west) often ignore the other 55 recognised states.

The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is that they are incomplete; the single story then becomes the only story, robbing people of their dignity. It emphasises how we are different rather how we are similar. …. When we reject the single story we gain a kind of paradise – Chimamanda Adichie 2009

 

Media giant Disney educates our children from an extremely young age, unfortunately they are known for stereotyping minorities. Disney writers have been maligned by activist for their representation of African Americans, Arabs, Native Americans and Asians (Lang 2007 p412) and for their ignorance of race and ethnicity in productions and publications (Sun and Picker 2001). A feral young dark skinned boy and human-wannabe orangutans are portrayed in the Jungle Book. African’s are completely absent in Tarzan and the evil lion Scar from The Lion King has dark fur suggesting he is of native colour and Native Americas in Peter Pan and Pocahontas are portrayed as savages. This plague of representation throughout children’s literature, confirms the single story approach to education.

The following video shows African men responding to Hollywood’s stereotype.

We are all victims and transgressors of the single story. What can we do as individuals to avoid, educate and communicate diversity and truth in pop culture?

References

Adichie, C 2009, The Danger of the Single Story, Ted Talk, July 2009, viewed 5 May 2014, http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story#t-1101122

Lang, P 2007, Disney and Stereotyping; “A nice Thirteen Year Old Girl”, Media Literacy, Peter Lang Publishing New York

Sun, C. Picker, M 2001, Mick Mouse Monopoly: Disney Childhood and Corporate Power, Film, ArtMedia Production.

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Local voices to global audiences | Social media and online activism

''She is the Muslim, the mother, the soldier, the protester, the journalist, the volunteer, the citizen,'' - The Age

”She is the Muslim, the mother, the soldier, the protester, the journalist, the volunteer, the citizen,” – The Age 2011

 

Social media has change the way the world communicates, making it easier to mobilize for collective action (Woldsfeld et al 2013). With technology as the driving force of online activism, social networks roles are to mobilise, coordinate and disseminate content, thus its use in recent protests and civil unrest is justified. Cited as a significant event, techno utopists saw social media as inherently liberatory (Salter 2014), giving the marganlised a voice, by identifying and showing support for specific efforts, reaching beyond the contained status of traditional journalism (Newsom & Lengel 2012).

Participation is important in allowing an exchange, this participation is also addictive, which is why these platforms have been so successful in facilitating a connection. Conversation about the revolution often preceded major events (Woldsfeld et al 2013) and social media has carried inspiring stories of protest across international borders. Facebook and Youtube heightened the recent corruption in Egypt. The most famous case would be of Asmaa Mahfouz, a 25 year old Egyptian Vblogger, who posted a video on Youtube calling for mass demonstrations against the government. To put it into context, women in these countries are not to be seen driving let alone spear heading a movement. Women as a driving force of activism plays into the narrative within the western paradigm (Salter 2014).

Conversely, in order for the marginalised to be heard, their voice must reach and audience outside of their normal range. As Newsom and Langel (2012) describe “The citizen journalism and other related efforts evident in Arab Spring activism have been reconstructed and re-created by global institutions and power brokers that act as gatekeepers of information flow so that the message can reach a wide audience”. This view juxtaposes the utopian idea that anyone can use social media to share their voice. The potential for empowerment is restricted by those who control the content. Governments, corporations, gatekeepers… If your voice isn’t being heard, where does it end up, lost with the millions of others in cyberspace?

Wolfsfeld (et al 2013) details that “Cyber-skeptics downplay the significance of the new technology, arguing the using the Internet gives people a false sense of participation and keeps them from actual physical protesting”. This is a particular intriguing argument as in regards to recent conflict in Turkey, where the government denied access to Social media. An adverse affect occurred, pushing citizens to the street searching for answer physically, rather than scrolling their Newsfeed. Furthermore, the blockage of social media in Turkey feeds into the idea that Twitter is used to disrupt or marganalise governments and overthrow regimes (Salter 2014).

 

Reference list

Newsom, V, Lengel, L (2012). Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 13(5), 31-45.

Salter, C 2014, Social Media Practices, DIGC335: Electronic Cultures, Lecture, Wollongong University 28 April, viewed 28 April 2014 via UOW Moodle

Wolfsfeld, G., Segev E., Sheafer, T (203), Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First, The International Journal of Press/Politics, 18 (2) 115-137, Sage Publications, London. Accessed va UOW Summon 27 April 2014.

 

Image source

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Education en mass | digital technology in tertiary education

MOOCs provide education on a global scale, designed for a self-motivated, participatory culture. Traditional methods of academic learning are being pushed aside, making way for a postmodern university located in cyberspace. Online learning is a collision between design and commerce (Bowels 2013), were we are witnessing an extraordinary shift in the way individuals learn.

“The place of the postmodern university is cyberspace. No longer merely local, the university becomes global without being universal. While the local homogenises, the global diversifies”. – Kate Bowels

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, designed to educate en mass and eliminates time and space. Figures show that one online course can have over a quarter of a million students enrolled in one subject, showing great potential for investor power. A range of university partners funds the free enterprise, heightening venture capital, however at the same time reinforcing the importance of online education.

In the US, the rising perception of collage affordability is known to lead to a lifetime of unpaid debt (Bowels 2013). This ideology created a demand for services like MOOCs, which offer cheap and accessible alternative. This dogma of cheap online education is not new however. In Steven Cooper and Mehran Sahami (2013) article they describe a successful launch in 2008 of the Stanford Engineering Everywhere program, which offered free distant education, incorporating similar elements of modern day MOOCs.

The ability for an individual to design their own learning experience is what has made MOOCs so successful. A design flaw in current traditional universities is that you are unable to individually tailor your own course. For example there are always core subjects one must complete and a tutor spoon-feeding you information. Freedom gives individual’s motivation to learn and by taking a philanthropic approach to studies one will enhance acquisition for further information (Bowels 2013). MOOCs encourage participatory engagement by collaborating through a combination of Blogs, Tweets and tags, creating a multitude of network connections. This allows for different ideas and reiterates the notion of independent learning, as there is no single path to follow (Cormier 2013).

“You can choose what you want to do and how you participate. Only you can determine if you were successful. Much like real life” – David Cormier

MOOCs also leave behind a trial of unanswered question regarding validation and accreditation, opening up a significant amount risk. How does one validate original work or detect plagiarism? In an attempt to monitor this challenge Coursera has employed plagiarism detection software, however it is unclear whether it is successful (Cooper & Sahami 2013). These flaws hinder MOOCs ability to be a significant competitor with the traditional model of in-class education.

 

References:

Bowels, K, 2013 “Lost in the supermarket: MOOCs”, lecture at the University of Wollongong for DIGC335, viewed 20/04/2014 via UOW Moodle.

Cooper, S & Sahami M, 2013, “Reflections on Stanford’s MOOCs: New Possibilities in Online Education Create New Challenges.” Communications of the ACM, 56.2 (Feb. 2013): 28-30. Viewed on the 20/04/2014 http://mags.acm.org/communications/201302?pg=30&search_term=moocs&doc_id=-1#pg30

Cormier, D 2010, What is a MOOC?, online video, 8 Dec, Youtube, viewed 20/04/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eW3gMGqcZQc

 

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