Sunday, 30 January 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 3

The suggested time table for Week 3
     Learning Companion 1,  (0.5 hrs)
     Assignment 01 (12 hrs)
To be completed by the 26th Feb

The assignment question is,
"Drawing upon what you have learned about city road, outline some of the ways in which differences are made and remade on a street that you know." (750 words)


Self-Reflection (50 words)

After a bit of a spurt I have to all intents and purposes finished the TMA. I chose 3 differences commented on in the DVD which happen locally, changing use of space, changes due to time & changing shops/residents. All compared/contrasted to the learning material, referenced and even added some maps and photos of the area. The formatting and presentation has taken almost as long to sort out as I took to write the text.

I started the assignment using OpenOffice, but now I have a '' email account I bought Microsoft Office Professional for about £40, and it has been a read bonus. Far easier to add and change photos, formats etc in MS Word. The main reason I went for MS Office though was because my fiancee wrote her first assignment and just before she submitted it she sent it to me at work as a last proof read, and although Open Office was supposed to be compatible with MS Office, when I opened the document at work the formatting was all over the place - luckily I fixed it on my works MS Word and it was sent from there. So now I have my own copy of MS Office no formatting worries for me.

Study now going well to plan, a good couple of weeks ahead of schedule unless I find out at  next weeks tutorial  that I have somehow misunderstood the question and need more work on TMA 01.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 2

The suggested time table for Week 2 
     Learning Companion 1, Week 2, p24 to p39 (5 hrs)
     Making Social Lives DVD, 'Material, Connected & Ordered Lives' (4 hrs)
     Online Activities 3 & 4 (2 hrs)
To be completed by the 19th Feb

 Decided to push on and get the rest of the reading and activities done as soon as possible to allow me a week to work on the TMA before the first tutorial. This is necessary as I am on holiday for about 9 days at exactly the wrong time, so will have to have the TMA submitted before going on holiday as nothing will be done while away.

This weeks work is again fairly straight forward and benefited from almost no input from the incredably off-putting 'llyod robson'. So I need to reflect a bit on what I've read, maybe go over the on-line activities again and then draft the assigment.

I have some ideas about the ways in which differences are made and re-made on a street near me, but until I can speak to the tutor I'm not 100% sure I'm on the right track.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 1

The suggested time table for Week 1 
     Learning Companion 1, Week 1, p14 to p24 (4 hrs)
     Making Social Lives DVD, 'The Street' & 'Making Social Lives' (3 hrs)
     Audio CD 'Reading & Note taking' (0.5 hrs)
     Online Activities 1 & 2 (2 hrs)
To be completed by the 12th Feb

So I've got my learning materials, tutor, tutorial dates and the course website has opened, so time to crack on and try and get ahead of the timetable even if the course isn't due to start for a week. It would be good to get everything needed for TMA 01 done before the first tutorial - hopefully this should be possible.

This weeks study was a fairly sedate entry in to the course, the worse thing about it being the (excuse my language) 'twat' guiding us down City Road. 'llyod robson' (who doesn't believe in capital letters - oh how arty) is a poet & artist (so probably living on the state) who lives on City Road. I guess the camera crew surprised him as he appeared to have made no effort on his appearance considering he was going to be immortalised on film, and certainly this would be his biggest audience by far.

'lloyd' takes us on a tour of City Road with a series of fairly contrived conversations with residents. His strange accent does little to help his cause, especially when he goes in to the newsagent's shop, a shop that looks as though it is definitely going out of business judging by the sparse shelves on display, and has a meaningless conversation about "where can you buy rubber bands and stuff" - er.. W H Smith on every major High Street. I guess 'lloyd' needs to get out more.

You can find out more about lloyd robson and see how your taxes financed his years sabbatical in this   interview . Strange, I thought the 'dole' was for those out of work but looking for employment, I'd no idea you could just opt out of work for a year (or longer) and have the state fund your lifestyle. As 'lloyd' says " i decided i would go on the dole for a year to give myself a chance to write what i really wanted to write" - but is it anything anybody wants to read.

Anyway, that's two of the five video clips watched, hopefully he is not in the next three, I wonder if he declared his fee for this video to the tax man...... of course he probably did. 

The on line activities overlapped the audio CD, and the Learning Companion was a straight forward read, so hoping now to get TMA written in draft form prior to the tutorial.

Monday, 24 January 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Module Website Opens

At last ! It is about 2 months ago that the course materials started arriving, and I feel like I've been in a  'state of limbo' waiting on the course to start.

At least now the on-line activities are available and I have 2 dates on the planning horizon, 5th Feb for the tutorial and 1st March for submision of first assignment.

Time to 'crack on'.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Tutor Assigned

I have been assigned a tutor... yeah. Don't know anything about them, they are not on the faculty website and I haven't found them by 'googling' them or on Facebook.

Still waiting on dates for first tutorial, and the course website hasn't opened yet - all very frustrating.

'Social Sciences : The Big Issues' by Kath Woodward - Chapter 6

Mobilities: Place and race..... Where do you come from ? Kath Woodward suggests that 'place matters because it locates people' and provides them with an identity both from where we were born and other places we are associated with. I have had a fairly nomadic life and don't feel I have a 'home town', I guess I assume some identity through my parents roots, but answering 'Where do you come from' is not a short answer.

There is an interesting discussion on migrants and diaspora, and how migrants see their identity through the 'routes' they took to get where they are now (progressive) rather than seeing their identity from their 'roots' (historic-passive).

The place you live can give indications of your identity to others, such as your religion, ethnicity, social status and indeed this information is used by companies to target mail shots or services at specific groups.

The book then discusses the meaning of the words, migrant, race, ethnicity and racism. The discussion on ethnicity challenges the value of the category 'white', as white is a collection of groups with different backgrounds and histories. The Irish are discussed, a group who have suffered prejudice for hundreds of years. The book quotes from the film 'The Commitments' when a character says the Irish are the 'blacks of europe'.

However, this idea is much older than the The Commitments film, in the mid-70s the Irish band Stiff Little Fingers, who were part of 'Rock Against Racism' movement, sang about "Green Wogs" in the anti-racism song 'White Noise'. The lyrics are uncomfortable to read, but expose how it can be easy to stereotype groups of people with unfair and hateful labels.

The rest of the chapter discusses issues of 'Race & Gender', 'Race & Nation' and 'Rituals'. Interesting discussions, but when using the football World Cup as an example of 'immagined community' the author of this book, and of the reference used, have got it completely wrong when they write about England football fans.

"Paul Gilroy suggests that (for English football fans) the St. Georges flag may offer a more positive symbol of inclusion than the more imperialist Union Jack."   Firstly, it is the Union Flag not Jack as they would not have been aboard a ship, secondly it has got nothing to do with positive symbols versus imperial ones - England fans should fly the St. Georges (English) flag, they should not use the flag of the United Kingdom to support England, and thirdly many parts of the Arab / Islamic world would not see the St. Georges cross as a 'positive symbol', they would see it as inflammatory and insensitive. This quoted passage shows a remarkable lack of awareness of the history, meanings, emotions and symbolism behind the flags of nations.

Goes to show, just 'cos it has been written in a book doesn't mean it is right.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

'Social Sciences : The Big Issues' by Kath Woodward - Chapter 5

We live in a material world...... After the last 2 chapters becoming increasingly difficult to read, this chapter was far easier to read and was rubbish. It was literally about rubbish, about the waste we create and the problems that dealing with waste creates. So Kath Woodward was pretty much singing from the same song sheet as Jack Johnson with his 3R's song - REDUCE - REUSE - RECYCLE.

Rubbish is a big problem, as our society becomes increasingly consumer led, and as technology and fashions change items become rubbish because we no longer desire them, not because the are worn out or no longer functional.

Additionally, the materials that rubbish is now made from are increasingly toxic or non-biodegradable, so disposal becomes a bigger problem, and a problem individuals expect local councils and governments to solve. 

Kath Woodward therefore demonstrates how something as innocuous as rubbish can be shown to be connected across all aspects of social studies. Rubbish is material, economic, cultural and social, it's a lot more connected than you'd think.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Facebook Group - DD101 Jan 2011

The internet seems to be littered with small and poorly supported internet forums or groups for the Open University Cource DD101, both for past years and for the coming course in Jan 2011.

So it was a pleasant surprise to come across this Facebook Group, 'DD101 Jan 2011', this group seems to be gathering momentum and is the most interactive site I have seen, and the course hasn't even started yet.

If you have found this page looking for such a group, then I woud suggest you point your browser at the link below.!/group.php?gid=254749883389

Monday, 3 January 2011

'Social Sciences : The Big Issues' by Kath Woodward - Chapter 4

Buying and selling..... The chapter starts by comparing department store experience of mid-1800s with the experience today, and comments on how the march of big brand supermarkets adversely effects the small family stores. It talks about capitalism and the role of production v consumption and which is the real driver, considering that consumerism used to fulfill desires, but now appears instead to fuel desires. The chapter then discusses the Marxist theory that production exists due to the exploitation of workers. This leads on to the discussion of 'Class', and the views of Marx v Weber.

The role of consumerism as part of identity is explored, and how advertising can sell a lifestyle, thus fueling consumerism as part of a 'self perpetuating cycle'. The link between consumption, identity & lifestyle is also commented on.

The chapter ends with a discussion of power within a consumer society. This is quite a broad discussion and at times drifts into impenetrable 'social science gobboldygook', although I fully agree with the author, who after quoting Michel Foucault goes on to say "Foucault's writing is quite difficult to follow".

Foucault says 'A discourse is a set of knowledges and practices that create their own truth. A discourse is 'true', if taken to be true, not by virtue of being proven true...', it reads as though he is implying a 'discourse' is what is more commonly known as 'common knowledge', but it is surely more complicated than that.

My partner said she thought I would struggle with a social science course as I apparently have a brain that is 'hard-wired for absolutes and structure', and having waded through the later part of Chapter 4 I can see that she is, as always, extremely perceptive - this could be a struggle!