What made the protest from February 2017 the biggest in the recent history

 

 

 

 

For my final paper  for Social Sciences I decided to take a look at the massive protests that took place in Romania at the beginning of the 2017 after the government adopted  a  law that would have favored corruption.

I decided to do an analyze on the reasons that made this protests the biggest in the recent history of Romania, since the falling of the Communist Regime in 1989.

Romanian people got  to a point of being used to streets protest, to expressing their anger and disapproval regarding thinks that matter for them, at least in the recent ten years. Major protest took place in the big cities  of Romania when Rosia Montana  problem was raised. Then, thousand took the streets protesting against the exploitation, forcing the exploiters to stop their work.

Foto: Raul Steff

In the last month of December 2014 thousands took the streets in Romania and in the Diaspora protesting against the ruling govern that has poorly organized the presidential elections forcing people to wait in lines for hours on end.

 

Foto: Andrei Dascalescu

 

 

It was not long until the major hazard from the Bucharest club  Collectiv  happened and  again thousands took the streets expressing their anger, grieve and hate against the corrupt system that lead to this tragedy.

Foto: Saul Pop

 

Looking at all this events and protest that took place in the recent years we can say that Romanians have a culture of protest, and they are use to expressing their anger and dissatisfaction  whenever things don’t go as they should or their pace  stability was threatened.

Unfortunately we have a clear example that this are not as they seem to be. In the summer of  2016 the press unveiled that a sanitizing firm, Hexy Pharma ,  that was supposed to keep clean  the hospitals and the tools being used was diluting the disinfectant   making it less sterile than rain water.

Considering that they operated in most of the Romanian hospitals they should have been considered a  national treat and the people should have raised against. Even more there were direct link between their actions and the youngsters that died in the hospitals after Collectiv. Surprising there were no street protest. Nothing notable.

An explanation can be the result of the studies explained by Remy Cross and David  A. Snow in their book. They explain that just the desire of social change is not enough. It takes leaders to speak up for and from the masses in order to coagulate a group.

“The desire for social change alone o mater its source or intensively  is insufficient to generate organized movement campaigns. Rather, collective action that takes the form of social movements seeking some kind  of social change  emerges from the confluence and interaction of a number of facilitating conditions: shared,  mobilizing grievances  , some degree of political opportunity, resource mobilization an a favorable ecological context”.[1]

 

But then same people, just a few months later , took part at the biggest protests in recent history of this country.  Among other things the extremely fast response of the masses was something that Romania has not seen until. The fact that just an hour after the news came out thousands were already on the streets in the Cities was a the first shook.

Not only this, but people kept going out on the streets protesting and enduring hursh  could, snow and even rain. An explanation for their willingness to put all this effort time and dedication can again be found in the research done by the same authors.

“Movements it’s important  to remember, are made up out of people willing to dedicate  varying degrees  of time and energy  as well as other resources, to altering or remedying  some issue about which they deeply and passionately  concerned.” [2]

 

Another reason for the fast  and angry response of the people was the fear factor. Before passing this law, there were day of public discussion about the laws points and lot of public figures expressed their concern about it. Even more there were small protest in Bucharest as well as in Cluj-Napoca thru which  people were signaling that they would not accept this law. The fear factor comes into play because the  decision was made late in the night ignoring all the alarm signs that came from the public.

This action translated into: the actual government  can and will take the decisions wanted even if they don’t represent the best interest for the majority. The masses felt it was a moment of ” now or never”. Many protesters declared that their reaction came in order to save this country in the last minute.

 “Movements it’s important  to remember, are made up out of people willing to dedicate  varying degrees  of time and energy  as well as other resources, to altering or remedying  some issue about which they deeply and passionately  concerned. “[3]

Last but not least  think that differentiated this protest from others was the creativity of the protesters. The iconic picture of the tens of thousands with their lanterns lifted to the sky circled the world. An explanation for this can be:

 “Forgas’ research dovetails with experiments conducted by two University of California, Santa Barbara psychologists in 2007. That study concluded anger promoted analytic processing, and that angry people were more likely to discriminate between weak and strong arguments than people in a neutral mood. The study authors suggested that this was because irritation promoted an effective and analytic way of processing information.” [4]

 

Foto: Agerpres

 

In conclusion we can see that there were some key factors that made the protest against the OUG 13 the biggest in the recent history of Romania. There was the fear factor that brought them on the streets, then the deep desire of social change accumulated over years of protest with no major change and lastly the anger that drove them give them a sense of common identity and helped them be creative in their process.

References

http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/12840/mod_resource/content/2/25%20Apr%20Cross.pdf

http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/26085/mod_resource/content/1/smarter%20as%20groups.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saul Pop                                     Introduction in Social Sciences

English journalism III year

 

 

[1] Social Movements  Remy Cross and David  A. Snow. http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/12840/mod_resource/content/2/25%20Apr%20Cross.pdf

[2] Social Movements  Remy Cross and David  A. Snow. http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/12840/mod_resource/content/2/25%20Apr%20Cross.pdf

[3] Social Movements  Remy Cross and David  A. Snow. http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/12840/mod_resource/content/2/25%20Apr%20Cross.pdf

[4]http://fspac.ubbcluj.ro/moodle/pluginfile.php/26085/mod_resource/content/1/smarter%20as%20groups.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Human Crisis in North Korea

By Erika Csibi

Every country in the World has its own social issues. In this sense we can talk about: crisis, human right`s violation, gender equality, discrimination, terrorist attacks etc.

But what is a Social Issue?

A social issue is a problem that influences a considerable number of the individuals within a society.

Whenever we talk about social issues we think about gender, race, religion etc. In some countries women fight for feminism, while in others people protest against abortion, against discrimination, against gay marriages. North Korea does not fight for or against any of these. North Korean people fights for freedom and human rights.

Under the rule of Kim family, North Korea remains the world`s most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted in the country through fearful obedience by using public executions, arbitrary detention, torture and forced labor etc. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom. (Human Rights Watch)

‘’North Korea is an unimaginable country. There is only one channel on TV, There is no internet. We aren`t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want. … North Koreans are being terrorized today!’’ (Park) These were the words of Yeonmi Park, after escaping from North Korea, she told her unimaginable story at One Young World, in order to raise awareness of what is happening in North Korea.

According to Article 19 of ‘’Universal Declaration of Human Rights’’, ‘’everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

But, in North Korea not only the media is being banned but also the right of humans, their freedom is taken away. According to Article 1: ‘’All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’’, nevertheless according to Article 5: ‘’No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’’

The North Korean government lessens all basic human rights in the country, including freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and freedom to practice religion. It prohibits any organized political opposition, independent media, free trade unions, and independent civil society organizations. Arbitrary arrest, torture in custody, forced labor, and public executions maintain an environment of fear and control.

One of the most appropriate example to prove this violation of the rights from North Korea is the following statement made by Yeonmi Park in the same speech mentioned before: ‘’When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend`s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie!’’  According to her, expressing doubt about the greatness of the regime in the country can get three generations of a family imprisoned or executed.

North Korean people seek and are desperate for freedom. They try to escape in China in order to get their human rights and freedom deserved. In 2016, Kim Jong-Un’s government increased efforts to stop North Koreans from crossing into China without permission. Some tactics included building barbed-wire fences on the northern border; persecuting those caught in North Korea using Chinese cellphones to communicate with people in China or South Korea. Both North Korea and China have increased patrols and established barriers to crossing the border.

Unfortunately North Koreans do not manage to gain their freedom and human rights neither in China. All North Koreans in China are considered to be “illegal aliens” and routinely repatriates them without consideration of their claim to asylum, or even worse, they are sent back. ‘’North Korean refugees, about 300.000 are vulnerable in China. 70% of North Korean women and teenage girls are being victimized, sometimes sold for as little as 200 dollars. ‘’ (Park)

Nevertheless there are many ways to intervene and fix this problem in North Korea and not only. People can raise awareness about the human crisis in North Korea, help and support the North Korean refugees, help them gain their freedom and human rights, because ‘’no humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace! ‘’

Sources:

Human Rights Watch. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2017, from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/north-korea

Park, Y. (n.d.). Escaping from North Korea in search of freedom | Yeonmi Park | One Young World. Retrieved June 2017, from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufhKWfPSQOw&t=4s

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2017, from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

The Walker-Coxes and their economy

The Walker-Coxes 2

Part of the Walker-Cox family

 

The way in which the media and the surrounding rumors presented English people to me was as it follows: either dreamy and talented (it seems that the majority of the “great” classical literature read by the some people have British origins); selfish and avaricious (some unhappy divorces in a close relative’s family due to such behavior) or rude and arrogant, “particularly in London”[1].

I hardly believed any of my group’s prejudices, even though I experienced them all. English people seemed more reserved and judgmental than my Romanian pals. But who was I to put the label on them? Hardly did I get to know them apart from saying “Hi” or “Thank you!” in the airport or in the market. Generalizations and stereotypes seem to do more harm than good, as Professor of Liberal Arts, Education and Philosophy, Lawrence Blum[2], says. Were such beliefs contributing to the stereotypical image of the English? Some think about it, but the same author states that “it is implausible to think that cultural stereotypes arise from an aggregation of individual stereotypes”. I could not disagree more.

Clarification had to be done and what else was there to do than experience a more complex interaction than the simple greeting? With a strong desire of challenging my friend’s beliefs, I booked an airplane ticket and two train tickets after calling a friend and that was pretty much it.

Living with an English family for a weekend is not a big deal, but it was the best cure to dismantle and to fix my thoughts. The Walker-Coxes, a 10-member-family living in Droitwich Spa, near Worcester, were more than welcoming and made me feel at home from the first moments. Though they did not particularly invest in the aesthetics of their home, I had a place to sleep and tasty homemade food to enjoy.

What surprised me the most was their unwillingness to receive money for the accommodation and food that they offered me during my stay. They knew my sister, but was that a strong enough reason for not having me pay for all of their effort? AirBNB, Uber and other peer to peer market services offer their  services based on some taxes (between 3- 5% of the booking subtotal for AirBNB[3] and depending on the route and its length for Uber[4]).

In some way similar to couchsurfing and covoiturage/ carpooling, the Walker-Coxes adopted a very generous form of “economy of giving” attitude without even knowing about it. The economy of giving implies exchanging goods or services without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. It has always existed, but it was theorized by anthropologists Bronisław Malinowski and Marcel Mauss and later debated by Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry.

5 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a garden forms the space where the Walker-Coxes’ economy is applied. More than 9 young people stayed in their home for the past 6 years. Students from Germany, Canada, Australia, Bulgarian, the USA and even Romania shared the house with them for more than one month, some staying up to one year without paying a penny.

“We always receive more than we give.” said Lydia, the 47-year-old mother of 7. “We love people and are eager to learn new things from them. It is a great experience for our children to get in touch with new cultures and perspectives and develop a better understanding of the world. […] If God has given us this house, why wouldn’t we share it with those who need it the most during their college years?”

The accommodation fees for one student in Worcester’s neighborhood represent a minimum of £400 per month[5], without the other £100-£300 for food and other expenses. The Walker-Coxes thought that it is the students who need their help the most, as not all of them afford staying in the dorms or renting a room.

Lydia and Alistair, her husband, run a 26-year-old business, selling books and cards in a small local shop. The family’s eldest children, Annika and Christian graduated from college and divide their time between helping their parents with the small business or working in their fields of specialization. The younger 4 are home-schooled and enjoy the encounters with the foreign students who come for a while in their lives.

The Walker-Coxes do not represent one of the 112 million accounts from AirBNB[6] and Couchsurfing[7], but whenever they hear from their friends or local community of students in need of accommodation, who come in their area an, they are willing to help.

Ioana Bivolaru

Sources:

[1] Vulliamy, Elsa. 7 stereotypes about British people that everyone believes. December 17, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/inaccurate-stereotypes-about-british-people-that-everyone-believes-to-be-true-a6776461.html (accessed May 20, 2017).

[2] Blum, Lawrence. “Stereotypes And Stereotyping: A Moral Analysis.” Philosophical Papers, November 2004: 251- 289.

[3] Airbnb. What are Airbnb service fees. https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1857/what-are-airbnb-service-fees (accessed May 29, 2017).

[4] Uber. Account and Payment Options. https://help.uber.com/h/463b843c-acfb-4c7b-b3bd-449812872a25 (accessed June 2, 2017).

[5] Rightmove. Property to rent Droitwich. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/Droitwich.html (accessed May 30, 2017).

[6] Smith, Craig. 90 Amazing Airbnb Statistics and Facts (March 2017). March 10, 2017. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/airbnb-statistics/ (accessed June 4, 2017).

[7] Coachsurfing. About. http://www.couchsurfing.com/about/about-us/ (accessed June 1, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Plastic Ocean

By Emilia Todinca

We are surrounded by more plastic than we imagine. From getting a coffee to driving a car, in some part, plastic is part of the process.

The irony at the plastic’s creation only now can be understood. People thought that no longer being limited to natural elements they would reduce the strain upon harvesting. But we know now that plastics ended up harming the environment. Of course, they did provide for a growth in economic and social liberties. (Chemical Hertiage Foundation -)

 

Because of World War II, plastics began to replace many items, and in the second part of the 20th century, people began buying it more and more. From the 1960’s, plastics were found in the ocean. Since then, people have grown more aware of the danger this substance poses upon the environment, given its extremely long life.

 

Today, the ocean contains an estimated 51 trillion microplastics. (The 5 Gyres Institute -) What are microplastics you might ask. Well, they are small pieces of just a few millimetres, which mostly, thanks to UV radiation, are what becomes of the plastic that arrives in the oceans. (Kershaw 2015) And we must realize that the toxic substances of the plastic are dispersed as they degrade. (The 5 Gyres Institute -)

If you think that the plastic in the oceans could not come from you, you should know that 95% of it comes from land. The rivers take the plastic all the way into the open waters, where they further on aggregate in 5 systems driven by wind, called gyres. (The 5 Gyres Institute -)

For the plastics to degrade to just a few millimetres, it takes many years. In the meantime, the plastic can be eaten by or hurt fishes, turtles, sea lions or other marine life. An important consequence of this is that the toxins from the plastic can be transmitted to humans if ingested. (Schilling 2014)

You can recycle and therefore do the best you can, but the companies might not keep their end of the bargain, as it is not worth their while to do so. In 2014, only 10% of plastic was recycled. (Schilling 2014)

 

We cannot eliminate all the plastic, and we should still use it in domains like technology or medicine. But we should not allow it to become this overwhelming heap which endangers our health. (Chemical Hertiage Foundation -)

We cannot leave this problem to the future. By 2050, the weight of marine plastic will outweigh the fishes in the ocean. (The 5 Gyres Institute -) We have to start now. Make small changes. Talk to people. Say no to using a straw. Use reusable grocery bags. It adds up. Hopefully we will able to leave a more sustainable planet to the next generation.

 

 

 

 

 

Media representations on femininity in today’s society

The way femininity is shown in the media represents a serious social problem based on the fact that it affects our attitude towards women and beauty in general.

It is represented in the media by the multi-billion dollar beauty industry in ways that links certain social practices associated with femininity as central to defining one’s identity as a female. Due to the Patriarchal nature in our society – women are less likely to be the leading source of a news story on any kind of topics. Very few women are actually in the bussiness as someone who occupies an important post, however they are all shown as young, slim and the imagine of ideal beauty that we are supoused to fallow.

Sociological researchers are particularly interested in not just the individual’s opinion of gender roles, but how those opinions influence the larger picture of culture. Primary example of the role of media representations related to the construction of femininity is a focus on body weight. This focus on slimness is a current cultural phenomenon that reflects current cultural beliefs. In the late 1900s, women who were not slim were viewed in a positive light given they assumption that they were well-fed — a status feature associated with class. Since that time, the ideal body weight as portrayed in the media has moved towards increasing slimness.

In modern society, women are often disempowered due to messages we receive through the media. The dominant ideology that women are only valued as sexual objects maintains hegemony by making women seem like they are unimportant or not valuable as people.

In the newsroom, men have predominately reported the news. In the past few decades woman have made a bold statement in the media, unfortunately with such actions comes stereotypical behavior. Women have been dressed up in outfits that expose their feminine features and have to maintain a figure that is very appealing to the eye. Most woman over the age of forty are not seen due to the fact that woman did not enter the news place until the 1970’s. It has been shown the anchors working for news stations have to deal with a lot of aspects in order to obtain the job.

Jon Stewart – host of the Daily Show on the Comedy Central, in 2015 talked about Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut cover and opened up a subject regarding the way Caitlyn is being treated as a woman in society. After cutting to a montage of news reports largely focused on her appearance on the Vanity Fair cover, Stewart went on by saying: “Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen, but now you’re a woman, and your looks are really the only thing we care about.”

“Remind her she has an expiration date now,” commented Stewart. “You came out at 65, you’ve got another two years before you become invisible to society. Better make the most of it.”

In this case Caitlyn as a woman needs to starts learning the preasure that woman  as public figures are under all the time about their appearence. We see celebrities through a screen of Photoshop, professional makeup, and designer clothes. We then broadcast this unrealistic beauty fantasy to every media outlet in the country and impose it on every woman. The impact that these unrealistic images have on our girls’ self-esteem is well documented, but we don’t stop. Some celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet and Keira Knightly, have spoken out about this manipulation. But these lone voices are not enough to negate the terrible impact ‘Photoshopping’ has on our culture.

Different standards on femininity that exist in today’s society have a strong impact on us especially on younger generation that is easily influenced by the media. All the ‘’ideal’’ beauty representations that are shown to us have a tendency to manipulate in many ways and change our beliefs on what is beautiful around us. The impact that gender ideologies have on society can limit an individual in his/her powers and decisions in life on many levels. The environment holds many powers that can pressure each individual shaping them into what society holds to be correct.

 

Valeria Badiuc