Archive for October, 2013

Economics 1 – Introduction & Definition   no comments

Posted at 8:27 pm in Uncategorized

Researcher: Jo Munson
Title: Can there ever be a “Cohesive Global Web”?
Disciplines: Economics, Ethnography (Cultural Anthropology)

Adam Smith
Adam Smith, coined the “father of modern economics”, associated with the theory of “Classical Economics”, discussed in “Economics 2 – Disciplinary approach, the Big Theories”

A very brief introduction to Economics

In my scouring of the web and relevant books, Economics has been defined in two ways:

the study of the production and consumption of goods, and the transfer of wealth to produce or obtain these goods.

and, more briefly:

the study of how people choose to use (scarce) resources.

I like both. The former gives a better overview of the systems in which Economics operate, whilst the latter pinpoints an area of key importance to the Economist: choice – where our desires may be infinite, but the availability of resources is finite.

With that unifying definition established, Economics is almost always split in to 2 subdisciplines (arguably 3):

  • Macroeconomics – considers the economy as a whole, covering areas such as inflation, unemployment, economic growth and international trade, usually from a government’s perspective.
  • Microeconomics – focuses on the decisions of the individual or individual firms. This includes such things as the demand and supply within a particular market and the factors affecting commodity prices or a firm’s share price.
  • (Econometrics) – uses economic theory, mathematics, and statistical inference to turns theoretical economic models into useful tools for economic policy making.

Economics also generally considers questions of two types, reflecting its basis in both science and social sciences:

  • Positive – objective, fact based statements that may not be correct, but can be proved or disproved.
  • Normative – subjective, opinion based statements that cannot be proved or disproved.

The majority of theories / statements in Economics will in fact be partially Positive and partially Normative.

Having dipped my toe in Economic waters, establishing a workable definition and some sub fields / ways of thinking about questions in Economics, I will next look at some of the big problems and theories in Economics.

Next time (and beyond)…

I’ve had a quick reshuffle of the order, but broadly, I will be covering the following in the proceeding weeks:

  • Can there ever be a “Cohesive Global Web”?
  • Ethnography 1 – Introduction & Definition
  • Ethnography 2 – Disciplinary Approach
  • Economics 1 – Introduction & Definition
  • Economics 2 – Disciplinary approach, the Big Theories
  • Ethnography 3 – Methodologies & Analysis
  • Economics 3 – Models & Methodologies
  • Ethnographic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”
  • Economic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”
  • Ethno-Economic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”


Investopedia. 2009. Economics Definition | Investopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 28 Oct 2013]. 2013. Back to Basics Compilation. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 28 Oct 2013].

Gillespie, A. 2007. Foundations of economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Written by Joanna Munson on October 30th, 2013

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How is gender equality represented on the web? Methodology of Psychology   no comments

Posted at 11:54 pm in Psychology

This post will look at the different perspectives in psychology, and the subsequent different approaches to conducting psychological research.

Here are the seven different perspectives of psychology:

Biological Perspective – Studying the physical to inform the mental. Looking at the neural processes in our brains along with studying the immune system, nervous system and genetics to inform the mental processes. For example, people who are closely related to people who develop mental diseases, may have a greater chance of developing the same disease based on their similar genetics.

Behaviour Genetics – Looking at what extent of our personality traits stem from our genetics, commonly looked at as the ‘nature vs nurture’ debate. This is often studied using twins, looking at the similarity of twins brought up in the same environment, versus twins brought up in completely different environments and seeing which similarities still manifest themselves.

Behavioural Perspective – How conditioning/environmental events can affect how people behave. E.g if somebody was left handed, but rapped on the knuckles every time they used their left hand to write, that would build up a condition in their minds. Years later if they were asked to write something, they would instinctively feel nervous and in anticipation of pain at the idea of writing it with their left hand.

Cognitive Perspective – Analysing mental processes in relation to people’s past recollections and approaches to problem solving / reasoning. For example if someone feels like they cannot give a presentation in front of a large audience, chances are they will fail to do so.

Social Perspective – How people react to other people and situations based on their different social groups and cultures. For example different social groups may tend towards different political persuasions or particular likes/dislikes of food based upon the groups of people they interact with and what is seen as ‘normal’ in that culture.

Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytical Perspective – Proposing that people act in a certain way based on how they wish something to be as opposed to how it actually is. E.g somebody fails an exam, and professes not to care about said exam and that studying is overated, you know that that isn’t their philosphy on learning and they actually care about their grades, so you make the assumption that they are saying that to save face and that they merely wish that was true as opposed to actually believing it.

Evolutionary Perspective – Arguable ‘survival of the fittest’ approach, suggests that humans have adopted characteristics from their ancestors that helped them procreate and survive. For example, humans have an unhealthy appetite for fats and sugars, in the past the ability to obtain fats and sugars probably indicated a richer better lifestyle with a much higher chance of survival; whereas now such foods are so readily available it results in an unhealthy body.

Psychology also holds a selection of research methods, below is a description of these:

Experimental – Experiments are conducted in carefully controlled conditions (often a lab). This allows for certain variables to be carefully manipulated and to ensure that several of the same experiment can be replecated under the same conditions. The disadvantage to this is that lab conditions don’t mirror real life conditions and therefore these experiments can only make accurate predictions based on findings to a certain extent. In addition the different personalities of groups taking part in experiments also need to be taken into account, plus the fact that not everything can be tested within a lab situation. The key element in experiments are collecting measurements of specified variables in the study. E.g depriving five people of sleep and measuring how well their memory stands up compared to when they were fully functioning.

Correlational – This looks at the potential relationship between two variables and their affects on one another. This allows situations to be tested in a more real life style situation than in the lab (although of course this does mean that it will be less carefully controlled). The disadvantage of this is that whilst in an experimental method the cause is clear (increasing/decreasing a variable leads to a conclusion) but this cause and effect conclusion cannot be drawn from studies like this. How much these two variables are related is measured using a descriptive statistic called the ‘correlation coefficient’. This statistic will either show that the values are positively correlated (aka they increase or decrease together) or that they are negatively correlated (one increasing means the other decreases). An example of this would be taking a group of smokers, and a group of non smokers and looking at their taste sensitivities.

Observational – This can be done in one of two ways, direct observation of a naturally occuring event, or surveying a group of people to measure their responses. The advantage of direct observation is that it shows things happening in their natural environment as opposed to specifically controlled conditions such as a lab (which would be hard to use in this type of study). However when the observer is merely watching the events as opposed to measuring/testing them in some way, then the results can be potentially tainted by observer bias, not to mention if people know they are being observed. Survey observation is advantageous as it can reveal a group opnion/attitude towards a certain issue, although it also depends on the participants being not only honest but able to accurately report their thoughts. Neither of these types of research allows us to establish causation either.

Case Studies – Where a small number of cases are investigated in depth. This allows the psychologist to build up a more complex profile than a one time experiment or observation, and they tend to provide common data that can lead towards producing a hypotheses. However, this is not the sort of research that can be easily repeated in such a way that multiple sets of studies could aid one another, and again is subject to researcher bias.

Obviously looking at all of these different perspectives and methodologies is unrealistic, not only because we are writing a 2500 word essay, but because not all of these are relevant to how one would go about studying how gender is represented on the web from a psychological point of view.

The perspectives and research methods that would be most relevant to this study are:

Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytical Perspective – looking at why different people represent genders in a potentially unequal manner on the web, and are these representations merely a way of showing their unconscious mental desires (e.g similarly to pretending that one doesn’t wish to be in a relationship after the other person leaving, one might perceive a comment as ‘sexist’ or indeed face a real life situation involving gender bias, and subsequently unconsciously be drawn to expressing an unequal view on the web.)

Behavioural Perspective – looking at how we have been conditioned to react to certain things, perhaps some men and women are conditioned to believe that ultimately their gender is better and that is reflected in their behaviour on the web. Additionally perhaps some people/genders are conditioned to feel like the unvervalued gender and therefore look for gender inequality where it doesn’t exist.

Direct Observation – looking at how events on the web unfold, facebook groups, forum conversations, blogs etc.

Case Studies – looking at studies and research on this issue.

[1] B. L. Fredrickson, S Nolen-Hocksema, G. R. Loftus, and W. A. Wagenaar. Atkinson and Hilgards’s Introduction to Psychology. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2009, 15th edition, 2009.
[2] D. G. Myers. Exploring Psychology. Worth Publishers, 2009, 7th edition, 2008.
[3] D. Westen and R. M. Kowalski. Psychology, Study Guide. Wiley, 5th edition, 2009.

Written by Samantha Kanza on October 28th, 2013

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Cognitive Science   no comments

Posted at 3:28 pm in Uncategorized

Aristotle was perhaps amongst the first who drew attention to the way that the mind processes information .He was interested in the reasons why an argument could be accepted as valid by those who were both for and against it. His theory of syllogistic reasoning is a form of deductive reasoning that suggests the validity of the argument could be explained by its symbolic form rather than its content.

Various questions about the human mind and the way it processes the information has led to the birth of cognitive science. An example of this is the thought processes that happen in the mind of a jazz musician when he/she is improvising (In some cases without any formal music theory knowledge).How would they know how to put the specific notes and phrases in the right order while making infinite set of improvisations in the chords that remain loyal to a finite set of formal structures.

Cognitive science has a multidisciplinary nature. Scientists from different scientific paradigms such as computer science, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics and philosophy have used cognitive science in their fields to try finding answers to many questions about the human mind. We can have a look at a few examples of this below:

Cognitive science today is a major part of computer science as there has always been an analogy between the human mind and the computer mind. These two fields on many occasions have played the role of a catalyst in the process of improvements and developments of one another but yet in some cases can be misleading.

Cognitive psychologists have achieved many breakthroughs in the areas of education and learning by studying the process of reading or learning .Applied cognitive science has been used by scientists to diagnose and treat learning difficulties, speech impairments, and aiding therapies for stroke victims. As exciting as applied cognitive science can be, it also raises many moral and political challenges for cognitive scientists in this field as the technology in some cases can be misused. Therefore cognitive science is also interrelated with the studying of history, social science and humanities.


1. Neil A. Stillings , Steven E. Weisler , Christopher H. Chase , Mark H. Feinstein , Jay L. Garfield and Edwina L. Rissland (1987),Cognitive Science: An Introduction – 2nd Edition.(1-17)[Accessed 17 Oct 2013]


Written by Faranak on October 28th, 2013

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The Digital Divide and Geography   no comments

Posted at 1:30 pm in Uncategorized

I’ve decided to approach this assignment by focusing on a disciplinary at a time, as well as enhancing my knowledge on the Digital Divide. This week I have focused on Geography, Human Geography to be specific.


The chunky textbook “An Introduction to Human Geography”  by P. Daniels et al, has been the first to enlighten me on the foundations of Human Geography. Likewise to Web Science, it is known to be a multi-disciplinary field of study. “It is about the world around us” but this does not just mean the physical aspects, which we all initially think of when Geography is mentioned. Human Geography draws upon sociology, anthropology, politics as well as oceanography and geology (and many others). It’s focus involves people in places, spaces and landscapes that are modified by human interventions.

This book provided a significant insight to a range of topics covered within Human Geography, including Globalisation, Demography, Capitalism, Social Inequalities and Spatial Divides. The majority directly and indirectly affecting, the digital divide:

Globalisation:- “Shrinking World’; affected by technical, political, cultural and economical factors; Fast developing technologies and Satellite Communications = more global and connected world;

Capitalism:- Between 1500 and 1900 fundamental changes of the organisation of the western world; World Systems theory uses the socio-economic systems involving 3 categories –  Core, Periphery and Semi-Periphery; Industrial Production is noted to be regionally diversified and geographically uneven; Newly Industrialised Countries’ (NIC’s) are ‘catching up’.

Social Inequality and Spatial Divides:- Labels with negative associations for the under developed; requires encouragement for solving development problems; 2-way relationship between society and space; mapping based on quality of life (needs and desires) in different places; measured by Human Development Index (HDI) taking into account a variety of factors including access to the internet/technology

Reference: Daniels., P, Bradshaw., P, Shaw., D, Sidaway., J,  (2012) An Introduction to Human Geography, 4th ed, Essex: Pearson.


Although going backwards with regard to the publication date, the Human Geography Issues for 21st Century by P. Daniels et al textbook was also a worthwhile read. It discusses the focus Geographers have – an interest in ways places differ from one another and the similarities and interconnections between places. In terms of the digital divide this is relevant as it is vital to understand the cause of the divide, comprehend it’s effects and draw up solutions.

Population, Resources and Development:- the concern isn’t just about the resources running out, but the exchange and consumption of the resources that benefit rich nations at the expense of the poor and natural environment; The terms ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ factors, related to migration, put pressure on resources and increase social tensions – access to, and use of, technology is a major push/pull factor.

Impact of technologies:- dynamic and linked to human society; A definite ‘technological progress’; Makes old technologies and associated resources redundant; The resource-rich are able to exploit the use and supply of resources – causing wars and conflict; Technological change improved link between economic development and energy consumption – the developing world could go through this development too?!

Digital Economy:- I believe to be Geographer’s terminology linking to the Digital Divide; The Global Digital Economy is changing the geography of the economy, with the use of the internet, e-commerce and digital economies rapidly growing and diversifying; The challenge is connecting national economies to the internet, being excluded will widen a gap that already exists; Connecting countries to the internet is improving;  Still major steps involving training and educating to be able to use the technologies; There is a clear geographical distribution of available computers/telecommunications/networks and software – all of which are needed to participate in the digital economy; Issue that introducing these technologies in the developing world will bring more negative impacts than positive, as it requires users to be highly skilled (a trait many in the developing world have unfortunately not been able to obtain).

Reference: Daniels., P, Bradshaw., P, Shaw., D, Sidaway., J, (2008), An Introduction to Human Geography: Issues for the 21st Century, 3rd ed, Essex:Pearson

My Thoughts/Questions:

The research so far has left me to ponder on the following:

– Was there already a significant gap before the Digital Divide was established?

–  Is the Technology being blamed for a gap that already existed simply because it has been a major contributor to the expansion of the divide?

– Prior to the evolution of technology, were there actions in place to reduce the gap between the first and third world?

– We have caused this digital divide – but realistically, will it ever close or only expand?

– Have we simply created a vicious circle we now can’t control?

– If NIC’s are overcoming the divide, surely other developing countries can?

– Do the western/developed countries genuinely want to help improve/overcome the digital divide or is it too risky as it could jeopardise the benefits the developed world receive (i.e. could it lose their connections, cheaper access to resources etc)?




Written by Sophie Parsons on October 28th, 2013

All in agreement? pt 2   no comments

Posted at 10:40 pm in Uncategorized

Issue: How to reach a global consensus on the balance to be struck between the right to freedom of expression and content which should be illegal on the web.

Having decided upon Anthropology and Mathematics as my two disciplines, I have spent the past two weeks researching the basics of both and trying to narrow down which specific areas of the disciplines I will be applying to my issue.  The subject of this post will be my current reading in relation to Anthropology …


This week I picked up ‘The Anthropology of Development and Globalization‘ by Marc Edelman and Angelique Haugerud from the library. Because the main crux of my issue is essentially that of assimilating the various views of nation states on where the line of freedom of expression should be drawn, I thought this book may provide an insight to how nation states have dealt with globalization through the eyes of anthropology.

Globalization has led to the increased integration of various places in the world economy and has resulted in improved transportation and communication systems (including the web) on multidirectional cultural flows.

This book is made up of a number of short essays, many of which have been interesting but one in particular has proven rather applicable. ‘Seeing Culture as a Barrier’ by Emma Crewe and Elizabeth Harrison, some points which I found particularly interesting were:

–       The idea of traditions holding people back has a persistence across development industry

–       Traditionalism is partly attributed to economic or ecological conditions, but is often conceived as being linked to a psychological or cultural disposition that is in some sense backward and prevents people from embracing modernity

–       Characterisation of culture implies stasis unless a culture is influenced by ‘modern society’.

–       Barriers to development due to ‘cultural rules’ are seen as much more immovable


In applying the discipline of Anthropology to my issue, the questions I am beginning to consider are:

–       What elements influence nation states views on acceptable online content?

–       What are the different approaches they take and why?

–       Had nation states shown development in the content they allowed to enter circulation prior to the web?


Next post …


Written by Emma Cradock on October 27th, 2013

A consideration of Cameron’s standpoint…scope for investigation.   no comments

Posted at 10:06 pm in Uncategorized

Rather than focus specifically on my disciplines in this blog, I thought I might share with you the basis of the topic that I am exploring in a little more detail. The reason for this is because, as part of my reading and understanding of the web, it raises some interesting points that are shaping the direction of my enquiries into the disciplines in question. It is also important because it has given me specific consideration of avenues for discussion as both disciplines are considerable in scope- to wade in without a clear focus isn’t achievable.

A question: Did you know that 1/3 of children have received a sexually explicit text or email?

The article referenced, actually a speech given by David Cameron, which influenced my decision to follow this particular topic, is available at

If we explore this from a critical stance it opens up a range of issues relevant to both my two disciplines. Notably, however, are the wide range of potential philosophical arguments that relate to moral ethics. There are clear themes regarding virtues, action and moral duty as well as links to categorical imperatives. Further to this, the entire basis of the proposed reform is in fact, philosophical- it is grounded in the idea of taking action, even though it may be unpopular. This is eerily affirmed in the closing remark “That is what is at stake, and I will do whatever it takes to keep our children safe.” This could be interpreted as a strong stance on the importance of protecting individuals, those vulnerable, from harm- moral ethics and action. Likewise it could also be considered a political philosophy, a statement in its own right about the decisions of Governments being made irrespective of the agreements of the many. A number of other systems of Government, especially those on the extremes of the political spectrum, have argued that taking such action is justifiable if its for a specific purpose. Likewise could such a philosophical stance be argued by a Government in order to justify other actions? To where would that lead? Is censorship valid if its for good?

Likewise it opens up a range of interesting debates about the idea of responsibility, a key theme within philosophy as evident in reading so far. At many times, in fact, the speech appears as an attack on the web itself, as an entity beyond the control of society, its leaders and the search providers such as Google. “If there are technical obstacles to acting on this, don’t just stand by and say nothing can be done, use your great brains to overcome them.” The most interesting application of this is with the following argument: “Companies like Google make their living out of trawling and categorising content on the web, so that in a few key strokes you can find what you’re looking for out of unimaginable amounts of information. That’s what they do. They then sell advertising space to companies based on your search patterns. So if I go back to the Post Office analogy, it would be like the Post Office helping someone to identify and then order the illegal material in the first place and then sending it on to them, in which case the Post Office would be held responsible for their actions.”

It is clear, then, that the topic identified has further relevance in terms of philosophical action- in that, who has responsibility to act, why and how should they. This links back to my previous post about the responsibility of parents and just whose moral duty it is to take action. It is also important to recognise that the stance explores two very different issues and this, in itself, creates confusion: child pornography and children accessing pornography. It relates back to the argument of harm, interestingly offering a philosophical argument of which is of greater priority. Distinctions are not drawn in the argument, rightly placing equal emphasis on both. What is clear, however, is the stance of Cameron that not enough is being done and that those of us in a position to shape the web have greater responsibility than we are acting on, apparently. Set your greatest brains to work on this. You’re not separate from our society, you’re part of our society and you must play a responsible role within it. I could offer a point about social shaping and technology here.

The premise of censorship is relatively simple, according to Cameron: “we’ve agreed home network filters that are the best of both worlds. By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account, the settings to install family friendly filters will be automatically selected; if you just click next or enter, then the filters are automatically on.”. However will it work this simply? How do filters identify what is and isn’t adult material and to what extent can it be affirmed as technologically viable? After all, the speech itself doesn’t appear to make any difference between the web and the internet; in fact, not once, is the word ‘web’ used at all. How then, will such filters work? Are they operating on the ISPs network, or are they instructing the web browsers through the network…and so on.

Written by Michael Day on October 27th, 2013

A Look into Philosophy   no comments

Posted at 8:27 pm in Uncategorized

Over the past couple of weeks I have decided to introduce myself to the wonderful world of philosophy, as this seems as good a place to start as any. From my understanding, philosophy tries to gain an understanding of the more fundamental questions of human existence, with the idea that this will lead to a more thorough understanding of life itself. In this sense some argue that philosophy adds to traditional science by giving answers to questions beyond. However unlike traditional science its methods are very different. As traditional scientific methods are arguably involved in philosophical questions themselves, philosophy does not rely on these but instead it builds up knowledge from its own history using systematic reflection. Further to this some have commented that philosophy cannot necessarily be studied and learnt like other disciplines as it something you learn by doing as opposed to by reading about.

Main theories

As stated before there are three main theories in philosophy (although these themselves arguably interrelate with each other, as well as containing an almost endless supply of sub-theories).

Metaphysics – this is about the study of the ‘ultimate nature of reality’, and attempts to distinguish how we can know whether everyday reality is ‘real’. This area includes topics such as dualism, materialism and realism, the latter of which argues that reality exists independently from the mind.

Epistemology – this explores whether knowledge can be independent and includes topic such as empiricism, rationalism and idealism.

Moral and Political Philosophy – explores how individuals behave within society and includes topics such as consequentalism, utilitarianism and contract theory, the former of which argues that moral reasoning should focus mainly on the consequences of our actions.

Regarding the area of social change on the internet I believe the theory most applicable to the study is Moral and Political Philosophy. Whilst metaphysics and epistemology are clearly important areas of study they are perhaps to abstract to such a specific topic. However moral and political philosophy applies well. For example moral philosophy might explore why people behave differently in an online space to physical space, or ask whether a lack of consistent societal norms might have an impact. Political philosophy might look at whether we should follow governmental rules in the first place, or ask whether liberty online is a freedom citizens should have. Political philosophy particular is an area I hope to explore further as this both applies to the topic and succinctly combines the disciplines of study.

In the next blog post I am going to look at the area of politics specifically to explore whether there are particular themes or theories that are most appropriate to the topic area.


Nutall, J. ‘An Introduction to Philosophy’
Warburton, N. ‘Philosophy the Basics’
Craig, E. ‘Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction’
Sellars, R. ‘The Principles, Perspectives and Problems of Philosophy’
Newtown, I. ‘Giants’
Honderich, T. ‘The Oxford Companion to Philosophy’

Written by Laura Hyrjak on October 27th, 2013

Ethnography 2 – Disciplinary Approach   no comments

Posted at 7:53 pm in Uncategorized

Researcher: Jo Munson
Title: Can there ever be a “Cohesive Global Web”?
Disciplines: Economics, Ethnography (Cultural Anthropology)

7'7" Manute Bol and 5'3" Muggsy Bogues.
Ethnographers concern themselves with studying the
cultural differences and similarities between humans

An Ethnographer’s approach to studying humanity

Remembering then that Ethnography can be thought of as:

the study of contemporary and recent human societies and cultures

and that:

culture is the socially transmitted knowledge and behavioural patterns shared by some group of people

I now consider what makes Ethnogaphers’ approach to the study of humans distinct from that of say, Sociologists. There are three concepts particularly central to Ethnographic study:

  • Holism – the concept that no one aspect of a society can be understood without understanding how it relates to all other aspects of that community.
  • Relativism – the concept that the observer of a community should not judge the observed community with the prejudices and values of their own culture.
  • Comparativism – the concept that for something to be considered “universal” to all humans, the diversity of global human culture must have been considered.

Relativism and Comparitivism together highlight a particular feature observed amonghst Ethnographers – they tend to fall somewhere between two extremes:

  • Relativists – who concentrate on cultural differences between human socities; and
  • Anti-Relatives – who concentrate on the similarities between cultures, or “human universals”.

The approaches and theories of Cultural Anthropologists has evolved over time, with Evolutionary and Functionalist ideas making way for new ideas. In the same way that Ethnographers can be thought of as Relativist or Anti-Relativist, modern Anthropology considers Materialism and Idealism:

  • Materialists – Materialists believe that the material features of a community’s environment are the most important factor affecting its culture.
  • Idealists – Idealists believe that human ideas affect culture more than any material features.

As with all extremes, the reality is more likely a mix of the two opposing schools of thought.

Next time (and beyond)…

The order/form of these may alter, but broadly, I will be covering the following in the proceeding weeks:

  • Can there ever be a “cohesive global web”?
  • Ethnography 1 – Introduction & Definition
  • Ethnography 2 – Disciplinary Approach
  • Ethnography 3 – Theories & Methodologies
  • Economics 1 – Introduction & Definition
  • Economics 2 – Disciplinary Approach
  • Economics 3 – Theories & Methodologies
  • Ethnographic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”
  • Economic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”
  • Ethno-Economic Approach to the “Cohesive Global Web”


Peoples, J. and Bailey, G. 1997. Humanity. Belmont, CA: West/Wadsworth.

Barnard, A. 2000. Social anthropology. Taunton: Studymates.

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Written by Joanna Munson on October 27th, 2013

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Looking at psychology through different lenses   no comments

Posted at 5:15 pm in Psychology

After having described the basic definition and research strategies of psychology last week, I want to focus on the different approaches of the discipline this week. To do this in a proper manner, I loaned two books from the library: ‘Approaches to Psychology’ by Glassman and Hadad, and ‘Contemporary Approaches to Psychology’ by Helson and Bevan. After having looked at both books I found that, despite of the title, the latter is outdated, because it was firstly published in 1967. The Glassman and Hadad book, being published first in 2004, gives a more contemporary, clear and concise image of the different approaches that can be used to study the field of psychology. Because of this, it will be more useful for the eventual assignment.

Glassman and Hadad explain that there is a necessity to use different approaches, because of the complexity of behaviour. They argue that there is no single theory that can grasp every aspect of it (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 5). They identify five main approaches that over time have tried to understand psychology at its fullest:

  • The biological approach
  • The behaviourist approach
  • The cognitive approach
  • The psychodynamic approach
  • The humanistic approach

After describing these approaches, the two authors use them to show how one can look at development, social and abnormal psychology.

Glassman and Hadad start with the biological approach, a perspective wherein humans are seen as a biological organism. “What we do, and even what we think, is seen as having its basis in our physical structure”, they argue. Herewith, many biological researchers see behaviour as something that can be fully explained through the physics of the human body (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 44-45). In some ways, the second approach that they look at, is the opposite of the biological approach. Glassman and Hadad namely state that the behaviourist approach sees environmental stimuli as determinative for the way in which humans act. They argue herewith that “human experience can be understood through the interrelations between stimuli and responses.” Everything that cannot be studied empirically, like feelings and thoughts, is not relevant for the behaviourist approach (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 100-104). Only observable events are thus relevant.

The third approach, might be seen as a middle ground between the first two approaches. “The cognitive approach is concerned with understanding the thinking processes that underlie our actions”, Glassman and Hadad explain. According to them, it also “sees events within the person as being at least as important as environmental stimuli in the understanding of behaviour” (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 150, 151). The fourth approach is pioneered by Sigmund Freud. The so-called psychodynamic approach looks at inner processes, which include notions of self and awareness. Herewith, Glassman and Hadad describe it as a “both a theory of motivation and a theory of personality”. The authors contrast it to the cognitive approach, because the psychodynamic approach looks at behaviour within the context of personality and herewith at the whole person, not just at discrete mental processes (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 205). In the words of the authors: “The psychodynamic approach attempts to understand behaviour by analyzing how personality is shaped by past experience and the workings of the mind” (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 247).

The final approach, the humanistic approach, is arguably the most subjective way of looking at behaviour. Glassman and Hadad identify two assumptions: the belief that behaviour can only be understood through the subjective experience of an individual, and that behaviour is not constrained by current circumstances or past experience (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 255).

If one would look at the changing behaviour of individuals because of online surveillance, probably all of the approaches could be used and make an interesting study. The biological approach seems the hardest approach to associate with the subject of online surveillance. Still, when looking at examples that Glassman and Hadad give on social psychology, one could for example look at the innate characteristic of a human being to act differently when being ‘the victim’ of online surveillance (Glassman and Hadad, 2004: p. 339). Is this explainable by heredity? Can the changed behaviour be explained by the characteristic of humans? Does the gender of an individual have an influence on the way online surveillance is affecting him or her? These questions are just some examples of how one can look at the subject. Therefore, I may conclude that the varying approaches in psychology are able to offer many ways of studying the subject of online surveillance.


Glassman, William E. and Marilyn Hadad. Approaches to Psychology. Fourth edition. Berkshire: Open University Press, 2004.

Helson, Harry and William Bevan.  Contemporary Approaches To Psychology. D.Van Nostrand Company Inc., 1967.

Written by Gert Van Hardeveld on October 27th, 2013

Philosophy and Identity – Here I go . . .   no comments

Posted at 5:09 pm in Uncategorized

To start with I am going to look at what Philosophy thinks identity means. This was a slightly naive aspiration as this is a fairly large area of philosophy. Below I have put some notes of the progress I have made so far.

Identity is not a simple question in philosophy. There are several theories surrounding the issue of “who am I?”.

Dualism (Maslin, 2001)

  • Humans are composed of 2 entities: non-physical soul/mind and the physical body
  • The “person” is the consciousness or the entity that experiences and it is identical to the soul but does not include the body

Identity Theories (Reductionism)

Part of philosophy investigates the concept of mind and body, mind-body problem. What is the body? Who does it belong to? What is the mind? Is it the brain or is it something more? (Mullen, 1977).

Mind/Brain Identity Theory (MBIT)

  • MBIT denies Dualism
  • Mind is not separate from the brain
    • everything is physical, including consciousness and thoughts => exemplifies Materialism

MBIT defines a “brain event” as the living brain and the mental events. Identity theorists explain that mental states are brain states. However, this isn’t a bi-directional relationship. I understand it in terms of

Mind = Brain Events BUT NOT Mind  ≡ Brain Events

So to explain this in terms of maths:

x + 3 = 5

In my example:

x = 2

However 2 will NOT always equal to x.

So when identity theorists refer to Mind and Brain events, it is not correct to interchange the terms whilst describing one side of the relationship. These theorists are not proposing an Analytical Reduction relationship like the following statement “All trilateral are identical with three-sided figures”As trilateral means three-sided figure, this statement is always analytically true – it can never be false. (Maslin, 2001)

Identity Theory can be further broken down into the following theories:


Example  – “love and love and love”

Token = 5 “Token” Words

Type = 2 Types

  1. love
  2. and

Types are a broad class which categorises a number of tokens.

Token-token Identity Theory  (Maslin, 2001)

  • mental tokens are just physical events (e.g. occurring in the brain)
  • Every token of mental state  could be identical with token type of physical state but that mental state will not always generate the same brain state, at a different point in time.

Type-type Identity Theory  (Maslin, 2001)

Water = H2O

Lightning = Pattern of Electrical Discharge

The contents on the right explain the hidden nature of the left-hand items. All lightning flashes will always be patterns of electrical charge but not all electrical charges will be lightning.

Mental State  => Brain State

The Brain State for a particular Mental State will have to be observed, can’t just be predicted.


Identity through labels (Mullen, 1977) – haven’t quite figured out the term for this

Someone can be labelled as:

  • a father
  • son of . . .
  • brother of . . .
  • owner of a golden retriever
  • CEO of Google

Is our identity defined by the labels placed on us by those around us? If this is the case, does our identity depend upon those around us?

Do these different labels/roles result in different behaviours and acceptable personas. What does this mean for our identity on the web? Some argue each label/role has an accepted scope of behaviours linked to it. When we accept the label we accept these conditions of behaviour for the period of time that we are still defined by that label.

Semantic Web  – How will all these personas appear in a semantic web where you are represented by one URI? Sometimes different areas of your life shouldn’t interact e.g. photographs of a young working professional out drinking on a Friday night and a primary school head teacher as these are different segments of this persons life.


Maslin, K.T., 2001. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind. Polity ; Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, UK : Malden, MA.

Mullen, P., 1977. Beginning Philosophy. Edward Arnold, London.

Written by Anna Weston on October 27th, 2013

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