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China – The World’s Biggest Tech Thief?

Chinese theft of intellectual property from other countries (mainly the US and those in the EU) represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history according to Keith B Alexander, former director of the US National Security Agency.

intellectual property includes such things as patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and software, and China has a long history of stealing such things ever since it opened up its economy to foreign trade in the late 1970s. China has long been known as the country of origin for counterfeit DVDs (among other products), but more recently one its largest tech firms, the phone manufacturer Huwai was accussed of encouraging employees with bonuses for gathering confidential information from competitors.

To give you an idea of the scale of this, The United States estimated in 2017 that Chinese theft of American intellectual property costs between $225bn and $600bn annually,

The type of information stolen covers a huge range of sectors: everything from the designs for wind turbines to cars, medical devices and computer chips. In one infamous case, Germany’s Siemens introduced the high-speed train to China only to find that subsequent extensions of the system were manufactured by its Chinese partner, China National Railway Corporation, which had developed similar technology suspiciously quickly.

How has China managed this?

Back in day China was more likely to engage in full on cyber-espionage, but more recently it has developed a set of policies which forces foreign multinationals working in China to divulge secrets while they are forbidden similar access to Chinese companies’ information.

Technically this is against WTO rules, but it seems that China, being a ‘big player’ on the international scene can get away with this.

Relevance to A-level sociology 

This is a great example of a ‘state crime’ – state sponsored theft of intellectual property, and it’s a great example of a crime that up until this point has gone unpunished!

It also reminds us that where globalisation is concerned, there is no such thing as genuine free-trade, it’s only as free as the large nation states allow it to be.

NB – as a final note, Chinese intellectual property theft might be a thing of a past, China has invested so much in skilling its population up in technology that it is likely to become a cutting edge tech innovator in its own right in the not too distant future!

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Changes to the ONS’ CPI Basket of Goods and Lifestyle Changes in the UK

The Office for National Statistics monitors inflation by using the Consumer Price Index, which uses a representative sample of consumer goods and services purchased by households.

The easiest way to think about this is to imagine a very large shopping basket full of goods and services which the ‘typical household’ buys on a regular basis – researchers from the ONS use already existing survey data to figure out which goods and services best reflect the nation’s consumption habits in 12 ‘expenditure categories’ such as ‘food’, ‘housing’ and ‘communication’ – and track the prices of these items over time to measure inflation, or changes to the cost of living for the ‘typical’ household.

For example, under ‘food’, the ONS monitors the prices of items such as chips, pastry-based snacks and raspberries, among other things, these items representing expenditure on ‘frozen potato products’, ‘savoury snacks’ and ‘soft fruit’.

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s all sorts of links in here to aspects of the Families and Households module!

The ONS updates the items in the ‘shopping basket’ every year to reflect trends in consumer spending – it removes items which have become significantly less popular and adds in new items.

The changes actually provide an entertaining insight into changes in lifestyles in the UK. For example, some of the changes made to the basket in 2019 included:

  • Dinner plate replaced crockery set to reflect the fact that cutlery is more likely to be bought as single items (reflecting the shift to single person households)
  • Non-leather settees replace three piece non-leather suite, reflecting the same trend as above.
  • Portable speaker and smart-speaker replaced Hi-Fi, reflecting changes in technology.
  • Bakeware – a new category – reflecting the fact that people have been watching too much Bake-Off.
  • Popcorn – added – possibly reflecting the rise of stay at home movie watching.
  • Dog Treats – replaced dry dog food – reflecting the increased importance of pets in family life (which kind of reminds me of the Personal Life Perspective!).

You might also like to read the methodology section of the ONS’ CPI, it’s an interesting one for sampling: in terms of how they choose the products, it’s not straightforward!

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Education funding is down 8% since its peak in 2010, but does it really matter?

Education funding per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms since 2009-10, which is the biggest cuts to education in three decades.

You can clearly see from the chart below (produced by the IFS and annotated by me how a dramatic increase in funding followed New Labour coming to power in 1997, and then a corresponding decrease in funding followed The Tories coming to power in 2010.

This is according to some recent analysis done by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in their annual review of education spending.

According to a recent editorial in The Observer these cuts are doing real harm to children’s education, with some schools having resorted to the following to make up for the funding gap:

  • putting wish lists on Amazon to get parents to help buy stationary items.
  • some headmasters are doubling up as cleaners and/ or minibus drivers.
  • some schools are finishing early one day a week. In Birmingham primary schools now finish at lunch time, for example.

At the same time funding cuts have also reduced children’s services more generally, so schools and children themselves will find it harder to access the services they need.

But is this just a moral panic?

As you can see from the chart above, funding levels are still way above what they were when New Labour came to power, still a massive 30% higher than when I was at school, and most of my generation turned out OK, so are these cuts really going to have that much of a negative effect on children?

And let’s face it, who doesn’t like early doors Friday: it’s just what they need to prepare them for a job in the city!

 

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Greta Thunberg’s Speach at COP24

Greta Thunberg is a a 16 year old Swede who has inspired a wave of student strikes in the name of Climate Justice. She has been hailed as the voice of a generation. She came to popular attention following her speech at COP24 below (it’s only three minutes long and well worth a listen

 

In this brief speech (which sounds like it’s been written for her) she condemns world leaders for not taking climate change seriously and putting economic growth before protecting the biosphere. She suggests that the majority of people and the planet suffer while a tiny minority profit – essentially the planet and the next generation’s future is being sacrificed so a few people can get very wealthy.

She also suggests that the system might need to change if solutions cannot be found within it, before issuing and warning that the world’s leaders have run out of excuses and that change is coming, in the form of the youth presumably.

Relevance to A-level sociology

I thought this was an interesting example of how there is no global consensus on climate change, and yet maybe a good example of an ‘anticipation of the morality of the future‘, as Durkheim would argue.

It’s also an example of what I’m going to call ‘inverse age patriarch’ – Greta accuses the oldies of not being mature enough to deal with the problem of climate change, rather leaving it to the youth!

 

NB according to The Week (9 March 2019) – Greta Thunberg also has an interesting backstory – she began learning about climate change at the age of eight. At aged 11 she fell into a deep depression about the issue and stopped eating, talking and going to school. What turned her life around was the realisation that she could change people’s actions on climate change – her parents stopped eating meat and flying for example. She’s a selective mute and has Asperger’s – she says the later gives her a clearer perspective than other people.

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Nine criticisms of the theory that school exclusions are to blame for knife crime

Last week, senior police chiefs wrote to Theresa May arguing that there was a link between the increase in the number of formal school exclusions and ‘off-rolling’ (where heads informally get parents to withdraw their children, without them being formally recorded as ‘permanently excluded’) and an increase in knife crime.

The theory is that those excluded or off-rolled are more likely to ‘drift’ because they are less effectively cared for and monitored in alternative provision institutions. The problem is believed to be especially bad for those who are off-rolled. When a pupil is off-rolled, the parents are responsible for finding alternative provision, and it is their kids who are much more likely to end up out of education altogether.

If we look at the stats, there does seem to be a correlation between the increase in school exclusions and the increase in knife crime:

School exclusions have been increasing since 2013

Knife crime has been increasing since 2015

And regionally:

HOWEVER, it is a well-known mantra in sociology that correlation doesn’t mean causation, and there is very good reason to think that this is the case here.

Numerous commentators (see below for links) have criticised the police for suggesting there is a causal link between the increase in exclusions and the increase in knife crime, and here’s a summary of why we should be critical…

Nine criticisms of the ‘school exclusions cause knife crime’ theory

  1. For starters, even with the above crude statistics there isn’t a perfect correlation – it’s true that London has a higher exclusion rate and knife crime rate than any other city, but then the West Midlands has a higher knife crime rate than Yorkshire and Humber, but a lower exclusion rate.
  2. The above data only includes formal exclusions, not off-rolling, so we don’t get a full picture (there are validity issues) – true, it might be more likely that someone who is off-rolled turns to knife crime compared to someone who is formally excluded, but I these figures don’t show us the off-rolling.
  3. This government report from June 2018 which examined the relationship between educational background and knife crime found that ‘knife possession rarely followed exclusion’.
  4. There may be another cause behind both ‘being excluded from school’ and ‘being convicted of knife crime’ – possibly rooted further in the past of these individuals, such as their having come from a troubled family and/ or having experienced neglect or abuse during their childhood.
  5. It is unfair to blame schools for excluding children in greater numbers as they have been hit by 10 years of Tory funding cuts – schools actively educate about not getting involved in knife crime, but have become less effective at dealing with ‘troubled kids’ because they now have fewer resources to help them do so.
  6. The fact that someone has previously been excluded from school may make it more likely that they are going to get a knife-crime conviction – being excluded from school puts you on the police radar and doesn’t sit well with judges and juries. It could be that there are proportionally just as many people who have not been excluded from school who commit knife crime, but they just don’t appear in the official statistics because they are less likely to get caught and convicted.
  7. Back to underlying causes, it’s possible that a ‘deeper’ reason lying behind why people who are excluded from school are also more likely to appear in the knife crime conviction figures is because they are victims of discrimination by the system – males, the poor, and African Caribbean children are more likely to appear in both the exclusion figures and the knife rime conviction figures – it could be that both are caused by a sense of injustice at being excluded in the first place.
  8. The stats available to us tell us nothing about the life-histories, or the journies people take from being excluded (or not) to knife-crime. This could be a more complex few years than we imagine, and these possibly diverse journies are simply not going to be unveiled by crude statistical analysis. The data simply isn’t there!
  9. Finally, there are number of other variables that cause knife crime to increase – the changing nature of drug-dealing (county lines), and cuts to police funding come to mind as being two of the most obvious. These would somehow need to be factored in to any ‘causal’ equation.

In conclusion it’s a well-known mantra in sociology that correlation does not mean causation, and this particular topic is a great one to use to illustrate this.

To my mind there are so many problems with maintaining the causality argument here that the only possible reason anyone would try to make it in the first place is to distract attention away from all the other social problems that correlate with the increase in knife crime – the kind of problems government policies either exacerbate or can do little to combat.

Relevance to A-level Sociology: this is a great topic that bridges education, methods and crime!

Sources not already linked above

Huffington Post – Don’t blame school exclusions for rise in knife crime

The Guardian – Knife crime and exclusions are a symptom of wider malaise.

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How do we explain the surge in knife crime?

Fatal Stabbings in England and Wales are now taking place at the quickest rate since records began in 1946 (Source: The Guardian). This is clearly relevant to the Crime and Deviance module!

Two recent cases suggest that violent crime is getting out of control – Jodie Chesney was stabbed in the back while chatting with her friends in a park in Romford and in an unrelated case, Yousef Makki was stabbed to death in a leafy suburb of Cheshire. Neither victims appeared to have any links to violent individuals or crime.

According to Brooke Kinsella in the Daily Telegraph, Knife crime spiked at the beginning of the decade and then fell for several years, due to a range of policies from increased mandatory sentencing for knife crime and improved youth services

However, it started to increase again from about three years ago, with a sudden spike last year, so the above two cases do seem to be part of a recent trend.

Possible reasons behind the recent increase in knife crime 

  • There have been £250 million in budge cuts in this areas since 2010, resulting in the loss of 20 000 police and cuts to youth mental health services.
  • The growing number of children being excluded from school has also been highlIghted in the news recently, something I’ve blogged about here, and something I’ll probably come back to later as well!
  • Writing in The Times, former MET police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe suggests the rise is linked to a increased supply of cocaine from Colombia – resulting in a price fall and more competition between drugs gangs for business. So the roots here are global.
  • Related to the above, county lines also have something to do with it according this Guardian article.

To my mind, it’s likely a combination of factors that are driving this… genuine ‘external causes caused by the influx of drugs and then failed Tory policies – a double header of marketisation leading to increased exclusions (as schools look to boost their league table position) and funding cuts leaving the poor with little option other than to turn to crime.

Maybe all we’re seeing in these innocent victims of knife crime is years of neoliberalism finally catching up with the middle classes?

 

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Why do some children get excluded from school?

In this post I’m going to reviewing a range quantitative and qualitative evidence (from official statistics to case study evidence) on permanent exclusions, consider the strengths and limitations of this evidence and think about what different data sources tell us about why some pupils get excluded from school.

While exclusions aren’t explicitly on the A-level sociology spec, this topic is obviously relevant to the sociology of education, as well as the sociology of crime and deviance.

Starting Definitions

  • A permanent exclusion refers to a pupil who is excluded and who will not come back to that school.
  • A fixed period exclusion refers to a pupil who is excluded from a school for a set period of time. A pupil may receive more than one fixed period exclusion, so the fixed period exclusion rate isn’t actually measuring the number of pupils excluded!
  • Off-rolling – where a school and parent agree to withdraw the child from a school and the parent agrees to enrol them another, typically specialist institutions such as a Pupil Referral Unit. Although around 1/3rd of off-rolled students just disappear from formal records.

A. Official statistics on exclusions

The Department for Education publishes an annual report on exclusions, the latest edition published in August 2018 being ‘Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2016 to 2017.

2018 data on exclusions

  • The overall rate of permanent exclusions was 0.08 per cent of pupil enrolments in 2016/17. The number of exclusions was 7,720
  • The vast majority of exclusions were from secondary schools >85% of exclusions.
  • The three main reasons for permanent exclusions were
    • Persistent disruptive behaviour
    • Physical assault against a pupil
    • Physical assault against an adult.

Certain groups of students are far more likely to be permanently excluded:

  • Free School Meals (FSM) pupils had a permanent exclusion rate four times higher than non-FSM pupils
  • FSM pupils accounted for 40.0% of all permanent exclusions
  • The permanent exclusion rate for boys was over three times higher than that for girls
  • Over half of all permanent exclusions occur in national curriculum year 9 or above. A quarter of all permanent exclusions were for pupils aged 14
  • Black Caribbean pupils had a permanent exclusion rate nearly three times higher than the school population as a whole.
  • Pupils with identified special educational needs (SEN) accounted for around half of all permanent exclusions

What do these official stats suggest about why certain students get excluded?

There are some very stark trends which stand out from these stats – in terms of reasons for permanent exclusions it’s clear that students typically have to do something very serious to get excluded, such as assault.

These stats also suggest that getting exclusion rates are strongly correlated with certain types of student – older teenagers, poor, black Caribbean and male students and those with SEN are much more likely to be excluded, so perhaps we should be looking at what it is about these types of students that makes them engage in the type of behaviours that get them excluded? Laddishness, for example may have something to do with it? 

B: Longitudinal statistical research on permanent exclusions and ‘off-rolling’

According to this Guardian article, permanent exclusion figures do not take into account ‘informal exclusions’ or ‘off-rolling’ – where schools convince parents to withdraw their children without making a formal exclusion order – technically it’s then down to the parents to enrol their child at another institution or home-educate them, but in many cases this doesn’t happen.

According to longitudinal research conducted by FFT Education Datalab up to 7, 700 students go missing from the school role between year 7 and year 11 when they are  supposed to sit their GCSEs…. Equivalent to a 1.4% drop out rate across from first enrolment at secondary school to GCSEs.

Datalabs took their figures from the annual school census and the DfE’s national pupil database. The cohort’s numbers were traced from year seven, the first year of secondary school, up until taking their GCSEs in 2017.

The entire cohort enrolled in year 7 in state schools in England in 2013 was 550,000 children

By time of sitting GCSEs:

  • 8,700 pupils were in alternative provision or pupil referral units,
  • nearly 2,500 had moved to special schools
  • 22,000 had left the state sector (an increase from 20,000 in 2014) Of the 22,000,
    • 3,000 had moved to mainstream private schools
    • Just under 4,000 were enrolled or sat their GCSEs at a variety of other education institutions.
    • 60% of the remaining 15,000 children were likely to have moved away from England, in some case to other parts of the UK such as Wales (used emigration data by age and internal migration data to estimate that around)
    • Leaves between 6,000 to 7,700 former pupils unaccounted for, who appear not to have sat any GCSE or equivalent qualifications or been counted in school data.

Working out the percentages this means that…..

  • 4%, or 22K left the mainstream state sector altogether (presumably due to exclusion or ‘coerced withdrawal’ (i.e. off rolling), of which
  • 4%, or 7, 700 cannot be found in any educational records!

What does this data add to our understanding of why pupils get excluded?

This data suggests that the number of pupils actually excluded from school during the life of a cohort is much greater than the annual 1% suggested in the official statistics… it’s now 4%, which is much more significant.

This study thus suggests that the official exclusion stats are the tip of the iceberg and that schools make underhand efforts to get rid of disruptive students, just without formally recording them as excluded!

C: Statistical Analysis of Exclusion Data by The Guardian (LINK), 2018

Education Guardian looked at England’s 50 largest academy trusts and 50 largest local education authorities and compared the number of pupils in year 11 in 2017-18 – the students counted when GCSE results are published – to the number in year 10, a year earlier.

Nationally, there has been a huge rise in recent years in the number of young people leaving their school in the run-up to GCSEs. The average year 10/11 shrinkage rate in England was 2% in 2018 seven years ago the rate was less than 0.1%.

The trend of disappearing pupils appears to be happening at a higher rate in the academies sector.

The Harris Federation is one of Britain’s largest academy chains. In one of their schools, The Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley, lost 11% of its pupils (14 girls) between January 2016 of their year 10 and their GCSE year in 2017, a situation repeated with its 2018 GCSE year group.

Many of these teenagers will go to pupil referral units or will be educated at home. This means their grades will not be counted in their school’s exam results.

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, says: “Some schools are gaming the system by off-rolling some of the most vulnerable children, including some with special education needs and disabilities, in an attempt to improve the school’s exam results.

D: Case study: Outwood Academy (Link)

Outwood Academy in Middlesbrough has the highest rate of fixed-term exclusions of any school in the UK. According to this 2018 Guardian article it excluded 41% of its pupils in 2016-17.

Outwood school is part of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, and nine other schools within the trust are in the top 50 schools in England and Wales for suspensions.

This could well be due to the Trust’s strict behaviour policy which states that pupils can be suspended for failing to respond appropriately to “a reasonable request from a senior member of staff”, which includes failing to wear the correct uniform and wearing makeup.

According to the above article some of the reasons why pupils have been suspended from the trust’s schools include:

  • Forgetting pens and year planners
  • Wearing the wrong kind of buckle on shoes
  • Refusing to take off a cancer research badge.
  • Taking a toilet break deemed to be too long.

The Trust says they are simply trying to instil a culture of aspiration by enforcing high standards of conduct, but parents are not happy, and have formed a Facebook group called ‘Outwood Academy – Unhappy Parents of Pupils.’

What do items C and D suggest about why pupils are excluded?

Taken together items C and D (like item A) put more of the blame for off-rolling and exclusions on the schools – they use such practices to get rid of kids who are going to harm their results statistics. Academies seem to do this more than LEA schools.

These pieces of research suggests it’s less about the kids, and more about the schools, and also more to do with government policy putting pressure on schools to look good in league tables!

E: Case studies of Pupil Referral Units

In 2015-16 the BBC conducted a three-part documentary series over the course of an academic year in The Bridge AP Academy, a Pupil Referral Unit in West London where most of the kids have ended up because of being excluded for behavioural issues from mainstream schools.

This is a Link to the programme website, a link to the Open University site which discusses the documentary, and a link to the documentary on YouTube. In case the above disappear, this Independent Article covers similar ground.

Although technically now a ‘secondary’ source, when conducted this documentary consisted of at least two main qualitative methods: non-participant observation of the children’s behaviour (after they had been excluded) and unstructured interviews with a number of the children about their life-experiences, most of which touch on the reasons for their exclusion from school.

What do case-studies suggest about why pupils are excluded?

These give us a completely different, more interpretivist feel for exclusions… even just one hour long documentary, or one 1500 word article touches on several individual students’ back stories – many kids that get excluded come from broken families, abusive backgrounds, and have chaotic lives – many of them have to deal with more emotional turmoil as children than most of will have to deal with in our whole lives.

Such sources make you feel much sympathetic with the kids, unlike the official stats at the beginning of this post!

Concluding Thoughts:

I wrote this post to try and illustrate the importance of taking a mixed methods approach to develop a deeper understanding of just one issue within education. Hopefully it’s done that!

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How effectively does the government deal with criminal employers who fail to pay the minimum wage?

The National Minimum Wage is currently £5.20 and hour for 18-20 olds, rising to £7.83 per hour for those aged 25 and over.

According to one recent study (based on a survey of 4000 workers), 20% of 18-30 year-olds reported being paid less than the minimum wage, which is, on the part of their employers, illegal.

Formal detection and prosecution rates, however, are much lower than this reported 20%…

Between 2013-2018 the government fined around 17, 000 employers for failing to pay their workers the minimum wage, with a total number of 67 000 workers being underpaid. Collectively, these criminal employers have had to pay £9 million in back pay for and have been fined an additional £6.3 million in total.

The most likely offenders were retail and hospitality, but it’s not just small businesses illegally underpaying their workers, there are some big names in there too, such as certain branches of Wagamama’s and TGI Friday’s.

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.06.31.png

The stats suggest that the government isn’t punishing these criminal employers sufficiently 

  • This doesn’t seem to be very ‘victim centred’ – from the perspectives of the victims (the underpaid workers) – If you work out the average underpayment (£9m/ 67K) this = £134 per worker, now this not may sound like a lot, but if you’re on minimum wage, then this could well be a significant amount of money!
  • The government has the power to fine underpaying employers 200% of wages not paid, whereas if they’re paying back £6 million on £9 million not paid, this is nearer 60%. Minimum wage is around £7, and if you get caught underpaying then you pay an additional £4 on top – it is a deterrent, but not much of one… these are the kind of figures that could well encourage some employers to gamble and try and get away with underpaying workers.
  • As far as I’m aware, none of these criminal employers have gone to jail for failing to pay minimum wage, they have only been fined, so there’s no physical deterrent – unlike if you steal something, which is basically what this is.
  • Add to this the fact that these employers have to know what they are doing… underpaying the minimum wage simply is not something you can do accidentally! The above fines seem like very soft punishment for powerful actors pre-meditatively steeling from their vulnerable workers.

So it appears if you’re unfortunate enough to be employed by an employer who breaks the law and pays you less than the minimum wage, then you’re not going to get justice under the present government.

Overall this seems to be great evidence to support the marxist theory of crime and punishment – the idea that elites do not get punished effectively when they break the law.

 

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A-level Sociology Revision Webinars 2019 (AQA focus)

A Level Sociology Revision Webinars starting April 2019

I will be running a series of 12 A-level sociology revision webinars to cover the entire two year A-level sociology specification (AQA) including exam technique for the various question formats on the three AQA A-level sociology exam papers (7192/1, 7192/2 and 7193/3).

The webinars are scheduled for 19.00 every Monday (with one on a Thursday) and will run from Monday 1st of April to Monday 20th June, 2 days before the last exam (crime and deviance with theory and methods). Webinars are scheduled early so that we can get through the entire specification BEFORE the first paper (on May 22nd).

To register for the Revision Webinars, please click here.

NB Registration will only be open during March and the first two weeks of April, then it will close!

Schedule (please see below for a more detailed version)

  1. Monday 1st April – Education 1
  2. Monday 8th April – Education 2
  3. Monday 15th April – Families and Households 1
  4. Monday 22nd April – Beliefs in Society
  5. Monday 29h April – Crime and Deviance 1
  6. Monday 6th May – Crime and Deviance 2
  7. Monday 13th May – Research Methods
  8. Thursday 16th May – Social Theories
  9. Monday 20th May – Education and Theory and Methods 3 (exam on 22nd June )
  10. Monday 27th May – Request webinar, content TBC
  11. Monday 3rd June – Families and Beliefs 2 (exam on 4th June)
  12. Monday 10th June – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods 3

All of these webinars will last 45 minutes to one hour during which I will provide a brief overview of some of the content within each topic, and a discussion of at least three specific exam practice questions. Students will be able to ask questions during the Webinar, via text, and there will also be time for students to ask questions at the end.

I will be conducting the Webinars via Click Meeting, which allows students to download support materials in advance of the seminars, ask questions during the seminars via ‘chat’, and which will also allow students to review the seminar afterwards as they will be recorded and stored on the site. Recordings will be available until the 16th of June (several days after the final A-level sociology exam).

Webinar Support materials

The first eight revision Webinars are supported by a PowerPoint, revision notes and exemplar exam questions, and the education, families and methods topics (basically the first year content) have gapped revision hand-outs too, so these really are being offered at a bargain price!

NB – if you have purchased any of my revision bundles, some of these resources are the same. If you’ve already purchased one or more, please let me know and please contact me by email and I can arrange a partial (10% per bundle refund) via PayPal only.  

Detailed Schedule..

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Please click below for the full schedule (PDF)

Revise Sociology Webinars ScheduleV2

How to access the Webinars and resources

Access to all 12 Webinars is only £49.99, which is less than £5 a Webinar. 

To register for the Revision Webinars, please click here.

The link will take you to a registration page for my ‘Permanent Room’ on the ClickMeeting platform. This is the room I will be running all revision Webinars from, every Monday (and one Thursday) from April 1st.

Once registered you will receive an email from ClickMeeting which will provide you with an access link which will allow you access my permanent room for March-June 2019. (NB I will only be using this at the scheduled times, as outlined in the schedule.)

Following registration I will also send you an email containing all the relevant revision resources for the 12 Webinars. These will also be downloadable during and immediately after each revision session.

Reminder emails will be sent out the day in advance of each of the 12 Webinar Revision Sessions, and also watch out for a bonus ‘introducing revision Webinars’ session on the final Monday in March, to give you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with how ClickMeeting works.

Payment is via PayPal only!

About your Tutor

I’ve taught sociology for 20 years, 16 of those in a successful sixth form college between 2002 and 2018 (10 years as Head of Department).

In 2014 I set up this blog, and managed to save enough off the back of it to quit working for the ‘man’ and now I work independently, developing non-corporate support materials to facilitate the teaching and learning of A-level sociology.

I also see myself as something of a trail-blazer in developing 16-19 online education: in 2019, we should be doing better than 20 teenagers all having to travel to a central location and then ‘sitting in a room’ for an hour or two. To my mind this all seems a bit 19th century. These Webinars are a move towards making A-level education more flexible and decentralised.

 

 

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A Useful Example of a ‘State Crime’ – The British Government’s Illegal Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

The British government has been accused of breaking international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.

A recent report by the International Relations Committee (made up of members of the House of Lords) has concluded that it’s highly likely that British Weapons are the cause of significant civilian casualties’ in Yemen, where Saudi-backed forces are fighting Houthi rebels.

A few stats on the Saudi-Yemen conflict and Britain’s role in it…

  • Britain has sold £4.5 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict in Yemen began in 2015.
  • Independent experts have estimated that around 150 civilians died every month in autumn 2018 as a result of Saudi airstrikes.
  • 85 000 children have died of famine or disease since the conflict began, and a further 14 million people are at risk of famine.

The report concluded that the UK government is just on the wrong side of international humanitarian law, because on balance of evidence it believes that the Saudis are using British weapons to kill civilians.

The report recommends that the UK government should be making independent checks to see if UK- arms are being used illegally by the Saudis, instead relying on ‘inadequate’ investigations by the Saudis themselves.

Germany and Norway have already banned arms sales to Saudi Arabia, based on their own independent assessments of the Saudi’s killing of civilians in Yemen.

Relevance to A-level Sociology

This is a contemporary example of a state crime – the UK government selling arms to a country which then uses them to kill non-combatant civilians, which is in breach of international humanitarian law.

It’s also a good example of how ‘money trumps human rights’, or at least how it trumps the human rights of the 100s of civilians being killed each month in Yemen. £1 billion a year in arms sales is a LOT of money, it represents a lot of UK jobs, and a lot of tax revenue for the UK government.

It’s also a good example of selection-bias on the part of the UK government – they choose not to listen to certain independent reports of Saudi Arabia’s illegal use of UK weapons, because then it makes it possible to carry on profiting from selling them arms.

It’s also worth pointing out how agenda setting in the media works to keep the Yemen tragedy out of the news – this is largely a conflict which is hidden from view. To give you some idea of how long this has been going on for, Dianne Abbot pointed the illegality of the conflict back in 2016!

Finally, it’s evidence of the continued importance of nation states in our globalised world… Saudi Arabia depends on the UK government to legitimise its war in Yemen.