Category / the conversation

What North Korean defectors say about women’s lives under the Kim regime

Hyun-Joo Lim, Bournemouth University

Glimpses of hope are visible on the Korean Peninsula for the first time in years. North Korea and the US have held some of their most important denuclearisation talks to date, and the Pyongyang leadership has embarked on what looks like a serious peace process with Seoul. The sight of a smiling Kim Jong-un holding hands with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump showed a different side to the North Korean supreme leader, suggesting he does in fact want to see progress towards a happier, more open era.

But while the world’s media focuses on the bravado over denuclearisation, the dire human rights situation inside the regime is being overlooked. Even during the talks, both Moon and Trump avoided directly raising such issues with Kim, eager as they were to achieve their own key objectives. It was galling to hear so little about the lives of ordinary North Koreans – and in particular women.

Many of North Korea’s women suffer daily abuse and injustice, and behind the international politics, there’s no sign that the situation is improving. In my own interviews with both male and female defectors, I heard about the day-to-day inequality, and also the violations of basic rights that women inside North Korea face as a matter of routine.

Trouble at home

North Koreans live in a paradoxical, confused system of gender relations. While Marxist Communism has been the fundamental organising principle of life in the north, Confucian patriarchy has shaped society, too, forming the backbone of North Korean society. Much as happened in post-revolutionary China, the superficial promulgation of equality belies the marked gender segregation of everyday life.

Some interviewees talked about their ordeals in the face of domestic violence. One participant expressed the anger and frustration she felt, as well as her relief when her husband died after more than 20 years abusing her. According to her, there is no redress for North Korean women who are subject to ongoing violence within the household, which is often seen as legitimate treatment.

When the famine began in the early 1990s, it was the women who took responsibility for family survival, going out to sell products and exchange goods. Another participant described how North Korean women often call men in the household “guard dogs” – tough figureheads who stay at home making no particular contribution.

Feeding starving families is largely left to women outside the formal workforce, who are subjected to less government control. These women are left to slip through the official system and get involved in black market trade or informal markets known as “Jangmadang”. Worse, some husbands take the goods their wives buy to exchange them for alcohol, or demand that their exhausted wives bring them alcohol even if their family has nothing to eat. If they do not, they are punished with abuse.

Isolated and shamed

Sexual violence is also a common problem inside the army. Being able to join the Worker’s Party of Korea is an essential pathway to a secure, successful life in North Korea, and a major reason for women to join the army is to become a member of the party. Senior male officials frequently exploit this as a means to manipulate and harass young women, threatening to block their chances of joining the party if they refuse or attempt to report the abuse. Out of fear, most women suffer in silence.

Female hygiene also remains a serious issue. Female soldiers are not given the chance to wash or change during training outside; my interviewees talked about women in the army being given wound dressings to use instead of sanitary towels. Things are even worse for ordinary female citizens, who have to make do with any materials available, such as off-cuts from men’s used vests or socks.

If they get pregnant unintentionally, women get the blame. Thus, many pregnant women use a range of dangerous methods to abort: tightening their stomach with an army belt to hide their growing pregnancy, taking anthelmintic medicine (antiparasitic drugs designed to remove parasitic worms from the body), or jumping off and rolling down the high mountain hills. Unsurprisingly, it’s common to find foetuses in army facilities’ toilets.

The gender divide in North Korea is so deeply ingrained – this is a society that has no term for sexual harassment – that women often blame each other rather than men for not behaving appropriately in these situations.

These stories all paint a distressing picture. It seems North Korea’s women are still trapped not only in systemic poverty, but in a deep-seated structure of gender inequality. Hence, we should not forget about the suffering of ordinary women inside the DPRK, hidden behind the glaring headlines of sweet smiles and big hugs between leaders. Denuclearisation is a step forward, but progress on human rights is the leap that’s needed most.The Conversation

Hyun-Joo Lim, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Gender inequalities in science won’t self-correct: it’s time for action


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Coastal geoscience and engineering is a broad discipline focused on physical processes at the interface of land and sea.
Marco Ferraz, Author provided

Sarah Hamylton, University of Wollongong; Ana Vila Concejo, University of Sydney; Luciana Esteves, Bournemouth University, and Shari L. Gallop, Macquarie University

Harassed on fieldtrips. Excluded from projects. On the receiving end of micro-aggressions. A lack of female role models.

These are some of our collective experiences as women working in science and engineering.

Such experiences erode research opportunities and career progression, leading to the loss of many brilliant women from our disciplinary field – along similar lines as we’ve recently seen exposed in Australian federal parliament.

Today we published a global snapshot of the status of women in coastal science and engineering. The results show that gender inequity is still a major problem in the daily work lives of women globally.

And since gender inequalities in science won’t self-correct, we’ve developed some solutions based on our findings.

Tokenism is real in science.
Naomi Edwards, Author provided

Working at the water’s edge

We work in coastal geoscience and engineering, a broad discipline focused on physical processes at the interface of land and sea. Here’s one of our experiences:

For twenty years people had been telling me how lucky I was to be in our field of research because “things” were changing for young women.

This didn’t resonate with my experiences. Twenty years later “things” had not changed and I was no longer a young woman. I started talking to other women and found that they had faced similar challenges, and wanted to see change. – Ana Vila-Concejo

To catalyse change, we founded the Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE) network in 2016. Our first project was a study to understand the main issues faced by women who work in our field.

I’m pregnant, I’m a scientist. Now what?
Naomi Edwards, Author provided

Global snapshot

We surveyed 314 members of the coastal science and engineering community and analysed the gender representation in 9 societies, 25 journals, and 10 conferences.

We found that while women represent 30% of the international coastal science community, they are consistently underrepresented in leadership positions (such as being on journal editorial boards and as conference organisers). This situation was clearly acknowledged by the coastal sciences community, with 82% of females and 79% of males believing that there are not enough female role models.

Female representation in prestige roles was the highest (reaching the expected 30%) only when there was a clear entry pathway that gave women an opportunity to volunteer for a role.

Female representation was the lowest for the traditional “invite-only” prestige roles.

A significantly larger proportion of females felt held back in their careers due to gender than their male counterparts (46% of females in comparison to 9% of males).

Reasons for this include:

  • a “glass ceiling” of informal workplace cultures and customs that reduce womens’ chances of promotion
  • gender stereotyping of women not being competent in STEM disciplines
  • a “boys’ club” tendency to favour men in recruitment and collaboration, and
  • widely held assumptions that a woman’s job performance will be impacted by her having children (the “maternal wall”).
It feels like a boys’ club.
Naomi Edwards, Author provided

Fieldwork emerged as a key area of inequity, with female respondents being excluded or outright banned from research ships. For those respondents who made it to the field, many of them reported experiencing gender stereotyping and/or sexual harassment.

We used our survey to ask some forthright, open-ended questions about peoples’ experiences and observations of gender equality.

As a study author, the day I went over the responses was one that I will never forget. Stories of bullying, abortion and sexual harassment had me in tears at my desk. Inequality was consistent, pervasive and, in many cases, traumatic. – Sarah Hamylton.

So, what can be done?

Seven steps toward improving gender equity

Gender imbalances in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are not a self-correcting phenomenon – so here are some ways to make science more inclusive for women.

Ways to make science more inclusive for women.
Naomi Edwards, Author provided
  1. Advocate for more women in prestige roles: Ensure fair representation of women as keynote speakers at conferences, on society boards and journal editorial boards. Have clear pathways to prestige roles giving women an opportunity to apply if they wish to do so.

  2. Promote high-achieving females: Recognise the achievements of females, and select them for roles that increase their visibility as role models.

  3. Be aware of gender bias: Consciously reflect on personal biases when hiring, promoting and mentoring staff.

  4. Speak up, call it out: Point out to conference organisers all-male panels and keynote programs and, where they are underrepresented, write to chief editors suggesting women for editorial boards.

  5. Provide better support for returning to work after maternity leave: Higher levels of support and more flexible conditions for women returning from maternity leave encourage women to stay in their employment after having children, thereby increasing their prospects of reaching more senior posts.

  6. Redefine success: Recognise the diverse range of definitions of what it means to be a successful researcher.

  7. Encourage women to enter the discipline at a young age: Many school-age girls are put off the idea of entering STEM disciplines as they are socially and culturally deemed to be “male” pursuits. This needs to be addressed.

Change is happening – but it’s slow.
Naomi Edwards, Author provided

The Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering network is already successfully implementing some of these steps.

By choosing to ignore inequity for women, you become accountable for allowing it to continue. Speak up, promote the work of your female colleagues and give them voice and visibility.

This problem transcends STEM disciplines. It is crucial that the wider community becomes aware of the extent of inequity so that, where necessary, everyone can take action to improve the governance and culture of their work place.The Conversation

Sarah Hamylton, Senior Lecturer, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong; Ana Vila Concejo, Associate professor, University of Sydney; Luciana Esteves, Associate professor, Bournemouth University, and Shari L. Gallop, Lecturer, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Rohingya refugees remain a heavy burden on Bangladesh

The Rohingya people of Myanmar are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The Myanmar government doesn’t consider them as citizens and deprives them of basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

To avoid persecution, waves of Rohingya people have taken refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh in recent decades, with particular flash points in 1978, 1992 and 2012.

The latest and largest mass exodus to Bangladesh took place in late August 2017. Within a month, around half a million Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh. This influx gradually slowed down, but did not stop there. A year later, the total number of Rohingya in Bangladesh is estimated to be 918,000, with around 700,000 new arrivals since August 2017.

The Rohingya refugees are confined within several camps in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, which are managed jointly by the government and a coordinating body of international organisations called the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG). The largest of these, which I visited in August 2018, is known as the Kutupalong camp and hosts more than a half a million people. The camp seems neverending, with shelters, shops and narrow paths leading to every corner.

The Kutupalong site covers about 6,000 acres and is densely populated with eight square metres per person. The sites are highly vulnerable to rain, floods, cyclones, fire and landslides. Access to basic services is still insufficient, and there are poor quality shelters, latrines and delivery clinics. According to the ISCG’s 2018 joint response plan, 12,200 metric tonnes of food per month and 16m litres of safe water per day are needed to sustain the refugee population.

Disappearing forests

From what I saw, the environmental impact of the crisis is clearly devastating. A local forest officer told me that, in the past, the site upon which the Kutupalong camp now stands was a protected forest. Now, not a single large tree can be seen.

Many local Bangladeshis around the camps previously depended on nearby forests – to collect honey, and use dead branches and leaves as firewood. These forests are now disappearing.

Near the camp, I saw many large holes, evidence of the complete uprooting of trees to meet the demands for firewood. Bangladesh’s forest department is relentlessly trying to protect the nearby forests, but doesn’t have enough manpower to maintain the vigil 24 hours a day.

There is no clear boundary to the camp, and nearby I saw some Bangladeshi settlements. The demarcation is obvious: if a group of houses is surrounded by large trees then it is a Bangladeshi settlement, if not, it’s a Rohingya settlement.

The area used to be a habitat for many forest animals including about 40 elephants. The animals are now all gone and the elephants are trapped in another small patch of forest nearby, a local forest officer told me. In the early part of 2018, some elephants attacked Rohingya settlements.

Impact on local economy

The local economy of the camps seem to be thriving and the Kutupalong site is full of small shops selling many kinds of goods. The shop sellers are largely Rohingya, though there is reportedly some Bangladeshi involvement, too.

The presence of the refugees has imposed a heavy financial burden on the Bangladeshi government. One government officer told me that about 2,000 government officials are involved in the management of the camps at various levels – at an annual cost of US$15.24m to the Bangladeshi government. This is a huge sum, considering the per capita annual GDP of Bangladesh is only about US$1,700.

It was the local community in the area that provided much needed early support to Rohingya refugees in August 2017, before aid arrived. Since then, research has begun to highlight the impact of the Rohingya refugees on the local communities, including on the price of local goods and on the local job market

In June 2018, the Bangladesh government signed a memorandum of understanding with the aim of facilitating the voluntary repatriation of 700,000 Rohingya back to Myanmar, but the prospect of actual returns is in question because of the previous experience of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Meanwhile, they continue to see Bangladesh as a place of refuge, as they have for decades. To ensure voluntary repatriations happen, full assurance is required that they will not be persecuted upon their return.

The ConversationMeanwhile, a longer term, sustainable solution is required for the area, one which secures the safety and livelihoods of both those Rohingya people in fear for their lives, and the hosts who have given them sanctuary.

Mehdi Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Hunger by the sea: human stories of food poverty told through animation

Turn to the food bank.
Hunger by The Sea

Sue Sudbury, Bournemouth University

You can’t say it’s your own fault if you’ve had to change benefits for some reason. You can say it’s our fault if we went out and blown [the money] in the bookies or in the pubs, then yeah, it would be our own fault. Most people just can’t afford to pay rent and buy food.

These are the words of one of the contributors in my film, Hunger by the Sea, a four-minute animation about people’s experiences of food banks in an English seaside town. Using voiceovers, it presents the human stories behind food bank use – which hit a record high in 2018.

The idea came about after watching Ken Loach’s film, I, Daniel Blake. I was particularly shocked by the scene in the food bank in which a mother, who had not eaten for days because she had given what little food she had to her children, opens and scoffs a can of cold food while because she is so hungry and cannot wait. The mother apologises and cries when a food bank helper comes over because she is very embarrassed. I wanted to find out if scenes like this were really happening in Britain today or whether they were only in the realm of fiction.

Figures from the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank provider, show that between April 2017 and March 2018 there was a 13% increase in the number of three-day emergency food supplies given out compared to the previous year (they now count food parcels rather than people). They gave out 1,332,952 of these supply packages, and 484,026 of these went to children.

I’m a documentary filmmaker and academic at Bournemouth University, and I worked with students on this idea. My initial plan was to give people who use food banks cameras, allowing them to become first-person storytellers and speak directly to policymakers and politicians. But after my student researcher, Charlie Mott, spent several weeks volunteering in three local food banks, it became clear that people were ashamed to admit they had had to resort to food banks. They felt it was their fault; they did not want to be visible.

As one participant in the end film said: “I’m a bit ashamed as I don’t like asking for help, so it’s a big thing for me.”

The project was then recast as an animation in which people could speak openly and anonymously and so we took on another co-researcher, Xue Han, an animation student. Even with this new plan, we had to approach 14 different food banks before finding one that was prepared to let us record people’s voices. It so happened that it was situated by the sea and its location provided strong images to accompany the people struggling to keep their heads above water. Coastal communities have been particularly hit by economic inequality, with some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest pay in the country.

Asking for help is difficult.
Hunger by the Sea, Author provided

Food bank managers, also speaking for the film, confirmed that scenes like the one in I, Daniel Blake occur with shocking regularity. As one in the film laments: “We often have situations where perhaps the mothers haven’t eaten for days just so they can feed the children.”

Mothers going hungry to feed the kids.
Hunger by the Sea, Author provided

Another spoke about the physical and psychological effects of hunger:

When you’re not eating you don’t get the hunger pangs, you don’t get the starving, you get a pit in your stomach, I suppose, you try and fill, you bulk yourself out with water, [but] it’s your pride that really feels it the most.“

Deeper feelings.
Hunger by the Sea, Author provided

Tragically, the people who speak in the film were not hard to find and all had their own desperate stories.

“This food bank is a lifeline for us. We haven’t had a meal for two weeks,” said one. Another couple said that “everything is going up and all our money goes on bills”. One man with a brain tumour was “devastated” that it has come to this after paying his own way all his life.

The ConversationIn making the film, we hope these voices will be heard far and wide and have an impact on policymakers and government officials by humanising stories that are often lost to the statistics.

Sue Sudbury, Principal Academic in Television and Film Production, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

BU research is featured by the Times

We, Elvira Bolat and Parisa Gilani, are quite pleased to see the article, published by the Conversation on 7th August, quickly picked up by Mark Bridge, technology correspondent of the Times. Article titled “It’s depressing to be slightly influential on social media” was published both in online and paper versions of the major national newspaper on 9th August.

Dr Parisa Gilani was interviewed prior to the publication and addressed all questions of the correspondent. It is critical to highlight that the research itself is based on BU’s BA (Hons) Business Studies with Marketing final year student Claudia Wilkin’s research project. Although the CEL-funded co-creation project focused on understanding what makes social media influencers successful businesspeople, one of the finding was quite fascinating and contributing to literature around FOMO, cyberbullying and leader-followers relationships.

As Mark Bridge noted, there is a need for responsible behaviour and actions within online space and as most of us consume content online, we need to be much more thoughtful on how we express our reactions to various types of content.

Read full article online via: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/it-s-depressing-to-be-slightly-influential-on-social-media-xf75sztff 

Instagram influencers: when a special relationship with fans turns dark

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Elijah O’Donell/Unsplash

Elvira Bolat, Bournemouth University and Parisa Gilani, Bournemouth University

Ask a child or teenager “what do you want to be?” and you might get the response, a “YouTuber. Instagrammer”. That’s perhaps not surprising given how attractive the world of social media influencing seems to be. It looks hassle-free, with freebies, travel and endless opportunities.

Social media influencers publish videos, images and motivational stories on social media channels such as Instagram and YouTube. But their presence is different to the average user. An influencer has a solid base of fans who follow the content for entertainment or inspiration. In return, these followers indicate their enjoyment and appreciation by liking, sharing and commenting on photos, links and videos, while influencers get paid through advertising.

The number of people following and the number of likes and comments is currency in the social media world. It enables influencers to build a reputation and stand out from all of us who use social media to interact with friends. Most social media influencers have their own specialist expertise areas which they are passionate about or develop as a hobby. One of the UK’s top earning influencers Zoella – better known as Huda Beauty – started off publishing cosmetics tutorial videos but ended up documenting every minute of her life via videos and pictures.

This is a key element of the phenomenon. It sets social media stars apart from traditional celebrities. Followers value the ability to get a close look at the personal lives of influencers. They like following “real” and relatable people. Influencers are effectively collaborating with their followers, building a network that helps them to establish a reputation from recommendations and referrals. That in turn, enables them to generate income through advertising deals.

The Instagram influencer market has grown exponentially in recent years. It’s now a billion dollar industry, with a value projected to double by 2019. Social media influencers are seen as being able to drive the attitudes and behaviour of their followers by pushing content at them, from healthy budget recipes to workout routines. But the relationship also involves interacting with them by asking for their views and recommendations as well as, crucially, thanking them and publishing content they ask to be posted.

But our study of a micro-influencing group called Bournemouth Bloggers revealed that this relationship can also have repercussions for influencers. Micro-influencers are those whose follower count is below 10,000. We talked to 12 such micro-influencers who mainly post content about their lifestyles.

It’s common for micro-influencers to start with their own interests and hobbies to generate a number of likes and followers, which leads to a boost in self-confidence. Ultimately it’s this confidence that motivates micro-influencers to carry on posting. However, as with any euphoria-linked activity, such as gaming, there are also negative outcomes. We found that micro-influencers are empowered through their increased confidence but that anxiety, social media fear and insecurity are common traits too.

Some of the micro-influencers we interviewed revealed that they felt afraid their followers would perceive them as being too image conscious or that they would see them as being too focused on their brand image rather than their community of fans. They also face anxiety through constant comparison with other social media users. One influencer said:

On Instagram I started comparing myself to others and wondering why my pictures weren’t getting as many likes or why it didn’t look a certain way.

We found that mental health issues were also triggered by the followers themselves. When the influencer first sets up an account, they have their own ideas about what they want to achieve. They want to share pictures of their travels or recipes. But as they attract more followers, the topics and content posted starts to be determined by what the online audience wants to see, sometimes totally changing the creative direction. This causes conflict in an influencer’s mind. They no longer act in an authentic manner by posting videos and images they genuinely like but attempt to post images that might be more popular.

One of the influencers who took part in our study admitted:

I do feel … when I post something and it doesn’t get many likes I do think about it, get frustrated and run around to get ideas. I check other influencers’ content and then think-rethink what if my followers will not like it or think I am not funny. Some comments I get are so hurtful. It is like in relationship. There are good and bad days I have with my followers.

Pressures from followers are also combined with the issue of trolling. Take the recent story of Sophie Gradon, one of Love Island’s previous contestants. Before her death, Gradon had openly shared her experience of negative comments on social media, claiming that it contributed to her depression and anxiety.

When we talk about responsible social media use, we so often focus on fake news and cyberbullying, but as more of us take an interest in producing social media content, we need to start thinking about the anxieties and insecurities we ourselves can create by piling the pressure on ourselves or the people we admire.

The ConversationYoung people are attracted to the world of social media influencing because it can make you rich and famous. But they soon find themselves dependent on the number of likes and opinions their followers post, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression and other mental health issues. Perhaps we, as followers, need to think more about what part we play in that cycle.

Elvira Bolat, Senior Lecturer in Marketing , Bournemouth University and Parisa Gilani, Lecturer in Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Brexit: champagne, parmesan, prosecco and feta could soon be at the centre of negotiations

As Brexit day creeps closer, one issue that remains unresolved is the way that food names will be protected in Britain and the EU. From parmesan and feta to cornish pasties and Bavarian beer, the EU is fiercely protective over protected designations of origin (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs).

A number of highly popular products are protected under this legal framework that dictates certain products can only be produced in certain regions. So champagne must be produced in the Champagne region of France and prosecco in a small pocket of north-eastern Italy. These are products with big market shares in the UK, with consumer loyalty being built up and consolidated through the use of these reputable geographical names.

The issue is also important to the UK. Many British products are also protected under the EU regime. It helps protect both their quality and value.

Accept no imitations.
Shutterstock

But when the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be under the laws that govern the protective status of these products. The government’s recently launched white paper, which outlined the UK’s plans for Brexit, declares that Britain will set up its own protection of geographical names to provide for continuous protection of UK products within the UK. But it doesn’t mention any continuation of the EU’s protection scheme.

Some in Brussels have expressed fear that British producers will start exploiting previously protected European names. Yet, rather ironically, British products would not lose their status in the EU (and could still seek new EU registrations in the future), since the EU allows for the protection of geographical names from non-EU countries. It’s an imbalance which seems to please British negotiators.

So, the European Commission fears that after Brexit the high level of protection that European products currently enjoy in the UK under EU law may evaporate. The white paper proposal rather contrasts with the commission’s proposal, which suggests that the UK continue protecting geographical indications, as it does under the EU.

US interference

But the EU’s desire that post-Brexit Britain keep its protection of geographical indications is bound to collide with US strategic interests. The US position is an important factor to take into account in the Brexit negotiations. If the UK signs a trade deal with the US, it will likely clash with a lot of EU regulations – including provisions governing the use of geographical names for food and beverages.

The US plays by different rules when it comes to the protection of these names. There are numerous US food companies that freely use European geographical expressions (including parmesan and feta for cheese) to identify products that have not been produced in the relevant European locations. In the US, these are considered to be generic names that describe the products and cannot be monopolised by anyone, not even by the producers coming from the relevant European geographical area.

Is it feta or ‘Greek-style cheese’?
Shutterstock

That is why the US is lobbying the UK to abandon the EU’s protection of geographical indications, namely to allow US food and beverage companies to enter the British market by freely using European names. A US-UK trade deal would likely be contingent on the UK dropping the EU-level protection of geographical indications. But this, in turn, would scupper the prospects of a trade deal with the EU – an even bigger trading partner for the UK.

Sticking point

The EU has continuously placed great emphasis on the protection of its geographical names during trade negotiations. It proved to be a big sticking point in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. France and Greece, for example, threatened to veto a deal with the US unless it upheld their geographical indications. More recently, Italy’s minister for agriculture noted that Italy may not ratify the EU’s trade deal with Canada because, in his view, it does not adequately protect Italian geographical names.

The ConversationIt is therefore not a stretch to say that the entire Brexit deal could hinge on the issue of geographical indications. There is no doubt that providing a level of protection in the UK which is comparable to the current EU scheme – for example, via a mutual EU/UK recognition scheme – would facilitate an agreement not only on the specific issue of geographical names, but also of the entire Brexit deal. This would, however, make favourable trade agreements between the UK and the US less likely. The battle over geographical indications will surely go on.

Enrico Bonadio, Senior Lecturer in Law, City, University of London and Marc Mimler, Lecturer in Law, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Can a scientific name save one of Earth’s most iconic freshwater fish from extinction?

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The iconic hump-backed mahseer.
J. Bailey, Author provided

The mahseers are an iconic group of fish found throughout the fast-flowing rivers of South and South-East Asia. Characterised by their large scales, attractive appearance and potentially vast size, the mahseers have long been afforded saintly status as “God’s fishes”. They are also known to anglers as some of the world’s hardest fighting freshwater game fish, earning them the reputation of “tigers of the water”.

But despite lots of interest in mahseers, their future is under serious threat as their rivers become polluted and blocked by hydropower dams in order to support a rapidly growing human population. Those fish that do survive are vulnerable to illegal “dynamite fishing” in which a blast kills or injures all aquatic life, allowing poachers to harvest anything that floats to the surface.

Of the 18 currently valid species of mahseer, the official IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists four as endangered, one as vulnerable, and one as near threatened. The rest either lack enough data to reach a conclusion or haven’t been evaluated.

Recent research published by colleagues and I in PLOS ONE focused on the hump-backed mahseer, the largest and most endangered of all mahseers. The fish was once common throughout the Cauvery river and its various tributaries in southern India, but it is now limited to just a handful of small isolated populations. Weighing as much as a small adult human (55kg), this freshwater giant qualifies as megafauna, yet bizarrely it has remained a taxonomic enigma without a valid scientific name.

The Cauvery and its tributaries flow through the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Central Ground Water Board, India

Until now. Colleagues and I discovered that the hump-backed mahseer is actually the same species as Tor remadevii: a mahseer that previously lacked a common name. Scientists first described Tor remadevii as a new species in 2007, based on a small sample of juvenile fish from the most southerly tributary of the Cauvery catchment in the state of Kerala. Little did they realise that the small fish they had discovered from this remote sub-catchment was the same as the monster mahseer found in the upper and middle reaches of the main river Cauvery.

The rise and fall of a freshwater icon

The hump-backed mahseer was first brought to the attention of the world’s anglers in Henry Sullivan Thomas’s 1873 classic, The Rod in India. During British rule, several huge specimens were recorded, including the still-standing world rod-caught record, a 120lb (54kg) monster captured in 1946 by a taxidermist from Mysore known as de Wet Van Ingen. Indian independence followed soon after, and the mahseer was largely forgotten by the outside world, with many believing the fish had been dynamited to extinction.

Although larger fish have been reported, this catch by de Wet Van Ingen still stands as the official world record.

That was until 1977, when the Trans World Fishing Team – comprised of three Englishmen –travelled to India and spent several months exploring the country’s rivers before reaching the Cauvery. There they found the hump-backed mahseer very much alive, and realised their sporting dreams by recording individual catches up to 92lbs (42kg).

This reignited global interest, and catch-and-release anglers from around the world flocked to the River Cauvery in search of the legendary fish. Local villagers found employment as angling guides, cooks or drivers, some of them rehabilitated poachers who realised that a live mahseer had renewable value, unlike the single value of a dead one at market. Patrols were set up to protect the species 24/7, allowing the ecology of the river to flourish.

Martin Clark of the Trans World Fishing Team with one of the fish caught in 1978.
Trans World Fishing Team, Author provided

But all was not what it seemed. Since their establishment in the 1970s, the angling camps had been collecting invaluable data which shed new light on the situation. When colleagues and I analysed these detailed catch records, we realised the hump-backed mahseer had almost disappeared. Although overall mahseer stocks were rising, the humpback itself was being rapidly replaced by a non-native and highly invasive species of mahseer, which had been deliberately introduced to the River Cauvery to boost stocks in the late 1970s. This led us to publish a paper in 2015, outlining the threat of imminent extinction facing the hump-backed mahseer.

So, what’s in a name?

The hump-backed mahseer has been known around the world by its common name, but confusion over its scientific name has prevented its inclusion in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Given the fish is on the edge of extinction, it proved a significant challenge finding wild specimens from which to collect the DNA and associated evidence required to support a formal taxonomic clarification. Only after three years of expeditions was our team finally successful in finding a small population of humpbacks in a remote jungle section of the River Moyar, a tributary of the Cauvery.

The paper we recently published fixes the scientific name as Tor remadevii and should see the iconic species assessed as “critically endangered” in the next update of the Red List. The significance of the research published will afford this iconic fish the recognition and legislative protection it so urgently requires to develop robust conservation planning.

The ConversationHowever, in the long term, the fish’s future rests in the hands of the three Indian states with stakes in the highly-contested Cauvery river system – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. One hope is that the humpback mahseer will become a unifying force and bring these states together to protect the rich biodiversity and natural function of the Cauvery from further decay, allowing the river to continue to support the many millions of people who depend on it.

Adrian Pinder, Associate Director, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How culture influences children’s development

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

By Dr Ching-Yu HuangBournemouth University.

From educational toys to governmental guidelines and detailed nursery progress reports, there are lots of resources available to help parents track and facilitate their children’s development. But while there are tricks we can use to teach children to talk, count, draw or respect others, a surprisingly big part of how they develop is determined by the culture they grow up in.

Child development is a dynamic, interactive process. Every child is unique in interacting with the world around them, and what they invoke and receive from others and the environment also shapes how they think and behave. Children growing up in different cultures receive specific inputs from their environment. For that reason, there’s a vast array of cultural differences in children’s beliefs and behaviour.

Language is one of the many ways through which culture affects development. We know from research on adultsthat languages forge how people think and reason. Moreover, the content and focus of what people talk about in their conversations also vary across cultures. As early as infancy, mothers from different cultures talk to their babies differently. German mothers tend to focus on their infants’ needs, wishes or them as a person. Mothers of the African tribal group Nso, on the other hand, focus more on social context. This can include the child’s interactions with other people and the rules surrounding it.

Masai children. Syndromeda/Shutterock

This early exposure affects the way children attend to themselves or to their relationship with others – forming their self image and identity. For example, in Western European and North American countries, children tend to describe themselves around their unique characteristics – such as “I am smart” or “I am good at drawing”. In Asian, African, Southern European and South American countries, however, children describe themselves more often around their relationship with others and social roles. Examples of this include “I am my parents’ child” or “I am a good student”.

Because children in different cultures differ in how they think about themselves and relate to others, they also memorise events differently. For example, when preschoolers were asked to describe a recent special personal experience, European-American children provided more detailed descriptions, recalled more specific events and stressed their preferences, feelings and opinions about it more than Chinese and Korean children. The Asian children instead focused more on the people they had met and how they related to themselves.

Cultural effects of parenting

Parents in different cultures also play an important role in moulding children’s behaviour and thinking patterns. Typically, parents are the ones who prepare the children to interact with wider society. Children’s interaction with their parents often acts as the archetype of how to behave around others – learning a variety of socio-cultural rules, expectations and taboos. For example, young children typically develop a conversational style resembling their parents’ – and that often depends on culture.

European-American children frequently provide long, elaborative, self-focused narratives emphasising personal preferences and autonomy. Their interaction style also tends to be reciprocal, taking turns in talking. In contrast, Korean and Chinese children’s accounts are usually brief, relation-oriented, and show a great concern with authority. They often take a more passive role in the conversations. The same cultural variations in interaction are also evident when children talk with an independent interviewer.

Children in the Western world question their parents’ authority more. Gargonia/Shutterstock

Cultural differences in interactions between adults and children also influence how a child behaves socially. For instance, in Chinese culture, where parents assume much responsibility and authority over children, parents interact with children in a more authoritative manner and demand obedience from their children. Children growing up in such environments are more likely to comply with their parents’ requests, even when they are reluctant to do so.

By contrast, Chinese immigrant children growing up in England behave more similarly to English children, who are less likely to follow parental demands if unwilling.

From class to court

As the world is getting increasingly globalised, knowledge regarding cultural differences in children’s thinking, memory and how they interact with adults has important practical implications in many areas where you have to understand a child’s psychology. For instance, teachers may need to assess children who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Knowing how children coming from a different culture think and talk differently can help the teacher better interview them as part of an oral academic test, for example.

Another important area is forensic investigations. Being aware that Chinese children tend to recall details regarding other people and be brief in their initial response to questions may enable the investigator to allow more time for narrative practice to prepare the child to answer open-ended questions and prompt them with follow up questions.

Also, knowing that Chinese children may be more sensitive and compliant to authority figures – and more obedient to a perpetrator within the family – an interviewer may need to spend more time in building rapport to help the child relax and reduce their perceived authority. They should also be prepared to be patient with reluctance in disclosing abuse within families.

While children are unique and develop at their own pace, the cultural influence on their development is clearly considerable. It may even affect how quickly children reach different developmental milestones, but research on this complicated subject is still inconclusive. Importantly, knowledge about cultural differences can also help us pin down what all children have in common: an insatiable curiosity about the world and a love for the people around them.


Dr Ching-Yu Huang, Lecturer in Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Anthill Podcast 27: Confidence

Shutterstock

By Annabel Bligh, The Conversation; Gemma Ware, The Conversation, and Holly Squire, The Conversation.

Includes interview with BU’s Professor Keith Brown discussing confidence artists in financial scamming. [31:50 – 36:38]

This episode of The Anthill podcast digs into the concept of confidence. We start by finding out how scientists define confidence and how it works in the brain.

Producer Gemma Ware takes a confidence calibration test with the help of psychologist Eva Krockow at the University of Leicester, who also shares some of her research findings on whether expressing confidence about something is a good marker of being right about it. And neuroscientist Dan Bang from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL, helps explain how a person’s brain computes their level of confidence about certain tasks – and why we need to be aware of the variety in people’s levels of confidence when making decisions as a group.

Then we take a look at how confidence can get us ahead in life – and in the workplace especially. Can you really fake it until you make it? Westminster University’s Chantal Gautier shares some of the findings from her book, The Psychology of Work, where she interviewed a number of industry leaders to discover what it is that makes organisations successful. Confidence is important. But that includes the confidence to admit your shortcomings and ask for help when you need it, she says.

With numerous studies suggesting that men show more confidence than women, we also examine the extent that this explains the gender pay gap. Are women just not leaning in enough?

Lean on in. Shutterstock

Recent research by Amanda Goodall at Cass Business School found that women are actually asking for pay rises at the same rate as men. They’re just not getting them. She helps us unpick the idea that you can fake it ‘til you make it and explains why leaders that are real experts in their field are better than those who aren’t.

Lastly, we turn to the dark side of confidence. The Conversation’s Holly Squire delves deep into the murky world of confidence tricksters, to find out what makes a con man (or woman) tick. Professional magician Gustav Kuhn at Goldsmiths University of London, details the deception involved in card trick scams. And Keith Brown from Bournemouth University explains the reality of financial scamming – and the terrible impact it can have on victims.


The Anthill theme music is by Alex Grey for Melody Loops. The song “I Have Confidence” is sung by Julie Andrews from the musical The Sound of Music by Rogers and Hammerstein. Music in the confidence definition segment is Into the Clouds by Nicolai Heidlas Music via YouTube.
Music in the confidence trickster segment is Curtains are Always Drawn by Kai Engel, and Land of Magic by Frank Dorittke from the Free Music Archive.

Click here to listen to more episodes of The Anthill, on themes including Twins, Intuition, and Pain. And browse other podcasts from The Conversation here.

Thank you to City, University of London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios to record The Anthill.


Annabel Bligh, Business + Economy Editor, The Conversation; Gemma Ware, Society Editor, The Conversation, and Holly Squire, Commissioning Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How farms can help improve the lives of disadvantaged young people

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A visiting farmer tends the animals. Future Roots, Author provided

By Dr Sarah Hambidge (Post-Doctoral Researcher), Bournemouth University.

A couple of years ago, I met Adam (not his real name) at a farm in Dorset. Adam was 14 and had been excluded from mainstream education due to behavioural difficulties and a disruptive home life. He had consequently become involved in regular underage drinking and antisocial behaviour. Adam was being exploited and groomed as a drug runner for a London drug gang infiltrating rural areas. He told me that he had been given a knife by gang members and encouraged to use it to protect himself if necessary against rival gangs or local drug dealers.

The farm where I met him is not a normal farm, but a social one, where the therapeutic use of farming practices and animal assisted therapy is used to provide health, social and educational care services for disadvantaged young people that have become disengaged with mainstream education. Stories such as Adam’s are growing increasingly familiar to staff at the farm he attended, who see other vulnerable young people referred to their service.

Learning new skills. Sarah Hambidge

Many of the young people living in rural Britain who are being exploited by these gangs are, like Adam, those who are disengaged with mainstream education and are at risk of becoming, or currently are, NEET (not in education, employment or training). There are 808,000 young people (aged 16-24) in the UK who are NEET.

Being NEET has a long-term impact on a young person’s life, leaving them vulnerable to substance misuse, offending behaviour, physical and mental health problems, academic underachievement and reduced employment. These young people are subsequently regarded as a concern to the police, health, education and social care professionals.

Yet current interventions are failing to reduce the number of young people becoming NEET. These interventions typically focus on providing the young person with vocational education, despite the fact that the most common vocational qualifications in the UK have very little or no relevance to the labour market.

Interventions that offer a restorative approach, with therapeutic support and a focus on learning, however, are acknowledged to be more successful.

Farm animal therapy. Sarah Hambridge

A green future

Earlier this year, the government launched a 25-year environment plan. The plan acknowledged the importance of connecting children and young people to nature through learning, as well as the benefits of a physical, hands-on experience as a pathway to good health and well-being. The government has pledged £10m to support local strategies which use the natural environment and has further committed to a national expansion of social farming by 2022. This will treble the number of available places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England.

On social farms, health, social or specialist educational care services for vulnerable people are delivered through structured programmes of farming-related activities. Social farming is established in numerous European countries. Norway currently operates 1,100 social farms, compared to 240 in the UK.

Taking a break on the farm. Sarah Hambidge

Young people participate in a variety of seasonal farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management. Social farming has been found to have a positive impact on physical and mental health along with the opportunity to develop transferable skills, personal development, social inclusion and rehabilitation.

Social farming

When I met Adam, I was in the midst of a research project evaluating whether a year-long farming intervention can prevent disengaged young people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds becoming NEET. Participants typically attend a four-hour session once a week at the farm.

Future roots, the farm I researched, employs a mix of teachers, youth and social workers and therapists. It offers a different model of learning for those struggling in mainstream education. My research demonstrated that the use of the natural environment as a mechanism for change was effective in reducing the risk of becoming NEET.

The young people learn to care for a variety of animals. Sarah Hambidge

The young people I followed displayed a significant reduction in self-reported mental health risks and behavioural regulation difficulties; improved social relationships and coping; improved life and work skills; and re-engagement with learning. All of the young people were in employment or training six months after their time at the social farm finished.

Indeed, the social farm was the only place where Adam said he felt safe. He was able to develop a sense of belonging and trust which enabled him to talk about the difficulties he was experiencing in his life. Without the social farm intervention, staff said that Adam would likely have proceeded to harm himself or others. The farmer refers to the changes seen in the young people as a “chrysalis butterfly effect”: the positive transformation seen in these young people as they turn their lives around to look to the future are truly inspiring.


Dr Sarah Hambidge, Postdoctoral Researcher, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Remembering Srebrenica, more than 20 years on

EPA/Jasmin Brutus

By Dr Melanie Klinkner, Bournemouth University and Giulia Levi, Bournemouth University.

One of the darkest hours in recent human history, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, has plenty of unpleasant parallels in today’s world, from Syria to Myanmar. 23 years after the massacre in and around the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, remembrance of what has been described as “scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history” is as important as ever.

The events in and around Srebrenica between July 10-19 1995 are well known. In those few days, an estimated 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces. Efforts to find, recover, identify and repatriate the victims’ remains are ongoing – and the task is a hugely complex one.

Every year at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre and Cemetery, more victims are laid to rest. This year, 35 people have been identified and will be buried. Of the 430 Srebrenica-related sites where human remains have been recovered, 94 are graves and 336 are surface sites with human remains scattered on the ground. Pathologists and anthropologists examined more than 17,000 sets of human remains related to Srebrenica, resulting in around 7,000 identifications, most of them via DNA. To gather enough DNA to make those identifications, more than 20,000 DNA samples had to be collected.

Slow justice

It was only in autumn 2017 that Ratko Mladić, a former general of the Bosnian Serb forces, was convicted of the crimes that took place in Srebrenica – genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer. Mladić is one of relatively few defendants to have appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged with genocide.

This is because for a conviction on the grounds of genocide, the prosecution has to prove a catalogue of things. To be convicted of the crime of genocide, the accused must have deliberately intended “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”. Punishable under Article 4(3) of the ICTY Statute are also conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, attempts to commit genocide and complicity in genocide. Two things have to be proven: the actus reus (the actual killings, serious bodily or mental harm and deliberate infliction of conditions designed to bring about the destruction of the group) and the mens rea (the specific intent to destroy the group).

Mladić’s 2017 conviction did not bring an end to all aspects of his case. In March 2018, both the defence and prosecution filed their notices of appeal. Though not in relation to Srebrenica, the prosecution submits that the trial chamber erred in two of its findings: first, that Bosnian Muslims in the areas of Foča, Kotor Varoš, Prijedor, Sanski Most and Vlasenica did not constitute a substantial part of the Bosnian Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and second, that Mladić (and others) did not intend to destroy those Bosnian Muslims. As a result, the proceedings are ongoing.

Bosnian Muslims carry coffins with remains of Srebrenica victims, 2017. EPA/Jasmin Brutus

During the 530 days of Mladić’s original trial, 377 witnesses appeared in court, some of them victims of war crimes. Victims often have many needs: to tell their stories, to contribute to public knowledge and accountability, to publicly denounce the wrongs that were committed against them and others, to bear witness on behalf of those who did not survive, and to receive reparations, public acknowledgement or apologies. They may wish to confront the accused, to find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones, to contribute to peace goals or to help prevent the perpetration of further abuse. Many risk their own personal safety to tell their stories, or those of victims who did not survive.

And yet, a recent report by international NGO Impunity Watch paints a bleak picture stating that “Western Balkan states have done very poorly when it comes to victim participation in [transitional justice] processes. Victims’ voices are marginalised and their rightful claims have been politicised by the different sides.”

Remembrance and responsibility

Impunity Watch describes a continuing “battleground of conflicting narratives, in which each side claims victimhood and blames the other for past abuses”. This does not bode well for the future.

The divisions in Bosnia are hard to ignore; Srebrenica’s Serb mayor, Mladen Grujičić, denies that the genocide occurred, as does Milorad Dodik the leader of Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska. Many Serbian nationalists regard Mladić as a war hero. To many people, his conviction would therefore be effectively meaningless.

And yet, plenty of civil society activities, interventions and educational programmes have been devised. In Bosnia, Youth United in Peace and Youth Initiative for Human Rights, to name but two, offer young people the chance to hear different perspectives about the past through workshops and visits to commemorative places of all sides. Such projects try to counter ethnic segregation to offer shared space for dialogue.

In a speech to the United Nations in 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt famously said:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.

Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

All too often this is forgotten. But with stark societal divisions palpable in many parts of the world, we have to keep reminding ourselves that all others are above all else human beings. Only if we do that will the idea of human rights be meaningful.


Dr Melanie Klinkner, Principal Academic in International Law, Bournemouth University and Giulia Levi, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Grand Challenges – Clean Growth and Future of Mobility

There are several initiatives to develop state of the art low carbon energy technologies to capture, generate and store energy from renewable sources. Non-renewable sources of energy especially those derived from fossil fuels are finite, and have been contributing to greenhouse gases. In turn ozone depletion and global warming are on the rise.

There have been recent developments in terms of tidal, wind, solar PV and solar thermal technologies, however there are still challenges in terms of efficiency and amount of useful energy that can be generated versus global demands. In addition, dependency on rare earth materials still exists, thermal efficiency of thermo-fluids (fluids used as a medium of heat energy transfer) have upper thresholds and have implications on the durability of systems. Costs of conventional energy materials such as cobalt and lithium carbonates have been rising sharply since 2015-16. Thermal instability of lithium ion batteries and issues are still significant.

At BU NanoCorr, Energy & Modelling (NCEM) Research Group we are developing novel solar thermal (low carbon) technologies incorporating nano enhanced thermofluids and storage materials.

Research and development in low carbon technology at BU is focused on two main themes; clean growth and future of mobility. For further details and to take part in discussion by providing your comments please click on the link (it takes less than a minute to register).

World Cup online betting is the highest it’s ever been

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The 2018 World Cup inspires new gamblers. Shutterstock

By Dr Raian Ali, Bournemouth University; Dr Emily Arden-Close, Bournemouth University; Dr John McAlaney, Bournemouth University, and Keith Phalp, Bournemouth University.

Sports betting is worth up to £625 billion per year, with 70% of that trade reckoned to come from football. During big sporting competitions, such as the World Cup, even more money is spent gambling than usual. Over the 2018 World Cup, bookmakers are estimated to make a profit of US$36.4 billion (£41.3 billion). And in the UK, the amount of money spent on gambling during the World Cup is expected to more than double from £1 billion in 2014 to £2.5 billion this year.

Sports gambling is being driven by the unlimited availability of online betting and the fact that no physical money is exchanged, making financial transactions seem less real. The vast amount of data that online gambling sites collect also enables them to personalise offers to individual gamblers. Instead, this data should be used to help people gamble responsibly by warning users in real-time that they are exhibiting problematic gambling behaviours.

For many people, gambling isn’t just a fun novelty every four years. About 430,000 citizens in the UK can be identified as problem gamblers. These individuals have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds online, which has impacted not only the gamblers but also their families.

High profile but infrequent betting events such as the Word Cup exacerbate the issues that problem gamblers face. Seeing others engage in betting, coupled with the advertisements from betting firms, leads problem gamblers to attempt to convince themselves that they do not have a problem. Environmental cues can also trigger the urge to gamble in those who have a gambling problem. So, the intensive advertising used by betting firms during the World Cup, along with media coverage of the World Cup in general, may further push problem gamblers towards making harmful decisions.

Watching your habit

Online gambling sites have an infinite memory for bets – when made, for how much, regarding what, and so on. This data is a rich source that websites use for tailoring offers and marketing material to fit a gambler’s potential interests. But this personalisation exploits cognitive biases in gamblers and encourages them to increase risk-taking and by extension, gambling.

There is only a fine line between the legitimate marketing and personalisation of content and offers on the one hand and exploitation and manipulation on the other. For example, the tracking of a gambler’s betting pattern means the gambler can be targeted with offers following heavy losses, encouraging them to chase losses even further.

But this same data could also be used to support reductions in problem gambling, either led by gamblers themselves or with the support of a counsellor or software. Such transparency could enhance the image of the gambling industry and make responsible gambling a shared responsibility between gamblers and bookmakers.

A chance for change

In our EROGamb project, funded by GambleAware and Bournemouth University, we advocate a policy change where gambling sites provide gambling behavioural data to gamblers and their surrogates in real-time.

This data would provide an unprecedented opportunity to tackle problem gambling. For example, the data could lead to the app informing gamblers that they are exhibiting problematic gambling patterns. The real-time collection of information such as “the gambler has reached the monthly spending limit” could trigger a message visualising their past betting behaviour and a reminder of a commitment already made.




Read more:
Fixed-odds betting terminal cap must be just the start of gambling regulation


In our studies, digital addicts, including online gambling addicts, have indicated that having access to such data would act as a wake-up call, raising awareness. Digital media users, in general, like to be in control of their usage through labels and awareness tools.

Similar facilities have started to exist in mainstream digital media. For example, on Google, it is now possible to download your data and on Facebook to download your profile data history of interaction, but not currently as real-time streaming of data as actions happen.

How to retrieve and use gambling-related data for being more in-control of gambling behaviour.
The EROGamb Project

Challenges

We understand the barriers to implementing this vision. Gambling operators may not have such data readily available and may even rely on third parties to offer certain games. Some also fear that gamblers might share the data with competitor gambling sites, giving away information about marketing practices. But the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) right to data portability holds that gamblers shall not be prevented from accessing and sharing their data.

Given the advantages, and also the increased demand for transparency, this would eventually become the recommended practice for demonstrating advanced corporate social responsibility and inspiring the trust of the public and clients in the gambling industry. We are preparing a charter for the gambling industry towards a commitment for that.

The rise of online gambling, combined with the record amount of money being spent on gambling at this year’s World Cup makes this the perfect time to discuss what we can do to prevent and combat gambling addiction. Simply by using data to help people be better aware of their gambling habits, rather than hooking them back into their next bet, gambling sites could make a massive difference.


More evidence-based articles related to the World Cup:

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Why this football tournament should be called the men’s World Cup

By Dr Jayne Caudwell, Bournemouth University

The globalisation of football means it can now be found in most parts of the world. It is celebrated as the national sport in many countries. But, we forget that “football” actually means “men’s football”. It’s the same with other popular sports – our habit is to refer to basketball and women’s basketball, cricket and women’s cricket, ice hockey and women’s ice hockey. This naming places men’s football as the dominant universal and natural norm, while women’s football becomes the “other” version.

If we want a level football playing field, then “football” should be redefined by changing our reference to tournaments, championships and leagues to “men’s football” if that is what is being played. It’s time we started referring to the men’s football World Cup, just as we refer to the women’s football World Cup.

Women and girls have long been treated as second-class citizens in the many worlds of football, including playing, officiating, governing and spectating. And indeed, in the build up to the 2018 men’s World Cup, there was much discussion about racism and homophobia – but practically none about football, gender, sexism and misogyny.

The histories of the development of football in most countries around the world show that women and girls have been denied access to pitches, equipment, coaches, training, stadiums and financial support. These material opportunities are important because they enable and validate participation – and full football citizenship.

Finland takes on Austria in a qualifier for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. EPA

Media sport pages cover men’s sport. During the football season, the coverage is dominated by stories of men’s football. Women footballers seem to not exist. The sport press obliterates them.

But women and girls are playing, officiating, spectating and commentating on the game in ever increasing numbers around the world. The England women’s team outperforms the men’s team on the European and world stage. They are currently ranked ten places higher, in second position. And yet, the gender pay gap in football is atrocious.

Ignoring sexism

While Russia, as host of the men’s football World Cup 2018, has been criticised for its poor record in dealing with homophobic and racist abuse, nothing has been said about gender-based abuse or discrimination.

Instead, ahead of the men’s World Cup, Russian MPs have been arguing over whether Russian women should or should not have sex with visiting (presumably male) football fans. The UK Foreign Office released advice on race and LGBT concerns, but there’s nothing on how sexist chanting can make men’s football a hostile environment for women. You only need to look at the sexism experienced by doctor Eva Carneiro and assistant referee Helen Byrne in the men’s premier league to see how this plays out.

What’s more, many of the concerns about homophobia and racism at the men’s World Cup stem from wider cultural issues in Russia. The same problems are evident with sexism and misogyny, yet they are curiously absent from the discussion when it comes to football. Cultural problems that affect men extend into the sporting arena, but not those that affect women.

In 2017, the Russian parliament passed legislation loosening laws on domestic violence. Russian women who support the #MeToo movement have come up against draconian assembly laws that say only one person is permitted to make a public protest.

There are no campaigns in international men’s football that aim to stop sexism, or call for anti-sexism and an end to gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, the women and girls who have fought hard to play football often encounter negative responses from the general public and from the media. Sport sociologists have found that sportswomen are trivialised, sexualised and experience symbolic annihilation – they simply don’t exist in images of the sport. A recent poster depicting Iranian fans is a prime example. Not a single female face features.

Women’s and girls’ sporting achievements are reduced as a result of ridicule. Their bodies are considered sexual objects rather than for playing sport. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s comment that women should play in tighter shorts to attract more fans to the game is a classic example of this. More recently, feminist author Laura Bates challenged FIFA for describing player Alex Morgan as “easy on the eye and good looks to match” as well as the FA for tweeting about “lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters” after playing in the women’s World Cup.

It’s easy to imagine that this men’s World Cup in Russia will continue to disregard gender, sexism and misogyny. And yet, sport, specifically football, has potential to incite change, and reform.

Renaming to men’s football is an easy and simple step in the direction towards equality. We may as well start with the men’s World Cup 2018.


Jayne Caudwell, Associate Professor Leisure Cultures, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Victorian pleasure piers are unique to Britain, but they are under threat

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Edmond Holland/Shutterstock.com

 

By Dr Anya Chapman, Bournemouth University.

A stroll along a pier remains the most popular activity for visitors to the British seaside, with 70% of them enjoying a walk over the waves.

For many, the seaside pier is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the British seaside holiday and the epitome of excursions to the coast. Piers have always provided holidaymakers with entertainment, from the grand pavilions and theatres of the Victorian era, to the amusement arcades of the 1980s. For two centuries, piers have been the place to see and be seen at the seaside.

Victorian pleasure piers are unique to the UK, but they are under threat: in the early 20th century nearly 100 piers graced the UK coastline, but almost half of of these have now gone.

By their very nature, seaside piers are risky structures. When piers were constructed, British seaside resorts were at the height of their popularity. The Victorians wanted to demonstrate engineering prowess and their ability to master the force of the sea. Some lasted longer than others, with Aldeburgh pier in Suffolk lasting just less than a decade before it was swept away by a drifting vessel. At the other end of the spectrum is the Isle of Wight’s Ryde pier, which at over 200 years is the oldest pleasure pier in the UK.

Yet the longevity of such piers presents them with new risks: fire, maintenance issues, rising costs, and climate change. Piers face an uncertain future. The National Piers Society estimates that 20% of today’s piers are at risk of being lost.

Piers at risk

Over the last 40 years, many notable piers have succumbed to time and tide. Perhaps the most iconic of these losses is Brighton West Pier, which has suffered multiple storms and fires since closure in 1975, leaving an isolated skeleton as a haunting reminder. Now there is growing recognition that seaside piers are vital to coastal communities in terms of resort identity, heritage, employment, community pride, and tourism. In fact, the UK government now offers funding to enable the revival of piers and other seaside heritage.

Brighton West Pier. National Piers Society

Despite the sea change in the perceived importance of seaside piers, many remain derelict and in a state of decay. One such pier is Weston-Super-Mare’s Birnbeck Pier, on the west coast, which has been closed for over three decades. Birnbeck Pier is unusual in that it is the only pier which links to an island, but as time has passed, parts of the structure have crumbled into the sea. Despite the endeavours of the local community and groups such as The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, the owner of the pier refuses to sell or regenerate the pier.

This is in stark contrast to nearby Clevedon Pier, which was deemed “the most beautiful pier in England” by the poet Sir John Betjeman. After partial collapse and subsequent closure of the pier in 1970 there were calls for its demolition. Clevedon Pier was saved and reopened in 1998, and is now the UK’s only Grade I listed seaside pier. Today it stands as a testament to The Clevedon Pier Heritage Trust who continue to develop the pier with a new visitor centre, wedding venue, and conferencing space. Recently, the pier gained a new group of fans as it featured as a backdrop to a One Direction music video.

Thriving piers

Despite their advancing years, since the turn of the 21st century many piers have found a new lease of life. The high-profile regeneration of Hastings Pier, led by a local community trust and backed by Heritage Lottery Funding, has spearheaded the revitalisation of many seaside piers (although the pier, controversially, was recently sold to a commercial investor). Nevertheless, a number of coastal communities have successfully regenerated their piers through the formation of pier trusts, including those at Swanage and Herne Bay. Other seaside towns are being even more ambitious and hoping to rebuild their piers or to build brand new piers.

Swanage Pier. National Piers Society

Local authorities within seaside resorts are also promoting their piers as flagship tourist attractions and investing in their refurbishment and new facilities. Southport Pier, which narrowly escaped demolition during the 1990s, is now at the heart of the resort’s development strategy and is currently undergoing a £2.9m refurbishment which includes the addition of new catering and retail facilities.

The piers that are thriving in the 21st century are those that provide a unique selling point. Bournemouth Pier now features the only pier-to-beach zip line, and its former theatre now houses adrenaline-packed activities such as climbing walls, an aerial assault course, and a vertical drop slide. In Folkestone, the Harbour Arm, which was redeveloped as a pleasure pier in 2016, provides a range of pop-up bars and restaurants and its very own champagne bar. Weston’s Grand Pier offers family fun with a modern twist and even boasts an indoor suspended go-kart track. Southwold Pier boasts a novelty automaton arcade.

Weston-Super Mare Grand Pier. National Piers Society

By staying tuned to modern desires as well as a sense of nostalgia, piers will continue to adapt to changing tastes and provide entertainment and pleasure for seaside visitors.

But perhaps the biggest threat they face today is climate change, and the attendant rising sea levels and increasingly frequent storm surges. Cromer, Saltburn, and Blackpool North Pier have all recently been significantly damaged by storms. The World Monuments Fund has recognised the threat of extreme weather events to seaside piers by adding Blackpool’s three piers to their 2018 Watch List. With seaside piers regaining their popularity, their next big challenge will literally be finding a way to weather the storm.


Anya Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.