Categories for Cultural Studies

Aspects of Thai Buddhist Culture

CHAPTER V

Thai Culture

At the outset of this study I had intended to have two sections in the final chapter, one section detailing the Buddhist roots of all things Thai and the other showing Hindu / Indic influence. This idea has been abandoned by the author due to the limited ‘solely’ Buddhist influence. There are many aspects of Thai culture that have combined elements of other countries such as China, Laos etc but I have chosen to limit the comparisons to Buddhist / Hindu wherever possible. The study will instead focus on detailing the aspects of influence and state whether they have a combined influence or whether they have been influenced by only one of the subjects.

The reader will by now appreciate the massive scope of Hinduism and as such it will prove very difficult to find aspects of Thai Buddhist culture that do not have at least some basis in Hinduism. The common origin of the Indian sub-continent and the antiquity of Hinduism make such a subjective study difficult. For this reason I undertook a survey of many Thai people, including but not limited to, my friends, my students, neighbours, monks, etc.

I asked them to make a list of 20 things that they considered to be Thai or that which they thought might be perceived by foreign visitors as representative of their country and culture. The answers were varied (and, at times amusing due to language) and from the answers they gave I have composed a list of the results. (shown on next page). The list has been arranged alphabetically and I have limited the list to the most common answers. The list may have been influenced by regional representation as many of the people gave regional answers such as Isan, or the rocket festival. The answers were unprompted by the author and I feel that the list is accurate for the purpose of this study.

  1. Almsround by the Monks
  2. Arts and Crafts
  3. Boat Races / Royal Barge Procession
  4. Buddhism
  5. Elephants & Buffaloes
  6. Isan / Isarn
  7. Monuments
  8. Mai Pen Rai !
  9. Offerings / Merit Making
  10. Rain Dance
  11. Respect for Royalty
  12. Rocket Festival
  13. Royalty
  14. Temples / Shrines
  15. Thai Smile / Friendliness
  16. The Wai ( Thai Greeting )
  17. Thai Boxing
  18. Thai Festivals & Ceremonies
  19. Thai Dance / Thai Dress
  20. Thai Food / Fruit Sculpture
  21. Thai language
  22. Thai literature
  23. Thai Massage / Traditional Thai medicine
  24. Thai music / musical instruments
  25. Thai Silk
  26. Tuk Tuk ( 3 wheel vehicle)
  27. Sanuk !
  28. Sukhothai Kingdom

The discerning reader will note that Hinduism is absent from the list. This was a little surprising to the author as I had distributed approx two hundred surveys and had about 60% returned completed and not a single reply had Hinduism or Brahmanism as an answer. Buddhism was on every single list returned to me and that was not in the least surprising.

I had not thought to make my own list prior to asking the Thai people their opinion and I think this was a mistake or rather an oversight on my part. I am unable to remember exactly what I conceived of as “Thai-ness”, but the Thai smile and the Wai greeting would definitely have been included in any list. Westerners who visit the Kingdom generally know in advance about the Kingdoms Buddhist temples and the friendliness of the people. The Thai language appears to be very difficult for the average foreigner / westerner to master and for that reason I have chosen to begin my analyses by looking at the Thai Language / Thai Script.

There was obviously a Thai language long before there was a written Script. By far the most interesting thing about the Thai script is that it was “invented” by a Thai king ! Not many countries can make such a claim, but is there any basis to the claim which is widely accepted by the majority of the Thai people?

The sources I consulted all agreed that the Thai script has its roots in India. In fact, many of the South – East Asian scripts are very similar as they all have the same root, namely the Brahmi script of ancient India. At the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom the country of Siam was under the control of the Khmer Empire. It is very likely that the Khmer alphabet had an influence on the Thai alphabet. A look at the first ‘vagga/ varga’ of Khmer & Thai consonants will show the striking similarities.

Khmer Palm Leaf Script

Modern Khmer

Modern Thai

The other Scripts which Thai has “borrowed” from are the Mon, Burmese, as well as the Khun, Tham or Lanna scripts which were existent prior to the first known Thai writing.

Tham/Lanna

Khun

Burmese

Burma & Northern Thai Scripts Modern Thai Script

The Tai Tham script, also known as the Lanna script is used for three living languages: Northern Thai (that is, Kam Mu’ang), Tai Lü and Khün. In addition, the Lanna script is also used for Lao Tham (or old Lao) and other dialect variants in Buddhist palm leaves and notebooks. The script is also known as Tham or Yuan script.

The oldest Thai inscription dates from 1283. The Thai script is a syllabic alphabet based on the Brahmi script which was adapted to write the Siamese / Thai language. Its invention is attributed to King Ramkhamhaeng, who reigned over Sukhothai from 1275 to 1317.

The Ramkhamhaeng Stele

This stone, now in the National Museum in Bangkok, was allegedly discovered in 1833 by King Mongkut, who was a monk at the time, in Wat Mahathat. It should be noted that the authenticity of the stone – or at least portions of it – has been brought into question.[[1]] Piriya Krairiksh, an academic at the Thai Khadi Research institute, notes that the stele’s treatment of vowels suggests that its creators had been influenced by European alphabet systems; thus, he concludes that the stele was fabricated by someone during the reign of Rama IV or shortly before. The matter is very controversial, since if the stone is in fact a fabrication, the entire history of the period will have to be re-written.[[2]]

Scholars are still divided over the issue about the stele’s authenticity.[[3]] It remains an anomaly amongst contemporary writings, and in fact no other source refers to King Ramkhamhaeng by name. Some authors claim the inscription was a complete 19th-century fabrication, others claim that the first 17 lines are genuine, that the inscription was fabricated by King Lithai (a later Sukhothai king), and some scholars still believe very much in the inscription’s authenticity.[[4]] The inscription and its image of a Sukhothai utopia remains central to Thai nationalism, and the suggestion that it may have been faked in the 1800s caused Michael Wright, a British scholar, to be threatened with deportation under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws .[[5]]

Phra Lewis, a western monk who has lived in Thailand for the past 8 years, went to great lengths to explain the construction of the Thai language and demonstrated that while the spoken language has evolved over time, ie the sound of the consonants changing, their position in the ‘surd/sonant grid’ has not altered accordingly. This was very helpful to my research work in this study as I had encountered some difficulty researching Thai words due to the many different spellings I encountered. There is in fact a Royally approved system of translation, but it is not always followed and there are numerous informal systems in wide use.

For example, the Sanskrit word Dharma is the Pali word Dhamma but the Thai’s call it Tam, another example is the Thai word ‘Bangsakun’ which is actually Pamsakula in Pali. Written Thai is very structured and follows simple rules with no ambiguity as to the pronunciation like there is in English. The Thai language is tonal and that is where most problems arise for the foreigner. The old style of pronunciation was no doubt altered when the capital moved from Sukhothai in the north, to Ayuddhya in the central region. The letter ? (K) became G, the ? (C) became J and the ? (J) became CH, and so on.

The vowels were also altered slightly. Unless consonants are otherwise marked they carry an inherent vowel. In Indian languages this is normally an ‘a’ but in Thai the rules are slightly different. The inherent vowel is an ‘o’ but if the word has more than one syllable then the first inherent vowel is an ‘a’ and the second inherent vowel is an ‘o’. The example below shows the word for road – Thanon

Before moving on to examine festivals and ceremonies I would like to look at a remarkable feature of the Thai language. For this information I am indebted to Phra Lewis who not only pointed it out but explained it to me as follows :-

The above 44 consonants of the Thai alphabet have been shown with their modern phonetic sounds. Some letters change sound change depending on where they are in the syllable. They have been shown horizontally in vagga’s dependant upon where the sound is made. The first vagga is guttural, made in the throat. The last line are not shown in their vagga’s.

The first vertical column should show the surd, the second column the surd aspirate, the third column shows the sonant and the forth shows the sonant aspirated. Column five is the nasal sound made. In the first vagga of the diagram we can see that the G and K sounds of modern Thai have switched positions and if one looks at the next vagga ie the palatal vagga, we can see the J has also moved. The monk has speculated that this happened when the Thais moved their capital to Ayuddhya.

The letters M, L, H in the chart indicates the ‘class’ of consonant ie middle , low and high. This should not be confused with the tones of the language. Looking down the first column we see all the letters are middle class, the next column are all high class and the remaining letters in the 5 vagga’s are low class consonants. The consonants in the last, longer, line can also be placed in their vagga, ie Y would belong to the palatal vagga, H in the guttural etc. This class of consonant feature is unique to Thai but the grid is the format of the majority of Indian languages.

The king did not invent the grid but he may well have been the instigator for the format of the letters, a man in his position could no doubt summon the best minds in the Kingdom. Phra Lewis speculates that the need for a new script was prompted by the wish to write the Pali Canon. As the old Thai / Lao alphabet had only 18 consonants this would not be possible as Pali has 33 consonants. It was therefore necessary to add new letters for the sounds that did not exist is Thai. This is where the uniqueness of the script can show the root of the word for the Thai script was designed with this in mind.

The ‘king’ started with the basic grid and filled it with the letters existent in Thai. There were some gaps in the grid where Pali had sounds that Thai had no letters for, the aspirated G or the pallatal NY for instance. The first step taken was to add letters to fill in the gaps. These letters were (English letters give OLD pronunciation

The ingenious part was the addition of letters where Thai already had a letter for the existing Pali sound. The Thai’s already had a letter for the aspirated K

(KH), but they added an additional letter ? (KH) to be used in Pali / Sanskrit words. The practice has continued up until very modern times with foreign ‘loan’

words being spelt in Thai using the “new letters”. This allows a person reading Thai

to tell if the word is of foreign origin. Most ingenious, some modern English words

may be able to trace their Greek or Latin roots from the spelling but this is not the

norm as it is with Thai. Those wishing to delete obsolete letters from the Thai

alphabet do not have a true understanding of its well thought out and practical

design. The additional letters means that Thai has 44 consonants whereas Pali only

has 33. The Thai letters used to write Pali in Thailand today should be pronounced

differently from spoken Thai but most Thai monks do not do this. After this had been

explained I found it a simple matter of looking at a grid chart in order to translate

Thai words into roman lettering such that I could research the words online. All of

this information was obtained from the monks personal notes and, after checking, I

have found it to be correct though I wish to point out I have no linguistic training.

The controversy over the Ramkhamhaeng Stele remains unresolved but that is of no concern to the study. The one thing that can be said for the ‘inventor'(s ?) of the Thai script is that he or they were very intelligent and methodical in it’s design. I personally favour a single person as committees tend to mess things up and this system, in its original form, was perfect. ( and Indian influenced )

Festivals and Ceremonies

The foreign visitors’ perception of Thailand and the Thais is not gained from the language but from the visual aspects of Thai culture such as festivals and ceremonies. There are some public holidays which have no Hindu or Buddhist roots such as days commemorating past kings or celebrating the founding of the constitution. The study has omitted these and others which may have there roots in other foreign countries ie Chinese New Year.

To begin with I have chosen to look at three celebrated days which are definitely Buddhist in origin and are known as ‘Puja’ days.

Wisakha Puja Day

Wisakha Puja Day is a very important day in the Buddhist tradition, for it was on this day that Prince Siddhattha Gotama was born, 35 years later became the enlightened Buddha, and in another 45 years, passed away into total Nibbana (Parinibbana). In each case, these events took place on the full-moon day in the Wisakha month (usually in May).

Wisakha Puja Day is a great Buddhist holiday. It falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 6th lunar month, i.e. full moon day. In Thailand, Wisakha Puja is celebrated throughout the country. On Wisakha Puja Day people put up religious flags outside their houses. They take part in ceremonies at temples and they make merit. They bring flowers, candles, and incense to pay respect to the Triple Gem, i.e. Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha (the community of followers). In the evening, people take part in candle-lit processions and walk clockwise around the main chapel of the temple three times. In the procession, each person carries flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle. The concept of walking clockwise around shrines etc is a Hindu / Indic practice – clockwise for auspicious occasions and anti-clockwise for inauspicious ones such as death.

Magha Puja Day

Magha Puja Day is one of the most important Buddhist celebrations in the Thai Calander. This day, which falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month (either the last week of February or early of March). marks the four great events that took place during Lord Buddha’s lifetime, namely;

  1. 1250 Buddhist monks from different places came to pay homage to Lord Buddha at Valuwan Vihara in Rajgaha, the capital of Magaha State, each of his own initiative and without prior notification or appointment.
  2. all of them were the enlightened monks (Arahants)
  3. all of them had been ordained by the Buddha himself (Ehi Bhikkhu)
  4. They assembled on the full moon day of the third lunar month.

On the evening of that day, Lord Buddha gave the assembly a discourse “Ovadha Patimokha” laying down the principles of His Teachings summarised into three acts, i.e. to do good, to abstain from bad action and to purify the mind.

It was unclear as to when the Magha Puja Ceremony took place. However, in a guide book of ceremonies for the twelve months written by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), it is said that, “In the past, the Magha Puja was never performed, the ceremony has just been practised during the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV)?”

Realizing the significance of this day, King Rama IV ordered the royal Magha Puja Ceremony to be performed in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in 1851 and this has continued up to the present day. In later years the ceremony was widely accepted and performed throughout the Kingdom. The day has been declared as a public holiday. Thai people go to the temple to make merit and perform religious activities in the morning and return to take part in the candlelit procession or “Wien Tien” in the evening. At this auspicious time, His Majesty the King will preside over the religious rites to mark the occasion at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and will later lead hundreds of people in a candlelit procession held within the temple’s compound.

Asaha Puja Day

Asaha Puja means the ceremony in the eighth lunar month.

On the full moon day of the eighth lunar month, the Lord Buddha gave his first sermon and one of his followers became the first Buddhist monk. The ordained followers of the Buddha are collectively called the Sangha, (Asaha Puja is sometimes referred to as “Sangha Day”.) During his first sermon, the Buddha talked about “The Middle Way”, to be successful in Spiritual life, we should avoid the two extremes:

  1. Trying too hard, such as not eating or not sleeping enough and
  2. Not trying hard enough, such as eating and sleeping too much.

The Buddha also spoke about the Noble Eightfold Path. This path instructs the faithful to

  1. to live in a way that does not harm ourselves or others,
  2. to help ourselves and others and
  3. to purify the mind.

He advised the people to

Do good:

Avoid evil:

Purify the mind.

He gave eight guidelines to help people to live in this way, and they are commonly spoken of as the Noble Eightfold Path. He advised people to speak, act and earn their living in moral ways. He further advised them to practise meditation in order to purify their minds and gain deep wisdom (Panya in Thai).

These three days are very ‘low key’ as far as celebrations are concerned and a foreign visitor may not even be aware of them unless they choose to visit a temple or Wat. The next ‘Buddhist’ ceremony or festival to examine is the ‘Robe Giving’ ceremony of Kathina.

Kathin Ceremony

At the end of the three-month Rains Retreat (July to September / October), monks throughout the country are allowed to travel from place to place and are eligible to receive new robes in an annual presentation ceremony called “Thot Kathin”. Besides new robes, Buddhist literature, kitchen equipment, financial contributions and building materials e.g. nails, hand-saws and hammers etc. are also presented to monks on this occasion.

In fact, the word “Thot” means “making an offering to the monk” and the word “Kathin” literary means the “embroidery frame” used in sewing the robes which, in those days, were collected from rags on dead bodies (pamsakula, rag robes) or rags found in the forset since clothes were not available in plenty as nowadays. Buddhist people regard the “Thot Kathin” ceremony as the most significant form of merit-making next to the ordination of their close kin. To sponsor a Kathin ceremony involves a lot of time, manpower and expense. Above all, an advance booking must be made with the Wat if a person wishes to be the sole sponsor of the Kathin ceremony but this may not be possible in all Wats, especially temples which are held in high esteem by many people. Nontheless, those who fail to be the sole sponsor of Kathin can also take part in the ceremony which, in this type, is known as “Kathin Samakki” or the “United Kathin”.

Sometimes a Kathin group will travel for several hundred kilometers by bus, train, boat or even by plane to present the Kathin robes and other necessities to monks in remote temples or in other countries where Buddhist temples are established. People thus hold this merit-making festival not only for earning merit for themselves but also for enjoying a holiday free from the daily hectic life full of stress and strain in the city. During the Thot Kathin period, it is very common to see Kathin processions traveling to and fro throughout the country. In fact, anybody can take part in the event through the simple method of enclosing a small amount of money in the white envelope given by friends or relatives.

Songkran Festival

Songkran is a Sanskrit word in Thai form which means the entry of the sun into any sign of the Zodiac. But the Songkran in this particular instance is when the sun enters the sign of Aries or the Ram. Its full name is Maha Songkran or Major Songkran to distinguish it from the othes, though most Thais are totally unaware of this fact. Songkran is in fact the celebration of the vernal equinox similar to those of the Indian Holi Festival, the Chinese Ching Ming, and the Christian Festival of Easter. Due to the precession of the equinox the introduction of spring, ie when the sun crosses the equator, now occurs on or around the 21st of March.

For the Thai people it is simply their traditional New Year when they can enjoy their holidays to the full with no economic hindrance. Songkran begins on the 13th April and ends on the 15th April, (occasionally, in certain years, on the 16th April). The Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely observed not only in this country but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao Republic.

On the eve of Songkran Day, i.e. on the 12th April, people clean their house and burn all of the refuse in the belief that anything bad belonging to the old year will be unlucky if left and carried on to the coming New Year. Early on the first day of Songkran, the 13th April, the people both young and old in their new clothing go to their local Wat or monastery to offer food to the monks. A long table is erected in the compound of the Wat where monk’s alms bowls stand in a row on either side of the table. The people donate many types of food and dainties by placing these in the monks’ alms bowls. In the afternoon of the same day there is a bathing ceremony of the Buddha images and in some wats this includes the abbot or statues of other famous monks of high regard. It is after this that the well-known “water throwing” begins. The bathing of images is done as ritualistic ceremony, which will be dealt with separately.

Thai people will go on this day, and the succeeding days, to pay their respects and ask blessings from their elders and respected seniors. They will pour scented water into the palms of the old people and often present them with small gifts. In previous times it was an actual bathing where the young people helped the old people to take a bath and to change their old clothing and put on the new clothes which the young people presented them as an act of respect to the aged on the occasion of the New Year.

An important thing to be done during the Songkran Festival is a religious service called Bangsakun (Pamsakula in Pali) performed in sacred memory to the dead. When a person died and was cremated, the remains were often placed in a chedi in the Wat. In later times a portion of the bones was sometimes kept in the house in a receptacle. On Songkran Day a religious service in memory to the dead may be officiated by monks at the place where the ashes and the bones have been deposited, or as in some localities the people bring their dead bones to a village wat in company with others where a joint memorial service is performed. In some parts of the country the guardian spirits of the village and town receive also their annual offerings on Songkran Days. Obviously there are reminiscences or traces of ancestor and animistic worship in by-gone days. The monks are presented with cloth, symbolizing the death shroud, which in olden times was cut up and used as “rag cloth” to make the robes of the monks.

Loy Krathong

The most colourful festival during the year is Loy Krathong wich is held on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, usually in November. This is a festival to pay respects to the Mother of Water and to ask forgiveness for polluting the water in the past year. Loy means to float and a krathong is a kind of bowl. A typical krathong is made using banana leaves and the base is from the stem of a banana plant. Incense sticks, candles and flowers are placed inside the krathong along with small denomination coins. (perhaps this acts as an encouragement to the people who have to remove them from the klongs!)

On the afternoon of the festival a parade normally takes place through the city or town. Krathongs of all shapes and sizes are placed on floats and carried by locals and their children. During the evening, thousands of people go down to their local river or klong (canal) to float their krathongs. They light the candles and incense sticks, say a prayer and then float it on the water. It is a wonderful sight with flickering lights bobbing up and down on the river, much more interesting to witness than to read about.There is a Loy Krathong song, (in Thai language) which is often played throughout the day. Below is a translation of this popular song:

November full moon shines,

Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong

and the water’s high in the river and local klong

Loy Krathong is here and everybody’s full of cheer

We’re together at the klong,

Each one with his krathong

As we push away we pray,

We can see a better day

The Loy Krathong festival dates back to the period of the Sukhothai Kingdom, 700 years ago. It marked the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest. It is based on a Hindu tradition of thanking the water god(s). The farmers of Sukhothai held a festival of floating candles.

One year, a beautiful woman called Noppamas, who was the chief royal consort, made special “lanterns” for the festival. She made them from banana leaves and shaped them like lotus flowers. The king was suitably impressed with what he saw, and announced that krathongs would be floated every year from then on. Today, in memory of her and her ‘innovation’, there is a beauty contest called “The Noppamas Queen Contest”.

Laying the Foundation Stone

Thai people like to consult the astrology charts (and / or Buddhist monks though this is spoken of as a ‘low art’ in the Brahmajala Sutta) in order to find an auspicious time to do something important. This can be anything from the day of a marriage or when to make a business deal. The date and time for starting to build a house is also important. A special ceremony is arranged for erecting the first pillar or foundation stone. Previously I had the privilege to attend the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for the Paknam Tower. This is going to be a 139 meter high tower with amazing views over Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand.

Thai people are mainly Buddhists, but ceremonies like this one are conducted by Brahmin priests dressed in white. During the ceremony a priest asks forgiveness from the guardian spirit of the land. He also asks the spirits permission to build on the land. This was followed by offerings for the guardian spirits. Although this ceremony is mainly Brahmin, nine monks were also invited to do some chanting. Local dignitaries offered food to the monks in order to make merit during this event. I was reminded of the fact that many Thai’s see no conflict of interest by partaking in both Brahmin and Buddhist ceremonies, even simultaneously. The Thais themselves would rather make auspicious offerings twice than not make them at all.

According to Thai astrology, there are three days of the week when you should never start construction of a building. These are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. For the consecration ceremony of the Paknam Tower the date chosen was Friday 18th May 2007. The time for the actual laying of the foundation stone was set for exactly 2:19 p.m. The number “nine” is considered auspicious by Thai people. Everything is done in multiples of threes or nines wherever possible. There were nine monks and nine different kinds of food offerings for them.

As well as the marble foundation stone, nine symbolic bricks were used during the ceremony. Three made of gold, three made of silver and three made of an alloy. There were also nine symbolic pegs made of nine different types of wood. In addition to these items, there were jasmine garlands, flowers with popped rice and one baht coins which were all utilized during the ceremony.

After the conch shell had been blown and the small drums sounded, it was time for the foundation stone laying ceremony to begin. Khun Anuwat Methiwibunwut, the Governor of Samut Prakan Province hammered one of the pegs into the sand. Each of the dignitaries then took turns hammering the remaining pegs into place, followed by pouring of the cement.

The nine bricks had been laid in a star pattern where the pegs had been driven into the sand. Additional cement was then poured on top. At this point all of the senior dignitaries jointly placed the marble foundation stone onto the bricks. Following this, they then took turns to sprinkle flowers and coins onto the marble slab. Once the main ceremony was over, the local people, who had been patiently waiting and watching everything, were allowed to come forward to do the same with their own flowers and coins.

There were two identical copies of this foundation stone. I presume that one will be covered in cement while the second one will be placed in a prominent place once the building has been completed. The photo below shows the dignitaries placing the marble foundation stone onto the bricks

Ploughing Ceremony

The Ploughing Ceremony, which is observed every year, is an age old tradition, and according to the Thais it dates back to the Sukhothai Period. It was observed in the Ayuttaya Period and passed on to the Rattanakosin Period. The Ploughing Ceremony is held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok during May and it signals the start of the planting season in this country where the majority of the population are farmers. The ceremony is aimed at making predictions about the year’s crops.

In the reign of King Rama IV, the Ploughing Ceremony was held in the ancient capital of Ayuttaya as well as in Phetchaburi. Later, it was held on a field, called Som Poy, in the outskirts of Bangkok, it was at this time Buddhist elements were added to the previously Brahmin-dominated proceedings, these took place at the temple of the Emerald Buddha on the eve of the ceremony. This “Buddhist” part of the ceremony involved the processing of Khantarat Buddha images of the past reigns, along with citations blessing such grains as rice, glutinous rice and sorghum, sesame seeds, taro, potato, gourd seeds, melons and sweet basil.

A ceremonial pavilion was built at Sanam Luang for the occasion, which was participated by the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony (Phra Raek Na) assisted by four Celestial Maidens (Thepi) carrying gold and silver baskets full of grains. Before the start of the ceremony, the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony and the four maidens were anointed on the foreheads and in the palms, and given a conch and bel leaves. Selected from among high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Phya Raek Na wore a ceremonial ring with nine different gemstones which the King had given him.

The ceremony in the reign of King Rama IV was performed in grand style, with a processing of 500 people led by the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony in resplendent attire and carrying his ceremonial sword.

Before the start of the ceremony, the Lord of Ploughing Ceremony was offered three pieces of loincloth from which he chose one. The cloths were of different lengths — four, five and six kheub (one kheub is about six inches) — and the length of the

Experiences of Refugee Settlement in Norway

Abstract

This paper is a qualitative research project that explored the perspectives of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on their resettlement in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement. This study did not discuss all perspectives of resettlement and integration. in contrast, this paper focuses mainly on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.

Introduction

Migration is a process that commences with the simple thought of moving, but it continues long after the individual arrives in her or his new home. The process is constrained by certain factors such as capital, immigration policy, and the existence of kinship networks. Individuals, who are able to overcome these constraints and decide to migrate, must overcome a new set of challenges upon arrival in the host county.

These challenges include the need to adapt to a new labour market, use of a new language, and integration with the rest of society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation — that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement (Bloch, 1997). This paper, however, focuses primarily on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.

Objective of the study

Exploring the settlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refuges in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society.

Research questions

  • What factors influence and constrain the decision to immigrate to Norway?
  • What features influence the community’s resettlement in Trondheim?
  • What are the restrictions that Sri Lankan refugees face in process of integration into Norwegian Society?

Theoretical frame work

Integration is frequently described in terms of continuity versus change, continuity being synonymous with socio-cultural maintenance and change with integration (Carey-Wood at el 1995). For this study I adopted a framework proposed by Berry and Sam (1997) that views continuity and change as complimentary, rather than competing, processes. This framework considers maintenance of socio-cultural identity and the associated establishment of ties with the dominant society as joint criteria for successful integration.

A variety of factors influence the integration process. One is the distance between the home and the host culture; the greater the cultural gap between the refugee and the country of relocation, the more difficult the integration process (Duke, 1996). Another determinant is generational status; “The settlement of refugees in Britain … indicate that the first generation of adult migrants largely preserve the features of culture and lifestyle of their country of origin” (Carey-Wood at el 1995); it is the second generation that more readily accepts the norms and cultural practices of the country of resettlement. The extent of migrants’ participation in mainstream culture also depends on structural factors within the society, including social and economic conditions and public policies that support their efforts in this direction (Duke, 1996).

Refugees leave their homelands under great pressure, usually as a result of war, severe political or economic upheaval, or religious or ethnic persecution. They arrive in the host country after having endured the embarrassment and horrors of flight and, for some, prolonged stays in refugee camps. Refugees are not able to plan their migration in advance; consequently, they arrive in a host country unprepared for what they may encounter there.

In addition, they must cope with the strain associated with sudden separation from, or loss of, family along with the challenges of integration into the country of resettlement. The dimensions of race, gender and the forms of patriarchy in their home and host countries compound their situation.

The Tamil migration is largely made up of refugees and homelandless people. According to UNHCR, between 1980 – 1999, 256, 307 people of Sri Lankan origin applied for asylum in Europe, one of the top ten groups of asylum seekers during this period (Cheran, 2003). Large numbers of Tamils have been granted some form of residence status in their host country. Tamil migration consists of an estimated 700,000 people settled in Canada, Europe, India and Australia (Cheran, 2003) in which, some of them have migrated to Norway.

Most live in Oslo, which is the capital city of Norway, and other small cities like Trondheim. It is likely therefore that one in every four Sri Lankan Tamils now lives in the migration. There is a long tradition of Tamil migration from the Jaffna peninsula. Elite and dominant groups among the Tamils of Sri Lanka have had a long history of temporary emigration for education and employment, usually to Britain and Malaysia. Sustaining a society under stress, strain and displacement has been the most important function of the Tamil Diaspora (Cheran, 2003).

Almost, Sri Lankan Tamils are racial and ethnic largest second minorities in Norway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo#Economy). To a certain extend, Tamil, those who are living in Norway have been affected by the changes in social structure. These changes included distance in social kinship, different language, and social behavior and so on. These and other restrictions in day to day constitute a significant hardship for Sri Lankan Tamil families.

Role of Sri Lankan Tamil men and women in Sri Lankan Tamil’s culture

Sri Lankan Tamil is a patriarchal society with its roots in Hinduism. The basis of Sri Lankan Tamil social structure is the kin-family system, which is traced through patrilineal (through fathers’) descent. Social identity in Sri Lanka is tied to kin, race, religion and caste. But religious category is not part of the social meaning and everyday interactions in Sri Lankan Tamil culture.

Hinduism teachings permeate the consciousness of Sri Lankan Tamils, providing guidance in a certain aspects of daily living, including roles and expectations for men and women. Usually, men are the head of the family and who generate income for maintain the cost of living and other expenses of family. Women are generally regarded as subordinate to men and their primary role is to care for husbands, children and members of their extended families.

Sri Lankan Tamils and identity documents

When Sri Lankan Tamils fled the country, many did not take their identity documents with them because of uptight departures, and intensive fighting. Few people were able to take their documents, only to have the authenticity of these papers questioned by immigration officials. And because of conditions back in Sri Lanka, there was no longer a centralized government office from which they could request new documents or have existing ones verified.

This situation caused problems for the many Sri Lankans who sought refuge in Norway, where identity documents are normally required for refugees seeking to become landed immigrants (i.e., permanent residents). Because so many Sri Lanka refugees could not produce documents deemed satisfactory by Citizenship and Immigration Norway. Undocumented refugees from Sri Lanka have been required to wait for more than a year after refugee determination before proceeding with applications for permanent residency (UDI Norway). This means it takes long time before they become permanent residents

Methodology

In this paper, describe a qualitative research project that explored the settlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refuges in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society. In depth and Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data that demonstrate these different issues in detail. In-depth interviews are the suitable method to use because they offer participants the chance to explain their experiences and the meanings they attach to those experiences (Limb and Dwyer 2001, Patton, 1990).

A semi-structured interview format (Hay, 2000) or what Patton (1990) refers to as the ‘general interview guide approach’ was used. In this style of interview a list of key questions or issues, but not an inflexible, standardized set of questions, is established in advance. This interview format enables the investigator to ensure that certain topics are addressed by all research participants, which is essential for comparison, while still maintaining the flow of spontaneous conversation, the flexibility to pursue unanticipated topics broached by the participant, the option of probing respondents for additional information, and the ability to modify questions to suit a particular individual (Patton, 1990). The interview guides is used for each individual.

Snow-ball sampling was used to recognize research participants that presented ‘information-rich cases,’ (Patton, 1990). Contrary to random sampling, where the researcher requests a representative sample that can be generalized to a distinct population, snow-ball sampling allows the investigator to identify those individuals that will give the richest information for the study, information that cannot be obtained as well from other potential participants (Patton, 1990).

When I began research on Sri Lankan Tamil in Trondheim, Norway, I had little knowledge about the community or the sort of information that was available. I soon found that there was scarce literature addressing immigration of this community. In order to obtain detailed information about the experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil living in Trondheim, I had to look for primary source information. I conducted two in-depth interviews which lasted half an hour (more or less), and four shorter interviews (ranging between 10-15 minutes), all of which were based on the same format.

The reason I chose a combination of these three (primary literatures, in-depth and semi structured interviews) was so that I could have information on several levels. The basic format provided a sample of general information and experiences, through which I could identify patterns within the community. The short interviews allowed me to explore immigrant situations and their own perceptions in some detail.

The in-depth interviews paint a more comprehensive picture of the immigrant experience, including the reasons for leaving Sri Lanka, as well as their changing experiences and attitudes throughout their resettlement in Norway. Surveys would not have been able to capture all that I wanted to find. Unfortunately, time constraints limited the number of in-depth interviews that could be conducted.

The circumstances behind their migration differ from person to person, and it requires separate analysis. I did not interview individuals who participate in the temporary worker program (for instance, student with temporary visa). The individuals who were interviewed are Sri Lankan Tamil who lived in Trondheim for more than two years.

The sample included individuals aged nineteen to individuals in their sixties. Individuals who were interviewed are residents and citizens of Norway. My selection of interviewees takes transnationalism into consideration rather than the traditional definition of immigration. Thus respondents included individuals who planned to stay in Trondheim for several years to live, work, study, and become a part of Trondheim’s social structure.

Respondents are from different backgrounds, states of origin in Sri Lanka, age; and entered Norway by using different policies such as asylum seekers, student visa, and family reunion and so on. They also now live in different locations throughout the Trondheim. Both men and women were interviewed. The respondents were found in part through a snow-ball sample and partly through the use of my own Sri Lankan Tamil friend’s network in Trondheim.

The interviewees were assured anonymity. All interviews were conducted in Tamil. The interviews were conducted in Hindu Kovil (Temple) which is situated closed to Tiller Trondheim, coffee shop and some other places. The interviews were effective in supplying information regarding perceptions of what was necessary and difficult about resettlement in Trondheim. The lack of structure in the community, the reasons behind this situation, as well as why they chose the Trondheim.

Findings

Consequences of Undocumented Sri Lanka Refugee Status

In Norway, the rights and privileges of all refugees are restricted in a number of ways. The problem for undocumented Sri Lanka refugees is that the restrictions remain in place for at least more than a year. This prolonged period of limitations on rights and privileges poses serious problems. People in this study discussed four topics related to their refugee status: restrictions on family reunification and mobility access to postsecondary education, access to employment, Concerns about children’s education Cultural Norms and Differences in Childrearing Practices and their perspectives on the regulations.

Restrictions on Family Reunification and Mobility

In Sri Lanka, people were adapted to living amongst their extended families. When they fled the country, however, their families were torn apart. The most of the people in this study had children, wives, and mothers and fathers living Sri Lanka and overseas. Refugees in Norway are prohibited from sponsoring family members until they have become landed immigrants. This regulation was very distressing to the refugees, because they knew they would have to wait at least five years before they could reunite with family members.

Refugees are also not eligible for Norwegian travel documents. If they leave Norway for any reason, they are not allowed to return. This means they may not visit family members living in other countries. In times of family emergency, Norwegian Immigration sometimes makes exceptions for refugees with acceptable identity documents, but this option is not open to undocumented Sri Lanka refugees. They are not even allowed to travel overseas to visit a relative who is seriously ill or attend a funeral for a relative who has passed away. The following story was a typical one: “The greatest problem I am facing is that three of my own children are in Sri Lanka. … I am two years in Norway …and for two years I haven’t seen my family.… If I could have [my landed immigrant] document I could have visited them or sponsored them so that they could have joined me. My biggest disappointment is that I cannot sponsor my family”.

Restrictions on Access to Postsecondary Education

Refugees are guaranteed full access to elementary and secondary education by Norwegian government. But they are not eligible for educational loans and scholarships until they get permanent resident permit. Therefore, most are cut off from postsecondary education. One of the young man expressed his frustration on this restriction “Norway has recognized us as refugees, given us food and shelter and tried her best to assist us, but at the same time she has deprived us from what we need the most — education. Our future depends on education. In addition, we have to wait for long time to continue our education since it takes time to issue permanent resident permit Therefore we loss courage to continue it further”.

Restrictions on Access to Employment

Refugees can only get temporary work permits. This makes them ineligible for some jobs. Even when they are eligible, many employers are still reluctant to hire them because of lack of language fluency. One informant said he was hired for a cleaning job, and excited when his employer found out he was a refugee. “The informant asked me, ‘If you don’t have your landed papers, how can I trust you?’”

Refugees are not eligible for bank loans and even internet bank facility. This makes it difficult for them to start self employment. A person who had been in business in Sri Lanka explained: “If I had the proper documents and a loan to open my own business, I could be an independent person. They [Immigration officials] told me to stay at home and wait for their subsidies. That is not what I came here for”.

Because of the restrictions on education and work, the few people who had professional careers in Sri Lanka could not get work in their fields or upgrade their skills. One interviewer in this situation described his frustration: “I am a professional teacher with 7 years of work experience. Since I came to Norway, I find myself absolutely denied the opportunity to work in my profession or to go to college and continue my education”.

Concerns about children’s education

Sri Lankan children are faced with overwhelming problems in schools in Norway. Many have had little education because of the upheaval in Sri Lanka and the time spent in refugee camps. Lack of Norwegian language proficiency is another problem. One mother explained: “Even if the child has a good educational background, with a strong base in math and other subjects, still he wouldn’t be able to follow along in class because of the language.

Language is the key factor, and it is only when the child has a strong language base that he can catch up to his or her classmates”. This issue is complicated by the fact that many Sri Lanka parents also face the same language barrier and cannot provide the needed educational support at home.

Other difficulties were related to differences in cultural norms and expectations between Sri Lankan and Norwegian schools. Certain behaviours those are acceptable in Norwegian schools that are unacceptable in Sri Lankan schools. Likewise, behaviours that are rewarded in Sri Lankan schools may be viewed negatively here.

Cultural Norms and Differences in Childrearing Practices

Some parents raised issues about the negative influences of contemporary culture of their children. They were uncomfortable with some of the behaviours that their children had developed since their arrival in Norway. One mother gave this example: “Our children use some words, for example….., and sometimes they make bad signals. These are bad things that are accepted here, but according to our culture, they are considered to be avoided”.

Cultural differences in disciplinary practices formed another major topic of discussion. Sri Lankan strongly believes that children need discipline to learn respect, good manners, and good behaviour. The parents in my study were aware that some common methods of discipline in Sri Lankan culture, such as pristine, are not acceptable in Norway.

In school, children are instructed to call police if they believe they are being verbally or physically abused. This threat of calling to police has become a weapon for Sri Lankan children to hold over their parents. Some women said that their children were becoming proud and disrespectful because of this. They also worried that the Children’s Aid Society might take their children away (they pointed out a very good example that has happened recently).

The parents were concerned about their teenage children, who had graduated from high school, but waiting for jobs. Without school or work to keep them occupied, many spent their days in local interact, and their mothers worried that they might be drawn to drug and alcohol use. Finally, the women recognized that their roles and influence as parents were changing, as their children became more a part of Norwegian culture. They worried that some children might abandon their Sri Lankan culture heritage altogether.

Discussion and Conclusion

The people said they were grateful to the Norwegian government for accepting them as refugees. They were pleased to have left behind a culture of war for food, shelter, and safety. Nevertheless, everyday life was very stressful for them at the beginning, and feelings of anxiety, depression, and extreme nervousness were common.

Some of them were still feeling the effects of stress due to the disturbance of the war in Sri Lanka, their flight out of the country, and their detention in refugee camps before their arrival in Norway. Many were sorrowful over the break up of their families and their inability to reunite with them. The stress of being in Norway while husbands or wife, children, parents were still overseas was a difficult burden for them to bear. Abbott (1997) points out that “separation in the family unit of involuntary migrants greatly disturbs the most basic relationship network” (Abbott, 1997). Results of other studies indicate that prolonged waits for family reunification, such as the men in my study were experiencing, are unfavorable to the integration process (Bloch, 2000).

Another factor that weighed on the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees was the loss of their homes, culture, country, lifestyle, friends, and family, and their need to mourn these losses. Beside with this grieving process were the stresses of learning a new language and adapting to a culture with values that were, in some instances, in indirect conflict with traditional Hinduism values, attitudes and norms. The refugees’ difficulties in reconciling these contradictions demonstrate the importance of the distance between the home and host cultures as a determinant of successful or unsuccessful integration (Bloch 1997).

Difficulties with Norske and problems with intercultural communication disadvantaged the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in their dealings with government officials, teachers, and landlords and so on. Problems such as unemployment and constant worries about the well being of their families were other significant factors. Yet, poor Norske proficiency, the obstacles on secondary and postsecondary education and limited employment opportunities made it hard for the refugees to get jobs and integrate into the economic sphere.

  • Recommendations
  • Reducing waiting period of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to get permanent resident permit
  • Developing educational programs and services to meet the needs of Sri Lankan students and their families.
  • Crating some job opportunities for refuges to get jobs easily
  • The Sri Lankan community have to establish separate schools where Sri Lankan Tamil children would be taught the Hinduism religion, and traditional behaviour and cultural practices in addition to their regular academic program (actually, there is a Tamil school in Trondheim to teach Tamil culture and Religion ).

Reference

Abbott, L. (1997). A Barrier to Settlement: The Experience of Resettling in Australia as a Refugee when Family Remains in a Conflict Zone. Thesis for Masters of Social Work. Unnamed university, New South Wales.

Bloch A. (1997) Refugee migration and settlement: A case study of the London borough of Newham, Ph.D. Thesis, London: Goldsmiths College-University of London.

Bloch, A. (2000). Refugee settlement in Britain: the impact of policy on participation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26(2), 75. Retrieved November 16, 2000 from Expanded Academic ASAP Int’l Ltd on-line database.

Carey-Wood J., Duke K., Kam V., Marshall T. (1995) The settlement of refugees in Britain, Home Office Research Study 141, London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Cheran, R, (2003) Diaspora circulation and transnationalism as agents for change in the post conflict zones of Sri Lanka, A policy paper submitted to the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Management, Berlin, Germany, forthcoming publication, 2004, York University, Toronto, Canada.

Duke K. (1996) The resettlement experiences of refugees in the UK: Main findings from an interview study, New Community 22, 3, 461-478.

Espn, O. M. (1999) Women crossing boundaries. New York: Routledge.

Limb, M., Dwyer, C. (2001) Quaalitative methodologies for Geographers,Oxford university press Inc, Newyork.

Oslo-Demographics [Online] / auth. Wikipedia the free encyclopedia // Wikipedia foundation Inc Web site. – Wikipedia foundation, march 27, 2008 . – march 31, 2008.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo#Economy.

Refugees and asylum [Online] / auth. Immigration The Norwegian Directorate of // NORWEGIAN DIRECTORATE OF IMMIGRATION web site. – NORWEGIAN DIRECTORATE OF IMMIGRATION, 04 19, 2004. – 03 18, 2008. – http://www.udi.no/templates/Tema.aspx?id=4481.

Influence of Magazines on Beauty | Cross-Cultural Analysis

INTRODUCTION

Beauty is not concrete and may vary from culture to culture changing over time and shifting according to location. “Beauty” is an image which has been created by society to which woman and men have had to subject themselves to be “real”. The ideology of beauty or what is accepted as being the right appearance has been created by society and largely propagated by media. For United States of the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was the pinnacle of beauty which soon changed to Twiggy in the 1960s. While porcelain skin is valued in China, scarification of the skin and decorating it with tattoos is considered as a status symbol in Africa. Thus the physical attributes and ideas attached to beauty vary across cultures.

“Women’s magazine industry is understood as a monolithic meaning producer, circulating magazines that contain messages and signs about the nature of femininity that serve to promote and legitimate dominant interests.” (Anna Gough- Yates). A majority of feminist critics argue that media is responsible for establishing and promoting gender differences and inequalities in society. In respect media persons are considered responsible for reinforcing capitalism and patriarchy; manipulating society to attain increased circulation figures.

Magazines are a great source, to study the society. Recording changes, from the purely fashion magazine couture age of 1920’s, to ‘lifestyle and home’ of the 1940’s when domestic help was rare and woman to a personal interest in their homes. To ‘New woman’ of the 1980’s when woman began to work alongside men in almost every field to ‘do it yourself’ of the 20th century with soaring costs and economic downturn. Magazines reflect revolutions in society and influenced the opinion of women across nations.

Given the increase in trade to Asia and the spread of the beauty industry across nations, there is limited study available on how people are depicted internationally in the fashion magazines. Previous research has established that woman’s magazines can act as agents of publicizing gender stereotypes and beauty ideals like size zero and institutionalizing conventions like photographic poses. (Rudman and Verdi, 1993; Griffin, Viswanath, Schwartz, 1994). Yet little research has been done on the differences in representation of women internationally and locally.

POWER OF IMAGES

“One must establish what people are looking at before one can hope to understand why under the conditions peculiar to them, they see what they see” Rudolf Arnhein (Arnhein 1977:4)

An image is that stimulus or representation that compels us to cognition, interpretation and personal preference. If we understand that the market is image based than we also begin to understand the importance of vision in understanding management in the information society. Images are where visual communication starts. Jonathan E. Schroeder confirms in his study of media that “visual consumption” is critically important for understanding contemporary consumers. Today marketing professionals are sensitive towards global customers and realise that they are enthusiastic consumers of images. ‘Brand image, corporate image and self image are significant economic and consumer values and that global market culture is largely the construction of symbolic environments.’ (S. E. Jonathan, 2002) This is of great importance especially in the 21st century as the importance of marketing management and consumer research in this century may shift from “problem solving to problem recognition from production of goods to the production of images” (S. E. Jonathan, 2002)

Through time marketers have learnt that markets are global which should translate into local approach. But when companies globalise they become more production driven wanting to sell more thus having common promotional strategies across cultures, sticking to one single image, hardly realising that ‘there may be global products, but there are no global people. There may be global brands but there are no common global motivators to buy those brands.’ (M. De Mooij, 2009). Many brands have with the help of technology and communication tried to globalise nations. But technology has not brought a global village in which consumers all behave the same.

GLOBAL MEDIA

Globalisation is best defined as “the crystallization of the entire world as a single place” (Robertson, Ronald. 1990. Mapping the Global Condition: Globalization as the Central Concept. Theory, Culture and Society 7)

Due to the success of global brands writers have predicted an unavoidable colonization of world culture by internationalised brands that would most definitely lead to demise of local cultures. However there is also evidence that suggests social relationships and values in local culture are resistant to the negative effects of globalization. On one hand globalisation is expected to destroy local cultures and bring about homogeneity while on the other hand it is also the reason for the revival of local cultural identities from various parts of the world. Today the expansion of western cultures values and ideas has reached the far corners of the world, right to Asian countries like India and China which have been dominant till the 21st century. Now that these countries have become important players in the world market, counter expansion of values and culture can also be seen.

Over the past few decades there has been a rapid expansion of global brands in the media sector more than ever in the area of woman’s fashion magazines. Local editions of Elle, Harpers Baazar and Vogue are now being published in Asia. The internationalization of a magazine is not a new phenomenon although until quite recently the most popular woman’s magazines have been published locally. Harpers Bazaar, a U.S magazine launched itself in U.K. in 1929 (Anna Gough-Yates, 1993), Elle a European magazine began publishing its first edition in Japan in 1960’s while Vogue a U.S magazine entered the Indian market in the 21st century. However “the establishment of an integrated global media market only began in earnest in the late 1980’s and did not reach its full potential until the 1990’s.” (Herman and Mc Chesney ,1997, p10)

The latest NRS (National Readership Survey) figures suggest that the total readership market in U.K. for the months of July and December 2008 has risen by 10% since last year, while the total market for women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines has grown by 7 %. (IPC Advertising) A similar trend was observed in USA where magazine subscription reached a ten year high in 2008 and with the total number of magazines published reaching 20,590 the total percentage of subscriptions also increased by 1.4% (MPA Magazine Publishers of America, ABC) Comparatively in Asia according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers the Asia/Pacific magazine market excluding Japan is projected to grow by 7.2% annually, reaching $20.7 billion by 2010, Advertising is also expected to rise by 5% annually to $8.1 billion in 2010. This means there’s plenty of potential for countries in South Asia, where advertising spending is just about 0.34% of GDP. Until now foreign brands were allowed only 26% ownership when venturing into Asian countries. But in 2005 most of the Asian countries levelled the field for non news publications allowing 100% foreign direct investment. (D. Ruth, 2007, Forbes)

In an age looking towards the internet for all information and goods there is a risk that print media and magazine subscriptions may fall contrary to predictions. A recent research conducted by PPA marketing suggests that the internet does not have any harmful effect on people’s desire to read offline, in fact in some cases reading websites encourages them to read magazines. Out of 1500 adults between the age of 18- 34 surveyed online revealed that people’s expectations and goals from each medium depends on the subject matter and for the subject of beauty and fashion print magazines are an obvious choice. Also the idea of owning a piece of fashion history through the beautifully photographed and styled images in fashion magazines makes print media a lucrative choice.

With fashion going cross cultures, print media being the apparent choice of the masses to keep them in trend and the governments giving publication houses the clear there is nothing stopping international fashion magazines going local. Like all the other global media, magazines use many different strategies to cross the borders. The main reasons for crossing borders are ‘saturation of home markets and to generate revenue by providing international consumer brands with advertising vehicles that reach into the expanding foreign markets'(Dr. Katherine Frith, 2006,pg4-5). For example Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries had to close down Mademoiselle in November 2001 due to competition, flagging sales and saturation of magazine houses. Markets with rising economic rates like Asia and Middle East, as a result have become a target for westerns producers of beauty and fashion magazines.

FASHION MAGAZINES AND THEIR IMPACT

Many women across cultures are influenced by general trends in fashion and follow although at a distance the fashion industry. The relationship between consumers and trends is complex but it is mediated by fashion magazines.

The difference between international fashion magazines and their ‘local’ versions is that the international issues tend to carry a predominance of images for multinational products. (Shaw, 1999). Such magazines are growing in popularity in Asia and this popularity has bought about a change in perspective regarding the depiction of woman and products in local magazines. Griffin, Viswanath, and Schwartz(1994) found in a study comparing images in weekly U.S. news magazines (Time and Life) to weekly Indian magazines (India Today and Illustrated weekly of India), that many of the western advertising principles and poses for women were being conveyed across nations. They confirmed that female models in India were taking on poses that related closely to ‘gender portrayals ‘of the advanced western nations. A recent analysis of magazines international and local in China by Frith, Cheng and Shaw (2004) suggests that Caucasian models are more frequently shown in seductive dresses than Asian models. Feminist critiques like Kates, Shaw and Garlock (1999) would argue that western magazines are cultural institutions that represent women in a problematic and often unacceptable way although attractive female bodies and sexual content have for long been used in the west to draw consumers to a product and generate interest. Comparing this to the representation of woman across cultures with reference to the few studies conducted on the topic; Griffin, Viswanath and Schwartz (1994) concluded that the use of “Sexual pursuit” as a theme was used three times more often in American magazines than magazines in India. In conservative Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia only Caucasian women were used in Lingerie advertisements (Frith and Mueller, 2003).

Any magazine wanting to be resonant with its target audience needs to represent the social norms and cultural values of the given society. International magazines like Vogue and Elle although have publishing houses in Asian countries most often train their employees in the west. The result being that the forms of representation and especially that of woman can take on a globalized look. As Kyung-Ja Lee,(2000, pg 86) has rightly said ” for thirty years, media have been taken to task for reproducing and reinforcing stereotyped images of woman. Yet unfair representation of woman in media still prevails worldwide. Sex stereotyping has been so deeply ingrained, even glorified, that the woman themselves have become desensitised to their own inferior portrayal. The prospects appear even gloomier as the globalisation of media progresses”

Previous researchers have noted that the images of models used in magazines have been extensively retouched to represent the ideal of beauty that is unattainable for all but a very few people.(Greer,1999). By showing models that are ‘uniformly thin’, flawless and perfectly proportioned the media may contribute towards low self esteem and unhappiness among woman and give rise to problems like eating disorders.( Gauntlett, 2002) Media is also considered a large contributor to the global increase in plastic surgery to change physical appearance among young girls (Lee, 2007). With most models used in international magazines being ‘white’ the publications are rarefying the ethnic beauty ideals. In fact the obsession with whitening products may be a result of this overuse of White models in Asian publications.

Finally as global media takes readers away from local publications and changing Asian beauty ideals it is important to study the impact of international beauty ideal on local consumers. The Asian society has predominantly been a conservative society yet with the onset of westernisation this society is changing and adapting itself. But as Marieke de Mooij states, “product usage or acceptance does not change overnight, as people’s behaviour is stable .” A new idea or concept is only accepted when it is consistent to a change in society and does not imply a fundamental change in culture.

Essay 2: THE VOGUE IMPACT

This essay will discuss Vogue magazines cover page and its relationship with its brand identity. Can the brand successfully globalised by altering its cover page image, based on cultural and social variants in each of its markets? Would standardisation of the brands cover page images and visual identity help to avoid criticism on its entry into a new market?

VOGUE BEGINING

Started in 1982 Vogue magazine is predominantly an American cultural phenomenon. It began as a social weekly periodical and nurtured into a professional and confident monthly publication under the leadership of Condé Nast which took over vogue in 1909. Primarily as a lifestyle magazine catering to both men and woman Vogue has come a long way to be at the pinnacle as ‘the fashion magazine for woman in vogue’ (David, A., 2006). In an age where French fashion was considered the ultimate Vogue managed to put American Couture on the map. Under the Condé Nast umbrella the magazine not only managed to become a brand name in its own country but also exported fashion ideas to the world.

Today Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries believes Vogue to be its cash cow. At present there are a million fashion and beauty magazines such as In Style, Elle and Cosmopolitan circulated around the globe, but in times of crises citizens all over turn to Vogue to confirm the latest fashion news. With readership and subscription levels of about 220,000 a month for the British Vogues, 133,000 a month for the French Vogue and American Vogue, at 1.2 million a month Vogue is the leading magazine in the business of fashion. (IPC Advertising reports) The once small publication eventually became an international phenomenon with issues being published in more than 12 countries.

YEAR OF LAUNCH

COUNTRY /EDITION

1916

British Vogue

1918

Spanish Vogue

1920

French Vogue

1924-1926

Argentinean Vogue

1928

German Vogue

1964

Italian Vogue

1975

Brazilian Vogue

1994

Singapore Vogue

1996

Korean Vogue

1996

Taiwanese Vogue

1999

Japanese Vogue

1999

Latin American Vogue

2000

Greek Vogue

2005

Chinese Vogue

2007

Indian Vogue

Since its birth the magazine has strived to serve the society by portraying an example of proper etiquette, beauty, composure and fashion. The magazine not only plays a role in setting latest trends but also records the changes in cultural thinking, actions and clothing through its images. Looking at Vogue through the ages it can be clearly seen that it is also a documentation of the changing roles of woman, and the influences of cultural ideas and politics over time. The power the Vogue magazine has over generations of women has inspired many new magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour; all interested in its market share. In spite of this great quantity of magazines circulating around the globe, considering circulation figures and media impact no other publication has managed to accomplish the lasting power and success of Vogue. (David, R., 2007)

VOGUE IMAGE

“Self definition has always been crucial to vogue.” (David, A., 2006). Throughout its first 30 years vogue editors and illustrators made use of the French meaning of vogue, defined in the first dictionary of the Académie Française (1694) as the impulsion or movement of a galley or other ship by the force of rowing. It was only in the 18th century that vogue and fashion were listed as synonyms (Féraud 1787–8).

Since its first issue Vogue magazine has been personified as a youthful young woman. The magazines first cover presented itself in the disguise of a debutante, a young socialite. When Condé Nast bought the magazine in 1909 he brought it into line with other successful publishing ventures and in just over a decade, circulation went from 14,000 to 150,000 while advertising revenue soared from $76,111 to two million dollars (Robinson 1923: 170). He modernised the magazine not just the content but also the cover. He replaced the black and white drawings of the front cover with commissioned, lavish, stylised and signed illustrations. This change helped to attract attention to the magazine and increase circulations. “As an advertising man, he understood the value of having a visual brand or logo and Nast revived the original Vogue trademark, a “distinguished little sketch” which “immediately became known as the Vogue girl” (David, A., 2006). This first “Vogue girl” was just an illustration clad in a fancy dress with the than fashionable leg-o-mutton sleeves. ‘Her unnatural ivory white skin, snow white wig, tiny waist and voluptuous bosom, was directed at the fantasies of the magazine’s readers’ (David, A., 2006).The Vogue girl represented the heritage of those Americans who wished to be different from the New World Americans and was constantly seen as wearing historical costumes and heirlooms. Than too the new world American woman aspired to look like her. All this changed in the 1920’s when the “Vogue girl” was changed to an illustration by Georges Lepape. This new image was more streamlined and represented the woman at the heights of fashion in the 1920’s. Vogue had gone from importing fashion to exporting it. As times changed so did the magazine cover from illustrations to photographs, making models like Cindy Crawford and celebrities like Madonna a household name. This change in its image was a response to the internationalisation of the magazine.

Today the vogue cover girls are the most glamorous, exotic, unusual and popular persons of the moment. The trend being more towards actresses than models dressed in the heights of fashion, styled by the best stylist and clicked by A-list photographers they are every girl’s aspiration and every boy’s fantasy. Like its cover girls the magazines is considered to be glamorous, glossy and trendy. (Alexandra Shulman, Vogue U.K. editor). Despite of having these factors common among them, the vogue covers are dissimilar in many aspects depending upon its country of publication.

CULTURE AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR

Anglo –Saxon psychological research states that the concept of self and personality are the basis of Western consumer behaviour. The words “identity” or “personality” have no fixed meaning in the Asian culture. A global brand needs to consider the cultural differences to truly succeed in the world field. A number of research experts and cultural studies suggest that a brand should “think global, act local”. This is based upon the theory that “the way people think and perceive any brand or image is guided by the framework of their own culture” (Mooij, M, 2009). The observation of Japanese individuality as a sign of westernisation of the country is a misconception of many global brands.

For more than a decade international magazines have been accused of standardising a beauty ideal across the globe with disregard to the individual cultural and beauty ideals of the host country. For a short duration the values and attributes of a foreign or global personality might have a strong attraction, but ultimately people return to their own local values and culture. For a Brazilian woman the emphasis is on her bottom, “um corpo de violão” which literally means a guitar shaped body is most desirable. No matter how many international magazines showcase buxom beauties, the Brazilian woman would ultimately want a bigger bottom as the point of attraction is “the sweet swing” of the hips. The illustration of a desirable Japanese woman in “The memoirs of a Gesha” suggest, that the Japanese appreciate soft delicate feminine features, small feet and long hair cut in layers. A slim slender graceful body is more desirable than a curvaceous one. In Islamic countries the body is considered an obstacle in viewing ones true beauty. Any bodily decorations or changes are considered a veil over the inner beauty and the “Hijab” is another veil to conceal these changes so that the woman’s only public identity would be her inner self. For the Greek it has been symmetry in structure and features, based on Plato’s ideas that, “beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself.” The Nuba tribe in Sudan like dark skin and hairlessness. On studying traditional Indian paintings it can be concluded that the Indian ideals of beauty in a woman is voluptuousness, with the belly and hips being of prominence.( Ei, 2008) The image and identity associated with woman of different geographical locations are deep rooted in their respective cultures. The beauty ideals and a woman’s self image in any culture can be understood by studying its paintings, sculpture and artistic representations. Today the artistic or idealistic representations of women are magazine covers, images and photo spreads. These covers are also considered a mode of advertisement for the magazine within that culture. As Steve Taylor has rightly put in his book 100 years of magazine covers “it is hard to identify another cultural artefact which embodies an advertisement for itself in such a powerful way. Magazine covers can be breathtaking, beautiful, confrontational, resonant, heartbreaking, stimulating, irritating and uplifting. At their best they come together as a kind of spontaneous street level exhibition, publicly displaying the work of some of our best creative talent, featuring what is most admirable and dismissible about the modern world, communicating the people and events that shape our culture.”

Apart from a mode of advertisement of today’s culture a magazine cover plays a dual function of advertising the magazine brand itself. “An impressive cover encourages people to flip through the magazine and buy it”. (Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue editor). Getting the magazine cover right is not only ethically important but also financially important to the magazine in order to develop brand loyalty and increased circulations. Thus making it important to study magazine covers as a mode of advertisement and part of the marketing mix, for a magazine publication.

MAGAZINE COVERS AS BRAND VISUAL IDENTITY

It is a common assumption that ‘an advertisement would be effective if the viewer decodes the advertisement successfully,’ if there is a significant transfer of attributes. (Mooij, M., 2009). Thus while developing one idea for a global brand or one single motivator for different cultures, one should not assume that the responses would be alike too. An idea being interpreted accurately by the consumers would only happen if ‘the senders and receivers share one culture’. If they do not share the same cultural values it may result in misunderstandings and demeaning of brand value within that culture. For example consider the inaugural Vogue covers of India and China. The Indian Vogue cover was styled by the magazines British fashion director while the Chinese vogue was styled by French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld (China economic net and Fashion week daily dispatch). The covers were not rightly decoded by the consumers and received much criticism. Whereas the covers for the preceding months styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania the fashion director for Vogue India was highly appreciated.(Fashion week daily dispatch)

“The essence of a brand is that it is a name in the memory of consumers. It is a perceptual map of positive and negative associations, a symbolic language, and a network of associations.” (Mooij, M.,2009). Vogue with its launch in many Asian countries received much negative associations with its local issues. The local Asian issues of Vogue are considered small ripples in the big pond of Fashion magazines (Armstrong ,L, 2009) and they could never manage to create the impact that American vogue or Italian Vogue have managed to create world over. Vogue India or Vogue China might be sold worldwide but it is not necessary that consumers in all countries consider them global brands. One theory suggests that a global brand is a brand that is strongly associated with its country of origin (Mooij, M., 2009) and for Vogue it’s been America. This can be considered positive if the country of origin has a stable global identity. With American values becoming ambiguous and Vogue bifurcating into multiple countries over time its core identity may be threatened. The idea of incorporating local aesthetics with their global image might dilute the brands global image.

STANDARDISATION

A multinational company’s personality and identity are the biggest factors influencing consumer (Eales, 1990 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998). Unrestricted global trade, a competitive marketplace and the fast technological developments have created a situation where consumers don’t just buy the product they also “buy” the company that produces it. The brands character, its identity, its image and the confidence it inspires in them help in making the choice between two almost similar product offerings in the market. At the centre of any business and its projected image is its corporate visual identity system. The elements of this system are: name, symbol, and/or logo, typography, colour and slogan (Dowling, 1994). These elements help to sell the company to consumers and its stakeholders. Corporate identity programs have risen due to globalisation (Ind, 1992). The changing business tactics, geographical locations, variations in cultures and changing markets have all encouraged companies to change their corporate identity. “As companies begin to operate on an international basis, the image that they acquired as national producers often becomes inappropriate” (Mills, 1988 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998).

Some international companies adopt a unified brand image in spite of government and consumer displeasure. The degree of de-standardisation of any company depends upon the strength of the host countries culture, government policies and target market. (Mooij, M., 2009). The decision to standardise a brand image also depends upon the competitive edge derived in either keeping activities central or decentralizing them. However a brand like Vogue that has a truly global orientation needs to express consistent brand values wherever it chooses to compete. Thus making its worldwide image more recognisable for its homogeneity than not.

A major component of a corporate identity is the corporate structure. (Strong, 1987) According to Ind (1992) there exist two corporate identities, one that is the organisational structure and the other that is the visual structure. The Visual structure is concerned with the branding of the product, and how it appears to the consumers. (Gray & Smeltzer, 1985 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). The basic concern with the visual structure is the degree of centralisation and decentralisation.

Thus the basic problem faced by Vogue is whether to sell an identical product image to all its consumers or to make modifications as per the local differences. A global brand can be a mass brand satisfying a common product need in all the countries or it can be a brand catering to a common niche in all the countries. Vogue magazine has two options, being a global brand it could standardize the brand and the brand image across the globe so that the Indian woman reading the Indian Vogue would feel equal to the French or American woman reading their respective Vogues. The other option it has is to go local, differentiate between its offerings and treat each market as an individual and not a global product while standardising its visual image, giving the impression of a common brand.

Researchers argue that standardisation of a brand helps the company to achieve a uniform image internationally which in turn increases sales.(Buzzell, 1968, Hovells & Walters, 1972 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998) . Others were of the opinion that standardisation makes consumers familiar with the product, its services, business diversities and competitive distinction thus helping to establish a uniform corporate image.(Peebles et al ,1977 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). Cosmopolitan for example is known around the globe to address personal and sex related issues as it does not change its editorials and articles depending on culture. The band logo/ font type, position or style does not differ according to geographical locations. The brand has achieved a sense of standardisation by not having a distinct country name printed on its cover unlike Vogue.

The research on global corporate visual identity systems by T.C. Melewar and John Saunders (1998) proved that “firms with highly standardised corporate visual identity systems (CVIS) saw themselves reaping more reward from their CVIS than did those with low CVIS standardisation. All custom

An Analysis of Hybridity in Ahdaf Soueif’s Works

1. Introduction

“[I am] like hundreds of thousands of others: people with an Arab or a Muslim background doing daily double-takes when faced with their reflection in a western mirror.” (Soueif 2004)

Born in Egypt, as the child of two Arab university professors, Ahdaf Soueif is an author who fuses elements from an English education and society with aspects from her Cairene milieu in her fictional and nonfictional writings. Several years of Soueif’s childhood were spent in London, where she was able to explore the Anglophone literary scene whilst embracing her Egyptian roots through the culture of her parents. Ahdaf Soueif is the product from a dual Eastern and Western upbringing, a life characterized by a mixture of different cultures which is commonly linked in postcolonial studies with hybrid identity. According to Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin, hybridity is “one of the most widely employed and most disputed terms in post-colonial theory, [which] commonly refers to the creation of new transcultural forms within the contact zone produced by colonization” (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 1998: 118). Many literary analyses of novels produced in the era following colonial occupation focus on how two or more cultures fuse and how the characters in these stories attempt to negotiate the differences that come along with such a merger, a pattern which is also followed in Ahdaf Soueif’s In the Eye of the Sun (1992)and The Map of Love (1999). Homi K. Bhabha describes this process, known as hybridity, as the creation of culture and identity from the blending of cultural elements of the colonizer and the colonized, thereby defying the origins of any authentic identity (Bhabha 1990). Authors situated in this postcolonial era move between different worlds, trying to merge diverse cultures. This fusion of different cultures has led these postcolonial writers to a coalition of different reading audiences, which has exposed them to different levels of apprehension and appreciation.

Analyzing the high level of hybridity in Soueif’s personal life, one might expect that a similar interest in transcultural elements will be detected when reading her fictional and non-fictional work. Ahdaf Soueif has written several articles on political and cultural affairs that shape the contemporary world, such as “The Heart of the Matter” (2007) that deals with the troubles in Palestine in a present-day context. In 2004, she published a book entitled Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground, which contains a collection of non-fictional essays on significant matters that are linked with the “Mezzaterra” in a globalized world. As a recipient of two different cultures, Ahdaf Soueif is engaged in making different cultural grounds meet throughout her writings, or as Soueif herself describes it, in exploring the “Mezzaterra”, which refers to the construction of a meeting point for diverse cultures and traditions, a common ground. This mutual ground is not competitive, rather it offers an enrichment working at both sides of the construction.

Ahdaf Soueif herself describes the common ground as followed:

[The Mezzaterra is] a territory imagined, created even, by Arab thinkers and reformers starting in the middle of the nineteenth century when Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt first sent students to the West and they came back inspired by the best of what they saw on offer. Generations of Arabs protected it through the dark time of colonialism. (Soueif, qtd. in Mahjoub 2009: 57)

The “Mezzaterra” constitutes a space where the best elements of different cultures are combined and where admiration for the thought, literature and music of the West is accompanied by confidence in the possibilities of an Egyptian culture, free from colonial occupation. Ahdaf Soueif’s strong belief in this unity of East and West is accompanied by a high level of hybridity, a model which she explores in her writings as well as in her personal life. For instance, in naming her offspring, Soueif illustrates her interest in merging two cultures since her sons have combined Arab-English names, namely Omar Robbie and Ismail Ricki (Darraj 2003: 91). She challenges transcultural issues in her fictional novels while she also writes non-fictional articles for English newspaper The Guardian as well as for Egypt’s esteemed newspaper Al-Ahram. Her fictional and her non-fictional writings epitomize her dual identity, the fact that she is the product of a cross-cultural upbringing, therefore making her a prime example of a hybrid writer. However, this high level of hybridity in her personal life has led her to be perceived as a writer who does not belong exclusively to Egypt or England. Soueif is frequently regarded as a foreigner by the English, while she is oftentimes denied the status of a native Egyptian (Darraj 2003: 92). Susan Darraj, who has written articles on Arab-Muslim feminism and Muslim writers, claims that Soueif’s “lush style is often described as exotic and foreign by her Western readers, while her sexual imagery and themes arouse the ire of some Egyptian readers who do not want to claim her as ‘one of their own’” (Darraj 2003: 91), which explains the perception of Ahdaf Soueif as an outsider by both sides. In an interview, Soueif addressed the confrontational issue of hybridity by claiming that “there are so many hybrids now, people who are a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The interesting thing is what we make of it, what kind of hybrid we become and how we feel about it” (Soueif, qtd. in Malak 2003: 148). Ahdaf Soueif seems to have found a space, despite the fact that she does not belong exclusively to either the Eastern or the Western literary circuit, which allows her to harmonize both her Egyptian and English roots. However, she admits that some voices in our contemporary world do not share her belief in the common ground, as she claims that: “[i]n today’s world, separatism is not an option. In order to stay alive we will all eventually end up on some form of common ground. However, the loudest voices that are heard are those that deny the existence of this, who shout that a ‘clash of civilizations’ is taking place” (Soueif 2004, translated from KVS Express 2008).

Ahdaf Soueif was launched onto the international scene by her first novel In the Eye of the Sun (1992), which tells the story of a young Egyptian girl who finds herself trapped in an unhappy marriage and who seeks intellectual and marital freedom in England. In addition to this first novel, Soueif has also published two short-stories compellations, Aisha (1983)and Sandpiper(1996), and a second novel, The Map of Love (1999). While Soueif’s first novel takes a young Arab woman out of the heart of Egypt and transports her to England, her second novel reverses the pattern and narrates how an Arab woman tries to puzzle together the life story of her great-aunt, an English Victorian lady who traveled to the East and started a second life in the harem. In my thesis I will focus on Ahdaf Soueif’s novels In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love (1999) and investigate whether the author’s strong belief in the “Mezzaterra” and in hybridity, which has characterized her life, is also explored and therefore detectable in her novels. I have chosen these novels because both books narrate stories about young women who are moving between Egypt and England, or East and West, and the struggles they encounter when trying to merge different cultures. A comparative study of both books will expose how Ahdaf Soueif deals with the effects of her dynamic upbringing and identity in her fictional writings. This analysis will be preceded by a discussion of the existing body of academic theories on the topic of hybridity in postcolonial studies. In my analysis of In the Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love, I will focus on hybridity, and more specifically on the merger of Western and Eastern elements, by exploring the following research questions: (a) Which formal, textual elements of In the Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love display Ahdaf Soueif’s belief in the “Mezzaterra” and, more specifically, hybridity? (b) Which components on the level of content suggest that Ahdaf Soueif inserts the notion of hybridity into the lives and interests of the characters in her novels? (c) How does Ahdaf Soueif deal with traditional views concerning East and West? (c) What future does she describe for hybrids living in our contemporary, globalized world? At the end, a conclusion will be drafted and the initially asked questions will hopefully have been answered in detail.

2. Theoretical Concepts, Novels and Genres

2.1 The Postcolonial Matter – Ahdaf Soueif as a Postcolonial Writer

Critics have argued that Ahdaf Soueif is both an essayist of non-fictional articles and author of fictional stories who displays in her writings a great interest in the merger of different cultures in places characterized by a colonial past. As mentioned earlier, her nonfictional work has illustrated her belief in the “Mezzaterra”, a common ground for these cultures where they can live harmoniously and people can benefit from this productive merger. Soueif’s fictional writings have been identified by critics such as Susan Muaddi Darraj (2003) and Emily Davis (2007) as postcolonial literature, by claiming that she “reshapes, rethinks and re-evaluates the colonial period in the Middle East” (Darraj 2003: 102). The definition of ‘postcolonial’ is not without contradictions. Ama Ata Aidoo, who also writes articles and books on Western-Eastern tensions, claims that “the ‘post’ in postcolonial implies that colonization is over and this is not true”, because the regions which have a colonial history are still in the process of decolonizing today, “whether in economic, political, or cultural arenas […]” (Aidoo qtd. in Katrak 2006: xii). Within the framework of this thesis I would like to follow Aidoo’s line of thought which echoes the approach of Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin who argue that the process of colonization does not “cease with the mere end of political independence [rather it] continues in a neo-colonial mode to be active in many societies” (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 1995: xv). The problematic naming of notions relating to colonization and postcolonial literature proves that there is still much controversy and incongruity among theorists. In the purpose of this thesis, I would like to follow Ketu H. Katrak’s personal definition of postcolonial areas which she utilizes in her book Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World (2006). She describes postcolonial areas as:

geopolitical regions that share a past – a colonial history of occupation and domination – and a present of continuing neocolonialism that necessitates active decolonizing strategies. Neither the colonial nor the postcolonial world is a given historically and geographically; these regions were deliberately named as such through histories of conquest and domination, of nations and national boundaries drawn often arbitrarily by colonizers. (Katrak 2006: xii)

The significance of this discussion of the notion ‘postcolonial’ can be explained by Adhaf Soueif’s exploration of places characterized by colonization, either by narrating the lives of characters living during England’s occupation of Egypt or by placing them in our contemporary world, which is faced with the effects of its colonial past, a process oftentimes associated with globalization.

Some of Soueif’s characters experience the direct effects of colonization while other witnesses are set in a postcolonial era. The question which Soueif tries to answer is whether Egypt has liberated itself from colonial occupation after it gained independence. In my opinion, Soueif condemns Western occupation of her native country, but simultaneously expresses admiration for the thought and culture of the West in her fictional novels, an act which illustrates her belief in a common ground where cultures co-exist.

2.2 Theoretical Frame and Concepts

2.2.1 The Issue of Hybridity – Homi K. Bhabha

Authors like Ahdaf Soueif, Andrea Levy and Zadie Smith, who are characterized as writers of postcolonial fiction, often narrate the stories of people that are confronted with the merger of different cultures and the creation of hybrid identities. This means that they have to find a way to combine an authentic identity with elements from a new culture. The creation of such a hybrid identity that acknowledges and values the fusion of elements emanating from different cultures proves to be a significant notion in In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love(1999). Vital attributions on the issue of hybridity have been brought to the field of postcolonial theory by Homi K. Bhabha, a postcolonial critic and accomplished essayist who has published articles on fundamental notions in cultural studies, such as identity, race and colonialism (Rutherford 1990: 207). These concepts have brought him to the discussion of some matters of contention which have proven to be cause for confusion and misunderstanding in cultures characterized by a (post)colonial history.

Homi K. Bhabha argues that many of our contemporary globalized, plural societies acknowledge the idea of diversity of cultures as a positive thing, so that cultural multiplicity is encouraged and established. However, he attacks the tendency of Western peoples, who consider themselves to be the ‘cultured’ or ‘civilized’, to “understand and locate cultures in a universal time-frame that acknowledges their various historical and social contexts only eventually to transcend them and render them transparent” (Bhabha 1990: 208). This way, Western societies continue to believe that nationalities and cultures which are different from their own are interesting enough to explore, but are, eventually, their minors in civility, knowledge and cultivation. Bhabha finds in this contradictory attitude two significant problems that concern the problematic issues of superiority feelings and racism (Bhabha 1990: 208). The first problem relates to the superiority approach of the ‘already cultured’ to newcomers, who, therefore, will always retain the status of ‘immigrants’ or ‘outsiders’. Despite the fact that multiple societies proclaim encouraging exclamations which seem to applaud and respect cultural diversity, there is, according to Bhabha, always an additional suppression of the other culture. He claims that the “host society” or “dominant culture” constitutes a norm in which other cultures are welcomed, however, they must be located within their own “grid” (Bhabha 1990: 208). This can be illustrated by the traditional Western view on Arab women who are wearing the veil. Many Western people do not know the history of this Arab cultural element but only see it as a manner of gender oppression, therefore they condemn it. Leila Ahmed, who has written several essays on the topic of Orientalist stereotyping in the West, claims that the veil is “more than anything a symbol of women separated from the world of men, and this is conventionally perceived in the West as oppression” (Ahmed 1982: 523). For this reason but also for other religious and political arguments, Arab women living in the West are oftentimes denied the opportunity to wear a veil, they must adjust to Western manners of convention. People with an Eastern background who migrate to the West must adapt or they will be excluded from society. What we can witness in our contemporary world is an ambivalent attitude towards globalization which justifies diversity but simultaneously denies some cultures the right of equality. The second problem which Bhabha attacks, focuses upon racism, a problematic issue often encountered in multicultural societies (Bhabha 1990: 208). Fear for something new and unfamiliar oftentimes entails an aggressive and degrading attitude towards newcomers. As opposed to centuries ago, the current population of a particular country is no longer characterized by a single people with solitary beliefs because globalization has opened the gate of one country to the rest of the world, facilitating an exposure to other cultures.

While Ahdaf Soeif is encouraged to write about an imaginative space where different cultures come together to live harmoniously with each other, Bhabha denies the possibility of such an effortless or peaceful act. He claims that cultures that adhere in a contemporary context are often radical opponents on the field of political principles, religious conventions, sexual orientations and other significant cultural issues (Bhabha 1990: 208). Following this reasoning, the necessity for “a politics which is based on unequal, uneven, multiple and potentially antagonistic, political identities” has to be realized to answer the “[changing] nature of the public sphere” (Bhabha 1990: 208). Homi K. Bhabha argues that societies in a contemporary, postcolonial context should not try to reshape newcomers to their own model, since it will be more satisfactory to focus on a merger where cultural differences can co-exist.

To further support his claim, Homi K. Bhabha introduces the notion of the “Third Space” (Bhabha 1990: 211), an imaginative space which functions as a meeting point for opposite powers which do not attempt to reach cultural domination. This contact zone, which Bhabha describes, is not achieved through a serene fusion of elements from different cultures, rather it is constructed by contradictory, and oftentimes, irreconcilable notions. According to him, the act of merging different cultures and pretending that they can live side by side harmoniously is impossible and oftentimes counterproductive. Bhabha further explains that:

[a]ll forms of culture are continually in a process of hybridity. But for me the importance of hybridity is not to be able to trace two original moments from which the third emerges, rather hybridity to me is the ‘third space’ which enables other positions to emerge. This third space displaces the histories that constitute it, and sets up new structures of authority, new political initiatives, which are inadequately understood through received wisdom. (Bhabha 1990: 211)

A key notion for peoples anchored in this hybrid construction of the “Third Space” is the quest for an identity which does not acknowledge only one authentic culture, but which is constituted by the inclusion of new cultural elements. The original and separated identities are no longer significant, since the new, hybrid identity has replaced them. Critics claim that the notion of hybridity has often been used in postcolonial theories to refer to “cross-cultural exchange” (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 1995: 119), however, this use has to be criticized, since it neglects the discrepancy that joins the merger of different cultures. When discussing the quest for a hybrid individuality, Bhabha gives his preference to the notion of identification instead of identity, since the former relates to the act of identifying “with and through another object, an object of otherness” (Bhabha 1990: 211). Identity has to do with myself, identification has to do with the ‘Other’ and myself. Bhabha describes this process of cultural hybridity as the stimulator of “something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation” (Bhabha 1990: 211).

Michaela Wolf, who is inspired by the many theories on hybridity, describes Bhabha’s “Third Space” as a sort of “in-between-space, which is located between existing referential systems and antagonisms, […] [in which] the whole body of resistant hybridization comes into being in the form of fragile syncretisms, contrapuntal re-combinations and acculturation” (Wolf 2008: 13). However, she finds in Bhabha’s approach to hybridity a controversial boundary, since the name implies a plurality of cultures, which automatically incorporates concepts of inclusion and exclusion (Wolf 2008: 14), a process which is for instance often linked with the issue of language. Globalization is an ongoing development which merges diverse cultures and therefore enables exposure to new and different languages. As a result, minority languages might disappear while others find a growing number of speakers. In the case of (post)colonial literature, the act of translation may prove to be a problematic issue for the people involved. In her novels, Ahdaf Soueif exposes a great interest in the issue of language, by allowing her characters to shift between the English and Arab language whilst continually drawing attention to the problematic act of translation.

2.2.2 Orientalism – Edward Said

When discussing the importance of language and the issue of stereotyping in hybrid writings that deal with Eastern-Western oppositions, it is important to refer to Edward Said and his work Orientalism (1978). Said described the theory of Orientalism in his book as a way of looking at the East that can be regarded as “a manner of regularized writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient” (Said 1978: 202). More specifically, it refers to the superiority approach of the West which dominates, restructures and holds authority over the Orient. The Orient is not “an inert fact of nature, but a phenomenon constructed by generations of intellectuals, artists, commentators, writers, politicians, and, more importantly, constructed by the naturalizing of a wide range of Orientalist assumptions and stereotypes” (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 1998: 168). In summary, colonialists depicted the Orient as an exotic and immoral place in urgent need of Western civilization, therefore Orientalism enforced the colonial mission. Said was one of the first academics to study colonialism on the field of discourse, and therefore showed the close interaction between the “language and the forms of knowledge developed for the study of cultures and the history of colonialism and imperialism” (Young 2007: 1). Said’s theoretical approach to colonial literature implemented the understanding of acts practiced in colonial times by analyzing accounts in literary texts, travel writings and memoirs. He concluded that the language used in those reports to analyze or represent colonialism was not purely instrumental. Said argued that Orientalism developed as a construction on the discursive field, so that the language in which colonization is represented, is never unbiased, neutral or objective. Furthermore, Orientalism is “a political doctrine willed over the Orient because the Orient was weaker than the West, which elided the Orient’s difference with its weakness” (Said 1978: 203). This significant approach to Orientalism defies traditional academic views upon the representation of colonization in Western literature. Said’s theory claims that in these texts, the written accounts on the Orient only depicted Western desires which envisioned the East as an exotic place, therefore Orientalism bore little evidence to the authenticity of its object. So the Orient is not an actual place, rather it is a “system of representations framed by political forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire” (Said 1978: 202). This allegation made by Said in his book Orientalism (1978) is important for hybrid writers positioned in our contemporary literary landscape who tell stories about their colonial heritage. Hybrid authors are oftentimes characterized by the fusion of elements which formerly belonged to the different cultures of the colonizer and colonized. These writers who are now narrating stories that deal with (post)colonial issues are no longer people remotely situated from the source. Ahdaf Soueif, an example in case, is despite her English upbringing closely connected with her Egyptian heritage and still has a strong connection with the country of her roots, as opposed to earlier colonists. Robert Young acknowledges this fact and Said’s theory by suggesting that “colonial discourse analysis has meant that we have learnt a lot about the fantasmatics of colonial discourse, but at the same time it has prevented us by definition from knowing about the actual conditions such discourse was framed to describe, analyze or control” (Young 1996, 2007: 2).

Young’s contribution to Bhabha’s analysis of colonial discourse has shown how Western representations of the Orient and colonization in general delineated not just a theoretical approach but more so a portrayal of their exotic desires. In her novels, Ahdaf Soueif reacts to this ongoing tendency in the West to imagine the Orient and its culture as exotic objects, by dismantling the stereotypes which were originally constructed to illustrate Western desires. For ages, Orientalist discourse has been a form of “Western fantasy [which could] say nothing about actuality” (Young 2007: 2). These colonial reports on the Orient have initiated a process in which elements belonging to the Eastern culture, such as the harem, the veil and polygamy are regarded as synonyms for female oppression. In the postcolonial era, hybrid writers are able to write stories about their own native country in a format and language which does not discourage Western readers, therefore accounts from secondary sources are excluded and a more trustworthy picture of the Orient is illustrated.

2.2.3 The Subaltern – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak discusses the problematic issue of ‘voice’ for oppressed people in her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in which she refers to this group as the “subaltern” minorities (Spivak 1988: 66). The notion subaltern refers to those of inferior rank, a term which was introduced by Antonio Gramsci to designate the minority groups in society who are struggling with the domination of the ruling classes (Spivak 1988: 78). Spivak argues that histories which truthfully narrate the lives of these oppressed people have remained ignored for centuries, a case in point illustrated by accounts on the subaltern woman, which were always narrated through colonial, male voices whilst never allowing the woman herself the opportunity to recite her narrative. Spivak continues her claim by stating that “within the effaced itinerary of the subaltern subject, the track of sexual difference is doubly effaced. […] If, in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow” (Spivak 1988: 83). The colonized subject, and more specifically, the subaltern woman, is and has always been missing in documentary archives, because she is not given a voice. The question whether they can speak is a question that the subaltern must ask (Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 1998: 218).

Spivak elaborates on her discussion of the exclusion of subaltern groups by referring to the contemporary and ongoing epistemic suppression that Eastern voices experience, since they are forced to implant Western forms of thought and writing (Spivak 1988: 80-82). This claim is based upon Spivak’s presumption that the subaltern must adapt their way of thinking, speaking and writing to a more Western model if they want to be heard. Spivak argues that this is a case which does not allow those subaltern peoples to really speak their mind and therefore they will never achieve their hopes to be actually heard, since they must adopt Western ways of thought and reason. By trying to give the subaltern a voice mediated to a Western model, these oppressed peoples become even more silent. Spivak ends her article and answers the question whether or not the subaltern can speak as followed: “The subaltern cannot speak. There is no virtue in global laundry lists with ‘woman’ as a pious item. Representation has not withered away. The female intellectual as intellectual has a circumscribed task which she must not disown with a flourish” (Spivak 1988: 104). Spivak concludes that by trying to adapt to Western notions of thinking, writing and telling, the subaltern reaffirms his position as the subordinated. The significance of the discussion of the subaltern to this thesis relates to the identity of writer Ahdaf Soueif, who is a female, Anglophone author writing in the former-colonizer’s language in a postcolonial era. To follow Spivak in her claim about the subaltern, who cannot speak, would mean that Ahdaf Soueif narrates her stories in a lingual and structural model that pleases the West. However, Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin argue that Spivak’s main concern is not that the oppressed cannot voice their resistance or that they must adjust to a Western mode of voicing their thoughts in order to be heard, rather she focuses on an “unproblematically constituted subaltern identity” (Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin 1998: 219).

The significance of discussing all of the vital contributions on hybridity, Orientalism and female voices delivered by different academics to the field of postcolonial theory relates to the purpose of this thesis in which the level of hybridity in Ahdaf Soueif’s fictional novels is analyzed. Therefore, in the following chapter of this thesis, I will illustrate how the theoretical concepts and ideas described above are explored in In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love (1999).

2.3 Novels and Genres

My analysis of In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love (1999) will prove that Ahdaf Soueif’s writing style tries to capture the spirit and conventional customs of the era in which she is narrating her stories. In the Eye of the Sun tells the story of a young Egyptian woman Asya, whose life is set against the political actions of the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century. It focuses on her years-long struggle for personal independence and her attempts to break away from patriarchal conventions and Orientalist stereotyping, therefore making it “a coming of age novel in the European Romantic tradition of the bildungsroman” (Massad 1999: 75). The novel begins in England in 1979, where we meet a twenty-nine-year-old Asya who has taken the care for her dying uncle upon her. The story then goes back in time to the infamous year of 1967 where Asya witnesses the destroying effects of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. As a young student, she falls in love with Saif but she soon finds herself trapped in an unhappy marriage based upon patriarchal conventions. Her first steps to independence are set once she has decided to follow her mother’s example by obtaining a Ph.D. in England. However, she soon finds herself captured in the fantasy of another man, the American Gerald Stone who embodies Orientalist stereotypes.

In The Map of Love, a contemporary Arab woman, Amal, tells the story of her English-born great-aunt Anna Winterbourne, who fled her life in Victorian England to travel to the East at the end of the nineteenth century. Recently widowed, Anna has a desire to explore Egypt to see whether her admiration for the Orientalist paintings of John Frederick Lewis is justified and whether he depicted Arab life in its authenticity. Ignoring traditional views the West holds over the East, Anna follows the footsteps of real Victorian female travelers, such as Lady Lucy Duff Gordon and Lady Emily Blunt, who looked beyond Orientalist stereotypes. Anna finds love and a new family in Egypt when she marries Egyptian nationalist Sharif Basha. Over a century later, Amal magically reconstructs Anna’s story by exploring the content of a trunk which was brought to her by an American woman, Isabel. The trunk contains letters, diaries and newspaper clippings. Isabel’s love story echoes Anna’s, since both of them fall in love with an Egyptian man, passionate about the political affairs of his country. In Isabel’s case, she falls for Amal’s brother Omar. My research will illustrate how Ahdaf Soueif cleverly fuses the fictional and historical level in this novel by capturing the spirit of the age in which her love story is set, making it a historical romance.

3. Analysis: Hybridity in In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love (1999)

In order to systematically and thoroughly answer the research questions put forward in the in

Consumer Demand for African Food in Liverpool

Abstract

The aim of this research is to observe and explain consumers’ preference for African food in Liverpool. By identifying the attitudes towards African food, evaluating the different factors that affect the availability and accessibility of these foods within the city, the effect of globalisation processes on food production to consumption. Three different theories have been used in this research, the Theory of Reason Action, Theory of Planned Behaviour, the Actor Network Theory and the theory of consumption. The global production network which seeks to identify the geographical spatiality involved in the network process of crossing African foods to UK. The actor-network theory is used to explain the different actors/actants in the global production network. The theories of reasoned action and theory of planned behaviour used in this research intends to explain consumer attitude, preference and behaviour towards African foods. It is however observed that African consumers tend to prefer African traditional meals but this is affected by cost, time and distance.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative research method is used to better interpret the outcomes of the result. A total of 150 respondents where interviewed from various part of the city, including students, young adults family etc. Cutting across different age groups. Owners of African food stores and restaurants were interviewed using both structured and semi-structured interview. Individuals were selected randomly, to verify interest in African foods.

Chapter 1
Introduction

The importance of food as a necessity of life goes beyond physical nourishment. Anthropologist and sociologist emphasize that food practices are prime means through which social relationships are formed. (Johnston et al 2006:272). A familiar saying goes “we are what we eat”; food links us to the rituals and recipes of previous generations, creating a network between families, wider communities, and the global trading network of producers, distributors and consumers. More so, we are transported into the world of others as we experience the tastes of unknown tradition and cultures. Food choices make profound impact on the environment, health and welfare of others, challenging the ideas of tradition and identity. Travel and immigration have also resulted in the changing and shifting of traditions over the years. National identities have been created also by food traditions in distant lands among people of similar culture and background. Food is an indicator of cultural traditions, values, and how food traditions develop and evolve over space and time. Much talk of globalisation of foods have helped in shaping traditions, cultural diversity, social and political economy of places, (Bernstein et al 1990: 9, Tinker 1997: 137, 143) however, not all kinds of food are very welcomed in some places, though may not be stated categorically, it can be observed within cities and communities most probably as result of economic policies, cultural differences, international trading policies.

Traditional food is a vital aspect of the African cultural heritage. The production processing sale and distribution of food products enhances cultural and ethnic coherence in communities. Consumers demand for safe and tasteful traditional food products (Cayot, 2007). However, there is also a demand for varieties of ethnic foods in multi-ethnic cities and community.

The definition of food encompasses matters of moral and cultural significance, differentiating food products, providers and consumers (Cook et al 1996). Food has always had a long history of constructed associations which involves associations of places and people, and has been used as emblem of national, regional and local identities (Murcott 1995).

Johnston et al claim that there is no single geographical literature on food with its own coherent themes and problematic, as the study of food is found in economic, political, cultural, social and biological aspects of geography. Therefore food matter does not sit within the confinement of conceptual and spatial boundaries (Johnston 2006: 272).

Key issues surrounding topic

The speed and reach of globalisation, travel and trade, bring all kinds of diverse foods together. This has however affected the definitions of particular national food culture (Murray). The influence of travel and migration can be seen on major streets and cities in United Kingdom with a rich mixture of nationalities, Indian curry houses, Jewish Bagel shops, Chinese buffets restaurant, Italian restaurant, Mexican among others. However, the presence of African food restaurants seems not a loud as the others considering the long standing history of Blacks in the city.

The absence of physical representation of the African food culture around the city especially in everyday cultural display such as in food, as compared to the Asian presence of Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican cuisines and other ethnic group in Liverpool raises questions of demand and supply.

The most important representation so far is the International Slavery museum at the docks and black slave sculptures that are displayed around historical places in the city, which are only representations of past history and geography and not a total representation of the African culture in recent times.

Ethnic minority consumers’ quest for cultural identity is perceived in the food culture of the group in concern. Commercial globalisation has renewed interest in the relationship between culture and traditional norms and values (James 1890). This pursuit for identity among most migrants to the western world is pronounced in their choice of food (Bauman2000).

This research seeks to observe trends in African consumer behaviour and attitude toward African food in United Kingdom, using Liverpool as a case study. In trying to observe and evaluate these trends, certain issues have provided a background for this study, one of which is the re-materializing of postcolonial geographies as it affects Africans in a foreign country. African migrants’ attitude and food choice behaviour have been affected by certain factors, government and institutional policies of cutting across various levels of trading activities.

In determining a consumers’ preference towards food related behaviours, convenience, as a food attribute, has been described as being as important as taste, health and price (Candel, 2001). However, the availability and accessibility of food influence consumers preference as different values are considered in understanding why consumers make certain food choice. Food choice is a complex phenomenon with many interacting events determining which foods are eaten by the individual at a particular time and place. (Shepherd 1989.)

The failure of African foods to cross over into United Kingdom mainstream market has pointed to issues of production, preservation and transportation of African foods into the United Kingdom. International trade policies and barriers by OECD countries, farm subsidies have all been major setbacks to the availability of African food stuff in the United Kingdom.

Chapter 1 literature review: theories of consumer perception,

Chapter 2 how do Africans perceive African foods and other foods, what do Africans think about the origin of their food and the patriotic nature of Africans towards their food, the first experience of food, generational experience of food.

Chapter 3 methodology: theories of research methods.

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 result and discussions: background history of black Liverpool, map and population census 2001 of Africans in Liverpool, identifying African business and
Questionnaires and interview analysis,

Chapter 6 trade relations between African countries and UK

CHAPTER 2:
LITERATURE REVIEW

This literature review looks at the studies that have been done in areas of food preference as it concerns culture, food identity, food preference and quality. The second section will review theories employed in the research and the importance of global production networks.

Catherine Dolan and John Humphrey (2000) used Global commodity chain as networks where the decision-maker influences the output of chains and composition governance in their paper ‘governance and trade in fresh vegetables’. Their study does not recognise the identity of commodity and consumer as a factor in buyer driven commodity, evaluating the geography of space. This research explores the ethnic identity of consumer as a major actor in global commodity chain networks. The buyers themselves being of African nationality purchase food stuff from the local food store or African food restaurants which receive their supplies from importers of African foods in major cities like London and Manchester. The connection therefore is from the African farmers who grow the foods, to major exporter or importer as the case maybe, to the shelves food store and tables of the restaurant then consumed by Africans who live several miles away from their home country. The cultural identity of the consumers becomes a vital connection to the market, because consumers also make demand on the desired food choice. Consumers’ access to these foods becomes important to the continuity of this trade. Ben Fine (1993) defines commodity chains as “the commodity-specific chain connecting production, distribution, marketing and consumption and material culture surrounding these elements”, in the study of systems of provision (fine 1993:600). This approach acknowledges the importance of commodities as a possibility of more balanced treatment of the relationship between production and consumption (Crewe 2000). Studies have explored how networks of embedded firms are offering the potential for the more equitable relations between retailer and suppliers, through the sharing of knowledge as market intelligence and labour. (Crewe 1996, Scott 1996, Crewe and Beaverstock 1998). Other study have considered the creative dimension of domestic consumption, and the ways in which consumer goods are actively appropriated in the everyday spaces of the home, however, Domosh examines the reclamation of the home and the domestic space as key consumption site. But it does not take into account the origin of the commodities and how it relates to space for consumption (Domosh 1998).

Cook and Crang, explore ways in which geographical knowledge about products invoke a “double commodity fetishism”. This is the idea in which consumer knowledge are limited by spatially distanciated systems of provision. (Laying emphasis on geographical knowledge about widely sources of food commodities and process through which food is supplied). This work highlights cultural means of places and spaces. Cook and Crang (1996), further explores the global extensive networks and flows of food, people and culinary knowledge embedded in cosmopolitan London. Suggesting that “cultural mosaic” (Friedman, 1994), conceptualise cultural geographies as bounded cultural regions where constructed associations between food, places and peoples, associations epitomising the conceptions of national, regional and local cuisines. Also describes food as emblems and markers of national, regional and local identities (Murcott 1995).

Cook et al (1998), in seeking the articulation of the geographies of culture looks at how figure displacement can be used to suggest process of food consumption are cast as local, the connections of food consumption to networks, which extend beyond delimiting boundaries of particular places. Again, in a closely related study, Cook reflects on the biography and geographies of food. A definition of food as having their own biographies, studies the connection of consumer knowledge about the geographical origins of the food they consume and what roles it plays in food choice and consumption (Cook et al 1998). He concludes in a suggestion that knowledge can potentially be a significant factor in food choice and preference.

Much research has been done on Caribbean foods within and outside United Kingdom, probably due to the influx of Caribbean foods into United Kingdom market in the mid 1990’s, when it became the ethnic cuisine to go mainstream after the Chinese, Indian and Tex Mex (Cook et al 2003). The complex history of the Caribbean’s produced a regional cuisine which had overlapped with the Indian and Chinese foods that were on top of international cuisines in the United Kingdom. The region had also become tourist centres to Europeans and a large interest of the Caribbean lifestyle and delicacies reflected on the shelves of UK supermarkets, in addition to the projected images by celebrity chefs, and companies who increased the exports to satisfy the demand of this market in the mid nineties (Cook et al 2003). This also reflected in Caribbean centres established in major cities and streets in the UK.

Cook and Harrison examine debate over the failure of Caribbean food to cross over into the UK mainstream. The paper review mosaic and theories of culture as fundamental difference between a white “mainstream” and black “ethnic other” as part problems of this failure. (Cook and Harrison 2003). Understandings of postcolonial geographies of material culture and its contributions to the undermining of, and resistance to forms of colonial dominations that persist in contemporary global capitalist relationships as can be found in food trade relations between the ‘third world’ and the ‘west’. The study uses the example of the corporate history of Grace, Kennedy and Co, a company that preferred to cater for the needs of UK ethnic minority and the third world consumers, instead of prioritising cross over in to UK mainstream market.

Friedberg research of modern historical geography of food in Burkina Faso shows how agricultural policies, dietary preferences health concerns, helped to transform regional diet, landscape and economy, resulting to temporal and spatial patterns of daily life in Burkina Faso. The study observes the incorporation of Burkina Faso into the globalised market economy as a result of luxury food (French beans), not leaving out the expectation of food quality safety standards (Friedberg 2003). The study also observes the changing geographies of the meaning of food, suggesting how historical study of food consumption takes place outside formal market economy.

Gaps in current research

Studies on firms by management oriented researchers have been focused more on companies in developed economies, central and Eastern Europe, small and local food production firms in Africa and their business counterparts even in developed economies have received less attention in the study of economic development. Past researches remained outside social science mainstream therefore have not been influenced by general discourses especially in the field of economic geography. Feminist researchers who have done research in the developing world have only concentrated on gender-related issues in the developing nations rather than with broader questions of small, local and industrial organisations and economic development (Henderson et al 2002:437).

The major issues of trade liberalization have affected the cross over of African food and with the increase of safety standard procedures by the UK govt.
The challenges of small business and the cost of food as also other major issues that will be discussed.

In examining the geographical knowledge about food, actors associated with food, which involves location and situatedness of food, the networks and flows of food and people are major debates around the accessibility of these foods. According to Cook et al the long-running history of interconnections between people and places; and the increasing consciousness of the compression of the economic, political, cultural world, and the production of the world as a single place are two major contentions of globalisation debates (Cook et al 1996). London is said to be promoted as a space of ‘global post-modern’ (Hall, 1991: 32) by the staging and reconstruction of cultural difference in ‘globalisation diversity’ (Pieterse, 1995:45 as cited Cook 1996), arguably, Liverpool being proclaimed as the ‘world in one city’ though with characteristic history of local culture is yet to produce a matching representation of modern diversity of the African culture with the exception of the International Slavery museum. Post colonial issues around African cultural heritage in Liverpool will enhance globalisation diversity as represented in food, arts and cultural of the African food biography and origin.

Global Production networks

Global production networks emphasize the need to refocus attention on the social circumstances under which commodities are produced and consumed” (Dickens et al 2002 pg 444). It takes into account, the process of production-(can be from the farm stage, harvest, labour technology, processing in Africa, transportation, UK standardization, repackaging, supply and distribution,) which do not always follow a chain link but a complex network process, over time and space and distance to consumption. The GPN framework allows for a greater complexity and geographical variation in producer-consumer relation, this in turn enhances the ability to reveal how certain key knowledge ‘circulate’ between producers, consumers and intermediaries. It also reveals complex social geographies as agents located in different places can be seen to combine to influence the production process (Henderson et al 2002:445).

In all, this research seeks to answer the following questions:

• Research Questions?

To what extent does the demand of African food affect its availability?
What impact does African food trade make on the supply of these foods?
How have African food stores and restaurants faired with migration of Africans in Liverpool?

Preference is described by Babicz-Zielinska as “a general predisposition for a particular food, independent of the eating situation, and expressed by degree of liking or disliking of the food, desired food frequency or fraction of subjects selecting the food as a response to its name”(Babicz-Zielinska 1999:139). The choice of food depends on factors that influence human behaviour, which in turn affects the rejection of some food and acceptance of others. A classification based on current food-choice models is used to explain certain attributes of food choice is made by Babicz-Zielinska (Babicz-Zielinska 1999:138)

1. Production-related factors- which could be physical and chemical properties of food, sensory attributes, functional features(labelling, availability) nutritional value; or
2. Consumer-related factors- personal features, (age, gender, psychological factors, experience, personality), physiological factors (health) or
3. Environment-related factors- economic factors (price and income), cultural factors (beliefs, social factors- social status and fashion.

Consumer-related factors and environment-related factors will be area of concern in this research. Factors of food choice survey was conducted in European Community EC countries, and it showed that quality/freshness, taste, selecting a healthy diet, price, family preferences and habits belong to the most important choice factors, (Lennernas et al 1997)

Behavioural research methodologies are usually used to ascertain the underlying factors that determine food-related behaviour, reason being that food choice and consumption are natural and integrated part of human behaviour (Mahon et al 2006:474).

The theory of reasoned action

The theory of reasoned action has received attention within the field of consumer behaviour. (Sheppard et al 1988). The theory of reasoned action studies attitude and behaviour (Ajzen & Fishbein 1980). It observes behavioural intention, attitude and subjective norm. According to Fishbein and Ajzen, a person’s behaviour is guided by the person’s attitude towards the behaviour and the subjective norm. For example, Africans tend to eat hot, spicy and tasty food, so when they find themselves away from ‘home’, they look for their regular food, or something very close to the kind of food they have been used to, the alternative in this case could mean the Caribbean cuisine which also has its origin from African foods, or the Spanish or Mexican spicy foods as found in UK. However the cost also plays a determining role in making food choice, this shall be explained in detail in later chapter.

Miller 2005 defines attitude, subjective norm, and behavioural intentions as the 3 components of the theory of reasoned action.

Attitude:

The sum of beliefs about a particular behaviour weighted by evaluation of these beliefs.

Subjective norms.

This looks at the influence of people in one’s social environment on his/her behavioural intentions.

Behavioural intention.

This is a function of both attitudes towards behaviour and subjective norms towards that behaviour which has been found to predict actual behaviour.

The theory of planned behaviour is adopted to explain consumer behaviour towards African food. The other alternative in this research is the British food, considering different factors that affect the choice of food. Human behaviour is explained and predicted by the theory of planned behaviour in understanding beliefs and attitudes. Ajzen et al 1986, explains that TPB is an extension of the TRA. The theory of planned behaviour was developed as a third predictor of behaviour, perceived behavioural control, (Mahon et al 2006:475). Perceived behavioural control reflects beliefs regarding the access to resources and opportunities needed to perform a behaviour (Chiou, 1998 as cited in Mahon 2006 pg 475). The availability of resources needed to engage in the behaviour such as money, time and other resources, the focal person self confidence in their ability to conduct the behaviour are two major reflections of the theory of planned behaviour.

The theory of consumer preference.

Consumers have set of preferences which are dependent upon individual tastes, education, culture and other factors, apart from the economic factor. These factors are measured for particular goods in terms of the real opportunity cost to the consumer who purchases and consumes the goods. Consumer level of satisfaction of a particular kind of food is determined by what the consumer defines as “satisfaction”. However, consumers are constrained in their choices of foods by income, accessibility of goods and also the price that the consumer is willing to pay for his food.

Consumer preferences are defined as the subjective taste as measured by utility-(where utility is the satisfaction that a consumer derives from the consumption of a good) of various bundles of goods. Preferences help consumer to prioritize bundles of goods according to the levels of utility that they give the consumer. However, these preferences are not dependent on income and prices only. The ability for a consumer to purchase certain kind of food does not always determine a consumer’s like or dislike over another food. For example, an African consumer in Liverpool can have a preference for African foods over British foods but only has the financial means to buy British meals more often. There are certain assumptions of consumers’ preference theory, which will be further looked into, the assumption of decisiveness, consistency, non-satiation, convexity.

Actor network theory.

ANT, a social theory pioneered by Michel Callon (1986), Bruno Latour (1987) and John Law (1987), conceptualize social interactions in terms of networks. This includes the material environment and human causes. The concept of ANT acknowledges the importance of both material and human factors in networks. The theory conveys the idea that the actor does not act ‘on his own’ but only under the influence of complex network of material and human influences. For example, the process involved in making African foods available is not just caused human factors, but also by production, technology, society, extended politics of trade and culture, all affecting the accessibility and availability of the foods. According to Callon (1986) materials causes as well as human actors may be determinants of the social interactions and outcomes (Callon 1986). According to Henderson 2002, ANT emphasize the relationality of object and agency in heterogeneous networks, in other words, entities in networks are shaped by and can only be understood through their relations and connectivity to other entities(Law, 1999:4 as cited in Henderson et al 2002). Again, space and distance are observed as ‘spatial fields’ and relational scopes of influence, power and connectivity (Harvey, 1969; Murdoch 1998 as cited in Henderson et al 2002).

According to Nancy Vanhouse, ANT has to approaches, ‘follow the actor’, through interviews and ethnographic research and through examining inscriptions.
Inscriptions – including texts, but also images of many sorts, databases, and the like — are central to knowledge work. Some (e.g., Latour and Woolgar, 1991; Callon, Law, and Rip, 1986) say that texts (including journal articles, conference papers and presentations, grant proposals, and patents) are among the major, if not the major, products of scientific work. Inscriptions make action at a distance possible by stabilizing work in such a way that it can travel across space and time and be combined with other work.

Texts are also central to the process of gaining credibility. They carry work to other people and institutions. They attempt to present work in such a way that its meaning and significance are irrefutable. And texts are where authors establish equivalences among problems, which Callon et al. (1986) identifies as a major strategy of enrolling others. An important part of the standard journal article or grant application, for example, is to say, in essence, “If you are interested in X (major issue) you must be interested in Y, which is the topic of the work reported/proposed here.”

References Latour, B. and Woolgar, S. (1991). Laboratory life: the construction of scientific facts, intro by Salk, J., Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press
Callon, Michel, John Law, and Arie Rip, eds. Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology: Sociology of Science in the Real World. London: Macmillan Press, 1986.

Actor network theory has become very helpful in understanding connections between places and space. Its insistency on non human factor in network production ……
Supply chain and bottleneck bureaucracy of the supply of food products from Africa into the UK makes it more difficult for the availability of this food. This furthermore widens the distance/gap between consumers and suppliers/retailers. The length of this chain affects….

The quality assurance schemes, production and manufacturing to retailer’s protocols and the application of quality management system and standard such as HACCP and ISO series are various ways of cutting supplies.

Bottlenecks of food quality and safety standards in food processing and distribution.

The HACCP systems are used in specific export sectors in Africa, an example is the EU quality standard for fish in Uganda is based on EU directive 91/493/EEC and on Codex Alimentarius (Trienekens et al 2008:116) covering areas of microbiology level, pesticides residues, heavy metals, effluents, Good manufacturing practices (processing stage) and HACCP (processing stage) (Ssemwanga, 2003 as cited in Trienekens et al 2008:116). Kenya adheres to UK food and safety Act of 1990, more so testing laboratories are accredited to ISO 17025; 2000 by United Kingdom Accreditation services (UKAS) (Kari 2003), the high deportation rate of this products on western markets shows the fragility of the systems. As pesticides residues are discovered in the product. Other systems used for processors and packers of fish for exports are GMP, ISO 90002. The proliferation of standards by western markets creates a barrier for the application of standards by developing countries producers. The lack of enabling environment in which infrastructure facilities are absent in African countries is also a major setback. African countries are still discovering quality and safety of food as important condition for international food trade (Trieneken et al 2008:117). Building of facilities, government structures to improve and ensure quality and safety of products are still key agenda of attention. The importance of transportation, preservation (cooled system of transport) and storage are very vital to international trade. African countries are still at the phase of establishing the right conditions to enforce food quality and safety of the other products.

According to Trieneken et al- many developing countries do not have skilled labour and laboratory facilities, this however limits good- quality management, making difficult. Small and medium size business, from developing countries find difficult or almost impossible to comply with standard required in western markets (Dinham, 2003, Unnevehr, 2002). Due to barriers created by SPS and TBT in exporting foods, from developing countries do not have the adequate information and most likely unaware of specific demand of western standards for trade. The heterogeneous standard in developed economies also poses a problem, as continues differ to country and market also differ. The cost of certification is too much for develop countries to bear.

Most African food products are unable to adapt to the rigorous requirements of modern supply chain, either through scale enterprise or lack of knowledge or financial constraints, become non-competitive. The myriad of innovations and development has made the process of food supply chain increase in productivity.

The combine technology of accurate weighing, refrigeration controlled atmospheric bacterial growth inhibition, pasteurisation, micro-element pollutant detection, bar-coding, electronic recognition of packaging, the use of stabilizers etc, has also contributed to the difficulty in having African food cross over, as most business may not be financially equipped enough for the volume of the trading.

Christopher (1999) notes that the supply chain management evolves around the partnership developed in the chain and is supported by information technology applications that co-ordinate information dissemination and sharing amongst the chain members.

This research has revealed that most home cooked food are prepared under high hygienic conditions, as cooking is monitored by consumer themselves problems with calories consumptions that affect the health of consumer is also under check, compared to the perceptions about eating fast food at convenience KFC and MacDonalds. This is one reason for the preference of African food among black consumer.

One of the major problems of availability of African foods in UK is the problem of access into the country. Developing countries especially in Africa find it difficult to meet the food safety standards imposed by the UK/developing countries. Food safety standards which were originally set up to keep food for quality and safe consumption, by government of different countries are being used as trade impeding protectionist tools.(Jongwanich 2009:1). Food safety standards are usually to the disadvantage of developing countries, due to their limits capacity to access and use technology and information. International trade negotiations have experience setbacks for developing countries in recent years due to a demand for more stringent SPS in developed countries, which is as a result of increase in health consciousness and rising incomes. Before now, tariffs and quantitative restrictions are the trade barriers and impediments that affect export from developing countries to developed countries, but in recent times, food safety standards have become tool for protectionist to block trade(Jongwanich 2009:

Management and Policy of a Diverse Workplace

INTRODUCTION

Groups of people see the world through their own set of assumptions, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Learn about their culture and how it formed them, and aim to understand how other culture work so that everyone can be an effective global manager.

Organization from every part of the world is reaching out beyond their domestic markets to become international players. Not only is this very challenging on the business them, but it also creates a challenge for individual managers who must cope with working across geographic and cultural borders. Managing globally provides clear systems and approaches to help manage global networks and teams, and it examines the skills needed for dealing with different cultures. It teaches how to succeed in this new world.

This is widely recognised that an organisational diversity is obvious and necessary nowadays because of increasing pace of economic and technological development. Organisations need to be flexible if they seek to remain competitive and want to survive in a long run. This research explores the phenomenon of diversity in one of UK’s leading super market named Sainsbury’s (London Colney). The researcher intends to examine what the policy to work with different culture people and how management manage working with diversity people in workplace in the store in last two years I have seen.

1.1 What we think about culture:

Culture refers to the systems of meaning-values, beliefs, expectations and goals-shared by members of a particular group of people and differentiate them from members of other groups. It is a product of ‘the collective programming of the mind’ (Hofstede, 1991), that is, it is acquired through regular interaction with other members of the group. Cultural differences can be found at many different levels, professional, class and regional, but it is particularly persuasive at the national level because of generations of socialization into the national community, as individuals, we generally only become aware of our own culture when confronted by others. The core differences in values between cultures go back to questions of what works for ensuring survival in relations to the natural environment.

1.2 Why culture consider in a multinational company:

Multinational companies are completely different from export-based firms not least because of their foreign subsidiaries. Not only does physical distance pose a challenge for effective communication, but also there is the challenge represented by cultural differences. Some MNCs have regarded cultural differences as so important that they have chosen to operate as multi-domestics with decision-making, management style and product development. The attitude is that people in the subsidiaries know best and should be allowed to go their own ways. For example, the attitudes in the Dutch electronics firm Philips for most of the previous century. The downside of this approach is the fiefdom and ‘not-invented-here’ mentality, which resulted in Philips’ North American subsidiary refusing to adopt the Philips video recorder (V2000) and opting instead for the rival Japanese model. However, many MNCs, including Philips since 1987, require a much greater degree of coordination, particularly in regard to learning. To do so, these firms must develop common practices and common values. If foreign subsidiaries are to be integrated for knowledge-sharing purposes, a starting point is an understanding of the mindsets of subsidiary management and employees in terms of their work-related values. The management challenge for many MNCs is to be able to adapt their organizations to culturally distinct environments without losing organizational stability.

1.3 About an organisation:

Sainsbury’s is one of the leading retail super markets with approximately 792 stores all over the UK. There are some others supermarkets (Tesco, ASDA, Iceland and Somerfield) in UK which are the competitors of Sainsbury’s. All of them are trying their best to provide good services to their customers and working under diversity workplace. For the present research the researcher has taken Sainsbury’s London Colney to study about diversity. There were many reasons to select Sainsbury’s London Colney for this research. One of the reasons was that this is a big store with 350 employees working in different shifts (morning, evening, day, night and some are working as seasonal employees). The management of this store comprises on around 20 to 30 people. This is a 24 hours store, located in the retail park and is very busy because of its location and also because this is close to M25 and people can get everything from the same store and also there is some other shop near to Sainsbury’s like M & S, Next, Boots and so on. The second reason to select this store as a case study was that the researcher is working in this store in its customer services and checkouts department so the researcher as a participant has enough experience to work with different culture people in the store in the last two years. The sample size of this research (which includes on management and employees) was also easily approachable to get the relevant data. The researcher was quite hopeful that management and employees will cooperate with him for collecting data.

1.3.1 Company policy and commitment to colleagues:

There is much legislation surrounding the area of diversity and at the same time this provides a minimum standard for this policy, it is the company’s intention to move beyond simple legal compliance where appropriate. This policy exists to enable a working environment in which everyone feels valued and respected in everything that they do. Innovative thinking and different ideas are critical to Sainsbury’s success and their ability to develop new ways of adding value for their customers will be greatly enhanced by the diversity of experiences and perspectives amongst their colleagues.

Their ability to attract and retain the highest ability of colleagues from the widest community is essential in sustaining a leadership position.

Their aim is that all colleagues are able to work in an environment that is free from discrimination, harassment or bullying. The principles of fairness and objectivity will be integrated into all of the ways in which they manage their colleagues.

According to Sainsbury’s policy, they will not accept or ignore unfair decisions, practices or requirements that qualify or exclude an individual from meeting essential employment requirements. They include, but are not limited to, a person’s age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion.

The equal of men and women are monitored and action taken where necessary and appropriate to ensure parity. In line with their flexible working policy, they will make it possible for colleagues to achieve a balance between their work and home commitments. They will ensure that the opportunities presented through diversity will be integrated into the development of new products and services that add value for their customers. The performance and effectiveness of Sainsbury’s diversity commitment and demographic colleague make-up of their stores are continuously reviewed and where improvement is identified, action has been taken. Any breaches of this policy have been treated seriously and also dealt with under their disciplinary policy.

1.4 Background/Current situation:

As we know, now a day’s diversity is a one of the inclusive concepts and based on valuing everyone as a unique individual and celebrating this difference.

The management of diversity goes beyond equal opportunity, instead of simply allowing a greater range of people getting more opportunity. The concept of diversity embodies the belief that people should be valued for their difference and variety. Diversity is supposed to enrich an organization’s human capital, whereas equal opportunity focuses on various ethnic groups. The management of diversity is about individuals. It entails a minimization of cloning in selection and promotion procedures and a model of resourcing aimed at finding flexible employees.

As I said before that researcher is working in Sainsbury’s (London Colney) and have seen lots of differences about diversity. There are most of the people from Asian ethnic. But we have some Irish, African, Chinese and British as well. As I work in this store I have found some favour for same ethnic group. And for that other ethnic became sometime very aggressive. And from management level, there is also some gender valuing problem. We have seen lots of female managers rather then males. But other, like they don’t differentiate between ages, disabilities, colours and so on. So far you can say, they follow the procedures and that’s why they are success in business now a days. My research is about how they manage, and do they really follow the diversity policies?

So, I intend to demonstrate, how a human resource manager can manage all those area and successfully complete company’s mission with different people.

All overall, a self assessment for international human resource managers to evaluate and improve their global management skills.

1.5 Aims/Objectives:

The primary aim of the research is therefore:

  • To examine diversity, equality and discrimination issues in a multinational company, in particular, the way of HR managers to manage work with different culture people.

The research objectives are:

  • To determine what’s the company policy about diversity to manage work with different culture people and to become a successful global manager, aim to develop a global outlook.
  • To outline the development of approaches to organizational analysis.
  • To explore a multicultural company from the perspectives of diverse social groups.
  • An international human resource manager needs to know the way of managing people in twenty first century.

We are going to take an overview of what a manager needs to do in relations to managing people in a changing environment. I will be looking at:

  • Diversity issues.
  • International Human Resource Management policies.
  • Managing people in a practical way.
  • To examine the way of recruiting, and selecting the right people.

-As a human resource manager, we are likely to manage other people on a one- to-one basis. This involves understanding people as individuals and recognizing their differences as well as drawing up some general principles for managing them like motivates them, job satisfaction, and job design.

-Having accepted that there is a range of reasons why people behave differently in a work situation and that cannot make wild and generalized assumptions about any individual’s reasons for performing better or worse than average, we will recognize that when we put individuals together into a group, the behavior of that group is likely to be unpredictable. So it is important that they understand about the behavior of groups.

So, all overall I will be going through with literature review to practical experiences to find my research project.

SECOND CHAPTER

LITERATURE REVIEW

Everyone is different in age, gender, nationality, and ways of thinking. These differences are a source of strength. The concept of diversity means respect and acceptance. It means understanding each individual is unique and recognizing our individual’s differences. It can be the aspects of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political views and so on. It is investigation of these differences in a safe positive and development environment.

Diversity is about creating an all-inclusive work environment that values and benefits from different human attributes, experiences, and skills at all levels and enables all employees to develop and contribute to their full potential.

It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple acceptance to implementation and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Diversity and equality has become a key driving force in government policies. The concepts of diversity and equality are common but still there are some differences. Diversity is the acknowledgement and respect of differences within and between groups of people. And equality is the framework that enables access, participation, opportunities and contribution that is fair and inclusive.

According to Lew Platt (1993-1995) “I believe the word “diverse” includes not only different genders and races, but also different cultures, lifestyle and ways of thinking”.

2.1 Diversity Management at work:

The concepts of workplace diversity include the principles of equal employment opportunity. Equal employment opportunity policies address continued disadvantages experienced by particular groups of people in the workplace, including people with disabilities and those who mistreated by co-workers on the basis of race or ethnicity. These policies remain an important foundation for workplace diversity policy.

Diversity management involves systematic and planned programs or procedures that are considered to improve interaction among diverse people, especially people of different ethnicities, sexes, or cultures and to make this diversity a source of inspiration, complementarity’s, and greater organizational effectiveness, rather than a source of tension, conflict, miscommunication, or limitation on the effectiveness, progress, and satisfaction of employees.

2.2 Diversity Approaches:

The issues that diversity representatives focus on vary by country. In some countries, the question of language is important, some countries depends on ethnic group, or may be depend on ages. ‘Managing Diversity’ is a term that entered UK debates on equality approaches in the mid-1990s. While it is becoming increasingly common in the UK, there is still disagreement about its meaning and the extent to which it differs from previous approaches.

One of the things which do seem to be distinct is the way these approaches deal with differences between employees. The traditional approach to equal opportunities seeks to treat everyone the same. Managing diversity approaches recognises that employees are different and suggest that workplace can get benefit from those differences. What this means for organizations is that they need to adapt to employee characteristics rather than simply expecting employees to fit with pre-existing policies. The more fundamental alternative would be to restructure the way work is carried out so that everyone can be flexible for that. Another example would be the approach taken to ensuring that appraisal was carried out in a fair manner. A diversity approach would take a more radical look at what types of behaviour and activity are valued by the organization to see whether these are more commonly practised by members of one group rather than another.

Business case arguments for diversity share many elements with equal opportunities approaches but they tend to stress additional arguments. These have included claims that diverse teams are more innovative than ones composed of homogeneous individuals and that non-traditional workers can reflect the needs of a wider customer base.

Diversity approaches also place a strong emphasis on creating a culture within which everyone feels they belong and are empowered to reach their full potential. One aspect of this inclusiveness is an attempt to find policies which seem equally relevant to all employees.

The second alternative is seen as the more radical approach. It argues that there are multiple sources of difference which are as important as those based on gender or ethnicity. People are not defined by whether they are from European or Asian background but instead vary along a numerous of dimensions including personalities and tastes. This approach to managing diversity is strongly focused on individuals as the objects of equality policy and as such is in line with wider trends to individualise employee relations.

2.3 Managing people:

Management is often defining as “getting things done through people”. By definition, managers cannot do everything themselves. They have to rely on other people.

Managers are sometimes said to spend their time planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling. In practice, the work of managers is quite fragmented. It depends demand on the situation and on the people concerned than on any academic division of the task into clearly differentiated elements.

Managers dealing with people: internally with their bosses, their colleagues and their staff; externally with their customers, suppliers, professional advisers and national and local government officials.

A leading writer on management, Henry Mintzberg has suggested that managers have:

  1. Interpersonal roles: acting as a leader, providing guidance and motivation and maintaining a web of relationship with many individuals and groups.

  2. Informational roles: continually seeking and receiving information as a basis for action, passing on factual information, and transmitting guidance to subordinates in making decision.

  3. Resource allocation roles: making choices about scheduling their own time, allocating task to people and authorizing actions.

  4. Disturbance handling roles: dealing with involuntary situations and change beyond their control.

The human resources of an organization consist of all people who perform its activities. In a sense, all decisions that affect the workforce concern the organization’s HRM function. Human resource management concerns the personnel policies and managerial practices and system that influence the workforce. Regardless of the size-or existence-of a formal HRM or personnel department (many small businesses have no HRM department). So as an example, line managers will spend more than 50% of their time involved in human resource activities such as hiring, evaluating, disciplining and scheduling employees.

2.4 Key concepts for Global Managers:

The following concepts contain the underlying message of this article. An awareness of and an application to one’s organization of these concepts has direct relevance to the effectiveness of global managers. An understanding and utilization of these concepts are critical to one’s successful global performance.

  • Global leadership- being competent of operating effectively in a global environment and respectful of cultural diversity. This is an individual who can manage accelerating change and differences. The global leader is open and flexible in approaching others, can cope with situations and willing to re-examine and alter personal attitudes and perceptions.

  • Cross cultural communication- recognizing what is involved in one’s image of self and one’s role, personal needs, values, standards, expectations, all of which are culturally conditioned. Such a person understands the impact of cultural factors on communication. Furthermore, they are aware of verbal and non-verbal differences in communication with persons from another culture. Not only does such a person seek to leans another language, but also they are cognizant that, even when people speak the same language, cultural differences can alter communication symbols and meanings and result in misunderstanding.

  • Cultural sensitivity- integrating the characteristics of culture in general, with experiences in specific organizational, minority, or foreign cultures. Such a person understands the cultural influences on behaviour. This individual translates such cultural awareness into effective relationships with those who are different.

  • Acculturation- effectively adjusting and adapting to a specific culture, whether that be a subculture within one’s own country or abroad. Such a person knows the impact of culture shock in successfully managing transitions. Therefore, when dealing with employees from diverse cultural backgrounds, this person develops the necessary skills and avoids being ethnocentric.

  • Cultural influences on management- understanding that management philosophies are deeply rooted in culture and that management practices developed in one culture may not easily transfer to another.

  • Effective intercultural performance- applying cultural theory and insight to specific cross-cultural situations that affect people’s performance on jobs.

  • Changing international business- coping with interdependence of business activity throughout the world as well as the subculture of the managerial group. The global manager appreciates the effect of cultural differences on standard business practices and principles, such as organisational loyalty.

  • Cultural synergy- building on the very differences in the world world’s people for mutual growth and accomplishment by co-operation. Cultural synergy through collaboration emphasizes similarities and common concerns and integrates differences to enrich human activities and systems.

  • Work culture- applying the general characteristics of culture to the specifics of how people work at a point in time and place. In the macro sense, work can be analysed in terms of human stages of development. In the micro sense, work culture can be studied in terms of specific industries, organizations or professional groups.

  • Global culture- understanding that, while various characteristics of human culture have always been universal, a unique global culture with some common characteristics may be emerging. Global managers are alert to serving this commonality in human needs and markets with strategies that are transnational.

2.5 Construct area of diversity:

Diversity is “the representation, in one social system, of people with distinctly different group affiliations of cultural significance” Cox (1993). Deresky (1994) also highlighted that, the differences between group members illustrated in terms of the extent such as culture, age, race, sexual orientations, gender and ethnic.

There are three characteristics of construct area of diversity, which are classified employees differences. These are Demographic, organisational and socio-cognitive diversity.

  • Demographic diversity: According to Jackson et al (1995), diversity such as ethnicity, age, nationality and gender those are considered visible attributes that can be easily characterised in particular individuals.

  • Organisational diversity: The second category is organisational diversity. It may include: a) Staff job security in the firm. b) Work or professional experience. c) Occupation, functional or job portfolios of the employees such as marketing, production, and finance.

  • Socio-cognitive diversity: The last category is socio-cognitive diversity, which includes cultural and religious values, knowledge level, beliefs and personalities characteristics.

By establishing and organising the staff according to their distinctive attributes, it will facilitate business managers to have a more objective understanding and appreciation of their diverse staff’s behaviours, attitudes and values, given the implications for interpersonal and organisational processes and outcomes when staff members work together. As peoples values and beliefs vary individually as a result of their socio-cultural differences, this will affect organisational processes and configurations. For examples:- cross-cultural communication, management-subordinate relationships, international team management, leadership and decision-making styles, staff motivations, staff recruitment, selections and development, and other managerial functions.

Apart from the jobs, employees also have differences based on their position within society. Whether an employee a man or women, from a particular ethnic group, is of a particular sexual orientations, has a disability may affect what they want from employment and what are able to offer. Some of these differences may also affect people’s access to jobs and their progress within organisations.

2.6 Discrepancies between academic research and HRM practice:

While HRM executives and managers are more educated and professional than in the days when they were in charge of personnel, the level of knowledge in practicing HRM in another part. Many companies hire MBAs for HRM jobs when not even a single HRM course is required in the typical curriculum for an MBA.

Recruitment:

As an Academic research finding, quantitative analysis of recruitment sources using yield ratios can facilitate in recruitment.

On the other hand HRM practices, less than 10% calculate yield ratios and less than 25% know how.

Staffing:

According to academic research findings, realistic job previews can reduce turnover and weighted application blanks reduce turnover.

Alternatively, HRM practices, less than 20% of companies use RJPs in high-turnover jobs and less than 30%.

Performance appraisal:

According to academic research findings, do not use traits on rating forms, make appraisal process important element of manager’s job.

On the other hand, more than 70% still use traits, less than 35% of managers are evaluated on performance appraisal.

2.7 International HRM:

Domestic HRM is involved with employees within only one national boundary. And we define the field of IHRM broadly to cover all issues related to the management of people in an international context. Hence our definition of IHRM covers a wide range of human resource issues facings MNCs in different parts of their organisations. Additionally, we include comparative analyzes of HRM in different countries. The complexity of international HR can be attributed to six factors:

  • More HR activities.

  • The need for a broader perspective.

  • More involvement in employee’s personal lives.

  • Changes in emphasis as the workplace mix of expatriates and locals varies.

  • Risk exposure.

  • Broader external influences.

In addition to complexity, there are four other variables that moderate differences between domestic and international HRM. These four additional moderators are:

  • The cultural environment.

  • The industry with which the multinational is primarily involved.

  • The extent of reliance of the multinational on its home-country domestic market.

  • The attitudes of senior management.

2.8 International HR policy:

In spite of the corporate business strategy unique to each company that they will drive the specifies of an international human resource policy, there are certain objectives that any effective IHR policy should aim to accomplish. And these objectives are:

  • The policy should attract and motivate employees to accept international assignment.

  • It should provide competitive pay plans to ensure the assignee can maintain his or her accustomed lifestyle.

  • It should promote career succession planning and include guideline on repatriation and additional overseas assignment.

  • It should facilitate relocation between home and host location.

  • And finally, it should be cost-effective, understanding and easy to administer.

To meet these objectives, we must have internal and external programs functioning to handle the following six areas.

  1. In addition to the required technical and business skills, key traits to consider include: cultural sensitivity, interpersonal skills, and flexibility.

  2. Document and formally communicate the assignee’s specific job requirements and associated pay in an assignment letter.

  3. Identify the compensation, benefits and tax approach that meets company objectives. Some common approaches to pay include: home balance sheet, destination-based, net-to-net, flexible.

  4. Assist the assignee with disposition or management of home and automobiles, shipment and storage of household goods, work permits and pre-assignment visits.

  5. Provide cultural orientation, language training, spousal support, education assistance, home leave, and emergency provisions.

  6. As the average cost of sending an expert on an overseas assignment is between three and five times the employee’s pre-departure salary, quantifying total costs for a global assignment is essential in the budgeting process.

2.9 Integrated HR systems to develop global leaders:

Companies with global human resource information systems are likely to be far better positioned to succeed in the highly competitive international market. The task of developing global leaders and global HR function over the next decade in IPA’s latest research effort.

Multinational companies often discover that, especially in newly emerging markets, local management talent is rarely available to establish and build operations. Consequently, many companies conclude that the only way to start doing business in these markets is to relocate experienced managers from around the globe. Companies doing work in the international marketplace have discovered that providing pre-departure screening and orientation- a potentially lengthy and time-consuming process- is essential to achieving the highest rates of success. A human resource information system might include data on the potential expatriate’s families, training needs and past technical and cross-cultural experiences. Having such data would enhance the probability not only of selecting the best candidates, but of chances for success on the assignment, thus having a great impact on the future development of global leaders. Because most multinational companies now require international experience in order to move up the corporate hierarchy, tracking information related to international assignment can make a significant contribution to management development.

2.10 Diversity in multinational companies:

The rise of multinational companies and increased global diversification by even small companies has resulted in people of diverse background and cultures working together in the same office or for the same organization. Conflict in such situations is expected, but understanding the diversity issues can help to minimize the conflict and take benefits from diversity group of people brings to an organisations. To understanding how diversity is manage in multinational organizations, try to understand the concept of corporate culture, which defines organisational diversity programs and their use to minimize conflict among employees.

Companies and countries can no longer operate as if the rest of the world did not exit. New trading blocs, based on regional, not national, interests have formed with the European Economic Community and the North America Free Trade Agreement. There will be increased pressure influenced by the country culture. For examples, some corporate cultures may encourage women and men gathering together socially after work while country culture would prohibit this. A female executive from t

Analysis of Privacy Perception Among Open Plan Office Users

CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTION

What is an Office?

Offices are workspaces designed for regular use to achieve personal, group or organizational goals through the accomplishment of tasks. Sanders and McCormick, (2002) go on to state that these tasks can be grouped into cognitive, physical, social or procedural tasks. The office provides a location for contact and could also be a repository for tools, information and other resources required to meet business objectives. It is also a business resource, this a point most people fail to understand thus, the failure to properly design and evaluate work spaces.

The work place or office is one of the places the modern man spends the bulk of his waking hours. Sanders and McCormick, (2002) say almost half of ones waking hours are spent in and around the office. This would provide explanation for research efforts into the design and utilization of offices.

According to Myerson and Ross (2003) the office grew out of the factory and then followed the trend of bureaucratization of industry. Thus, offices have been viewed differently by users and companies. Some view it as an address, others as a necessary evil but to others it is considered to be an asset. Bjerrum and Bødker (2003) noted that the design of an office was mostly considered as a cost and done to support quiet work and also show peoples status. While the purpose of the “New office” is to be that of attracting and retaining staff as well as to revolutionalize corporate culture.

Work places or offices have been described variously as; conventional, traditional, and closed or open plan offices. Some, group them as large or small, landscaped etc. (Sanders and McCormick, 2002). The general descriptions of workspaces fall under the categories of open plan and cellular offices and this is based on the architectural and functional features of the work spaces (Duffy, Laing and Crisp, 1992).

Other descriptions and categorization of offices include the hive; which is suited to individual processes. The den; suited to group processes. The cell; designed for concentrated study while the club supports transactional knowledge (Sailer, Budgen, Lonsdale, Turner and Penn, 2009). There are other descriptions of office types for example, Myerson and Ross (2003) from an architectural point of view, showed that views of property and space as related to the office environment have been evolving and as such, they identify four thematic categories of offices namely: narrative which presents the “office as a brand experience.” Nodal where the “office as knowledge connector.” The neighborly theme sees the “office as a social landscape” and lastly nomadic “office as distributed work space” these grouping reflect more of necessity and corporate culture not necessarily a collection of generally practically replicable models.

In another categorization of offices by Myerson and Ross (2006) is based on the fact that the offices evolved to suit knowledge workers, as such, the categories match each of the four “realms” of knowledge work namely: the academy “is likened to the corporate realm which is a more collegiate and collaborative approach to work”, guild “the professional realm in essence a professional cluster of peers sharing a skill or specialization”, agora “the public realm where the corporation is open to the city or the market place” and the lodge “ the domestic or private realm more of the live and work setting”. In the general scheme of things offices are still broadly classified into open plan and private or cellular offices all other forms are variations of the two.

Cellular Offices

Also called closed offices, this type of offices are the traditional or conventional offices which are usually closed and private workspaces (Maher and von Hippel, 2005) i.e. they are designed with floor to ceiling walls, a door and dimensioned for a single user. This type of office is also called a cell-office and can be a shared room office, used by 2-3 persons (Danielsson, 2008). This has been the generally accepted, traditional or popular understanding of the place called an office.

Open Plan Offices

These are found to be a common workspace shared by a group of employees. The original concept of the open plan office has continued to evolve, but it is the absence of floor-to-ceiling walls that is said to be the primary characteristic of open-plan offices. The arrangements of office furniture, partitions, screens, office equipment, or plants mark out individual and functional work areas (Valesny and Farace, 1987).

One of the strengths of the open plan office according to Bjerrum and Bødker (2003) is the openness and flexibility allowing one to move to where things are happening and allowing for “overhearing and over-seeing” (p. 207) thus enhancing peripheral participation.

Other types of the open plan office include the bull pen office, action offices, landscaped offices (Sanders and McCormick, 2002). In the bull pen offices, the work desks are arranged in neat row as far as the eyes can see.

In reality, most firms have a mix of office typologies ranging from cellular units designed for a single user to a small room office shared by a few people then the spaces shared with a large group with or without specifically assigned work places and with varying measures of visual and audio privacy.

Recent Developments in Open Plan Offices

It is safe to argue that, the open plan office has become increasingly popular (de Korte, Kuijt-Evers and Vink, 2007; Ding, 2008; Oldham and Brass, 1979; Pejtersen, Allermann, Kristensen and Poulsen, 2006 etc.) and several reasons could be advanced to explain the widespread adoption and use of the open plan offices and its variations.

There is also a move to wards a reduction in open plan office workspaces especially in the United States of America due to the understanding that smaller workstations are cheaper to maintain (Dykes, 2011) this according to Veitch, Charles, Farley and Newsham (2007) is because there is a failure in understanding the full value of the physical office environment and related issues in open plan offices in particular.

Advantages of open plan offices

Searches through literature (Danielsson, 2008; Oldham and Brass, 1979; Pan and Micheal, 2007; Roper and Juneja, 2008; Valesny and Farace, 1987 etc.) present the following as reasons for the adoption of open plan offices. They include;

  1. Reduction in office space and cost decline: The price of real estate is predicated on the area rented and utilized. With organizations using rental spaces, it is cheaper to use the rented floor or floors as open plan offices. In most cases, the cost of partitioning is saved if an open plan set up is deployed fully or partly.
  2. Flexibility for organizational changes: The open plan office lends itself to easy restructuring of work areas. In most cases, it is easier to fit in one more members of staff (Sanders and McCormick, 2002).
  3. More efficient work flow and communication: Some jobs require continuous team work, face to face interaction and a relatively high level of routine procedures. For such work groups, the open plan office or variations thereof are usually recommended and deployed. The enhancement of some level of peripheral participation is one of the strengths of the open plan office.
  4. Possible enhancement of social facilitation: The enhancement of collaboration i.e. the fostering of a team spirit, where, work teams or task forces are close to one another and can quickly form a huddle to sort out problems without resorting to information technology provisions like the intercom, emails, phones, video conferencing or even the walk up to another office. Oldham and Brass, (1979) specifically examined interpersonal issues that included; intradepartmental and interdepartmental interaction, friendship opportunities, noting that supervisor and co worker feed back could be improved.
  5. Ease of supervision: There is an ease of supervision, in that, a look over the landscape of the office can give an idea as to who is present and what each member of staff is doing.

Limitations of open plan offices.

Regarding the limitations of open-plan office designs, Maher and von Hippel (2005) rightly point out the fact that in open plan office layouts “distractions and overstimulation are intrinsically linked to the design.” These issues have consistently been themain down sides of open plan offices and some of them include:

  1. Increased workplace noise (Pan and Michael, 2007).
  2. Increased disturbances and distractions.
  3. Increased feelings of crowding and loss of privacy.
  4. There is a reduction in autonomy and task identity and a reduction in supervisor and co – worker feedback in certain cases (Oldham and Brass, 1979).

One point of agreement in open plan office research is that there is a generally low level of perceived privacy in open plan offices, as interruptions and distractions of the visual and acoustic kind occur frequently in open plan offices. (Pejtersen et al. 2006; Roper and Juneja, 2008)

Furthermore, researchers have observed that these negative outcomes resulting from the adoption of the open plan office design tends to result in dissatisfaction with work and the workplace thus, reducing functional efficiency, decreasing performance, especially, for non routine tasks and also, reduced feedback from supervisors due to some complexity with the freedom of communication (de Korte et al. 2007; Pejtersen et al. 2006; Sundstrom et al. 1982; Vischer, 2007 ). This understanding has led some organizations to begin returning to the traditional private offices i.e. with floor to ceiling partitions assigned to an individual (Roper and Juneja 2008).

Evolving nature of office work

Also worthy of note, is the evolution of work patterns. An increasingly large number of persons work mainly at or from home and visit the office sparingly. This has given rise to the several types of offices one of which is the flex-office, which is dimensioned for less than 70% of the total company staff to be in at the same time. Another design is the combi-office; where a member of staff is not assigned to a specific desk but sharing of common facilities provides the spatial definition of such an individuals work space i.e. the task and personnel at hand may determine the sitting arrangement of persons in the office (Danielsson, 2008).

Thesis Overview

The thesis is organized in to 5 chapters; Chapter one provides an introduction the concept of an office, its major types and variations. It then focuses on the open plan office and then highlights the strengths and limitations of the open plan office.

Chapter two provides a literature review of the concept of privacy perception; it reviews the perceived benefits of privacy and then traces the expectation that privacy perception could be influenced by culture. Significant studies related to dissatisfaction with open plan offices are examined for possible links to culture. The discussion then moves to culture, its definition and then the attempts made in the classification of culture. The Hofstede paradigm is then discussed and some studies employing the paradigm are reviewed. The research motivation and hypotheses are presented.

Chapter three discusses the methodology of the study, the survey method, issues noted and the challenge expected. The source and design of the questionnaire was presented and the analysis methods proposed. The statistical analysis tool was briefly introduced.

Chapter four shows the procedure of the survey, documents the responses received, analyzed the data collected from the general information part of the questionnaire and then chronicles the statistical analysis of the second part of the questionnaire designed to elicit privacy perception in open plan office environments.

Chapter five provides a discussion of the results obtained in chapter five and then presents the limitations of the current study while providing directions for further work.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

This part of the thesis discusses the links between privacy perceptions and culture. It also includes definitions and explanations of some related terms. Lastly, it includes a presentation of some ideas relevant to the work and results of related studies.

The chapter concludes with the research question, research hypothesis and the motivation for the study.

Privacy Perception

In order to facilitate a better understanding, the term “privacy” is defined firstly then the concept called “perception”. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (2011), privacy is said to be “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation”. Wikipedia defines perception as “the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information.” It goes on to say “what one perceives is a result of interplays between past experiences, including one’s culture, and the interpretation of the perceived.”

Privacy is a very difficult concept or construct to define not to talk of evaluating, it has commanded interest from the fields of anthropology, architecture, cultural geography, environmental design, ethology, history, law, philosophy, and sociology, as well as branches psychology such as; clinical, counseling, developmental, educational, environmental and social psychology (Newell, 1995; 1998).

Newell (1995) in her extensive review of the concept of privacy divided the perspectives of privacy into, people centered, place centered and the person-environment or the person-place interaction with the primary interest on the place, people or equally on the person and place and or with the interaction itself. Leino-Kilpi et al. (2001 p. 664) in another review of literature on privacy noted that perspectives applied to the analysis of the concepts of privacy to be:

  1. The units experiencing privacy. They go on to note “the unit experiencing privacy can be either an individual or a group, or both.”
  2. Desired – Achieved privacy. This is explained by the understanding that the concept of privacy is either seen as a subjective state or studied as an achieved state (Newell, 1998).
  3. Reactive – Proactive privacy. This is to say the control of communication and also the control of knowledge.

Furthermore, they describe the dimensions of privacy to include: physical, psychological, social and informational thus, suggesting privacy dimensions to be made up of four quadrants of the diagram as shown in figure 2.1 below..

Source: Leino-Kilpi et al. (2001)

It would be seen that in an open plan office all the dimensions of privacy as enumerated Figure 2.1 above are impinged upon; First, physical accessibility to the person is unrestricted. Secondly, the cognitive intrusions abound due to audio and visual distractions. Thirdly, it is more difficult to control social contacts for example, the choice of participants for interaction, the interaction frequency, length and content of the said interaction. Then finally, the ease with which certain private pieces of information about the person is easily accessible is a problem in open plan offices, after all, most open plan offices do not have a single route of access or a door to the work space. So, it is difficult to mark and protect ones territory and as such protect some form of private information from would be trespassers (Anjum, Paul and Ashcroft, 2004).

In the light of these perspectives, one of the definitions of privacy suggested is that “privacy is a voluntary and temporary condition of separation from the public domain” (Newell, 1998, p. 357).

Oldham, Kulick and Stepina (1991) highlighted the fact that individuals reacted negatively to environments characterized by few enclosures, closeness and high density because such environments exposed individuals to too many unwanted or uncontrolled intrusions.

It is also agreed that, the perception of the work environment leads to satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the work and the work environment. Fischer, Tarquinio and Vischer (2004, p.132 ) posit that the there are three major categories of mediating influences on workplace satisfaction and these are, “individual differences like culture, age, professional or status, organizational context and environmental features.”

All these issues could be further grouped into two; internal and external factors as relates to the individual. These two descriptions could be mapped to the two ingredients required for a need for privacy to exist i.e. a person or persons and a place. Sanders and McCormick (2002, p. 485) also point out that apart from the physical features of the built environment, “people are influenced by nonphysical features like social, cultural, technological, economic and political factors characteristic of the environment.”

External Factors

These are the place factors, usually described as the environmental or design issues which can lead to noise distractions, visual distractions, interruptions, crowding and accessibility issues (Ding, S. 2008). Due to the absence of internal walls, the low height of walls or partitions in open plan offices influences privacy; the more enclosures, the lower the people per given space and the higher the partitions, the higher the privacy perceived (Danielsson 2008; Oldham, G. R et al. 1991; Sundstrom, Herbert and Brown, 1982 etc.).

Organizational context is also considered to be an external factor. This involves the type of industry involved by the organization. For example doctors consulting rooms should provide more audio privacy compared to an architectural firms offices or design studios.

Internal Factors

This grouping is based on the person factors or what goes on within the person, the suggestion that individual differences related to but not restricted to personality traits, gender, individual experience etc. affect ones perception of, and hence the evaluation of the work environment (external or place factors). Some studies have found that variations exist across gender in perception of privacy in the open plan office (Yildirim, Akalin-Baskaya and Celebi, 2007). Also, in a different cross cultural study of privacy, Newell (1998) found that privacy was more a condition of the person thus, the duration of the experience and the change on the person as a result of the experience leads to its suspected therapeutic effect. In general perceptions and attitudes to privacy, she found that gender also played a part especially within cultures.

Maher and von Hippel (2005) and others before them showed that individual differences in the ability to handle overstimulation by the application stimulus screening and inhibitory abilities influenced the perceptions of the work environment. These inhibitory skills are cognitive in nature and such inhibitory skills are found to vary between individuals and even especially across cultures. For example, Hall (1966) points out that the Japanese are said to be content with paper walls as acoustic screens while the Dutch and Germans require thick walls and double doors to serve as acoustic screens.

Benefits of Privacy in the work Environment

Newell (1998, p. 359) relates the need for privacy to help in “maintaining healthy internal physiological and cognitive functioning subjectively described as ‘wellbeing’”. The study concluded that achieving the perceived privacy had some therapeutic effects.

On the area of performance, especially for knowledge workers like engineers, accountants, software designers, decision makers etc., auditory and visual distraction have been found to be a cause of stress and even performance impairment (Roper and Juneja, 2008). Furthermore, Oommen, Knowles and Zhao (2008) point to the likelihood of aggression and increased instances of eye, nose and throat irritations while working in open plan environments. This in turn affects productivity.

Culture

Culture is said to be the way of life of a group of people. This, among other things covers their beliefs, values, norms and rituals. Specifically, Hofstede (2009 p. 1) points out that “culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from the others and it manifests itself in the form of symbols, heroes, rituals and values.” Earlier, an American anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his books, talked about language and especially modes of communication as a point of differentiating cultures (Hall E.T 1966; 1976). He even considered language to be the core of culture while, Geert Hofstede considers language as a part of the rituals of a particular culture (Hofstede, 2010). This goes to point out some of the existing disagreements about what culture is and even how it comes about.

Culture is thus, studied as a means of understanding or shedding light into the behavior or reactions of individuals or people groups. Edward Hall in his book; the hidden dimension writes that “people from different cultures inhabit different sensory worlds, so that experience, as it is perceived through one set of culturally patterned sensory screens is quite different from experience perceived through another.” (1966, p. 2). This highlights and explains the link between culture and perception generally and in spatial terms especially.

Classifying Cultures

There have been several descriptions and models of culture (Matsumoto and Yoo, 2006; Hall, 1966; 1970), for example, Hall (1966) alludes to contact and non-contact groups or cultures in relation to spatial meanings and preferences within people groups . This is related to the social dimension of privacy (Leino-Kilpi et al. 2001), but he especially specifies high and low context cultures according to their ways of communicating.

For the high context (HC) culture or communication for that matter, much of the information is implicit while, in the low context (LC) culture, nearly everything is explicit. He also wrote about the concept of time among cultures (Hall, 1976). Where there are polychronic (P-time) and monochronic (M-Time) cultures; the M-time society or culture would prefer to do only one thing at a time when serious i.e. for such persons, time is linear and segmented with each activity scheduled while, the individuals in a P-time culture can juggle several activities, they emphasize the involvement of people and the completion of tasks rather than schedules.

Edward T. Hall coined the term “Proxemics” which he describes as “interrelated observations and theories of man’s use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture” Hall (1966 p. 1). In explaining his observations in proxemic behavior (Hall, 1963 p. 1003) he notes that “what is close to an American may be distant to an Arab.”

Many other researchers and individuals apart from Edward Hall had worked on other frameworks and dimensions of culture. Matsumoto and Yoo, (2006) lists some of these frameworks which are interestingly identified by the names of the researchers that discovered them and this list which is not exhaustive, includes;

Hofstedes (1980) with subsequent revisions and dimensions added; Schwartz (2004) who presented seven universal value orientations, Smith, Dugan and Trompenaars (1996) had two universal value orientations; House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman and Gupta (2003) came up with nine value orientations related to leadership; Inglehart (1997) had two attitude-belief-value orientations, Bond et al. (2004) is said to have reported two social axioms. All cited in Matsumoto and Yoo, (2006 p. 239).

The listing above does not mention each of the dimensions. The dimensions of each framework listed are found in Table 2.1 below.

Table 2.1 Six Theoretical Frameworks for Universal Dimensions of Cultural Variability

Framework

Dimensions

Hofstede’s (2001) dimensions of work-related values

Individualism vs. collectivism

Power distance

Uncertainty avoidance

Masculinity vs. femininity

Long- vs. short-term orientation

Schwartz’s (2004) dimensions of values

Embeddedness

Hierarchy

Intellectual autonomy

Affective autonomy

Egalitarianism

Mastery

Harmony

Smith, Dugan, and Trompenaars’s (1996) dimensions of values

Egalitarian commitment vs. conservatism

Utilitarian involvement vs. loyal involvement

House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, and Gupta’s (2003) dimensions of leadership values

Performance orientation

Assertiveness orientation

Future orientation

Human orientation

Institutional collectivism

Family collectivism

Gender egalitarianism

Power distance

Uncertainty avoidance

Inglehart’s (1997) dimensions of attitudes, values, and beliefs

Traditional vs. secular-rational orientation

Survival vs. self-expression values

Bond et al.’s (2004) dimensions of social axioms (beliefs)

Dynamic externality

Societal cynicism

Source: (Matsumoto, D and Yoo, S. H, 2006 p. 240)

National versus Organizational culture

As a society has a culture, so do organizations and such organizations employ staff who come from a particular culture(s). The organizations then require these individuals to work in offices. Apart from the culture description related to national boundaries, there is a culture that seems to characterize workplaces or organizations and this is called organizational or corporate culture.

Barney (1986) notes that like culture itself, organizational culture has many competing definitions and then goes on to suggest that a generally acceptable definition of organizational culture to be “as a complex set of values, beliefs, assumptions, and symbols that define the way in which a firm conducts its business.” (p. 657). He goes on to point the pervasive nature of organizational culture in that, it helps to define the relationship of the firm to parties it comes in contact with through its business. This simply shows that culture within the work place especially geared towards profitability or the conferment of advantages could be termed organizational or corporate culture. Generally it will be assumed that the national culture will also play a part.

Guidroz, Kotrba, and Denison (2009) from results of a study of multinational companies, claim that their study seems to point to organizational culture superseding national culture in diversity management practices. The issue in question in this thesis is not exactly a management matter but the individual perception of privacy in the open plan office environments and would suggest that both national and organizational cultures playing a part because according to (Brand, 2009) the design of the workspace or workplace communicates the corporate culture of the organization meaning, the adoption of the open plan environment can be tied to the organizations corporate culture.

Hofstedes’ Cultural Dimensions

This is a hugely popular cross-cultural model (Gerhart and Fang, 2005; Hofstede et al, 2010; Sivakumar, Nakata, 2001) currently in use, with its roots in industrial psychology (Meeuwesen, van den Brink-Muinen and Hofstede, 2009) is called the Hofstedes model of culture named after Geert Hofstede a Dutch emeritus Professor of organizational anthropology and international management in the Netherlands.

Hofstedes work highlighted the fact that culture is manifested through symbols, heroes, rituals and values. But, Hofstede argues that values form the core of culture as represented by the Hofstede culture “Onion” in Figure 2.2. Figure 2.2 shows the onion structure graphically illustrating the manifestation of culture at different levels and even the interactions therein.

As seen from Figure 2.2 above symbols, heroes and rituals are by themselves visible to all observers. It is the cultural meanings of the practices that are open to interpretation by the observer while, values are unseen or embedded within the person but they still subtly determine choices and much more (Hofstede et al., 2010). Hofstedes research studied value survey responses of similar respondents from different countries as to their approach, as related to four basic problems prevalent in most societies (Meeuwesen et. al, 2009) these included;

  1. Handling social inequalities in the society.
  2. The approach to dealing with uncertainty in general.
  3. The structure of the relationship between an individual and the group.
  4. The emotional role division between the male and females in a society.

The initial data for Hofstedes culture study came about through an analysis of International Business Machine Company (IBM) staff surveys at a time, the company was called Hermes. He utilized the responses from routine staff surveys about values and related matters to provide ratings for countries on each of what he then called the four dimensions of culture.

This was achieved by examining correlations between mean scores of questionnaire items at the level of countries. Other approaches, like analysis at the individual level did not provide much useful information (Hofstede, 2009). Later, certain studies showed the need for another dimension and this lead to the inclusion of a fifth dimension called, long term orientation.

Each dimension of culture score for a country is calculated using a scale of roughly 0 to 100 for each dimension. A dimension of culture is an aspect of culture that can be measured relative to other cultures (Hofstede, 2009 p. 6) and the higher the score of a dimension, the more that dimension is exhibited in the society or nation in question while for lower scores the opposite pole of the dimension is more pronounced. Thus, the scores are therefore bipolar (Jones, 2007)

In a 2010 book, Greet Hofstede, his son Gert Jan Hofstede and a research collaborator Micheal Minkov reviewed earlier works, alongside their recent studies and added a sixth dimension called indulgence versus restraint (IVR) to the previously known Hofstedes five dimensions of culture. The sixth dimension was largely as a result of the work of Micheal Minkov (Hofstede et al., 2010).

The six dimensions of Hofstedes cultural model now include power distance (PDI), individualism (IDV), masculinity (MAS), uncertainty avoidance index (UAI), long term orientation (LTO), and the recently added indulgence (IVR).

Power distance (PDI).

This indicates the degree of inequality that exists and is accepted among the persons with and without power i.e. the leadership versus the followership respectively as normal and legitimate in any given society. If the power distance scores are high, it indicates a pyramidal or hierarchical system where the power is resident at the top while, lower scores indicate greater equality suggesting power is shared and spread within the group.

Individualism (IDV).

This is related to the se

Aspects of Thai Buddhist Culture

CHAPTER V

Thai Culture

At the outset of this study I had intended to have two sections in the final chapter, one section detailing the Buddhist roots of all things Thai and the other showing Hindu / Indic influence. This idea has been abandoned by the author due to the limited ‘solely’ Buddhist influence. There are many aspects of Thai culture that have combined elements of other countries such as China, Laos etc but I have chosen to limit the comparisons to Buddhist / Hindu wherever possible. The study will instead focus on detailing the aspects of influence and state whether they have a combined influence or whether they have been influenced by only one of the subjects.

The reader will by now appreciate the massive scope of Hinduism and as such it will prove very difficult to find aspects of Thai Buddhist culture that do not have at least some basis in Hinduism. The common origin of the Indian sub-continent and the antiquity of Hinduism make such a subjective study difficult. For this reason I undertook a survey of many Thai people, including but not limited to, my friends, my students, neighbours, monks, etc.

I asked them to make a list of 20 things that they considered to be Thai or that which they thought might be perceived by foreign visitors as representative of their country and culture. The answers were varied (and, at times amusing due to language) and from the answers they gave I have composed a list of the results. (shown on next page). The list has been arranged alphabetically and I have limited the list to the most common answers. The list may have been influenced by regional representation as many of the people gave regional answers such as Isan, or the rocket festival. The answers were unprompted by the author and I feel that the list is accurate for the purpose of this study.

  1. Almsround by the Monks
  2. Arts and Crafts
  3. Boat Races / Royal Barge Procession
  4. Buddhism
  5. Elephants & Buffaloes
  6. Isan / Isarn
  7. Monuments
  8. Mai Pen Rai !
  9. Offerings / Merit Making
  10. Rain Dance
  11. Respect for Royalty
  12. Rocket Festival
  13. Royalty
  14. Temples / Shrines
  15. Thai Smile / Friendliness
  16. The Wai ( Thai Greeting )
  17. Thai Boxing
  18. Thai Festivals & Ceremonies
  19. Thai Dance / Thai Dress
  20. Thai Food / Fruit Sculpture
  21. Thai language
  22. Thai literature
  23. Thai Massage / Traditional Thai medicine
  24. Thai music / musical instruments
  25. Thai Silk
  26. Tuk Tuk ( 3 wheel vehicle)
  27. Sanuk !
  28. Sukhothai Kingdom

The discerning reader will note that Hinduism is absent from the list. This was a little surprising to the author as I had distributed approx two hundred surveys and had about 60% returned completed and not a single reply had Hinduism or Brahmanism as an answer. Buddhism was on every single list returned to me and that was not in the least surprising.

I had not thought to make my own list prior to asking the Thai people their opinion and I think this was a mistake or rather an oversight on my part. I am unable to remember exactly what I conceived of as “Thai-ness”, but the Thai smile and the Wai greeting would definitely have been included in any list. Westerners who visit the Kingdom generally know in advance about the Kingdoms Buddhist temples and the friendliness of the people. The Thai language appears to be very difficult for the average foreigner / westerner to master and for that reason I have chosen to begin my analyses by looking at the Thai Language / Thai Script.

There was obviously a Thai language long before there was a written Script. By far the most interesting thing about the Thai script is that it was “invented” by a Thai king ! Not many countries can make such a claim, but is there any basis to the claim which is widely accepted by the majority of the Thai people?

The sources I consulted all agreed that the Thai script has its roots in India. In fact, many of the South – East Asian scripts are very similar as they all have the same root, namely the Brahmi script of ancient India. At the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom the country of Siam was under the control of the Khmer Empire. It is very likely that the Khmer alphabet had an influence on the Thai alphabet. A look at the first ‘vagga/ varga’ of Khmer & Thai consonants will show the striking similarities.

Khmer Palm Leaf Script

Modern Khmer

Modern Thai

The other Scripts which Thai has “borrowed” from are the Mon, Burmese, as well as the Khun, Tham or Lanna scripts which were existent prior to the first known Thai writing.

Tham/Lanna

Khun

Burmese

Burma & Northern Thai Scripts Modern Thai Script

The Tai Tham script, also known as the Lanna script is used for three living languages: Northern Thai (that is, Kam Mu’ang), Tai Lü and Khün. In addition, the Lanna script is also used for Lao Tham (or old Lao) and other dialect variants in Buddhist palm leaves and notebooks. The script is also known as Tham or Yuan script.

The oldest Thai inscription dates from 1283. The Thai script is a syllabic alphabet based on the Brahmi script which was adapted to write the Siamese / Thai language. Its invention is attributed to King Ramkhamhaeng, who reigned over Sukhothai from 1275 to 1317.

The Ramkhamhaeng Stele

This stone, now in the National Museum in Bangkok, was allegedly discovered in 1833 by King Mongkut, who was a monk at the time, in Wat Mahathat. It should be noted that the authenticity of the stone – or at least portions of it – has been brought into question.[[1]] Piriya Krairiksh, an academic at the Thai Khadi Research institute, notes that the stele’s treatment of vowels suggests that its creators had been influenced by European alphabet systems; thus, he concludes that the stele was fabricated by someone during the reign of Rama IV or shortly before. The matter is very controversial, since if the stone is in fact a fabrication, the entire history of the period will have to be re-written.[[2]]

Scholars are still divided over the issue about the stele’s authenticity.[[3]] It remains an anomaly amongst contemporary writings, and in fact no other source refers to King Ramkhamhaeng by name. Some authors claim the inscription was a complete 19th-century fabrication, others claim that the first 17 lines are genuine, that the inscription was fabricated by King Lithai (a later Sukhothai king), and some scholars still believe very much in the inscription’s authenticity.[[4]] The inscription and its image of a Sukhothai utopia remains central to Thai nationalism, and the suggestion that it may have been faked in the 1800s caused Michael Wright, a British scholar, to be threatened with deportation under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws .[[5]]

Phra Lewis, a western monk who has lived in Thailand for the past 8 years, went to great lengths to explain the construction of the Thai language and demonstrated that while the spoken language has evolved over time, ie the sound of the consonants changing, their position in the ‘surd/sonant grid’ has not altered accordingly. This was very helpful to my research work in this study as I had encountered some difficulty researching Thai words due to the many different spellings I encountered. There is in fact a Royally approved system of translation, but it is not always followed and there are numerous informal systems in wide use.

For example, the Sanskrit word Dharma is the Pali word Dhamma but the Thai’s call it Tam, another example is the Thai word ‘Bangsakun’ which is actually Pamsakula in Pali. Written Thai is very structured and follows simple rules with no ambiguity as to the pronunciation like there is in English. The Thai language is tonal and that is where most problems arise for the foreigner. The old style of pronunciation was no doubt altered when the capital moved from Sukhothai in the north, to Ayuddhya in the central region. The letter ? (K) became G, the ? (C) became J and the ? (J) became CH, and so on.

The vowels were also altered slightly. Unless consonants are otherwise marked they carry an inherent vowel. In Indian languages this is normally an ‘a’ but in Thai the rules are slightly different. The inherent vowel is an ‘o’ but if the word has more than one syllable then the first inherent vowel is an ‘a’ and the second inherent vowel is an ‘o’. The example below shows the word for road – Thanon

Before moving on to examine festivals and ceremonies I would like to look at a remarkable feature of the Thai language. For this information I am indebted to Phra Lewis who not only pointed it out but explained it to me as follows :-

The above 44 consonants of the Thai alphabet have been shown with their modern phonetic sounds. Some letters change sound change depending on where they are in the syllable. They have been shown horizontally in vagga’s dependant upon where the sound is made. The first vagga is guttural, made in the throat. The last line are not shown in their vagga’s.

The first vertical column should show the surd, the second column the surd aspirate, the third column shows the sonant and the forth shows the sonant aspirated. Column five is the nasal sound made. In the first vagga of the diagram we can see that the G and K sounds of modern Thai have switched positions and if one looks at the next vagga ie the palatal vagga, we can see the J has also moved. The monk has speculated that this happened when the Thais moved their capital to Ayuddhya.

The letters M, L, H in the chart indicates the ‘class’ of consonant ie middle , low and high. This should not be confused with the tones of the language. Looking down the first column we see all the letters are middle class, the next column are all high class and the remaining letters in the 5 vagga’s are low class consonants. The consonants in the last, longer, line can also be placed in their vagga, ie Y would belong to the palatal vagga, H in the guttural etc. This class of consonant feature is unique to Thai but the grid is the format of the majority of Indian languages.

The king did not invent the grid but he may well have been the instigator for the format of the letters, a man in his position could no doubt summon the best minds in the Kingdom. Phra Lewis speculates that the need for a new script was prompted by the wish to write the Pali Canon. As the old Thai / Lao alphabet had only 18 consonants this would not be possible as Pali has 33 consonants. It was therefore necessary to add new letters for the sounds that did not exist is Thai. This is where the uniqueness of the script can show the root of the word for the Thai script was designed with this in mind.

The ‘king’ started with the basic grid and filled it with the letters existent in Thai. There were some gaps in the grid where Pali had sounds that Thai had no letters for, the aspirated G or the pallatal NY for instance. The first step taken was to add letters to fill in the gaps. These letters were (English letters give OLD pronunciation

The ingenious part was the addition of letters where Thai already had a letter for the existing Pali sound. The Thai’s already had a letter for the aspirated K

(KH), but they added an additional letter ? (KH) to be used in Pali / Sanskrit words. The practice has continued up until very modern times with foreign ‘loan’

words being spelt in Thai using the “new letters”. This allows a person reading Thai

to tell if the word is of foreign origin. Most ingenious, some modern English words

may be able to trace their Greek or Latin roots from the spelling but this is not the

norm as it is with Thai. Those wishing to delete obsolete letters from the Thai

alphabet do not have a true understanding of its well thought out and practical

design. The additional letters means that Thai has 44 consonants whereas Pali only

has 33. The Thai letters used to write Pali in Thailand today should be pronounced

differently from spoken Thai but most Thai monks do not do this. After this had been

explained I found it a simple matter of looking at a grid chart in order to translate

Thai words into roman lettering such that I could research the words online. All of

this information was obtained from the monks personal notes and, after checking, I

have found it to be correct though I wish to point out I have no linguistic training.

The controversy over the Ramkhamhaeng Stele remains unresolved but that is of no concern to the study. The one thing that can be said for the ‘inventor'(s ?) of the Thai script is that he or they were very intelligent and methodical in it’s design. I personally favour a single person as committees tend to mess things up and this system, in its original form, was perfect. ( and Indian influenced )

Festivals and Ceremonies

The foreign visitors’ perception of Thailand and the Thais is not gained from the language but from the visual aspects of Thai culture such as festivals and ceremonies. There are some public holidays which have no Hindu or Buddhist roots such as days commemorating past kings or celebrating the founding of the constitution. The study has omitted these and others which may have there roots in other foreign countries ie Chinese New Year.

To begin with I have chosen to look at three celebrated days which are definitely Buddhist in origin and are known as ‘Puja’ days.

Wisakha Puja Day

Wisakha Puja Day is a very important day in the Buddhist tradition, for it was on this day that Prince Siddhattha Gotama was born, 35 years later became the enlightened Buddha, and in another 45 years, passed away into total Nibbana (Parinibbana). In each case, these events took place on the full-moon day in the Wisakha month (usually in May).

Wisakha Puja Day is a great Buddhist holiday. It falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 6th lunar month, i.e. full moon day. In Thailand, Wisakha Puja is celebrated throughout the country. On Wisakha Puja Day people put up religious flags outside their houses. They take part in ceremonies at temples and they make merit. They bring flowers, candles, and incense to pay respect to the Triple Gem, i.e. Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha (the community of followers). In the evening, people take part in candle-lit processions and walk clockwise around the main chapel of the temple three times. In the procession, each person carries flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle. The concept of walking clockwise around shrines etc is a Hindu / Indic practice – clockwise for auspicious occasions and anti-clockwise for inauspicious ones such as death.

Magha Puja Day

Magha Puja Day is one of the most important Buddhist celebrations in the Thai Calander. This day, which falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month (either the last week of February or early of March). marks the four great events that took place during Lord Buddha’s lifetime, namely;

  1. 1250 Buddhist monks from different places came to pay homage to Lord Buddha at Valuwan Vihara in Rajgaha, the capital of Magaha State, each of his own initiative and without prior notification or appointment.
  2. all of them were the enlightened monks (Arahants)
  3. all of them had been ordained by the Buddha himself (Ehi Bhikkhu)
  4. They assembled on the full moon day of the third lunar month.

On the evening of that day, Lord Buddha gave the assembly a discourse “Ovadha Patimokha” laying down the principles of His Teachings summarised into three acts, i.e. to do good, to abstain from bad action and to purify the mind.

It was unclear as to when the Magha Puja Ceremony took place. However, in a guide book of ceremonies for the twelve months written by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), it is said that, “In the past, the Magha Puja was never performed, the ceremony has just been practised during the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV)?”

Realizing the significance of this day, King Rama IV ordered the royal Magha Puja Ceremony to be performed in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in 1851 and this has continued up to the present day. In later years the ceremony was widely accepted and performed throughout the Kingdom. The day has been declared as a public holiday. Thai people go to the temple to make merit and perform religious activities in the morning and return to take part in the candlelit procession or “Wien Tien” in the evening. At this auspicious time, His Majesty the King will preside over the religious rites to mark the occasion at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and will later lead hundreds of people in a candlelit procession held within the temple’s compound.

Asaha Puja Day

Asaha Puja means the ceremony in the eighth lunar month.

On the full moon day of the eighth lunar month, the Lord Buddha gave his first sermon and one of his followers became the first Buddhist monk. The ordained followers of the Buddha are collectively called the Sangha, (Asaha Puja is sometimes referred to as “Sangha Day”.) During his first sermon, the Buddha talked about “The Middle Way”, to be successful in Spiritual life, we should avoid the two extremes:

  1. Trying too hard, such as not eating or not sleeping enough and
  2. Not trying hard enough, such as eating and sleeping too much.

The Buddha also spoke about the Noble Eightfold Path. This path instructs the faithful to

  1. to live in a way that does not harm ourselves or others,
  2. to help ourselves and others and
  3. to purify the mind.

He advised the people to

Do good:

Avoid evil:

Purify the mind.

He gave eight guidelines to help people to live in this way, and they are commonly spoken of as the Noble Eightfold Path. He advised people to speak, act and earn their living in moral ways. He further advised them to practise meditation in order to purify their minds and gain deep wisdom (Panya in Thai).

These three days are very ‘low key’ as far as celebrations are concerned and a foreign visitor may not even be aware of them unless they choose to visit a temple or Wat. The next ‘Buddhist’ ceremony or festival to examine is the ‘Robe Giving’ ceremony of Kathina.

Kathin Ceremony

At the end of the three-month Rains Retreat (July to September / October), monks throughout the country are allowed to travel from place to place and are eligible to receive new robes in an annual presentation ceremony called “Thot Kathin”. Besides new robes, Buddhist literature, kitchen equipment, financial contributions and building materials e.g. nails, hand-saws and hammers etc. are also presented to monks on this occasion.

In fact, the word “Thot” means “making an offering to the monk” and the word “Kathin” literary means the “embroidery frame” used in sewing the robes which, in those days, were collected from rags on dead bodies (pamsakula, rag robes) or rags found in the forset since clothes were not available in plenty as nowadays. Buddhist people regard the “Thot Kathin” ceremony as the most significant form of merit-making next to the ordination of their close kin. To sponsor a Kathin ceremony involves a lot of time, manpower and expense. Above all, an advance booking must be made with the Wat if a person wishes to be the sole sponsor of the Kathin ceremony but this may not be possible in all Wats, especially temples which are held in high esteem by many people. Nontheless, those who fail to be the sole sponsor of Kathin can also take part in the ceremony which, in this type, is known as “Kathin Samakki” or the “United Kathin”.

Sometimes a Kathin group will travel for several hundred kilometers by bus, train, boat or even by plane to present the Kathin robes and other necessities to monks in remote temples or in other countries where Buddhist temples are established. People thus hold this merit-making festival not only for earning merit for themselves but also for enjoying a holiday free from the daily hectic life full of stress and strain in the city. During the Thot Kathin period, it is very common to see Kathin processions traveling to and fro throughout the country. In fact, anybody can take part in the event through the simple method of enclosing a small amount of money in the white envelope given by friends or relatives.

Songkran Festival

Songkran is a Sanskrit word in Thai form which means the entry of the sun into any sign of the Zodiac. But the Songkran in this particular instance is when the sun enters the sign of Aries or the Ram. Its full name is Maha Songkran or Major Songkran to distinguish it from the othes, though most Thais are totally unaware of this fact. Songkran is in fact the celebration of the vernal equinox similar to those of the Indian Holi Festival, the Chinese Ching Ming, and the Christian Festival of Easter. Due to the precession of the equinox the introduction of spring, ie when the sun crosses the equator, now occurs on or around the 21st of March.

For the Thai people it is simply their traditional New Year when they can enjoy their holidays to the full with no economic hindrance. Songkran begins on the 13th April and ends on the 15th April, (occasionally, in certain years, on the 16th April). The Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely observed not only in this country but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao Republic.

On the eve of Songkran Day, i.e. on the 12th April, people clean their house and burn all of the refuse in the belief that anything bad belonging to the old year will be unlucky if left and carried on to the coming New Year. Early on the first day of Songkran, the 13th April, the people both young and old in their new clothing go to their local Wat or monastery to offer food to the monks. A long table is erected in the compound of the Wat where monk’s alms bowls stand in a row on either side of the table. The people donate many types of food and dainties by placing these in the monks’ alms bowls. In the afternoon of the same day there is a bathing ceremony of the Buddha images and in some wats this includes the abbot or statues of other famous monks of high regard. It is after this that the well-known “water throwing” begins. The bathing of images is done as ritualistic ceremony, which will be dealt with separately.

Thai people will go on this day, and the succeeding days, to pay their respects and ask blessings from their elders and respected seniors. They will pour scented water into the palms of the old people and often present them with small gifts. In previous times it was an actual bathing where the young people helped the old people to take a bath and to change their old clothing and put on the new clothes which the young people presented them as an act of respect to the aged on the occasion of the New Year.

An important thing to be done during the Songkran Festival is a religious service called Bangsakun (Pamsakula in Pali) performed in sacred memory to the dead. When a person died and was cremated, the remains were often placed in a chedi in the Wat. In later times a portion of the bones was sometimes kept in the house in a receptacle. On Songkran Day a religious service in memory to the dead may be officiated by monks at the place where the ashes and the bones have been deposited, or as in some localities the people bring their dead bones to a village wat in company with others where a joint memorial service is performed. In some parts of the country the guardian spirits of the village and town receive also their annual offerings on Songkran Days. Obviously there are reminiscences or traces of ancestor and animistic worship in by-gone days. The monks are presented with cloth, symbolizing the death shroud, which in olden times was cut up and used as “rag cloth” to make the robes of the monks.

Loy Krathong

The most colourful festival during the year is Loy Krathong wich is held on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, usually in November. This is a festival to pay respects to the Mother of Water and to ask forgiveness for polluting the water in the past year. Loy means to float and a krathong is a kind of bowl. A typical krathong is made using banana leaves and the base is from the stem of a banana plant. Incense sticks, candles and flowers are placed inside the krathong along with small denomination coins. (perhaps this acts as an encouragement to the people who have to remove them from the klongs!)

On the afternoon of the festival a parade normally takes place through the city or town. Krathongs of all shapes and sizes are placed on floats and carried by locals and their children. During the evening, thousands of people go down to their local river or klong (canal) to float their krathongs. They light the candles and incense sticks, say a prayer and then float it on the water. It is a wonderful sight with flickering lights bobbing up and down on the river, much more interesting to witness than to read about.There is a Loy Krathong song, (in Thai language) which is often played throughout the day. Below is a translation of this popular song:

November full moon shines,

Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong

and the water’s high in the river and local klong

Loy Krathong is here and everybody’s full of cheer

We’re together at the klong,

Each one with his krathong

As we push away we pray,

We can see a better day

The Loy Krathong festival dates back to the period of the Sukhothai Kingdom, 700 years ago. It marked the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest. It is based on a Hindu tradition of thanking the water god(s). The farmers of Sukhothai held a festival of floating candles.

One year, a beautiful woman called Noppamas, who was the chief royal consort, made special “lanterns” for the festival. She made them from banana leaves and shaped them like lotus flowers. The king was suitably impressed with what he saw, and announced that krathongs would be floated every year from then on. Today, in memory of her and her ‘innovation’, there is a beauty contest called “The Noppamas Queen Contest”.

Laying the Foundation Stone

Thai people like to consult the astrology charts (and / or Buddhist monks though this is spoken of as a ‘low art’ in the Brahmajala Sutta) in order to find an auspicious time to do something important. This can be anything from the day of a marriage or when to make a business deal. The date and time for starting to build a house is also important. A special ceremony is arranged for erecting the first pillar or foundation stone. Previously I had the privilege to attend the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for the Paknam Tower. This is going to be a 139 meter high tower with amazing views over Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand.

Thai people are mainly Buddhists, but ceremonies like this one are conducted by Brahmin priests dressed in white. During the ceremony a priest asks forgiveness from the guardian spirit of the land. He also asks the spirits permission to build on the land. This was followed by offerings for the guardian spirits. Although this ceremony is mainly Brahmin, nine monks were also invited to do some chanting. Local dignitaries offered food to the monks in order to make merit during this event. I was reminded of the fact that many Thai’s see no conflict of interest by partaking in both Brahmin and Buddhist ceremonies, even simultaneously. The Thais themselves would rather make auspicious offerings twice than not make them at all.

According to Thai astrology, there are three days of the week when you should never start construction of a building. These are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. For the consecration ceremony of the Paknam Tower the date chosen was Friday 18th May 2007. The time for the actual laying of the foundation stone was set for exactly 2:19 p.m. The number “nine” is considered auspicious by Thai people. Everything is done in multiples of threes or nines wherever possible. There were nine monks and nine different kinds of food offerings for them.

As well as the marble foundation stone, nine symbolic bricks were used during the ceremony. Three made of gold, three made of silver and three made of an alloy. There were also nine symbolic pegs made of nine different types of wood. In addition to these items, there were jasmine garlands, flowers with popped rice and one baht coins which were all utilized during the ceremony.

After the conch shell had been blown and the small drums sounded, it was time for the foundation stone laying ceremony to begin. Khun Anuwat Methiwibunwut, the Governor of Samut Prakan Province hammered one of the pegs into the sand. Each of the dignitaries then took turns hammering the remaining pegs into place, followed by pouring of the cement.

The nine bricks had been laid in a star pattern where the pegs had been driven into the sand. Additional cement was then poured on top. At this point all of the senior dignitaries jointly placed the marble foundation stone onto the bricks. Following this, they then took turns to sprinkle flowers and coins onto the marble slab. Once the main ceremony was over, the local people, who had been patiently waiting and watching everything, were allowed to come forward to do the same with their own flowers and coins.

There were two identical copies of this foundation stone. I presume that one will be covered in cement while the second one will be placed in a prominent place once the building has been completed. The photo below shows the dignitaries placing the marble foundation stone onto the bricks

Ploughing Ceremony

The Ploughing Ceremony, which is observed every year, is an age old tradition, and according to the Thais it dates back to the Sukhothai Period. It was observed in the Ayuttaya Period and passed on to the Rattanakosin Period. The Ploughing Ceremony is held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok during May and it signals the start of the planting season in this country where the majority of the population are farmers. The ceremony is aimed at making predictions about the year’s crops.

In the reign of King Rama IV, the Ploughing Ceremony was held in the ancient capital of Ayuttaya as well as in Phetchaburi. Later, it was held on a field, called Som Poy, in the outskirts of Bangkok, it was at this time Buddhist elements were added to the previously Brahmin-dominated proceedings, these took place at the temple of the Emerald Buddha on the eve of the ceremony. This “Buddhist” part of the ceremony involved the processing of Khantarat Buddha images of the past reigns, along with citations blessing such grains as rice, glutinous rice and sorghum, sesame seeds, taro, potato, gourd seeds, melons and sweet basil.

A ceremonial pavilion was built at Sanam Luang for the occasion, which was participated by the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony (Phra Raek Na) assisted by four Celestial Maidens (Thepi) carrying gold and silver baskets full of grains. Before the start of the ceremony, the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony and the four maidens were anointed on the foreheads and in the palms, and given a conch and bel leaves. Selected from among high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Phya Raek Na wore a ceremonial ring with nine different gemstones which the King had given him.

The ceremony in the reign of King Rama IV was performed in grand style, with a processing of 500 people led by the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony in resplendent attire and carrying his ceremonial sword.

Before the start of the ceremony, the Lord of Ploughing Ceremony was offered three pieces of loincloth from which he chose one. The cloths were of different lengths — four, five and six kheub (one kheub is about six inches) — and the length of the

Experiences of Refugee Settlement in Norway

Abstract

This paper is a qualitative research project that explored the perspectives of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on their resettlement in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement. This study did not discuss all perspectives of resettlement and integration. in contrast, this paper focuses mainly on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.

Introduction

Migration is a process that commences with the simple thought of moving, but it continues long after the individual arrives in her or his new home. The process is constrained by certain factors such as capital, immigration policy, and the existence of kinship networks. Individuals, who are able to overcome these constraints and decide to migrate, must overcome a new set of challenges upon arrival in the host county.

These challenges include the need to adapt to a new labour market, use of a new language, and integration with the rest of society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation — that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement (Bloch, 1997). This paper, however, focuses primarily on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.

Objective of the study

Exploring the settlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refuges in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society.

Research questions

  • What factors influence and constrain the decision to immigrate to Norway?
  • What features influence the community’s resettlement in Trondheim?
  • What are the restrictions that Sri Lankan refugees face in process of integration into Norwegian Society?

Theoretical frame work

Integration is frequently described in terms of continuity versus change, continuity being synonymous with socio-cultural maintenance and change with integration (Carey-Wood at el 1995). For this study I adopted a framework proposed by Berry and Sam (1997) that views continuity and change as complimentary, rather than competing, processes. This framework considers maintenance of socio-cultural identity and the associated establishment of ties with the dominant society as joint criteria for successful integration.

A variety of factors influence the integration process. One is the distance between the home and the host culture; the greater the cultural gap between the refugee and the country of relocation, the more difficult the integration process (Duke, 1996). Another determinant is generational status; “The settlement of refugees in Britain … indicate that the first generation of adult migrants largely preserve the features of culture and lifestyle of their country of origin” (Carey-Wood at el 1995); it is the second generation that more readily accepts the norms and cultural practices of the country of resettlement. The extent of migrants’ participation in mainstream culture also depends on structural factors within the society, including social and economic conditions and public policies that support their efforts in this direction (Duke, 1996).

Refugees leave their homelands under great pressure, usually as a result of war, severe political or economic upheaval, or religious or ethnic persecution. They arrive in the host country after having endured the embarrassment and horrors of flight and, for some, prolonged stays in refugee camps. Refugees are not able to plan their migration in advance; consequently, they arrive in a host country unprepared for what they may encounter there.

In addition, they must cope with the strain associated with sudden separation from, or loss of, family along with the challenges of integration into the country of resettlement. The dimensions of race, gender and the forms of patriarchy in their home and host countries compound their situation.

The Tamil migration is largely made up of refugees and homelandless people. According to UNHCR, between 1980 – 1999, 256, 307 people of Sri Lankan origin applied for asylum in Europe, one of the top ten groups of asylum seekers during this period (Cheran, 2003). Large numbers of Tamils have been granted some form of residence status in their host country. Tamil migration consists of an estimated 700,000 people settled in Canada, Europe, India and Australia (Cheran, 2003) in which, some of them have migrated to Norway.

Most live in Oslo, which is the capital city of Norway, and other small cities like Trondheim. It is likely therefore that one in every four Sri Lankan Tamils now lives in the migration. There is a long tradition of Tamil migration from the Jaffna peninsula. Elite and dominant groups among the Tamils of Sri Lanka have had a long history of temporary emigration for education and employment, usually to Britain and Malaysia. Sustaining a society under stress, strain and displacement has been the most important function of the Tamil Diaspora (Cheran, 2003).

Almost, Sri Lankan Tamils are racial and ethnic largest second minorities in Norway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo#Economy). To a certain extend, Tamil, those who are living in Norway have been affected by the changes in social structure. These changes included distance in social kinship, different language, and social behavior and so on. These and other restrictions in day to day constitute a significant hardship for Sri Lankan Tamil families.

Role of Sri Lankan Tamil men and women in Sri Lankan Tamil’s culture

Sri Lankan Tamil is a patriarchal society with its roots in Hinduism. The basis of Sri Lankan Tamil social structure is the kin-family system, which is traced through patrilineal (through fathers’) descent. Social identity in Sri Lanka is tied to kin, race, religion and caste. But religious category is not part of the social meaning and everyday interactions in Sri Lankan Tamil culture.

Hinduism teachings permeate the consciousness of Sri Lankan Tamils, providing guidance in a certain aspects of daily living, including roles and expectations for men and women. Usually, men are the head of the family and who generate income for maintain the cost of living and other expenses of family. Women are generally regarded as subordinate to men and their primary role is to care for husbands, children and members of their extended families.

Sri Lankan Tamils and identity documents

When Sri Lankan Tamils fled the country, many did not take their identity documents with them because of uptight departures, and intensive fighting. Few people were able to take their documents, only to have the authenticity of these papers questioned by immigration officials. And because of conditions back in Sri Lanka, there was no longer a centralized government office from which they could request new documents or have existing ones verified.

This situation caused problems for the many Sri Lankans who sought refuge in Norway, where identity documents are normally required for refugees seeking to become landed immigrants (i.e., permanent residents). Because so many Sri Lanka refugees could not produce documents deemed satisfactory by Citizenship and Immigration Norway. Undocumented refugees from Sri Lanka have been required to wait for more than a year after refugee determination before proceeding with applications for permanent residency (UDI Norway). This means it takes long time before they become permanent residents

Methodology

In this paper, describe a qualitative research project that explored the settlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refuges in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society. In depth and Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data that demonstrate these different issues in detail. In-depth interviews are the suitable method to use because they offer participants the chance to explain their experiences and the meanings they attach to those experiences (Limb and Dwyer 2001, Patton, 1990).

A semi-structured interview format (Hay, 2000) or what Patton (1990) refers to as the ‘general interview guide approach’ was used. In this style of interview a list of key questions or issues, but not an inflexible, standardized set of questions, is established in advance. This interview format enables the investigator to ensure that certain topics are addressed by all research participants, which is essential for comparison, while still maintaining the flow of spontaneous conversation, the flexibility to pursue unanticipated topics broached by the participant, the option of probing respondents for additional information, and the ability to modify questions to suit a particular individual (Patton, 1990). The interview guides is used for each individual.

Snow-ball sampling was used to recognize research participants that presented ‘information-rich cases,’ (Patton, 1990). Contrary to random sampling, where the researcher requests a representative sample that can be generalized to a distinct population, snow-ball sampling allows the investigator to identify those individuals that will give the richest information for the study, information that cannot be obtained as well from other potential participants (Patton, 1990).

When I began research on Sri Lankan Tamil in Trondheim, Norway, I had little knowledge about the community or the sort of information that was available. I soon found that there was scarce literature addressing immigration of this community. In order to obtain detailed information about the experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil living in Trondheim, I had to look for primary source information. I conducted two in-depth interviews which lasted half an hour (more or less), and four shorter interviews (ranging between 10-15 minutes), all of which were based on the same format.

The reason I chose a combination of these three (primary literatures, in-depth and semi structured interviews) was so that I could have information on several levels. The basic format provided a sample of general information and experiences, through which I could identify patterns within the community. The short interviews allowed me to explore immigrant situations and their own perceptions in some detail.

The in-depth interviews paint a more comprehensive picture of the immigrant experience, including the reasons for leaving Sri Lanka, as well as their changing experiences and attitudes throughout their resettlement in Norway. Surveys would not have been able to capture all that I wanted to find. Unfortunately, time constraints limited the number of in-depth interviews that could be conducted.

The circumstances behind their migration differ from person to person, and it requires separate analysis. I did not interview individuals who participate in the temporary worker program (for instance, student with temporary visa). The individuals who were interviewed are Sri Lankan Tamil who lived in Trondheim for more than two years.

The sample included individuals aged nineteen to individuals in their sixties. Individuals who were interviewed are residents and citizens of Norway. My selection of interviewees takes transnationalism into consideration rather than the traditional definition of immigration. Thus respondents included individuals who planned to stay in Trondheim for several years to live, work, study, and become a part of Trondheim’s social structure.

Respondents are from different backgrounds, states of origin in Sri Lanka, age; and entered Norway by using different policies such as asylum seekers, student visa, and family reunion and so on. They also now live in different locations throughout the Trondheim. Both men and women were interviewed. The respondents were found in part through a snow-ball sample and partly through the use of my own Sri Lankan Tamil friend’s network in Trondheim.

The interviewees were assured anonymity. All interviews were conducted in Tamil. The interviews were conducted in Hindu Kovil (Temple) which is situated closed to Tiller Trondheim, coffee shop and some other places. The interviews were effective in supplying information regarding perceptions of what was necessary and difficult about resettlement in Trondheim. The lack of structure in the community, the reasons behind this situation, as well as why they chose the Trondheim.

Findings

Consequences of Undocumented Sri Lanka Refugee Status

In Norway, the rights and privileges of all refugees are restricted in a number of ways. The problem for undocumented Sri Lanka refugees is that the restrictions remain in place for at least more than a year. This prolonged period of limitations on rights and privileges poses serious problems. People in this study discussed four topics related to their refugee status: restrictions on family reunification and mobility access to postsecondary education, access to employment, Concerns about children’s education Cultural Norms and Differences in Childrearing Practices and their perspectives on the regulations.

Restrictions on Family Reunification and Mobility

In Sri Lanka, people were adapted to living amongst their extended families. When they fled the country, however, their families were torn apart. The most of the people in this study had children, wives, and mothers and fathers living Sri Lanka and overseas. Refugees in Norway are prohibited from sponsoring family members until they have become landed immigrants. This regulation was very distressing to the refugees, because they knew they would have to wait at least five years before they could reunite with family members.

Refugees are also not eligible for Norwegian travel documents. If they leave Norway for any reason, they are not allowed to return. This means they may not visit family members living in other countries. In times of family emergency, Norwegian Immigration sometimes makes exceptions for refugees with acceptable identity documents, but this option is not open to undocumented Sri Lanka refugees. They are not even allowed to travel overseas to visit a relative who is seriously ill or attend a funeral for a relative who has passed away. The following story was a typical one: “The greatest problem I am facing is that three of my own children are in Sri Lanka. … I am two years in Norway …and for two years I haven’t seen my family.… If I could have [my landed immigrant] document I could have visited them or sponsored them so that they could have joined me. My biggest disappointment is that I cannot sponsor my family”.

Restrictions on Access to Postsecondary Education

Refugees are guaranteed full access to elementary and secondary education by Norwegian government. But they are not eligible for educational loans and scholarships until they get permanent resident permit. Therefore, most are cut off from postsecondary education. One of the young man expressed his frustration on this restriction “Norway has recognized us as refugees, given us food and shelter and tried her best to assist us, but at the same time she has deprived us from what we need the most — education. Our future depends on education. In addition, we have to wait for long time to continue our education since it takes time to issue permanent resident permit Therefore we loss courage to continue it further”.

Restrictions on Access to Employment

Refugees can only get temporary work permits. This makes them ineligible for some jobs. Even when they are eligible, many employers are still reluctant to hire them because of lack of language fluency. One informant said he was hired for a cleaning job, and excited when his employer found out he was a refugee. “The informant asked me, ‘If you don’t have your landed papers, how can I trust you?’”

Refugees are not eligible for bank loans and even internet bank facility. This makes it difficult for them to start self employment. A person who had been in business in Sri Lanka explained: “If I had the proper documents and a loan to open my own business, I could be an independent person. They [Immigration officials] told me to stay at home and wait for their subsidies. That is not what I came here for”.

Because of the restrictions on education and work, the few people who had professional careers in Sri Lanka could not get work in their fields or upgrade their skills. One interviewer in this situation described his frustration: “I am a professional teacher with 7 years of work experience. Since I came to Norway, I find myself absolutely denied the opportunity to work in my profession or to go to college and continue my education”.

Concerns about children’s education

Sri Lankan children are faced with overwhelming problems in schools in Norway. Many have had little education because of the upheaval in Sri Lanka and the time spent in refugee camps. Lack of Norwegian language proficiency is another problem. One mother explained: “Even if the child has a good educational background, with a strong base in math and other subjects, still he wouldn’t be able to follow along in class because of the language.

Language is the key factor, and it is only when the child has a strong language base that he can catch up to his or her classmates”. This issue is complicated by the fact that many Sri Lanka parents also face the same language barrier and cannot provide the needed educational support at home.

Other difficulties were related to differences in cultural norms and expectations between Sri Lankan and Norwegian schools. Certain behaviours those are acceptable in Norwegian schools that are unacceptable in Sri Lankan schools. Likewise, behaviours that are rewarded in Sri Lankan schools may be viewed negatively here.

Cultural Norms and Differences in Childrearing Practices

Some parents raised issues about the negative influences of contemporary culture of their children. They were uncomfortable with some of the behaviours that their children had developed since their arrival in Norway. One mother gave this example: “Our children use some words, for example….., and sometimes they make bad signals. These are bad things that are accepted here, but according to our culture, they are considered to be avoided”.

Cultural differences in disciplinary practices formed another major topic of discussion. Sri Lankan strongly believes that children need discipline to learn respect, good manners, and good behaviour. The parents in my study were aware that some common methods of discipline in Sri Lankan culture, such as pristine, are not acceptable in Norway.

In school, children are instructed to call police if they believe they are being verbally or physically abused. This threat of calling to police has become a weapon for Sri Lankan children to hold over their parents. Some women said that their children were becoming proud and disrespectful because of this. They also worried that the Children’s Aid Society might take their children away (they pointed out a very good example that has happened recently).

The parents were concerned about their teenage children, who had graduated from high school, but waiting for jobs. Without school or work to keep them occupied, many spent their days in local interact, and their mothers worried that they might be drawn to drug and alcohol use. Finally, the women recognized that their roles and influence as parents were changing, as their children became more a part of Norwegian culture. They worried that some children might abandon their Sri Lankan culture heritage altogether.

Discussion and Conclusion

The people said they were grateful to the Norwegian government for accepting them as refugees. They were pleased to have left behind a culture of war for food, shelter, and safety. Nevertheless, everyday life was very stressful for them at the beginning, and feelings of anxiety, depression, and extreme nervousness were common.

Some of them were still feeling the effects of stress due to the disturbance of the war in Sri Lanka, their flight out of the country, and their detention in refugee camps before their arrival in Norway. Many were sorrowful over the break up of their families and their inability to reunite with them. The stress of being in Norway while husbands or wife, children, parents were still overseas was a difficult burden for them to bear. Abbott (1997) points out that “separation in the family unit of involuntary migrants greatly disturbs the most basic relationship network” (Abbott, 1997). Results of other studies indicate that prolonged waits for family reunification, such as the men in my study were experiencing, are unfavorable to the integration process (Bloch, 2000).

Another factor that weighed on the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees was the loss of their homes, culture, country, lifestyle, friends, and family, and their need to mourn these losses. Beside with this grieving process were the stresses of learning a new language and adapting to a culture with values that were, in some instances, in indirect conflict with traditional Hinduism values, attitudes and norms. The refugees’ difficulties in reconciling these contradictions demonstrate the importance of the distance between the home and host cultures as a determinant of successful or unsuccessful integration (Bloch 1997).

Difficulties with Norske and problems with intercultural communication disadvantaged the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in their dealings with government officials, teachers, and landlords and so on. Problems such as unemployment and constant worries about the well being of their families were other significant factors. Yet, poor Norske proficiency, the obstacles on secondary and postsecondary education and limited employment opportunities made it hard for the refugees to get jobs and integrate into the economic sphere.

  • Recommendations
  • Reducing waiting period of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to get permanent resident permit
  • Developing educational programs and services to meet the needs of Sri Lankan students and their families.
  • Crating some job opportunities for refuges to get jobs easily
  • The Sri Lankan community have to establish separate schools where Sri Lankan Tamil children would be taught the Hinduism religion, and traditional behaviour and cultural practices in addition to their regular academic program (actually, there is a Tamil school in Trondheim to teach Tamil culture and Religion ).

Reference

Abbott, L. (1997). A Barrier to Settlement: The Experience of Resettling in Australia as a Refugee when Family Remains in a Conflict Zone. Thesis for Masters of Social Work. Unnamed university, New South Wales.

Bloch A. (1997) Refugee migration and settlement: A case study of the London borough of Newham, Ph.D. Thesis, London: Goldsmiths College-University of London.

Bloch, A. (2000). Refugee settlement in Britain: the impact of policy on participation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26(2), 75. Retrieved November 16, 2000 from Expanded Academic ASAP Int’l Ltd on-line database.

Carey-Wood J., Duke K., Kam V., Marshall T. (1995) The settlement of refugees in Britain, Home Office Research Study 141, London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

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Influence of Magazines on Beauty | Cross-Cultural Analysis

INTRODUCTION

Beauty is not concrete and may vary from culture to culture changing over time and shifting according to location. “Beauty” is an image which has been created by society to which woman and men have had to subject themselves to be “real”. The ideology of beauty or what is accepted as being the right appearance has been created by society and largely propagated by media. For United States of the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was the pinnacle of beauty which soon changed to Twiggy in the 1960s. While porcelain skin is valued in China, scarification of the skin and decorating it with tattoos is considered as a status symbol in Africa. Thus the physical attributes and ideas attached to beauty vary across cultures.

“Women’s magazine industry is understood as a monolithic meaning producer, circulating magazines that contain messages and signs about the nature of femininity that serve to promote and legitimate dominant interests.” (Anna Gough- Yates). A majority of feminist critics argue that media is responsible for establishing and promoting gender differences and inequalities in society. In respect media persons are considered responsible for reinforcing capitalism and patriarchy; manipulating society to attain increased circulation figures.

Magazines are a great source, to study the society. Recording changes, from the purely fashion magazine couture age of 1920’s, to ‘lifestyle and home’ of the 1940’s when domestic help was rare and woman to a personal interest in their homes. To ‘New woman’ of the 1980’s when woman began to work alongside men in almost every field to ‘do it yourself’ of the 20th century with soaring costs and economic downturn. Magazines reflect revolutions in society and influenced the opinion of women across nations.

Given the increase in trade to Asia and the spread of the beauty industry across nations, there is limited study available on how people are depicted internationally in the fashion magazines. Previous research has established that woman’s magazines can act as agents of publicizing gender stereotypes and beauty ideals like size zero and institutionalizing conventions like photographic poses. (Rudman and Verdi, 1993; Griffin, Viswanath, Schwartz, 1994). Yet little research has been done on the differences in representation of women internationally and locally.

POWER OF IMAGES

“One must establish what people are looking at before one can hope to understand why under the conditions peculiar to them, they see what they see” Rudolf Arnhein (Arnhein 1977:4)

An image is that stimulus or representation that compels us to cognition, interpretation and personal preference. If we understand that the market is image based than we also begin to understand the importance of vision in understanding management in the information society. Images are where visual communication starts. Jonathan E. Schroeder confirms in his study of media that “visual consumption” is critically important for understanding contemporary consumers. Today marketing professionals are sensitive towards global customers and realise that they are enthusiastic consumers of images. ‘Brand image, corporate image and self image are significant economic and consumer values and that global market culture is largely the construction of symbolic environments.’ (S. E. Jonathan, 2002) This is of great importance especially in the 21st century as the importance of marketing management and consumer research in this century may shift from “problem solving to problem recognition from production of goods to the production of images” (S. E. Jonathan, 2002)

Through time marketers have learnt that markets are global which should translate into local approach. But when companies globalise they become more production driven wanting to sell more thus having common promotional strategies across cultures, sticking to one single image, hardly realising that ‘there may be global products, but there are no global people. There may be global brands but there are no common global motivators to buy those brands.’ (M. De Mooij, 2009). Many brands have with the help of technology and communication tried to globalise nations. But technology has not brought a global village in which consumers all behave the same.

GLOBAL MEDIA

Globalisation is best defined as “the crystallization of the entire world as a single place” (Robertson, Ronald. 1990. Mapping the Global Condition: Globalization as the Central Concept. Theory, Culture and Society 7)

Due to the success of global brands writers have predicted an unavoidable colonization of world culture by internationalised brands that would most definitely lead to demise of local cultures. However there is also evidence that suggests social relationships and values in local culture are resistant to the negative effects of globalization. On one hand globalisation is expected to destroy local cultures and bring about homogeneity while on the other hand it is also the reason for the revival of local cultural identities from various parts of the world. Today the expansion of western cultures values and ideas has reached the far corners of the world, right to Asian countries like India and China which have been dominant till the 21st century. Now that these countries have become important players in the world market, counter expansion of values and culture can also be seen.

Over the past few decades there has been a rapid expansion of global brands in the media sector more than ever in the area of woman’s fashion magazines. Local editions of Elle, Harpers Baazar and Vogue are now being published in Asia. The internationalization of a magazine is not a new phenomenon although until quite recently the most popular woman’s magazines have been published locally. Harpers Bazaar, a U.S magazine launched itself in U.K. in 1929 (Anna Gough-Yates, 1993), Elle a European magazine began publishing its first edition in Japan in 1960’s while Vogue a U.S magazine entered the Indian market in the 21st century. However “the establishment of an integrated global media market only began in earnest in the late 1980’s and did not reach its full potential until the 1990’s.” (Herman and Mc Chesney ,1997, p10)

The latest NRS (National Readership Survey) figures suggest that the total readership market in U.K. for the months of July and December 2008 has risen by 10% since last year, while the total market for women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines has grown by 7 %. (IPC Advertising) A similar trend was observed in USA where magazine subscription reached a ten year high in 2008 and with the total number of magazines published reaching 20,590 the total percentage of subscriptions also increased by 1.4% (MPA Magazine Publishers of America, ABC) Comparatively in Asia according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers the Asia/Pacific magazine market excluding Japan is projected to grow by 7.2% annually, reaching $20.7 billion by 2010, Advertising is also expected to rise by 5% annually to $8.1 billion in 2010. This means there’s plenty of potential for countries in South Asia, where advertising spending is just about 0.34% of GDP. Until now foreign brands were allowed only 26% ownership when venturing into Asian countries. But in 2005 most of the Asian countries levelled the field for non news publications allowing 100% foreign direct investment. (D. Ruth, 2007, Forbes)

In an age looking towards the internet for all information and goods there is a risk that print media and magazine subscriptions may fall contrary to predictions. A recent research conducted by PPA marketing suggests that the internet does not have any harmful effect on people’s desire to read offline, in fact in some cases reading websites encourages them to read magazines. Out of 1500 adults between the age of 18- 34 surveyed online revealed that people’s expectations and goals from each medium depends on the subject matter and for the subject of beauty and fashion print magazines are an obvious choice. Also the idea of owning a piece of fashion history through the beautifully photographed and styled images in fashion magazines makes print media a lucrative choice.

With fashion going cross cultures, print media being the apparent choice of the masses to keep them in trend and the governments giving publication houses the clear there is nothing stopping international fashion magazines going local. Like all the other global media, magazines use many different strategies to cross the borders. The main reasons for crossing borders are ‘saturation of home markets and to generate revenue by providing international consumer brands with advertising vehicles that reach into the expanding foreign markets'(Dr. Katherine Frith, 2006,pg4-5). For example Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries had to close down Mademoiselle in November 2001 due to competition, flagging sales and saturation of magazine houses. Markets with rising economic rates like Asia and Middle East, as a result have become a target for westerns producers of beauty and fashion magazines.

FASHION MAGAZINES AND THEIR IMPACT

Many women across cultures are influenced by general trends in fashion and follow although at a distance the fashion industry. The relationship between consumers and trends is complex but it is mediated by fashion magazines.

The difference between international fashion magazines and their ‘local’ versions is that the international issues tend to carry a predominance of images for multinational products. (Shaw, 1999). Such magazines are growing in popularity in Asia and this popularity has bought about a change in perspective regarding the depiction of woman and products in local magazines. Griffin, Viswanath, and Schwartz(1994) found in a study comparing images in weekly U.S. news magazines (Time and Life) to weekly Indian magazines (India Today and Illustrated weekly of India), that many of the western advertising principles and poses for women were being conveyed across nations. They confirmed that female models in India were taking on poses that related closely to ‘gender portrayals ‘of the advanced western nations. A recent analysis of magazines international and local in China by Frith, Cheng and Shaw (2004) suggests that Caucasian models are more frequently shown in seductive dresses than Asian models. Feminist critiques like Kates, Shaw and Garlock (1999) would argue that western magazines are cultural institutions that represent women in a problematic and often unacceptable way although attractive female bodies and sexual content have for long been used in the west to draw consumers to a product and generate interest. Comparing this to the representation of woman across cultures with reference to the few studies conducted on the topic; Griffin, Viswanath and Schwartz (1994) concluded that the use of “Sexual pursuit” as a theme was used three times more often in American magazines than magazines in India. In conservative Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia only Caucasian women were used in Lingerie advertisements (Frith and Mueller, 2003).

Any magazine wanting to be resonant with its target audience needs to represent the social norms and cultural values of the given society. International magazines like Vogue and Elle although have publishing houses in Asian countries most often train their employees in the west. The result being that the forms of representation and especially that of woman can take on a globalized look. As Kyung-Ja Lee,(2000, pg 86) has rightly said ” for thirty years, media have been taken to task for reproducing and reinforcing stereotyped images of woman. Yet unfair representation of woman in media still prevails worldwide. Sex stereotyping has been so deeply ingrained, even glorified, that the woman themselves have become desensitised to their own inferior portrayal. The prospects appear even gloomier as the globalisation of media progresses”

Previous researchers have noted that the images of models used in magazines have been extensively retouched to represent the ideal of beauty that is unattainable for all but a very few people.(Greer,1999). By showing models that are ‘uniformly thin’, flawless and perfectly proportioned the media may contribute towards low self esteem and unhappiness among woman and give rise to problems like eating disorders.( Gauntlett, 2002) Media is also considered a large contributor to the global increase in plastic surgery to change physical appearance among young girls (Lee, 2007). With most models used in international magazines being ‘white’ the publications are rarefying the ethnic beauty ideals. In fact the obsession with whitening products may be a result of this overuse of White models in Asian publications.

Finally as global media takes readers away from local publications and changing Asian beauty ideals it is important to study the impact of international beauty ideal on local consumers. The Asian society has predominantly been a conservative society yet with the onset of westernisation this society is changing and adapting itself. But as Marieke de Mooij states, “product usage or acceptance does not change overnight, as people’s behaviour is stable .” A new idea or concept is only accepted when it is consistent to a change in society and does not imply a fundamental change in culture.

Essay 2: THE VOGUE IMPACT

This essay will discuss Vogue magazines cover page and its relationship with its brand identity. Can the brand successfully globalised by altering its cover page image, based on cultural and social variants in each of its markets? Would standardisation of the brands cover page images and visual identity help to avoid criticism on its entry into a new market?

VOGUE BEGINING

Started in 1982 Vogue magazine is predominantly an American cultural phenomenon. It began as a social weekly periodical and nurtured into a professional and confident monthly publication under the leadership of Condé Nast which took over vogue in 1909. Primarily as a lifestyle magazine catering to both men and woman Vogue has come a long way to be at the pinnacle as ‘the fashion magazine for woman in vogue’ (David, A., 2006). In an age where French fashion was considered the ultimate Vogue managed to put American Couture on the map. Under the Condé Nast umbrella the magazine not only managed to become a brand name in its own country but also exported fashion ideas to the world.

Today Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries believes Vogue to be its cash cow. At present there are a million fashion and beauty magazines such as In Style, Elle and Cosmopolitan circulated around the globe, but in times of crises citizens all over turn to Vogue to confirm the latest fashion news. With readership and subscription levels of about 220,000 a month for the British Vogues, 133,000 a month for the French Vogue and American Vogue, at 1.2 million a month Vogue is the leading magazine in the business of fashion. (IPC Advertising reports) The once small publication eventually became an international phenomenon with issues being published in more than 12 countries.

YEAR OF LAUNCH

COUNTRY /EDITION

1916

British Vogue

1918

Spanish Vogue

1920

French Vogue

1924-1926

Argentinean Vogue

1928

German Vogue

1964

Italian Vogue

1975

Brazilian Vogue

1994

Singapore Vogue

1996

Korean Vogue

1996

Taiwanese Vogue

1999

Japanese Vogue

1999

Latin American Vogue

2000

Greek Vogue

2005

Chinese Vogue

2007

Indian Vogue

Since its birth the magazine has strived to serve the society by portraying an example of proper etiquette, beauty, composure and fashion. The magazine not only plays a role in setting latest trends but also records the changes in cultural thinking, actions and clothing through its images. Looking at Vogue through the ages it can be clearly seen that it is also a documentation of the changing roles of woman, and the influences of cultural ideas and politics over time. The power the Vogue magazine has over generations of women has inspired many new magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour; all interested in its market share. In spite of this great quantity of magazines circulating around the globe, considering circulation figures and media impact no other publication has managed to accomplish the lasting power and success of Vogue. (David, R., 2007)

VOGUE IMAGE

“Self definition has always been crucial to vogue.” (David, A., 2006). Throughout its first 30 years vogue editors and illustrators made use of the French meaning of vogue, defined in the first dictionary of the Académie Française (1694) as the impulsion or movement of a galley or other ship by the force of rowing. It was only in the 18th century that vogue and fashion were listed as synonyms (Féraud 1787–8).

Since its first issue Vogue magazine has been personified as a youthful young woman. The magazines first cover presented itself in the disguise of a debutante, a young socialite. When Condé Nast bought the magazine in 1909 he brought it into line with other successful publishing ventures and in just over a decade, circulation went from 14,000 to 150,000 while advertising revenue soared from $76,111 to two million dollars (Robinson 1923: 170). He modernised the magazine not just the content but also the cover. He replaced the black and white drawings of the front cover with commissioned, lavish, stylised and signed illustrations. This change helped to attract attention to the magazine and increase circulations. “As an advertising man, he understood the value of having a visual brand or logo and Nast revived the original Vogue trademark, a “distinguished little sketch” which “immediately became known as the Vogue girl” (David, A., 2006). This first “Vogue girl” was just an illustration clad in a fancy dress with the than fashionable leg-o-mutton sleeves. ‘Her unnatural ivory white skin, snow white wig, tiny waist and voluptuous bosom, was directed at the fantasies of the magazine’s readers’ (David, A., 2006).The Vogue girl represented the heritage of those Americans who wished to be different from the New World Americans and was constantly seen as wearing historical costumes and heirlooms. Than too the new world American woman aspired to look like her. All this changed in the 1920’s when the “Vogue girl” was changed to an illustration by Georges Lepape. This new image was more streamlined and represented the woman at the heights of fashion in the 1920’s. Vogue had gone from importing fashion to exporting it. As times changed so did the magazine cover from illustrations to photographs, making models like Cindy Crawford and celebrities like Madonna a household name. This change in its image was a response to the internationalisation of the magazine.

Today the vogue cover girls are the most glamorous, exotic, unusual and popular persons of the moment. The trend being more towards actresses than models dressed in the heights of fashion, styled by the best stylist and clicked by A-list photographers they are every girl’s aspiration and every boy’s fantasy. Like its cover girls the magazines is considered to be glamorous, glossy and trendy. (Alexandra Shulman, Vogue U.K. editor). Despite of having these factors common among them, the vogue covers are dissimilar in many aspects depending upon its country of publication.

CULTURE AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR

Anglo –Saxon psychological research states that the concept of self and personality are the basis of Western consumer behaviour. The words “identity” or “personality” have no fixed meaning in the Asian culture. A global brand needs to consider the cultural differences to truly succeed in the world field. A number of research experts and cultural studies suggest that a brand should “think global, act local”. This is based upon the theory that “the way people think and perceive any brand or image is guided by the framework of their own culture” (Mooij, M, 2009). The observation of Japanese individuality as a sign of westernisation of the country is a misconception of many global brands.

For more than a decade international magazines have been accused of standardising a beauty ideal across the globe with disregard to the individual cultural and beauty ideals of the host country. For a short duration the values and attributes of a foreign or global personality might have a strong attraction, but ultimately people return to their own local values and culture. For a Brazilian woman the emphasis is on her bottom, “um corpo de violão” which literally means a guitar shaped body is most desirable. No matter how many international magazines showcase buxom beauties, the Brazilian woman would ultimately want a bigger bottom as the point of attraction is “the sweet swing” of the hips. The illustration of a desirable Japanese woman in “The memoirs of a Gesha” suggest, that the Japanese appreciate soft delicate feminine features, small feet and long hair cut in layers. A slim slender graceful body is more desirable than a curvaceous one. In Islamic countries the body is considered an obstacle in viewing ones true beauty. Any bodily decorations or changes are considered a veil over the inner beauty and the “Hijab” is another veil to conceal these changes so that the woman’s only public identity would be her inner self. For the Greek it has been symmetry in structure and features, based on Plato’s ideas that, “beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself.” The Nuba tribe in Sudan like dark skin and hairlessness. On studying traditional Indian paintings it can be concluded that the Indian ideals of beauty in a woman is voluptuousness, with the belly and hips being of prominence.( Ei, 2008) The image and identity associated with woman of different geographical locations are deep rooted in their respective cultures. The beauty ideals and a woman’s self image in any culture can be understood by studying its paintings, sculpture and artistic representations. Today the artistic or idealistic representations of women are magazine covers, images and photo spreads. These covers are also considered a mode of advertisement for the magazine within that culture. As Steve Taylor has rightly put in his book 100 years of magazine covers “it is hard to identify another cultural artefact which embodies an advertisement for itself in such a powerful way. Magazine covers can be breathtaking, beautiful, confrontational, resonant, heartbreaking, stimulating, irritating and uplifting. At their best they come together as a kind of spontaneous street level exhibition, publicly displaying the work of some of our best creative talent, featuring what is most admirable and dismissible about the modern world, communicating the people and events that shape our culture.”

Apart from a mode of advertisement of today’s culture a magazine cover plays a dual function of advertising the magazine brand itself. “An impressive cover encourages people to flip through the magazine and buy it”. (Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue editor). Getting the magazine cover right is not only ethically important but also financially important to the magazine in order to develop brand loyalty and increased circulations. Thus making it important to study magazine covers as a mode of advertisement and part of the marketing mix, for a magazine publication.

MAGAZINE COVERS AS BRAND VISUAL IDENTITY

It is a common assumption that ‘an advertisement would be effective if the viewer decodes the advertisement successfully,’ if there is a significant transfer of attributes. (Mooij, M., 2009). Thus while developing one idea for a global brand or one single motivator for different cultures, one should not assume that the responses would be alike too. An idea being interpreted accurately by the consumers would only happen if ‘the senders and receivers share one culture’. If they do not share the same cultural values it may result in misunderstandings and demeaning of brand value within that culture. For example consider the inaugural Vogue covers of India and China. The Indian Vogue cover was styled by the magazines British fashion director while the Chinese vogue was styled by French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld (China economic net and Fashion week daily dispatch). The covers were not rightly decoded by the consumers and received much criticism. Whereas the covers for the preceding months styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania the fashion director for Vogue India was highly appreciated.(Fashion week daily dispatch)

“The essence of a brand is that it is a name in the memory of consumers. It is a perceptual map of positive and negative associations, a symbolic language, and a network of associations.” (Mooij, M.,2009). Vogue with its launch in many Asian countries received much negative associations with its local issues. The local Asian issues of Vogue are considered small ripples in the big pond of Fashion magazines (Armstrong ,L, 2009) and they could never manage to create the impact that American vogue or Italian Vogue have managed to create world over. Vogue India or Vogue China might be sold worldwide but it is not necessary that consumers in all countries consider them global brands. One theory suggests that a global brand is a brand that is strongly associated with its country of origin (Mooij, M., 2009) and for Vogue it’s been America. This can be considered positive if the country of origin has a stable global identity. With American values becoming ambiguous and Vogue bifurcating into multiple countries over time its core identity may be threatened. The idea of incorporating local aesthetics with their global image might dilute the brands global image.

STANDARDISATION

A multinational company’s personality and identity are the biggest factors influencing consumer (Eales, 1990 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998). Unrestricted global trade, a competitive marketplace and the fast technological developments have created a situation where consumers don’t just buy the product they also “buy” the company that produces it. The brands character, its identity, its image and the confidence it inspires in them help in making the choice between two almost similar product offerings in the market. At the centre of any business and its projected image is its corporate visual identity system. The elements of this system are: name, symbol, and/or logo, typography, colour and slogan (Dowling, 1994). These elements help to sell the company to consumers and its stakeholders. Corporate identity programs have risen due to globalisation (Ind, 1992). The changing business tactics, geographical locations, variations in cultures and changing markets have all encouraged companies to change their corporate identity. “As companies begin to operate on an international basis, the image that they acquired as national producers often becomes inappropriate” (Mills, 1988 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998).

Some international companies adopt a unified brand image in spite of government and consumer displeasure. The degree of de-standardisation of any company depends upon the strength of the host countries culture, government policies and target market. (Mooij, M., 2009). The decision to standardise a brand image also depends upon the competitive edge derived in either keeping activities central or decentralizing them. However a brand like Vogue that has a truly global orientation needs to express consistent brand values wherever it chooses to compete. Thus making its worldwide image more recognisable for its homogeneity than not.

A major component of a corporate identity is the corporate structure. (Strong, 1987) According to Ind (1992) there exist two corporate identities, one that is the organisational structure and the other that is the visual structure. The Visual structure is concerned with the branding of the product, and how it appears to the consumers. (Gray & Smeltzer, 1985 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). The basic concern with the visual structure is the degree of centralisation and decentralisation.

Thus the basic problem faced by Vogue is whether to sell an identical product image to all its consumers or to make modifications as per the local differences. A global brand can be a mass brand satisfying a common product need in all the countries or it can be a brand catering to a common niche in all the countries. Vogue magazine has two options, being a global brand it could standardize the brand and the brand image across the globe so that the Indian woman reading the Indian Vogue would feel equal to the French or American woman reading their respective Vogues. The other option it has is to go local, differentiate between its offerings and treat each market as an individual and not a global product while standardising its visual image, giving the impression of a common brand.

Researchers argue that standardisation of a brand helps the company to achieve a uniform image internationally which in turn increases sales.(Buzzell, 1968, Hovells & Walters, 1972 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998) . Others were of the opinion that standardisation makes consumers familiar with the product, its services, business diversities and competitive distinction thus helping to establish a uniform corporate image.(Peebles et al ,1977 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). Cosmopolitan for example is known around the globe to address personal and sex related issues as it does not change its editorials and articles depending on culture. The band logo/ font type, position or style does not differ according to geographical locations. The brand has achieved a sense of standardisation by not having a distinct country name printed on its cover unlike Vogue.

The research on global corporate visual identity systems by T.C. Melewar and John Saunders (1998) proved that “firms with highly standardised corporate visual identity systems (CVIS) saw themselves reaping more reward from their CVIS than did those with low CVIS standardisation. All custom