The problem is, are teachers going to cope with this? When stress levels are already a historic highs:
Being a teacher during the Pandemic has been a horrifically stressful experience for most teaching professionals. Whether schools are closed are open, it means more work for teachers than pre-pandemic, even without extra catch up lessons.
While schools are in full lockdown, teachers still have to manage online lessons for as long as they did while in school, knowing full-well that some students would be paying minimal if any attention during said lessons, which creates a demand/ need to chase such pupils.
And surely things are worse when back in school – if some students are isolating, teachers have to manage the classroom AND those students who can’t attend in person, juggling yet more tasks.
And then there’s having to deal with not just the academic side of things, but the social and mental health problems that come with dealing with a Pandemic overall.
Teacher stress is at an all time high according to a recent survey by education support, so it’s all very well and good putting in place plans to help students catch up, but this might break some teachers.
Developed countries spend a lot more on their armed forces than developing countries, and the USA spends more than the next nine biggest spenders combined.
Many developed countries have full time standing armies, navies and air forces and some have nuclear arsenals, all of which need paying and equipping, which in turn means research and development budgets into the latest military technologies.
This high level of military expenditure is typically justified on the basis that it is necessary to ensure ‘Peace and Security’ both at home and abroad, and since the end of World War II developed countries have frequently intervened in poorer countries abroad by arguing that force is sometimes necessary to bring about a more orderly or stable society.
The recent full-scale wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were justified as necessary to root out the terrorist forces responsible for the 11 September 2001 ‘terrorist’ attacks on the United States, and today the ‘War On Terror’ continues, having largely shifted to now take the form of a ‘Drone War’ against suspected terrorists, which is occurring in numerous developing countries, but most notably Pakistan.
The USA and its allies continue to justify a high level of military expenditure and the continued use of force on the basis that it is necessary to ensure peace and security both at home and abroad.
There are, however, a number of radical theorists that argue this is a lie. Below we look at three academics associated with Dependency Theory tradition who argue that the West actually uses military force abroad in order to get rid of peaceful put anti-American governments, to secure oil resources (Americans do like their cars!) and to make money: there’s nothing like a war to generate a profit!
Noam Chomsky: The USA as Rogue State
According to Noam Chomsky (2004) the USA has used military force or funded the use of military force in over 50 countries since the end of World War Two. The USA has over 1000 military bases worldwide, and is far the biggest aggressor of the last half a century.
Sometimes it has even used its military power to overthrow democratically elected governments that do not support American Interests. Chomsky points out that if America really wanted to support freedom and democracy around the globe, then it would, by now, have tackled the oppressive communist regime in North Korea, and it probably wouldn’t do business with countries such as Saudi Arabia and China which have dubious records where human rights are concerned.
Noam Chomsky’s view is backed up by John Pilger’s documentary ‘The War Against Democracy’ in which he points out that the use of military force against foreign governments that do not support American interests has formed the backbone of America’s foreign policy since the end of world war two. Afghanistan and Iraq are just the last two in a very long list of countries that the United States has used organised state violence against.
List of Countries Bombed by the USA since WW II China 1945-46Korea 1950-53China 1950-53Guatemala 1954Indonesia 1958Cuba 1959-60Guatemala 1960Belgian Congo 1964Guatemala 1964Dominican Republic 1965Peru 1965Laos 1964-73Vietnam 1961-73Cambodia 1969-70Guatemala 1967-69Lebanon 1982-84Grenada 1983-84Libya 1986El Salvador 1981-92Nicaragua 1981-90Iran 1987-88Libya 1989Panama 1989-90Iraq 1991Kuwait 1991Somalia 1992-94Bosnia 1995Iran 1998Sudan 1998Afghanistan 1998Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999Afghanistan 2001Libya 2011
Video – Noam Chomsky : The United States is the World’s Biggest Terrorist
David Harvey: The War on Iraq was ‘All about Oil’
The contemporary Marxist Geographer David Harvey (2005) has taken the above even further. Harvey argues that the Iraq War was really ‘all about oil’. He points out that the continued global economic and military superiority of the USA is dependent on securing for the future a reliable supply of oil, most of which lies in the Middle East. According to Harvey, there is documented evidence that members of George Bushes’ cabinet expressed a desire to increase US influence in the Middle East for precisely this reason. In this context, 9/11 and the linking of Iraq with the threat of terrorism provided a legitimate reason for the USA to secure its interests in that region.
Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein goes even further arguing in‘The Shock Doctrine’ (2008) that the American government uses war to destroy infrastructure in developing nations so that American companies can make a profit out of rebuilding that infrastructure. To support this Klein points out that Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States when the US went to war with Iraq, was also CEO of a Corporation called Halliburton, a company which won $2 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq after the war.
Sources/ Find out more…
Just so you’ve got the proper academic links to the books:
It is sad to say, but there are currently ongoing wars or minor conflicts in around three dozen countries, most of them in the Middle East, North West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and a major ongoing drug-war in Mexico.
Wikipedia lists around 40 ongoing wars and conflicts with over 100 combat deaths in 2020 or 2021. NB Wikipedia is a useful starting point for this topic as it provides us with a statistical and historical overview which is relatively easy to understand, but keep in mind that you’ll need to verify sources and check up on how valid the data is!.
Map of Conflicts in the world today
Wiki categorises ongoing conflicts as follows:
Major wars, with over 10 000 direct conflict deaths in the current or previous year – there are three of these: in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Tigray conflict in Sudan/ Ethiopia.
Minor wars, with 1000 to 9999 deaths in the current or past year – there are around 12 of these.
Minor Conflicts, with 100 to 999 deaths in the current or past year – around a further two dozen fall into this category.
They also list ‘minor skirmishes’ which have resulted in 1 to 99 deaths.
A point of note is that the Mexican Drug War actually had the highest death toll in 2020 – with over 50 000 deaths, but it’s not classified as a ‘major war’ because most of those deaths are murders rather than as a result of direct armed conflict between the drugs gangs and the Mexican armed forces.
Examples of recent and ongoing conflicts (list taken from Wiki)
Yemen’s Supreme Political Council vs. Hadi Government and Saudi-led Coalition
It would be worth spending some time exploring some of these conflicts to get a feel for their differences and similarities.
But even if you don’t do any ‘deeper digging’ just a quick skim through Wiki’s list of ongoing conflicts can be informative – it shows you that MOST contemporary high death toll conflicts occur in developing countries, mostly in the middle east and Sub-Saharan Africa, and it also shows you just you that some countries have suffered ongoing or successive conflicts for several years – we see this in the Congo, and in Iraq and Syria.
Wikipedia also looks at conflict deaths by country from 2016 to 2020 – Mexico tops the list in 2020, and this along with Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Nigeria have had particularly high levels of conflict deaths over the past 5 years.
This is a possible 10 mark question which could come up on exam paper 7192 (2) – topics in Sociology, under the Global Development Option.
For more general advice on answering exam questions for A-level sociology please see this page.
The strategy for these 10 markers is to join up the dots, make links between gender and all other parts of the Global Development module – it shouldn’t be too difficult as everything is related to everything in fairly obvious ways for this topic!
Below is just one suggestion for an answer…
The first reason is that women make up half of the population and they have historically been disempowered in most cultures on earth. Thus by focussing on empowering women we can improve pretty much ever other aspect of development.
Focussing on improving girls and women’s education can have huge knock on positive effects – firstly it will immediately improve the school enrolment rates, as it is mainly girls who traditionally are not in school!
Also, by educating girls, this creates job opportunities for them in later life, meaning greater independence, and may also help to break traditional values threat modernisation theorists think prevent development.
Especially where girls are held back by traditional values, getting them into school can be a great way of breaking this cycle, maybe the only way.
Education can also be a decent way of preventing violence and abuse by men – it can be an important starting point in protecting them against Rape, FGM and other forms of male violence.
In the longer term, with more women in work and politics as a result of raised aspirations we may see a decline in global violence and militarism which we have in the current male dominated global political sphere – which is very important as nothing prevents development like conflict!
Focussing on improving maternal health care is also the most effective way at improving life expectancy – most deaths in poor countries are avoidable, and many are because of children dying in infancy.
By focussing on better maternal health the infant mortality rate will decrease and women will less inclined to have more children. Also if women are given better care during pregnancy, the same is also true.
Going forwards if women know they have decent maternal health care they can start to aspire to have only one or two children rather than being tied into a cycle of having several children, which ties women to a life of domestic drudgery.
With fewer children women are more likely to be able to do paid work, which is also beneficial for development because women tend to reinvest more in their families compared to men.
Having said all of this it is crucial that improving opportunities for girls and women is done appropriately, as there may be local resistance from patriarchal culture, so it may not be easy!
People Centred Development Theorists favour small-scale ‘ground up’ projects which focus on improving aspects of the day to day lives of women. They point out that women in developing countries are more than capable of promoting gender equality themselves, from the ground up, and don’t necessarily need the help of the World Bank or the United Nations.
There are thousands of small-scale and localised initiatives to promote gender equality worldwide as the BBC’s 100 women 2020 conference demonstrates.
To my mind the BBC 100 women project is a prefect example of a gender focused People Centred approach to development – it champions women who are tackling gender related issues unique to their own localities and/ or interests, and in some very different ways.
These are very varied but here are just a few examples….
Here’s some interesting insight into the study patterns of students and how Lockdown doesn’t seem to be having any affect at all so far this year……
Here’s my blog hits since August 2020….
NB – despite an increase in traffic this year (which is nice) the pattern you see below has been exactly the same for the last few years….
There is a dip in August, over the summer holiday, but a slow build up in early September – I guess as schools but not colleges start earlier, and then we have a stable weekly trend from September through to mid December, except for a dip when half term week comes – NB there is always a slow down on that last week before half term too.
There’s a significant dip during the XMAS holidays, but that’s to be expected, and then straight back up into January, and not how the half term dip repeats itself.
The final pink line is this week’s already only up to Tuesday, so looks like a bumper week – probably teachers threatening tests on the return in a couple of weeks.
Here’s the daily trend for the last month – you can see the weekend tail off too, every week, and then the half term dip at the end, and finally Monday – first day back after half term.
There will be some differences later this year I think….
There’s no formal exams, probably to be replaced by in house tests which will be earlier than the usual exams I imagine, so I’m not anticipating the usual May-June insane peak in views, I imagine it will be less intense and more spread out as the dates of tests will vary slightly from institution to instiution.
Still, up until now, students are very much creatures of habit. Perhaps Positivists had a point? People really are predictable!
These obviously stem from people’s theories about what the ‘causes’ of poor health are.
Long term economic growth
The first and probably most important point is that there is a broad, if not perfect, correlation between a country’s per capita income and its levels of health, as measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, overall death rates, and incidents of particular diseases. As countries get wealthier, they get healthier – thus increasing economic growth appears to be the best long term strategy for improving health. Theories of how to promote economic growth differs with different theories.
No one demonstrates the relationship between income and life expectancy better than Hans Rosling:
Currently two of the main global projects are the mass vaccination programme to eradicated polio and the mass distribution of free mosquito nets to populations in Malarial regions.
Improving water sources and sanitation
This is widely seen as one of the most effective means of reducing deaths from diarrheal diseases and involves such things as drilling bore holes to reach underground water sources in rural areas, or treating water in urban areas, as is done in the developed world. Improving sanitation might mean building sewage systems and installing flush toilets. In urban settings, both of these would involve massive infrastructural projects to install.
Many people in the world still effectively die of malnutrition – which weakens the body’s resistance to infectious diseases. Young children are especially vulnerable.
Improving women’s rights and maternal health
The importance of which is illustrated in the ‘Worst Place to a Midwife – Liberia’
Ending Corruption and Conflict – Obviously both of these are a drain on a country’s resources – corruption might mean money does not get effectively spent on developing health services while overt conflict can mean
Providing cheaper drugs
It is Western Pharmaceutical companies which manufacture anti AIDs drugs, and antibiotics, which they then patent and sell for a profit. Eventually other companies make cheaper copies of these drugs, but frequently The World Trade Organisation does not allow the cheap copies to be sold until the original patent has run out – this can be several years. The WTO could put the right to life before the right to Corporate Profit.
Dependency Theorists point out that if Corporations are allowed to make workers work for 12 hours a day in dangerous, toxic conditions, this will have a long term detrimental effect on the health and life expectancy of workers.
Relevance to A-level Sociology
The ‘overpopulation’ topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.
Health and Development is one of the aspects of development students taking the global development option for A-level sociology have to study…
There are a number of fairly obvious explanations as to why low income countries face poor health conditions.
Lack of an improved water source
Hundreds of millions of people in sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia especially, mostly living in rural areas, rely on water from local streams and rivers, which is often contaminated with disease spreading parasites, which are ingested and then cause diarrhoea – resulting in hundreds of thousands of death each year from the resulting malnutrition and dehydration.
This is responsible for the spread of diarrhoeal diseases – living in close proximity to open sewers full of human and animal waste products exposes one to a host of disease pathogens
Nearly a billion people in the world are malnourished – this is one of the leading causes of child mortality.
Underdeveloped public health services
In the developed world there is 1 doctor for every 520 people, in the developing world there is one doctor for every 15 000 people. In rural areas, hospitals are spread so far apart that pregnant women often find it a practical impossibility to get to one for child birth.
War and Conflict
Some countries, most notably Somalia and Afghanistan, are currently in conflict – obviously this increases the likelihood of people getting injured and puts additional strain on a countries economic and health care resources.
All of the above are ultimately linked to underlying poverty – as emphasised by Hans Rosling in his various videos.
Patriarchy and Traditional values
Modernisation Theorists emphasise the internal cultural values of developing countries that can act as barriers to improving life expectancy etc.
Patriarchal traditions may prevent money being spent on training midwives and providing maternity resources which could help reduce deaths in pregnancy
Patriarchy and religious values may prevent contraception use – which is linked to the spread of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa
Jeffrey Sachs also points out that Environmental Factors also play a role – simply put, Mosquitos, which spread Malaria, responsible for 5% of deaths in low income countries, are especially partial to the conditions in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
You might also like this post: strategies for improving health in developing countries. Link to follow.
As a genera rule, people in developing countries suffer from poorer health than people in developed countries – with higher rates of deaths from preventable causes resulting in higher child mortality rates and lower life expectancies.
Theories of development aim to explain why this is the case and what the most effective solutions to improving health should be.
Modernization Theorists would expect health patterns of developing countries to follow those of the developed world in the past. They believe that developing countries are entering the ‘epidemiological transition’ associated with economic development and rising GDP
Before the transition, infectious diseases are widespread and are the major causes of death; life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. With Industrialisation, urbanisation and economic growth come improvements in nutrition, hygiene and sanitation which lead to falling death rates from infectious diseases. After the transition, health improves.
It follows that the best way for developing countries to improve the health of the nation is to focus on industrialization, urbanization and economic growth. Improvements in health should follow.
Modernisation Theorists also argue that targeted aid can play a role in improving the health of developing nations
This can mainly be done through ‘Selective biomedical intervention’ – Such as mass immunization against disease, or distributing vitamin supplements to populations, or handing out mosquito nets. One of the best examples of this is the work of the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation work on combatting Malaria, the reduction of which has been one the great success stories of the last decade.
The eradication of Smallpox is a good example of this strategy working:
One limitation of using selective biomedical intervention is that theexpense means that it is difficult to maintain, and, where the distribution of mosquito nets is concerned, this may lead to choking off local entrepreneurs, as Dambisa Moyo argued in ‘Dead Aid’.
Dependency Theory points out that attempts by developing countries to improve health may actually be hindered by the West
Firstly, if you remember, Dependency Theorists point out that it is exploitation by developed countries that keep developing countries poor and they receive very little income from their dealings in world trade which means there is little money left over for investment in health care.
Secondly, there is the problem of the ‘brain drain’ from the developing to the developed world. At least one in ten doctors in the west has been poached from the developing world – it is obviously much more appealing for people in Africa and Asia to work in Britain where they can receive several times the salary they would in their native country.
Thirdly, Many African companies have had to pay high costs for pharmaceuticals manufactured by Western corporations. This is especially true of AIDS drugs. Western companies are thus accused of exploiting desperate people in Africa.
Finally, some Transnational Corporations have actually contributed to health problems through selling products that would not be regarded as safe in the West, not to mention polluting in the pursuit of profit.
Relevance to A Level Sociology
The ‘overpopulation’ topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.
According to official statistics 19% of working aged adults, or one in five people self-report as being ‘disabled’, and this figure has been widely used in the media to promote pro-disability programming.
How do we Define Disability?
According to the formal, legal, UK definition under the 2010 Equality Act someone is disable if they ‘have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’.
That 19% figure sounds like a lot of people, in fact it is a lot of people – that’s 13 million people in the United Kingdom.
But maybe it’s only a lot because when we think of ‘disability’ we tend to immediately think of people will physical and very visible disabilities, the classic image of a disable person being someone in a wheelchair, which the media generally doesn’t help with its over-reliance of wheelchair users to signify they are ‘representing the disabled’.
In fact there are ‘only’ 1.2 million wheelchair users in Britain, or less than one in ten people who classify as disabled.
How do we measure disability ?
The 19%, or one five figure comes from the UK’s Family Resources Survey, the latest published result coming from the 2018/19 round of surveys.
This is a pretty serious set of surveys in which respondents from 20 000 households answer questions for an hour, some related to disability.
The Questions which determined whether someone classifies as disable or not are as follows:
Have you had any long term negative health conditions in the last 12 months? If you respond yes, you move on to the next two questions:
Do any of these health conditions affect you in any of the following areas – listed here are the top answers: mobility/ stamina, breathing or fatigue/ mental health/ dexterity/ other
Final question: do any of your conditions or illness impact your ability to carry out your day to day activities -the responses here are on a 4 point likehert scale ranging from a not at all to a lot.
Anyone ticking YES/ YES and either ‘my illness affects me a lot or a little’ is classified by the UK government as disabled.
Validity problems with this way of measuring disability
The problem with the above is that if you have Asthma and similar mild conditions you could be classified as disabled, and this doesn’t tie in with the government’s own definition of disability which requires that someone has a condition which ‘substantially’ affects their ability to carry out every day tasks.
Stating that you have asthma which affects your breathing a little, does NOT IMO qualify you as disabled, but it does in this survey.
The government doesn’t publish the breakdown of responses to the final disability question, but it’s roughly a 50-50 split between those answering ‘a lot’ and ‘a little.
In conclusion, it might be more accurate to say that one in ten people is disabled.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This short update should be a useful contemporary example to illustrate some of the validity problems associated with using social surveys, especially for topics with a high degree of subjectivity such as what disability means!
NB – I gleaned the above information from Radio Four’s More or Less, the episode which aired on Weds 10th Feb 2021.
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