Author: Publishing Manager

Is the Gig Economy healthy?

Is the Gig Economy healthy?

That is the question posed in the fourth title in the Media Policy Brief series from the CAMRI Policy Observatory. In summary form it presents the results of a wide survey into mental health of musicians and patterns of work. It suggests that they and other creative industries workers’ may signal the growth of psychological issues for those operating under flexible working regimes and as automation continues to rise. Well-Being and Mental Health in the Gig Economy: Policy Perspectives on Precarity makes the case for considering the mental health outcomes for gig economy workers of policies affecting labour markets in the UK’s media and creative sectors. Authors Sally-Anne Gross, George Musgrave and Laima Janciute ask whether a more serious look at a universal basic income as suggested by the likes of Guy Standing is also called for. 

Using Open Access and a concise, easy-to-read format, this peer-reviewed series aims to make new research from the University of Westminster CAMRI media researchers available to the public, to policymakers, practitioners, journalists, activists and scholars both nationally and internationally.

 

Action needed on disfigurement in media

Action needed on disfigurement in media

Appearance, Discrimination and the Media is the third title in the Media Policy Brief series from the CAMRI Policy Observatory. This extract by the authors explains some of the background issues and why it has emerged as a growing concern. 

There is a range of examples where policy is linked with issues around appearance: following the vote by nearly one million people in 2016 in the UK Youth Parliament’s ballot, who pointed to ‘body image’ as one of the top ten issues, the Parliamentary Youth Select Committee held dedicated sessions in July 2017 to debate related concerns. † Internationally, several countries, including Italy, Spain and Israel, have legislated on underweight models.†† France – another country that has implemented similar laws aimed at banning the hire of extremely thin models – introduced mandatory health check requirements for workers in the fashion industry. The new French law also obliges the labelling of digitally altered images in tackling the propagation of unrealistic ‘beauty’ standards.†††These policy initiatives reflect the necessity of specific targeted measures to address looks-related prejudice and to make the principles of equality and diversity work in practice. Many of these problems originate in the prevalent culture of obsession with appearance, which has a number of harmful consequences. Body image-related concerns in their variety of forms often cause serious mental and physical health issues.†††† In the UK, disability hate crime offences increased by 101%, from 1,531 in 2014-15, to 3,079 in 2016-17. †††††  According to the Editors’ Code published by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO): ‘The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability’.

Additionally, the code states: ‘Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story’.†††††† Yet, people with a visible difference are systematically misrepresented in the media.

Using Open Access and a concise, easy-to-read format, this peer-reviewed series aims to make new research from the University of Westminster CAMRI media researchers available to the public, to policymakers, practitioners, journalists, activists and scholars both nationally and internationally.

† Garrisi, D. and Johanssen, J. 2017. Youth select committee inquiry: body image-related issues one of the young people’s top ten concerns.’CAMRI. The Policy Observatory. 10 July. Available at: https://camri.ac.uk/blog/Articles/youth-select-committeeinquiry-body-image-related-issues-one-young-peoples-topten- concerns/.

†† BBC France passes bill banning ‘excessively thin’ models. BBC News,18 December 2015. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ world-europe-35130792 (accessed July 2017).

††† Ibid; see also †

†††† Instagram ‘worst for young mental health’. BBC News, 19 May 2017. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39955295 (accessed July 2017); Media is fuelling eating disorders, say psychiatrists. BBC News, 22 February 2010. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/ hi/8528443.stm (accessed July 2017); see †.

††††† Kiteley, P. and Robinson, B. 2017. ‘Disabled children hate crime reports increasing.’ BBC News, 15 October. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41600137 (accessed November 2017).

††††††  ‘Editors’ Code of Practice.’ Independent Press Standards Organisation: https://www.ipso.co.uk/editors-code-of-practice/ (accessed May 2018).

 

 

Recipes for understanding taste – new title in ‘Law and the Senses’ series

Recipes for understanding taste – new title in ‘Law and the Senses’ series

The second title in an ambitious new interdisciplinary series from the University of Westminster’s Law and Theory Lab has been published. Called TASTE it is one of five volumes that will explore the terrain of law and each of the five senses with SEE  already published and both titles available open access. In an extract from a wide-ranging analysis of what taste means in terms of theory and law in the book’s introduction, Andrea Pavoni considers the medium of the ‘recipe’. Uniquely TASTE includes seven considerations of the ingredients of the recipe via specific examples touching upon themes from Veblen’s conspicuous consumption and ‘foodstagramming’ to abjection and disgust to the ambiguous rituals of food hospitality. The featured image illustrates the range of this unique feature of the title. To sample the recipes download the full title which is also available in paperback.

What is a recipe if not the gastro-normative artefact par excellence? A set of how-to instructions meant to adapt the contingency of cooking to the standard of a normative knowledge. Recipe, in Latin, is the imperative form: take, and was the introductory formula of medical prescriptions. As Flandrin explains, it was only in the seventeenth century that gastronomy proper supplanted dietetics, cooking began to be assumed as an art rather than a medical science, and the hedonism of the ‘gourmet’ was liberated.†  Yet, the early, normative power of recipes remained in place. This had ossifying effects, Haden † †  argues, vis-à-vis the parameters of taste, and often resulted in communicating a rationalised and standardised gastro-normativity, exemplified by the ideology of measurability and repeatability expressed in recipe cookbooks and, we may add, repeated and magnified in today’s TV cooking shows. Camporese †††  has emphasised the crucial role played by a 1891 recipe book by Pellegrino Artusi, The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, in producing a national consciousness in an Italy as, 30 years after the unification, the country was still culturally and linguistically split among regional enclaves. A unification that, however, occurred in heavily asymmetric form. Artusi, a bourgeois from central Italy, crafted a series of recipes in which ‘the politico-economical system, the social structure of his society, and the myth of bourgeois order’ were carefully and paternalistically translated, along marked geographical, socio-economic and gender cleavages. The seven speculative recipes gathered in the second part of this volume aims towards an opposite direction. They seek to disentangle taste, first, from its parochial entrapment into bourgeois enjoyment and, second, from their normatively atrophying ideology. No longer a mechanism that preventively defuses contingency, the recipe is thus reconfigured as a tool aimed at detecting and unfolding the contingent frictions between the experience (of taste) and the culinary continuum of bodies and structures that shape it.

 †  Jean-Louis Flandrin, ‘From Dietetics to Gastronomy: The Liberation of the Gourmet’, in Food: A Culinary History, ed. Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

 †† Haden, ‘Lionizing Taste’.

 ††† Piero Camporese, Alimentazione, Folclore, Società (Parma: Pratiche Editrice, 1980), 117 [my translation].

Welcome (and Farewell) to Freedom

Welcome (and Farewell) to Freedom

Just published Riccardo Baldissone’s tour de force new book considers the meanings of liberty, freedom and related concepts. It ranges from classical texts to the present. From the introduction the author explains some of the transformations associated with the word and why a new vocabulary might be helpful even liberating. Farewell to Freedom is available in open access digital editions and available to order in print. 

“Actually, the notion of freedom is not even a Platonic invention, as the Greek word ἐλευθερία9 [eleutheria] is previously attested in Pindar: Plato improves and systematizes an already active process of production of abstractions. Havelock associates this process with the construction of the first Greek written alphabetical language, which the Socratic-Platonic semantic enquiries culminate. The book argues that before this process there is no literal freedom, but just free things, and then, free humans. When the word ἐλεύθερον [eleutheron], free, appears in the Homeric text, it does not grammatically refer to human subjects, but it metaphorically hints to their state: for example, we now translate the Homeric expression ἐλεύθερον ἧμαρ [eleutheron hēmar], literally free day, as the day of liberty, that is, the condition of freedom. Only in the fifth century BCE, does the appearance of the word eleutheria in two Pindaric odes herald a series of neologisms, such as, for example, Thucydides’ αὐτονομία [autonomia], which we now render in English as ‘autonomy.’ These terms become part of a wide constellation of locutions that construct a plurality of freedoms: a similar constellation also revolves around the Latin words liber, free, and libertas, liberty. Later on, Christian authors such as Augustine identify a proper freedom and relocate it in the afterlife, whilst associating its mundane limited exercise with will. As compared with the GraecoRoman and Germanic variously grounded notions of liberty and freedom, the Christian emphasis on individual salvation takes further the Stoic and Neoplatonist retreat towards interiority, and it produces a radical decontextualization of personal choice. After the turn of the first Christian millennium, medieval theological debates focus on freedom both as a divine faculty and as a secular practice. The latter aspect is also developed by lay legal scholars and political thinkers, following the recovery of Roman law codes and Greek philosophical texts. Paradoxically, Luther and Calvin’s stress on predestination allows then the redirection towards worldly tasks of individual agency, and its unlimited expansion. As early modern constructions of freedom emerge from a clash of religious fundamentalisms, despite their claim of absolute novelty they often recast medieval theological notions. However, seventeenth-century English parliamentary debates also revive the Roman phraseology of slavery, in order to articulate the concept of freedom as absence of dependence. This concept is formulated by Hobbes on the model of the new physics. In the eighteenth century, Rousseau follows Hobbes in reshaping medieval mystical bodies in the form of the general will. Moreover, he redefines freedom as the obedience to a self-prescribed rule. Similarly, Kant claims absolute autonomy through a voluntary subsumption of the individual under the universal.

German idealist thinkers’ inflation of the concept of freedom reveals it as a mere hyperbole, which can be realised either as absolute compulsion or in the absence of others. Hegel endeavours instead to capture freedom within a framework of evolving historical necessity. The reaction to the Hegelian dynamic totalization opens the way to a variety of theoretical challenges to the very notions of subject and will, which are the foundations of the medieval and modern constructions of freedom. From Stirner on, a veritable fault-line opens up in Western thought between the pursuit of a conceptual definition of liberty and the attempt to rethink freedom as the human production of novelty. Whilst Marx anchors this production to material processes, Nietzsche takes further Stirner’s questioning of ideas by challenging the unity of the Western subject. Nietzsche’s effort to reconstruct conceptual entities as processes allows us to revise the discourses of freedom in terms of human practices. In particular, a radical shift of the very locus of freedom and autonomy results from a double change of theoretical focus: Simondon rethinks individuals as processes of individuation, and Foucault constructs subjects as processes of subjectivation. These processual approaches undermine the raison d’être of the notions of freedom and autonomy: regulative properties such as freedom and autonomy only apply to an enclosed and selfconsistent entity – the individual, or the collective – as distinct from others, and they cannot fit subjectivation processes that are based on the constitutive participation with others. Hence, a new theoretical lexicon is needed to strike a dia-nomous middle path between autonomous and heteronomous alternatives: such a relational third way requires likewise relational notions. Of course, it may seem impossible to transcend the horizon of freedom: the very plurality of the discourses of liberty may rather appear to justify the hope in some understanding of freedom that transcends its pervasive neoliberal version. Nevertheless, also more articulate discourses of liberty can hardly face our current challenges, both in the public and the private sphere. For example, these discourses also still claim the freedom to exercise an absolute power over oneself – a mastery that in fact is their paradoxical cornerstone. If the discourses of freedom appear exhausted and even counterproductive, couldn’t we treasure instead the neoliberal unwitting demonstration of the performative power of words, and thus realise that other words may help catalyse other (and participative) practices? In this case, we could take advantage of our knowledge of the past to construct a different vocabulary, which may empower us to claim the life that we all deserve”.

(Reproduced without footnotes. The full text of the opening chapter ‘Antiquities before Christianities’ is available from the publisher’s site to view and download). DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book15a

China’s global media expansion reconsidered – major new WPCC issue

China’s global media expansion reconsidered – major new WPCC issue

A new WPCC issue re-evaluates China’s much debated ‘going-out’ strategy as it has developed. It extends the debate about China’s media expansion by focusing on the act of communicating the ‘going-out’ message and how it has been received by residents of Latin America, the USA and Africans studying in China.

Eleven contributions consider television news to radio, Twitter, the financial structures of Chinese internet firms alongside book reviews of publications on Chinese and global media politics offering new data and interview material as well as alerting readers to some of the most useful theoretical tools to develop understanding.

The issue is guest-edited by Vivien Marsh.

Media Policy Briefs Published by CAMRI

Media Policy Briefs Published by CAMRI

The University of Westminster Press has released the first titles of a new Media Policy Brief series from the CAMRI Policy Observatory that provides rigorous and evidence-based policy advice and policy analysis on a variety of media and communication-related topics. 

Using Open Access and a concise, easy-to-read format, this peer-reviewed series aims to make new research from the University of Westminster CAMRI media researchers available to the public, to policymakers, practitioners, journalists, activists and scholars both nationally and internationally.

The first titles are:

The Online Advertising Tax: A Digital Policy Innovation by Christian Fuchs

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things: UK Policy Opportunities and Challenges by Mercedes Bunz and Laima Janciute

An extended version of the first is available as The Online Advertising Tax as the Foundation of A Public Service Internet