Monday, 21 September 2009

High Speed Rail

High Speed Rail is a type of rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal railway: usually at 200 km/h or higher speed.
Generally, High Speed Rail is considered is a profitable transport system due to numerous advantages. Among them are:

- High Speed Rail can operate at non-stop system and run frequently, which is attractive to businessmen who may account for the large part of market for such trains.
- High Speed Rail trains can also operate locally and connect city centres, which is often impossible for airplanes
- The capacity of such trains is high which make them more efficient, some engineers argue that trains are 3 times more energy-efficient that aircrafts
- Lower energy consumption as well as reduced land usage compared to other means of transportation make High Speed Rail more environmentally friendly
-High Speed Rail reduces congestion and provides means of trasportation for countries with growing population as well as providing employment.
-In contrast to airplanes, WiFi and phone networks are available on such trains which is again attractive for potential consumers
-High Speed Rail can be engineered to emis less carbon dioxide
-Due to lack of requirement to check baggage and rare weather-related delays High Speed Rail is more convenient compared to other trasport and highly punctual.
- More comfortable for longer journeys that airplanes or cars and may carry excess passenges
- The possibility of collisions is eliminated and this system is easier to control, therefore is quite safe.
- High Speed Rail journey may include stops, which allows to open new markets.

However, there are a few serious drawbacks such as:

- High investment costs for both building new infrastructure and rolling stock allowing to roll at high speeds
- It is hardly flexible: it can't adjust quickly to changes in demand and even if it does it implies a considerable cost

P.S. Yes, i know that it was supposed to be an essay....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

a.) Laboratory experiments.


-You are able to control the variables e.g. make all of them constant except one.
-Controlling variable also helps to identify the nature of correlation: causative or coincidental.
-The results are easy to be quantified - represented in the form of numbers.
-Laboratory experiments are easier to replicate that field experiments.


-Difficult to apply such experiments to people as they may behave artificially, therefore results may be unreliable
-Experimental effect

b) Field experiments.


-This type of experiment allows to avoid artificial behaviour
-Easier to apply to people than laboratory experiment


-It is difficult to control the variables because such experiment is conducted in a usual social situation.
-The Hawthorne effect: if people are aware of being a part of experiment, they may act differently, therefore the results may be unreliable.
-Experimenter bias - the experimenter may have an unintended effect on those who are being studied and thus produce unreliable results.
-Ethical questions - should people be aware of being a subject of an experiment? Do they have to agree to do it?

c.) Comparative method.


-That method allows to investigate the causes of the particular events.
- Influence of variables can be estimated

Difficult to adjust the research to cultural differences e.g. difficult to compare things which may not be really alike.

Monday, 4 May 2009

nuclear family essay-question

e) Use material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm.

2B item -A popular image of the family has been the 'cereal packet' nuclear family norm of a married couple and two children who are the couple's biological offspring. The husband is the main breadwinner and the wife is primarily concerned with housework and childcare.It could be argued that this nuclear family is no longer the norm. A number of changes have taken place, such as the rise in the number of same-sex couples and of lone parents. these have resulted in families becoming much more diverse.However Somerville (2000) argues that these changes are exaggerated. The apparent diversity of family life is based on a snapshot at any one time and, if a life cycle approach is taken, many people have a fairly conventional experience of the family.

Nuclear family is a traditional family that consists of a husband and a wife and one or more children, which can be either own or adopted. In such family husband is usually a breadwinner, while wife is responsible for the housework - the so-called 'cereal packet' family (Leach, 1967). Murdock (1949) argued that nuclear family is a 'universal social grouping' which can be found in all societies. However, as the article suggests 'a number of changes have taken place' and the family became more diverse in the recent years.

Firstly, with more and more people entering the higher education and becoming more independent from parental control, there has been a rise in cohabitation (non-married couples living together). Also, the social attitudes have changed and cohabitation is no longer sin as 'living in sin'.

Besides, changing in economic position of women and individualisation (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim) allowed women to divorce and raise their children in lone-parent families. As the statistics suggests, the majority of divorce petitions were brought by women - around 70% (Population Trends), as well as the majority of lone-parent families headed by women (over 90% in 2006).

Government and social policies have also had an effect on the family structure. With several laws and acts, such as the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, divorce was made much easier. Civil Partnership Act of 2005 has also allowed a new type of family - same-sex family- to develop.
Moreover, Young&Willmott suggested new stage of family - the symmetrical family, where the conjugal roles were increasingly similar. However, this was critisized by feminists, who argued that women are still responsible for cooking and cleaning.

Even though there is a lot of evidence for the decline in nuclear families, New Right perspectives suggests that this type of family is the only one which is acceptable for the society. Dennis and Erdos argued that lone-parent families fail to provide an adequate socialisation and young people may be brought up anti-social and irresponsible.
Furthermore, as the article suggest, the changes in family structure may have been exaggerated. O'Brien argues that living in nuclear family is the stage that most people go through in their lives. This may also be supported by evidence: the majority of British children in 2006 (around 76%) lived in such families.

Summarising what was said before, there was indeed an increase in family diversity, which creates a concern whether the nuclear family is still a 'norm'. But it is difficult to judge, as even with the increase in other family types, the nuclear family still remains the most common type of family, supported by both Functionalist and New Right perspectives.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

sociology homework that should have been done by 14th of April ))

Family and Households Questions.

a) Explain what is meant by the expressive role?
b) Suggest two ways in which 'family life may have a harmful effect on women'
c) Suggests three reasons for the decrease in the death rate since the 1900
d) Examine the ways in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed.
e) Use material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm.

2B item -
A popular image of the family has been the 'cereal packet' nuclear family norm of a married couple and two children who are the couple's biological offspring. The husband is the main breadwinner and the wife is primarily concerned with housework and childcare.

It could be argued that this nuclear family is no longer the norm. A number of changes have taken place, such as the rise in the number of same-sex couples and of lone parents. these have resulted in families becoming much more diverse.

However Somerville (2000) argues that these changes are exaggerated. The apparent diversity of family life is based on a snapshot at any one time and, if a life cycle approach is taken, many people have a fairly conventional experience of the family.

a) Explain what is meant by the expressive role?

Expressive role - role of the homemaker, caring for the family members, which is usually done by women.

b) Suggest two ways in which 'family life may have a harmful effect on women'.

Unequal gender roles (as men usually act as decision maker and are less responsible for the housework) and domestic violence (as women are more likely to be the victims).

c) Suggests three reasons for the decrease in the death rate since the 1900.

Decline in poverty, rise in the number of government policies aimed at improving the welfare of people, advance in medical treatment

d) Examine the ways in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed.

Childhood is said to be socially constructed due to several reasons.
First of all, the main argument for considering childhood as being the product of society is that the length of childhood and the way the children are treated vary from society to society. For example, Firth carried out a research on some societies where children were responsible for dangerous tasks. This is obviously not common for the modern Britain.

Another argument that supports this statement was proposed by Aries (1962), who argued that the development of the concept ‘childhood’ began only in the 16th century. He based his argument on the evidence of the letters, diaries and paintings, which suggested that children and adults were treated in a same way in the medieval Europe. However his research was criticized as being unreliable.

Moreover, Bukatko and Daehler provided the evidence that in the medieval Europe children were actually seen as different from adults in certain aspects, namely in the aspect of marriage: there were laws prohibiting the marriage for under 12s.

Also, another argument for the childhood being socially constructed is the two images of the childhood indentified by Rogers in 2001. The first one ‘the welfare view’ suggest that children need protection and the children welfare should be the primary consideration. Another one, ‘the control view’ sees children as unable to control themselves and needing regulation.

However, both of these views are argueable as some adults need to be treated in the same way. Lee (2001) identifies the change in the social construction of childhood where the distinction between childhood and adulthood becomes less obvious and suggests the evidence in the form of increasing divorce rates. Neil Postman (1983) goes even further in his argument by suggesting that childhood is disapperaing in the modern society under the influence of media.
This view may also be criticised as there are many laws protecting the childhood from violence as well as the ‘water shed’ which protects them from the ‘adult world’.

To conclude, there are numerous researches proving that the childhood is a social construction, while the biological form of childhood is supported by little evidence.

e) will update this one later.

Monday, 27 April 2009

exam reports homework

[sorry for not posting for so long, but now i have my laptop back and i can do some homework]

I've read and summarised economics exam reports for units 2881, 2882 and 2883 from 2006 to 2009.
Most of the errors were repeating from year to year so here is advice on how to avoid these common mistakes:

Geveral advice:

1. avoid giving too general definitions e.g. giving definition to the economic problem it is not enough to say ‘how, why and for whom’ production takes place.

2. do not be too general in approaching questions that require an exact answer

3. real world examples are always good to use where relevant

4. do not make too much analysis, when not required

5. always use economic terminology

6. do not repeat the answers from previous mark schemes and do not use pre-prepared answers - develop your own answer

7. make sure you look at the two sides of the problem where required - e.g. costs and benefits

8. make the sufficient use of the data if the question requires you to use it

9. do not answer all questions if required to answer one - and do not mention several examples if question asks you to explain one in detail.

10. last questions require more elaboration e.g. not only state the problems, but also explain why these are the problems

11. if you have drawn a diagram make sure that you refer to it

12. when explaining the diagram consider the direction of change e.g. use words 'increase' and 'decrease' not just 'change'

13. make sure your handwriting is neat - examiners often mention illegible handwriting in the reports

14. use a ruler for your diagrams - this was mentioned in reports as well.

15. bear in mind that if too many candidates are doing well in particular question, examiners are likely to be more strict in order to differentiate - so do not do the bare minimum.but at the same time do not go into details in the first questions (unless required).

16. do not confuse macro- and microeconomic analysis. try to use only microeconomic analysis for Unit 1 and macroeconomic for Unit 2.

17. do not twist the words in the question and attempt to answer a different question

18. quality not volume tends to be rewarded with a Level 4 mark.

19. but at the same time do not give short answers for the last questions and explain your answers rather than just assert points.

20. showing better understanding of the subject beyond the syllabus is often praised

21. always indicate if your answer is continued on the back page/somewhere else

More specific advice (based on the most common mistakes candidates made in 2006-2009):

1. demand can be defined as the amount of good people are able and willing to buy, not just want.

2. consumer surplus is not where 'demand exceeded supply' it is the amount that the consumers are willing to pay over the market price.

3. when asking to explain the economic problem relating it to your OWN circumstances focus on the individual, not on the events happening in the world.

4. talking about monopoly characteristics: write not only 'barriers to entry' , but 'high barriers to entry', not 'profit maximisation' but 'long run excess profits'.
for oligopoly do not use just 'small number of firms' but 'small number of large firms',

5. make clear distinction between private and social cost, sometimes it is not that simple to decide on the type of cost.

6. distinguish between information which indicated rates of change and that which represented absolute figures e.g. GDP per capita and annual percentage change in GDP

7. do not focus only on disadvantages/costs - make sure you mention benefits (as candidates often pay far too much attention to costs/disadvantages)

8. defining maximum/minimum price: do not forget to mention 'legal backing' (set by the government)
remember that maximum price set above the equlibrium and minimum price set below the equlibrium will have no effect.

9. distinguish between:

• production and productivity

• monopoly and monopolistic competition

• price and cost

• social cost and external cost

• monetary policy and fiscal policy

• rivalry and excludability

• PED and YED

• internal value of money and exchange rate

• shifts and contractions of the curves

• monetary policy and monetary policy measures (or any other police)

10. when defining the unemployment rate, unemployment rate is not the percentage of unemployed in population, but rather that of labour force

11. if a country produces more products, that doesn't necessarily mean it will export more.

12. do not confuse 'fall' with 'low', 'rise' with 'high' e.g. if inflation has risen it is not necessarily high.

13. when you are asked to give 2 examples, avoid using those which are alike in meaning

14. make sure you have all the knowledge required about aggregate supply - do not focus on aggregate demand only

15. be prepared for uncommon questions such as 'describe the relationship between real GDP and tax revenue'

P.S. Some advice given by the examiners themselves:

Some recommendations to candidates:

• Answer the actual question set, not the one you wish had been set.
• Read the questions very carefully. You may want to highlight the key words in the
• Explain the points you make – do not jump stages.
• Practise applying AD/AS analysis in interpreting economic events and answers.
• In answering the last question, it is useful to analyse first and then evaluate.
• Make sure that you explain fully the evaluative points that you make.

• Stress to candidates the importance of reading questions very carefully, including
command words and answering the specific questions set.
• Urge candidates to attempt all questions.
• Prepare candidates to apply their knowledge in a variety of settings.
• Build up depth of analysis of causes, consequences and solutions to macroeconomic
• Ensure candidates are aware of the differences between fiscal, monetary and supply-side
• It is useful to encourage candidates, when answering the last question, to analyse first and
then to build on the analysis to evaluate.


Thursday, 19 March 2009

microeconomic essay

Discuss three policies to reduce the level of cigarette smoking amongst under 21s.

Smoking is an example of a negative externality (a negative effect on a third party) as it leads to health problems, lower life expectancy and pollution, which therefore affect the whole society (even non-smokers, for example, through passive smoking). Social cost of smoking exceeds private cost (social cost is estimated to be around $200 for a pack of cigarettes, while a pack costs $8), so we can conclude that smoking is an example of market failure. Thus, it may be corrected by government intervention.

In this essay I am going to talk about policies to reduce youth smoking (35% of 16-21-year-olds) particularly.
I would say that there are two types of policies to reduce the level of youth smoking: providing incentives not to smoke and banning/increasing the private cost of smoking. These policies, however, can be used together.

First of all, government may increase cigarette tax and the expected effect of this is shown on the diagram below:

Price goes up from P1 to P2, quantity reduces from Q1 to Q2, over-consumption seems to be reduced.

The problem with this policy is the fact that the demand for tobacco products is price inelastic: estimated elasticity is -0.5.
( source: 'The Demand for Tobacco Products in the UK by Paul Cullum' )

That means that people will continue the over-consumption of tobacco products in spite of tax burden (which accounts for 90% of the price of cigarettes in the UK).

Moreover, putting tax on cigarettes is not sufficient: in order to be effective in correcting market failure arising from tobacco consumption government should tax all tobacco products.

This tax will also produce inequality: low income people will be taxed for larger percentage of their income comparing to middle and high income people. - - -> government failure

Too high tax may also produce black market for cigarettes - -- > government failure

The last problem with this policy I can think of is the fact that it is difficult to calculate the right amount of tax: if tax is too high, government tax revenue can actually decrease as few people will continue to consume cigarettes for that price. - - -> government failure.

Second policy is correcting information failure: providing young people with right information about tobacco products, advertising.
This method seems to be effective as it shifts the demand for cigarettes to the right, but in order to reduce assymetric information, tobacco companies' advertising should be banned.

And the third policy to reduce youth smoking is subsidising tobacco substitutes such as anti-smoking patches, anti-smoking gum or electronic cigarettes (safety of these cigarettes is argueable though).

Subsidy decreases the price for safe tobacco substitutes from P1 to P2 and inreases the quantity sold, which means less tobacco products are consumed.

However, this policy is going to be effective only in combination with the second one as young people are unlikely to consider any products as substitutes for tobacco, because of the information failure.

Eventually, the last problem which arises from all of these policies is tobacco companies losses: if policies are effective, people will stop the consumption of tobacco and tobacco companies will have to decrease their output. Demand for labour is a derived demand for product, therefore as the demand for cigarettes falls, unemployment may rise. - - - > government failure.


Thursday, 12 March 2009

sociology researchers on education

A list of researchers with different views on education.

Emile Durkheim.
-The main function of education is to develop social solidarity ( social unity based on 'essential similarities' between members of the society), which is necessary for the survival of the society
-Specialised division of labour in industrial countries relies on the educational system.

Talcott Parsons.
-Educational system is the main agency of secondary socialisation.
-Education develops value consensus.
-One of the main functions of education is role allocation - evaluating young people in terms of their talents and abilities and preparing for future roles in wider society.


Karl Marx.
-Economic system shapes the rest of the society.
-Two classes: ruling and working, the former exploits the latter.

-Educational system is the main agency for ideological control, which at the same time is fundamental to social control.

Bowles and Gintis.
-Close correspondence between social relationships in a classroom and those in a workplace.
-Rewards in education and occupation based not on individual's ability but on a social background.
-Found that high-grade students are obedient, conforming, hard-working and dependable rather than creative, original and independent.

-'Lads' (working class young men) rejected the school and created counter-school culture.

Mac an Ghaill.
- 'Macho lads' rejected teachers' authority and values of the school. However, working class jobs were disappearing, so their behaviour was outdated.

- There is a beginning of a 'business takeover of schools', schools will be run for profit.


-Provided the evidence that teachers gave boys more encouragement than girls to go to university. (1983)


-Stated that everyone should have an equal chance to succeed in the educational system.
-Argued that there is a link between education and economic growth.

-Social class has a significant effect on educational attainment.
-Educational system is not providing equa opportunity for all young people.
-Educational system reflects the requirement of the economic system.

-Education makes little difference to the economic growth with the achievement of mass literacy. Companies provide their own training.

-Economic and technological growths requires flexible workforce with a good general education rather than special vocational training (education which aims to provide specific workplace skills). be continued....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

IB vs. A-levels

Is the IB Diploma Programme a realistic alternative to A levels?

To answer this question let's first find out what are these two programmes.

1. A-levels (The Advanced Level General Certificate of Education) is a qualification offered by education institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and by a small minority of institutions, typically private, in Scotland...<....>.....A-Levels are usually studied over a two year period and are widely recognised around the world. (wiki)

2. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is a challenging two-year curriculum, primarily aimed at students aged 16 to 19. It leads to a qualification that is widely recognized by the world’s leading universities. (source)

So we can see that both programmes are primarily designed for people aged 16-19 years old and are accepted worldwide.

However, after investigating some websites, I came to the conclusion that International Baccalaureate appears to be more respected, than A-levels programme : 'Under the tariff, a common IB score of 30 gives a candidate 419 Ucas tariff points against just 360 for three As at A-level.' (source)

Why does this happen and what are the main differencies between these two programmes?

A-levels programme offers a wide range of subjects (more than 100) from which you should pick at least 3 to be able to enter a university. However, there is no limit of how many A-levels can be studied.

IB Diploma Programme offers around 100 languages and 29 other subjects. Each student should choose one subject from each of the categories:
1. Language A1
2. Second Language
3. Individuals and societies (Life Sciences)
4. Experimental sciences
5. Mathematics and computer science
6. The arts

So, it is clear that A-levels is a much more specific programme and more flexible, which allows students to concentrate on the subject area they prefer and choose any subject they like. There is almost no subject that is not covered by A-levels programme (except for languages).

International Baccalaureate is more broad, but it allows students to develop their abilities in all subject areas. IB Dimploma programme also requires to have 150 hours CAS (Creativity, Action, Service), write an extended essay of 4000 words and undertake a theory of knowledge course, all of which is a great preparation for university success. However, A-levels are thought to be less stressful.

International Baccalaureate is more internationally oriented, as it is offered in 126 countries and a great number of its subjects are different languages.

Average IB pass rate is much lower (78%) than this of A-levels (around 98%). Some argue that this happens due to relatively low standarts of A-levels or due to the fact that too many pupils taking 'easy' subjects.

However the research shows that A-levels programme requires learning subjects in more depth, and 'the kind of performance meriting an E was similar to that required for 4 points and that that needed for an A was comparable to that needed for 7 points' (source).
Remember, that A-levels are graded from A to E, and IB subjects are graded from 1 to 7. So the knowledge required to pass an IB subject is not sufficient to pass this on A-levels programme.

Eventually, what is the final answer to the question posed? When I started to write this blog entry my opinion on IB programme was rather negative, because I thought that it has too many restrictions on the subjects chosen.

But having analysed advantages and drawbacks of both programmes, I've come to the conclusion that IB allows students to try themselves and gain at least basic knowledge in all subject areas and develop necessary skills for university success. So, the answer to the question whether the IB Diploma Programme a realistic alternative to A levels is definitely yes.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

educational achievement

Factors that affect educational achievement:

Cultural deprivation.

Cultural deprivation can be defined as 'the absence of certain expected and acceptable cultural phenomena in the environment which results in the failure of the individual to communicate and respond in the most appropriate manner within the context of society.' (source)

In simple words and relating it to educational achievement, cultural capital is an absence of appropriate skills for successful studying and attitude towards learning.

Working class children are more likely to suffer from cultural deprivation than those of middle class and this can be explained by the way children are brought up in such families. They are not encouraged to study better, they are not aiming to go to the university afterwards. Working class families are also less likely to encourage such activities as visiting museums, theatres, reading books, playing educational games.

According to Hyman, ' the working class have a self imposed barrier against education.'

Cultural deprivation also means lаck of certain nоrms (rules оf behaviоur in sоcial situаtions), vаlues (belief thаt sоmething is wоrthwhile), which leads to misbehaviour and educational under-achievement.

Family break-up may also be the cause of cultural deprivation. According to Murray, wefare dependency and single motherhoоd have become part of a culture that threatens to destrоy family life and social mоrality.

Another point worth mentioning is that educational system is mostly contrоlled by middle class people, which means they may be viewed more pоsitively, and thus it deprives working class.

Material deprivation.

In relation to edcuation material deprivation happens when individuals or households are unable to affrord materials or activities which are essential for successful study. It is worth higlighting that material deprivation refers not only to the lack of educational materials, but to the living standarts as well. For example, if family can't provide appropriate accomodation for themselves it will have an impact on their children's process of studying.

Another definition for the material deprivation: 'enforced lack of a combination of items depicting material living conditions, such as housing conditions, possession of durables, and capacity to afford basic requirements.'. (source)

Material Deprivation can be presented in three dimensions:

Cultural capital.
Has already written about this one here.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

sociology brief notes part 2

Meritocracy. The term 'meritocracy' was first used by Michael Young. Meritocracy is a social system where leadership is based on individual achivement, abilities and talents rather than on one's class, wealth or origin.

Social control. Social control is represented by different social mechanisms aimed to regulate the behaviour of social groups and individuals, providing social order and conformity.

In Social Control Theory, Ivan Nye (1958) introduced 4 types of social control:

1. Direct: by punishment and rewards for the appropriate behaviour
2. Internal: an internal control wherein individuals are driven by their sense of conscience or sense of guilt
3. Indirect: an internal control driven by the individual's need to please those whom he is closest to.
4. Needs of satisfaction: if all individuals' needs are met, there is no point in criminal behaviour


The Hidden Curriculum. This term was first used by Philip Jackson (1968). He argued that what is taught in school is more than the official curricuum: school should be understood as a place where the processes of secondary socialisation happen.

Definition by Michael Haralambos: 'The hidden curriculum consists of those things pupils learn through the experience of attending school rather than the stated educational objectives of such institutions.'


Hierarchy. Hierarchy can simply be defined as an arrangement of items. But in the sociological context the word hierarchy usually has a meaning 'power structure' or 'the establishment of dominance-subordination relationship'.

This is just an example of Social Hierarchy (the occupational hierarchy in the formal labour market):

Thursday, 19 February 2009

sociology brief notes

Cultural Capital.
The idea of 'cultural capital' was first introduced by Pierre Bordieau (french sociologist). He argued that economic inequality is not sufficient to explain distinctions between social classes and cultural capital is important in achieving high status in the society. 'Bourdieu reasoned that culture adds to the wealth of a particular class.'

We need to distinguish between 3 forms of cultural capital:

1. an embodied state - when cultural capital can not be separated from an individual and transmitted physically.It is often gained from primary socialisation . objectified state - when objects themselves function as cultural capital and can be transmitted physically. It can only be used by individuals having the correct form of the embodied capital. institutionalized state - when individual's embodied capital gain an objective value. 'Bourdieu suggests that institutionalization performs a function for cultural capital analogous to that performed by money in the case of economic capital.' (source)

Also, Cultural Capital can generally be defined as a combination of skills, education, personal advantages of an individual. (source)

Sunday, 15 February 2009

sociology homework

Why do some pupils achieve more than others?

As we all know, there are always inequalities among pupils' achievement: some of them hardly get 3 GSCE's, some of them pass 10 with As. But these inequalities may take place due to different reasons.

Some of the reasons become clear after looking at the statistics: for example, girls tend to achieve more that boys. Girls are brought up to be more modest and behave well, while boys tend to be more active and even aggressive, which, of course, affects their performance at school.
Boys are approximately 7 times more likely to be excluded from school than girls due to their bad behaviour, as the statistics says.

Another important point is that parents often expect girls to do better than their brothers, parents put the responsibility of being 'a sensible pupil' on a girl rather than a boy.
However, according to my own experience, I'd say that boys are more clever than girls on average. Girls perform better at subjects asking to remember and retell information while boys are better at interpreting information.

The second thing that affects pupils' achievement is the existence of peer groups, in some of which under-performance at school may be considered as 'normal' or even 'cool'.

As you can see from the bar chart below, there is a tendency of pupils of higher classes to achieve more than those of the lowest classes.

But why is the correlation between the family income and children performance is so strong?
I guess, that is because children of higher and middle class families have larger access to educational sources (e.g. computers with internet access, educational toys, textbooks) and they can afford to go to private schools and hire private tutors.

Child from low-income families may have part-time jobs as well as problems within their families (alcoholism, domestic violence), which prevents them from achieving educational standarts.

People from middle and upper class tend to live by principle 'work today for better life tomorrow', while the situation with low class families is rather the opposite.

I can also outline 'labelling' as a reason for inequality in pupil's achievement. Teachers often label children as good or bad performers, sometimes without any reason for that ( for example, a quite and peaceful girl may be labelled as 'clever' without really being so). Pupils labelled as 'bad' will continue to perform badly, while 'good' pupils try to impress teachers even more.

The way pupils are taught may also influence their performance at school, for example single-sex schools/ordinary schools, size of the classes make difference as well as teacher's actual interest in subject and the ability to teach it and make pupils interested and involved in the process of thinking.

Moreover, exams are created in a way that often leaves only one way of thinking of a subject and we are, of course, taught not to really learn the subject but to perform well in an exam. That is the problem for people, whose find it difficult to think in a one 'right' way, proposed by examiners and teachers.

Having said all of that, I'd like to add that the problem of inequality in school achievement can not be investigated only on a large scale - that is also the problem of individuals. And if educational policies have effect on general problems, these 'personal' problems can be solved only by individuals themselves.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Outline the importance of perception in Economics

The perception is a very important aspect of Economics, as it can bring significant changes both in a positive or in a negative way.
For example, if people perceive the economic state of the country as strong enough ( even though it is not really so) that may increase their confidence, they will tend to spend more, invest more, borrow more, businesses will produce more and eventually that will lead to the faster economic growth and the general economic state improvement.
That is one of the reasons for the governments to prevent their citizens from getting news and information from international sources as it is, for instance, in China.

On the other hand, an interesting example is the current financial crisis. People's perception of the economic situation was affected by media, which 'advertised' crisis wherever it was possible. Many advertisements like 'Credit Crunch? Everything is down by 20% now!' have appeared. People are afraid of losing their jobs, as 'their colleague's relative's friend was fined because of the credit crunch' and begin to panic. Some economists argue that this lack in confidence make the crisis worsen.
The proof for that is that even different policies such as VAT rate cut and interest rates cut did not really increase consumers' spending.

Another example is people's tastes and preferences. Switzerland banks are thought to be the 'safest', British higher education to be the best, Italian clothes as the most fashionable - all this things affect the world export and import, advertising etc.


Contrast liberal feminism, radical feminism amnd Marxist feminism.

Marxist feminists believe that capitalism and the power of classes predate sexual oppression. They claim that women discrimination exists because it benefits the capitalist society and that with the abolishment of class oppresion, sexual oppression will disappear as well.

Radical feminists, in contrast to Marxist feminists, see sexual oppression as a fundamental form of oppression, predating any other. In other words, they believe that woman is oppresed because of her sex and not as a member of a social class. Radical feminists see the reconstruction of the society including its values and norms as the only way of achieving their goals.

'Nevertheless, in contrast to liberal feminist framework, radical feminism is inclined to be suspicious of government intervention, perceiving the state itself as being intrinsically patriarchal, and also tends to focus on the politics of the private sphere, in particular sexuality, motherhood and bodies.'

While the two previous types of feminism are rather 'public' ( considering progress on the basis of the whole society) Liberal feminism is an individualistic form of feminism. Liberal feminists' way of achieving their goals lays through legislation and regulation, creating laws to support women equality to men. For example, equal pay, equal childcare duties, abortion rights etc.