Task 1 -‘Bloody Politicians’ The Under-Occupancy charge – April 2013
In April 2013 the conservative government introduced the ‘under-occupancy’ charge affecting social housing tenants. Tenants receive less benefit if there are spare bedrooms in the home (14% less for one spare) but the ‘spare room subsidy’ does not affect pensioners or shared property tenants. Under tens are expected to share with both sexes, under 16s are expected to share with same sex. Adults are entitled their own room and extra rooms for medical purposes are not exempt. Ed Miliband also voted for the introduction of the bedroom tax originally, but because of the bad reception from the public, he stated he would remove it if he became the MP again. The fact he now opposes this represents the contrast between conservative aiming to please the middle class and Labor aiming to please lower/working class.
The spare-room subsidy is doable because the age ranges of children who share rooms mean they require the same needs in daily life. The tax has lead to 50,000 rooms free within the last twelve months out of the 660,000 spare rooms nationally. It has lead to an improved utilization of social housing saved the taxpayer £1 million a day. There has been increased support of the labor party among social tenants and increased conservative support among private homeowners/renters. The way that the tax benefits the middle/upper class but causes problems for lower/working class reflects Imogen Tyler’s theory that British citizenship has been designed to fail specific classes. In this instance, the bedroom tax is effectively designed to fail working and lower class people, which is why Labor opposes it.
In accordance to how people are affected in the UK, the bedroom tax affects people who live in council housing, so private homeowners don’t get affected by the policy and may not necessarily take interest in it. As a generalization, people that live in council housing are typically working class people, which are the main participants of this policy and are the general people that will be against it. If you have a spare room, you’ll now have to pay more money than before to keep it, on social media and in the news there have been vast amounts of complaints, because no-one wants to pay more money than they should; its put a lot of people in financial trouble; you may not be affected by the bedroom tax if you have certain disabilities, if you are a foster parent or if you receive a state pension. Effectively, the government are the ones that benefit from the bedroom tax because they are getting a lot more money out of each household and therefore are the ones that benefit from the policy. From this representation, we can observe that Maxim’s theory (that the oppressed will always have more power than the repressed) is in fact correct, seen as the government (oppressed) are controlling the repressed (lower/working class).
Re-written version of the policy
Britain needs sustainability. With the economy rising and the deficit lowering we need to begin to sustain our society to provide everyone with comfort and security. The bedroom tax targets people that live in social housing which have one or more un-occupied bedroom(s), it aims at getting people to pay for their unused rooms which someone else could generally benefit from. There are some that own 5 bedroom council houses but only occupy 2 bedrooms, leaving bedrooms free which is unfair to other citizens of the UK that can occupy that space fairly. Getting these people to pay for their unused rooms will eventually rise to Britain saving £1,000,000 a day and also gives everyone equal opportunities to occupy the home they need.
The tax will not affect you however, if you have been living in your home for over 10 years, a home of which has sentimental value to a family should not have to pay the tax. The tax only targets new council tenants of who have lived in council housing for under 2 years.
The bedroom tax will be exempt from people with physical disabilities that need more than one room for medical care. We will not make you pay for extra rooms if you need them for medical care.
You will be able to switch homes with other tenants if you both need each others spaces, a fair transaction between citizens will create equality in Britain as rooms will be utilized fairly.
Task 2 – Girls just wanna have fun
Our three activities ‘The Herbert: Festival of the dead’, ‘JJs nightclub’ and “Fargo creative village’ target varied audiences with varied tastes, class and leisure.
The Herbert’s Festival of the dead is a free activity therefore accessible to all socio-economic audiences but appealing to those with lower incomes. In terms of Blulmer and Katz’ theory of uses and gratifications, the audience for this event would be attracted to it for the “awareness of the world” stage because they’re developing their knowledge of the world historically, benefitting their understanding on a whole. Similar to Herbert, JJs costing is aimed at the student community who are D-E in the socio economic scale, thus enticing a lower class audience into attending the event somewhat like Herbert. It differs however, because middle class people would also be likely to attend the Herbert, as it’s educational and will you will benefit by going, but JJ’s is strictly a generic student event for socialization, appealing to a more lower class audience rather than middle class.
Although Entry for Fargo is free the activities there can be costly, for example ‘Christmas craft’ is £20 per person for an hours activity, in contrast the independent brewery and fair trade coffee shop sells reasonably priced beverages which would appeal to less affluent audiences. In reference to class, Fargo interlinks with Herbert from how it targets not only lower class people but middle class people also. It can be argued however, that Fargo attracts a wider audience located towards the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs than Herbert does, as Herbert appears to attract an audience further down the scale. Fargo, the ‘creative village’ explores creativity and a certain niche culture, almost ‘hipster’ and vintage, which primarily focuses on the middle class, whereas Herbert opposes this and seems to focally target lower class. However both offer activities for the nuclear family – which itself is portrayed to be a middle class ideal.
Both Fargo and Herbert offer ‘personal development’ in contrast to JJS, that offers only entertainments and escapism to the younger, poorer audiences. This representation makes JJ’s seem quite restricted to a certain demographic, not expressing the event as pleasurable for many people, as it’s only open to one specific class and tatse. Fargo and The Herbert’s Festival of the dead have defied Tyler’s theory that British citizenship is designed to fail certain social groups, as reflected by the fact they’re accessible to all audiences, meaning everyone has the chance to better their knowledge and in fact benefits everybody, rather than just benefiting one class of people and failing the others. On the other hand it confirms Marx’s theory that lower class will have less opportunities and will live in poverty, yet middle and upperclassmen will have lives of leisure, from how Fargo has vintage shops (expensive items) that lower classmen couldn’t typically afford. Conveying that yes, they are open to all audiences, but in relation to Fargo, only certain classes can fully partake in aspects of the events.
Task 3– I heard it through the grapevine
Within the first interview, in relation to Stephen Fry the interviewee explained to us that Fry is a “really intelligent man” with a “good sense of humor”. Further into the interview however, the interviewee stated that Stephen Fry is homosexual before we even mentioned anything of it, this raises the question: why should someone’s masculinity affect our opinion on them?
When the interview turned to Balotelli the participant told us how aggressive he considers him to be, and after our reveal that Balotelli is gay he asked us three times if that was really true; conveying he is having difficulties in conceiving a non-stereotypical gay masculinity. His reluctance to believe that a footballer is homosexual represents that homosexuality in sport is generally frowned upon and is unlikely to happen, his attitude seems to be opposed to the story we told him. After his denial and shocked utterances he starting talking about how “physical appearance doesn’t really matter” and that “being a good footballer is not about being straight or gay”, which opposes the dialogue and facial expressions he used just before as they reflected negative connotations; this could be because he is trying to conform to good social standard.
Upon revealing that Balotelli is homosexual in the second interview, the interviewee began arguing, “he is not” and said “mario balotelli gay? is he really? Stop it!” which is just like the denial from the participant in the first interview. His whole opinion of Balotelli appeared to change when we told him this, as at the start of the conversation he stated he liked him (unlike all other interviews), but now that balotelli is being addressed as homosexual he is perplexed and cant come to terms with the fact that a sportsmen is gay. Homosexuality in sports seems to be a major issue in terms of Connells theory of hierarchy in masculinity. As shown by these two participants, masculinity in football appears to threaten social order as both interviewees were extremely shocked and appeared to find it negative that Balotelli was gay, thus distancing themselves from homosexuality and conforming to the “masculine male” at the top of the hierarchy.
Alike the third interview, interviewee number four also found Stephen Fry respectable and acted composed when talking about his masculinity. His attitude towards Balotelli was juxtaposed beside Fry on the other hand when he described Balotelli as “a bit of an idiot”, which could represent Armstrong and Young’s theory that football is often characterized by homophobic banter; this could also be why Fry has received such a positive representation and Balotelli a somewhat homophobic one. When we mentioned that Balotelli was homosexual he appeared to be extremely shocked and replied to our statement with “Balotelli is gay!”. In one sense, his attitude towards Stephen Fry contradicts Connell’s theory of the hierarchy of masculinity. In the theory he states that a heterosexual male stands at the top of the hierarchy, which isn’t presented here as he respects Fry (of which he knew to be gay) more than he respects Balotelli (which he thought was masculine), overall defying the theory. It does however confirm an idea from Stasi and Evans that “individualism may work to locate homophobia in the psyches of particular men” as it has done for these individuals, seen as they have lowered their opinions towards Balotelli because he is homosexual.
Task 4 – Our Men from Mars?
As a group we chose to focus on gender segregation within clothes shops, specifically ‘Topshop’ and ‘Topman’ because the segregation was far more obvious to us, especially the higher interest between women wanting to shop then men wanting to shop. Shops have separate but not to dissimilar branding between the men and women clothing, physically separate within the independent building but by floors within the building they co-inhabit. `
Topshop and Topman have a cultural segregation between men and women in terms of their clothing. They also use a colour segregation due to the sign being black and white; black is a very masculine colour as men wear black on their wedding days whereas white is a very feminine colour as women usually wear white on their wedding day thus making this also become semiotic. This is noticeable throughout the shop due to the different types of clothing used, women need to be feminine and men need to be masculine. This adds to the two binary genders that our culture distinctly shows being separate these photos show the separation through clothing.
In terms of being socially acceptable women are seen as being accepted if they also wear men’s clothes but for a man it is not accepted to wear women’s clothing, thus becoming a countertype as it is challenging the traditional stereotype of men and women’s clothes. Judith Butler believes gender is a performance which masculinity and femininity perform and the clothes men and women wear are the “props” of this performance. This links to our next photo of the manikins, it is noticeable that each manikin is either female or male due to the features given the women manikins are almost posing as if they are modeling for a photo whereas the men are standing very upright and formal almost showing their strength. With the female manikins they are posing for the male gaze (Laura Malvey) to almost gain the men’s attention to enter the shop and looking inside. This shows the manikins becoming a symbol for the shop itself. The shop is physically segregated into men and women; women’s wear is upstairs whereas men’s wear is downstairs, the manikins help enhance the segregation as they target the performance of what the shop sells.
Topshop and Topman feed the cultural needs of men and women by reinforcing the social expectations of what a man and women need to wear.
Even though the shop is the same brand Topman had to enhance the MAN in their shop name allowing it to become a knowledge system.
Task 5 – 3 minute Documentary