Here’s a short article I wrote for The Conversation on Google’s current battles with brands… More on this to come I think.
Now that Prime Minister Teresa May has signed Article 50, ULSB’s Dr Fabian Frenzel discusses the possibilities for post-Brexit immigration.
There has been much debate about the post-Brexit trade deals for the UK, following the stated aim of the government to not maintain membership in the single market. Much less attention has been placed the future policy area considered a major concern of many Leave voters: immigration.
The Government has thus far remained relatively quiet about its post-Brexit plans are for migration policy. In the public domain recent discussions have focused on the fate of the existing 3.2 Mio non-British EU citizens in the country, many of who face great uncertainty, after proposed amendments to the Brexit Bill to guarantee their rights were rejected by Parliament.
What is to be expected for future immigration policy? In September 2016 Theresa May said the Government would not pursue a points-based immigration system, proposed during the referendum by the Leave campaign. May rejected the model after studies showed it would probably not lead to a reduction of immigration. At the Conservative Party Conference in October the new Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that British companies will be forced to report their non-British staff to the government, a measure later withdrawn amid broad public criticism. Premier Minister May used the same conference to controversially describe migrants as ‘citizens of nowhere’.
A hard line on immigration is Theresa May’s defining policy interest. As Home Secretary from 2010 she signed responsible for the creation of what staff in the Home Office openly describe as a ‘hostile environment’ for non-EU immigration. Part of the process was the creation of deliberately misleading and opaque visa application forms, prohibitively high application fees, a flourishing private sector immigration services industry contracted to implement government rules and ever more severe limits to the applicants ability to challenge home office decisions legally.
This was flanked by large-scale outsourcing of the implementation of immigration rules to employers, landlords, to the health service and, in the case of international students, to universities. UK universities now have designated ‘visa check points’ and are forced to electronically monitor student attendance under threat of loosing their right to admit international students in the case of non-compliance.
The Conservative government was particularly harsh on India, all but closing down a key market for international students and even de-railing EU negotiations with India over a free trade agreement by refusing to listen to India’s wishes for a re-consideration of the immigration rules.
As Home Secretary May attempted to implement the Conservative government promise to bring down net-migration down to ’10 thousands’ or (more recently) to under 100.000 per year. But these targets have been consistently missed. Net-Migration, the number of immigrants minus the number emigrants, has remained around 300.000 over the last decade or so. The figures seem to correlate less significantly with government immigration rules and more with key indicators of the UK economy. The slight decline to just under 300.000 since the referendum can be thus partly attributed to the drop in the value of the Pound which makes jobs in the UK less attractive for migrant workers.
A number of questions arise with regards to future migration policy. Many observers have pointed out that May’s ‘hostile environment’ policies failed to reduce the number of non-EU net-migration, an area where the government has full control prior to Brexit, to under 100.000. To ‘take back control’ over immigration does not seem to be easy. How likely is it that Prime Minister May will be more successful in curbing EU migrant numbers post-Brexit? And more strategically: how can a ‘hostile environment’ for future EU immigration be reconciled with the broadly pro-business and free trade stances of the government?
It is no secret that key UK industries depend on migrant labour. Could these workers be replaced by indigenous labour? Recently Pret a Manger’s head of HR, Andrea Wareham, made headline news by pointing out that 1 in 50 applicants to the restaurant chain were non-British. The British Hospitality Association estimates that its members employ 700.000 EU migrants, 15% of the total workforce. While the public discussion at times veers to the hope that more British workers may take up jobs, current unemployment figures stand at 5%, fairly close to what economists consider full employment. In purely economic terms, limits to immigration thus may lead to higher wages. While this may be an outcome some Leave voters were hoping for, it also makes UK production more expensive. Without protection from imports, industries like agriculture will be less competitive while costs for products and services in the UK will rise.
This is emphatically not what the current government, nor the affected industries want. One alternative approach industries and the government seems to be actively exploring is seasonal labour. Amber Rudd has already promised the agricultural sector new legislation to that effect. But what is seasonal labour?
The Gulf Corporation Countries, where seasonal labour is the preferred migration policy, might serve as a model. Here migrants are allowed into the country for defined periods of time often not exceeding three months. They are housed in designated and segregated accommodation, often hostels and sometimes camps.
In comparison to current EU migrants, seasonal labourers would have very limited rights. Very likely they will not be allowed to vote in local elections, to form or join Trade Unions, or to move to Britain with their families, and they might not be covered by social security legislation. A further question is whether the minimal wage will apply to seasonal labour.
The model is attractive for industries as they retain access to cheap labour. The government would also benefit from seasonable labour: migrants only start to count in immigration statistics once they have spent over a year in hosting country. Seasonal labour would not appear in the net-migration figure.
Other migrants that escape statistics are those without papers. Britain has a significant number of undocumented migrants already and government policy tents to express the desire to prevent undocumented migration. However, it can be considered a potential model for a more deliberate migration policy. In the United States undocumented migration has for decades functioned as an unofficial, but tolerated part of the migration regime.
More even than seasonal labour, undocumented migrants have very limited rights in their host country. As a consequence they accept lower wages, very much to the benefit of domestic competitiveness.
In these models the harsh anti-migration rhetoric of Theresa May and the leave campaign can be reconciled with the interests of British industries for cheap labour and increased competitiveness of Brexit Britain. Thus it seems very likely that tougher immigration rules post-Brexit will not lead to less immigration. Rather migrant labour in Britain will be less protected, less documented, and thus cheaper. Such developments will put downward pressures on wage levels in the country, very much against the interests of British workers.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
In this week’s blog, ULSB PhD student Chanhyo Jeong (email@example.com) writes about the women’s protests in South Korea, an inspiring story of how the relentless power of people can sometimes overturn the most powerful regimes.
South Korean democracy is only 30 years old. After the civil uprising in 1987, military dictatorship was ended. However, the Koreans recently witnessed how their young democracy is now capable of protecting itself lawfully and peacefully. On Friday 10th March, the South Korean constitutional court impeached the democratically elected, first female President Park Geun-Hye. She was removed from her seat immediately.
Behind this remarkable story, which is predicted to be made into various movies and K-dramas, the main characters are mostly women. The decision to impeach the female president started at no other than the Ewha Womans University. As the nation’s top women only university, Ewha’s feminist stance and elite status have been major targets of misogynists and internet trolls. Then the unthinkable happened. In 2016 the university decided to open a new college that specialized in “beauty and wellness” which aims to cater to the demands of the industry. Students quickly organized a protest to claim “a university should not be a business”.
The women chose a unique tactic during their 86 days sit-in protest which they called “snail democracy” – slow, peaceful, voluntary, and leaderless. To concentrate on the main issues and protect anonymity, protestors hid their faces with baseball caps and masks. They started study groups sitting on the lawn. Their meetings were open to everyone, had no time limit and minutes were shared immediately. Other students brought supplies, including beauty products, hairdryers and flowers to the bathrooms. The spectacular pictures and videos went viral. People saw how the students were switching on their mobile phone lights in the night, choosing “Into the new World” by the popular female K-pop group Girl’s Generation, a catchy and saccharin sweet tune, for their protest song.
In September, the president resigned and the students stopped the university’s plan for a new college.
During the students’ open discussion, some students questioned the university’s unusual treatment of one mystery student, who did not show up in classes yet was known to receive a grade. Little did these students know, their complaint would result in the president’s impeachment in less than a year. The mystery student turned out to be a daughter of President Park’s old friend, Choi Soon-sil, who was involved in money laundering of the president’s hidden wealth. Also, some of Ewha professors were found to have permitted Choi’s daughter admission to gain more government funding. Then the media reported that the biggest South Korean company, Samsung, had bribed Park through Choi and presented expensive horses to Choi’s daughter. Samsung needed the support of the President regarding the succession of its 3rd generation heir, Jae Yong Lee. In October 2016, the official Investigations began. About 50 thousand people started the first candlelight vigil, and 2.3 Million people showed up at its sixth.
Inspired by the success of the students, the participants created joke organisations because organised protests get accused of being funded by North Korea. The use of satire and humour invited more bystanders into the movement. People gathered under various meaningless flags, such as “Democratic Cats Labour Union”, “Tigerbeetle Research Society” and “Zebra Research Society” and flags with the funniest names swept the internet.
President Park was silent. She refused to resign, and did not show up for her trial at the Constitutional Court. Her presidential style had been criticized for a long time because she was known to avoid media interviews without scripts, face to face reporting and only communicated via phones and email documents.
Park is a daughter of Chung-Hee Park, a former president and an assassinated dictator. During the 18 years of his dictatorship, Park’s father managed to rapidly develop the South Korean economy at the expense of democracy. Park also worked as an acting First Lady until her father’s death, since her mother was killed by a North Korean assassin in 1974. Park’s re-emergence to politics came after the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997. “Business friendly” politicians were keen on using Park’s influence on voters who still have nostalgic feelings about the rapid economic development in the 70s.
Not only was she a daughter of the past president, she kept her hair looking like her mother’s. Park became famous for it and it requires an experienced hairdresser. With 25 hairpins needed, her special updo is a laborious process.
South Korean women found their latest hair inspiration from another unexpected source. On the day the president was unseated, a picture of Jeong-Mi Lee, the head of the South Korean constitutional court went viral. Lee is the only female and the youngest of the nine member court. On her way to deliver the final verdict of the President’s impeachment trial, she was photographed by the press with two pink hair rollers still attached on her obviously self-cared hair. Instead of being mocked, Lee was praised and inspired lots of women wearing two pink hair rollers in the streets of Seoul on that day. South Korean women called her hair a symbol of a real working woman.
Remarkably, 20 weekly candlelight protests gathered total 15 million participants until President’s Park’s impeachment and ended non-violently, with not even a single case of a crash between protestors and police. High school girls voluntarily organized the street cleaning squads and the protest site was spotlessly clean every time. Korean tiger moms brought their children to the protest, because “Our children need to learn from living history”.
Like South Korea’s young democracy, feminism in my country is still evolving and faced with lots of challenges. However this time, the nation witnessed how Korean females successfully take civil disobedience initiatives to defend the true value of their education and democracy. Their courage and clever strategies, doubtlessly made the success of civil disobedience possible without any attempts of violence. In the era of Brexit and Trump, I am grateful to have celebrated the success of different kind of power, soft and relentless.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
Dr Robert Grafton Small, who had been an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the School of Management for well over a decade, died in Glasgow on February 28th 2017.
RIP Bob Grafton-Small 1950-2017. My title is the title of one of his chapters, a typically allusive play on words by someone who combined keen intelligence and personal vulnerability in equal measure. His wit, moustache and care about every small detail will be hugely missed by all who knew him.
Bob was a regular visitor to the School, particularly to events organized by our Centre for Philosophy and Political Economy. He was also a longstanding member of the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, an international academic organization which has been well represented at Leicester since 2003.
He was born on January 21st 1950 in the suburbs of Birmingham. His brother Duncan Alistair Small was born in 1953 and is the only remaining immediate family member. In 1955 the family moved to Ludlow in Shropshire, living in Raven Lane. In 1963 the family moved again to Flat B in a subdivided mansion within the walls of Ludlow Castle. The bedroom that he and his brother shared there now sells ice cream http://www.ludlowcastle.com/accommodation. Duncan told me that his father, Peter Farquharson Small was a tax officer, and his mother Margaret Small (née Crosbee) an amazing knitter.
Bob attended Ludlow Grammar School (now Ludlow College) from 1961 until 1969. From there he left for Stockport College for a HND, John Dalton College of Technology in Manchester, Liverpool University for an MBA (where he lived in his parents’ house in Sefton after his father was transferred to Bootle in 1972) and then Sheffield City Polytechnic for his doctorate. His brother moved to the USA in 1979.
As a youngster he was very fashion conscious and followed John Lennon into a macrobiotic diet. He used to smoke (especially Gauloise) and loved Newcastle Brown – but gave up alcohol early in life. He was very close to his maternal grandfather James Leonard Crosbee – a vet and graphic artist. Bob also loved to draw caricatures, and many will have seen his moustachioed trademark signature on a drawing. Like René Magritte, Bob in his prime looked like a miniature caricature of an eccentric stockbroker, a square. When I first met him, at a conference in Edinburgh in 1998, I had already read his work and we had corresponded. I expected a monster of a man, told him so, and he reminded me (twinkling eyed) that the best subversion comes from the perfect bourgeois.
His friend and colleague Steve Linstead tells me that at Sheffield Bob had a disagreement with his supervisor about data gathering and he lost his funding. The DHSS forced him to take a job with the Commission for Racial Equality and he found himself interviewing people after the 1981 riots. A position as a research assistant at Hull College of Higher Education was followed by a job back at Sheffield teaching marketing, where he won the best performance of any teacher nationally in the Institute of Marketing Case exam.
A job at Strathclyde let to him settling in Glasgow, where he lived until his death. Most of his later life was overshadowed by Addison’s disease, and he was effectively kept alive by steroids as his immune system barely functioned and his body could not produce adrenalin. He enthusiastically embraced a later diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, perhaps as a license for a life lived with a quiet and slightly shy strangeness. Steve Linstead remembers many odd facts – he was a member of MENSA, rode a Ducati off road motorbike, was a county standard marksman, came 5th in the world in a bridge contest, and ranked 3rd in the Sheffield City Poly Students Union hi-score list on Galaxians but refused to use the hyperspace function as he considered it to be cheating.
Bob took medical retirement from a post at St Andrews in the 1990s, but kept publishing and firm connections to an academic life, including the edited book Understanding Management. He had a fellowship in the Department of Management at Keele University from the late 1990s, finally taking up his position at the then Management Centre at Leicester in 2004.
His research included ethnographies of the everyday, an interest in culture and symbolic consumption, and a lasting fascination with the transient. As Steve Linstead puts it – ‘He loved to play with brands and liked making incongruous juxtapositions work – Italian beast-bike, Jaeger Le Coultre watch, made to measure hand stitched kicker style boots from a backstreet garage firm in Crookes, and his mum’s rainbow 3 metre scarf.’ His attention to words, to their arrangement, power and meaning, was relentless. The placing of a comma, the use of this word or that, were matters that led, towards the end of his life, to short dense pieces of academic writing. Almost like haikus with references, dotted with allusions and snatches of heard conversation from Glasgow streets. He was an extraordinary writer and thinker, articulate and anxious, a crossword puzzle fanatic, and someone who many of us at Leicester and elsewhere have learned from, both as an academic and how to be an academic.
Have a look at http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/management/people/robert-grafton-small if you want to see a list of his publications. He will be missed.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
In his second blog on the theme, ULSB PhD student Rasim Kurdoglu explores the recent sacking of Leicester City’s manager and the suggestion that this was caused by a player revolt.
Is it justifiable to allow employees to revolt against their managers? Can subordinates question the skills of those who run organizations? In order to ponder on this question, let me return to the industry of football for a comparison.
Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) recently sacked their beloved manager Claudio Ranieri half way through a disappointing season. On the evidence of his press conferences and interviews, he seems to be a man who combines great humility and passion. He managed the club in the 2015-2016 season when the team became the champions of the English Premier League. It was an outstanding success for a club like Leicester City. For many, it was the greatest underdog story ever written and Ranieri was one of its architects. No wonder that there are plans to make a film about the little club that won the biggest league in the world.
Despite this success, when the same team underperformed this year and found themselves in a relegation battle, Ranieri was eventually removed from his post in the hope that this would save the club’s season. The glories of the previous year did not seem to matter anymore.
The decision to sack Ranieri has sparked enormous outrage, and a great deal of comment. The club is a big story again, but one aspect of this is particularly interesting for anyone studying management and organization. Pundits and social media are blaming the players for betraying the manager who made them champions. Speculation emerged in tabloids indicating that some senior players had talked to club owners and convinced them to sack Ranieri. As a manager, he might have been loved by fans for his character and for his success, but the players are said to have stabbed him in the back. Those accused of complaining about their manager to the owners are now labelled as ‘snakes’, a metaphor which symbolizes treachery. Social media is suddenly replete with snake pictures as symbolic comments on the news of the sacking.
It is questionable whether the players really revolted against their manager but let us assume that they did. Is that a morally unjustifiable act? Does that make those players ‘snakes’ who engaged in treachery? In any case, wasn’t the owner responsible for the final decision, whatever the players did or said?
Many other current club managers, like Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho, have commented on the situation, asserting that it is entirely unacceptable to allow players to have such power over their managers. Fans and many pundits are also busy condemning the ‘snakes’. The players of course denied the allegations, and suggested that it was ridiculous to assume that players have enough influence to topple their manager.
Leaving the football pitch and entering the workplace, we can use this example to show us a glimpse of assumptions about what employees can and cannot do. It seems that ideal employees should be docile, have no real voice or competence over decisions that influence them, have no right to question the effectiveness of the management that they are exposed to. Performance evaluation is portrayed as a privilege of managers, not of subordinates. The managed must simply follow the orders of their superiors.
Following this logic further, the ideal employee is a soldier who fights for his or her army and never hesitates to follow the instructions that he or she receives, even though their life might be at stake. If ideal employees think that they are being treated unfairly, they should leave the company instead of complaining, exit rather than exercise voice. If subordinates complain about their managers, they deserve to be taught a lesson as trouble makers. The deeper assumption here is that power should always be top-down, not bottom-up.
Oddly, organizations like golden era pirates actually recognized more democratic rights than modern corporations or football clubs usually do. We know that pirates used to elect their captains, as well as have a variety of mechanisms for ensuring a safe and profitable ship. Perhaps the reason is that they already recognized what could happen if one sails a ship with full of disgruntled pirates!
I’m not commenting here on whether sacking Ranieri was fair or unfair. Personally I was genuinely sad to see him go. Sometimes good managers lose, but most times, in most organizations, employees lose. It seems to me that managers should fight to win the hearts of their subordinates as much as their subordinates should win the hearts of their managers. There should be more balance here, not a simple rush to portray rebelling employees as treacherous snakes if they comment on the capacities of their managers.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
Richard Courtney reflects on the decade since his PhD, and in the light of Brexit and Trump, asks whether the social sciences have forgotten the white English working class.
It was ten years ago that I finished the field work for my PhD in sociology here at Leicester. It was a study of Thurrock in Essex titled: ‘This is England: Class and Ethnicity in Non-Metropolitan Spaces’. A typical Post-Industrial landscape that was neither totally rural, urban or metropolitan. The local area was littered with the disused remnants of its industrial and maritime past, such as the former Bata Factory in East Tilbury.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the architecture of consumer capitalism was super-imposed upon this landscape. Lakeside Shopping Centre and the Chafford Hundred housing development provided shopping and housing for commuters into London for work. From the outside, Thurrock could be regarded alongside places like Basildon, Daventry, or Nuneaton – as geographical illustrations of Marc Auge’s non-spaces. However, for the people living in these areas they were their spaces. It was also my space, because I was born and raised there.
I thought that these spaces were inhabited by a people who no longer knew who they were or what their relationship was to London, the UK, and the rest of the world. They exhibited a ‘dual consciousness’ where they used ideas about class at the same time as narratives of ethnicity and whiteness. Rather naively, I thought sociology would explain this. As I completed my PhD and moved into an academic life, I became increasingly interested in public sociology. This seemed to be the principle means by which social science could impact upon society. However, with Brexit, fake news and post-truth, I can’t help but think I failed and, more to the point, that social science has failed.
I felt sociology could expand understanding when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusivity. Thurrock was traditionally a ‘white area’ where diversity existed in the minds of local residents as something that applied to inner cities. Residents routinely used metaphors of hygiene, dirt, and garbage to describe the character of ‘immigrants’. In Thurrock these were often second generation Nigerians who worked in the public sector, IT, and other skilled occupations. However, in the minds of residents they were strangers whose personal intentions and culture was viewed with mistrust.
In 2005-6 by the then most prominent British right wing political party circulated a leaflet entitled: ‘Africans 4 Essex’. Its basic premise was that the new community had been offered a deal by Haringey Council, which meant that they were bought out of their council houses and used the money to move to Thurrock. None of this was true and it took Barking MP Margaret Hodge to demonstrate that it was false. However, many residents I interviewed still believed it, reasoning that everything you read in the media is a lie. Many people’s beliefs were so fixed that no amount of evidence to the contrary was plausible. They were already ‘post-truth’.
The people of Thurrock identified as local, as English, and in many instances ‘white’. At the heart of their lament for the decline of their former social status as ‘the British Working Class’ was a sense of resentment that ‘others’, namely migrants and cosmopolitan liberals had stolen their identity, not to mention their occupations, solidarity and space. They felt left behind, excluded, and that they were treated badly by a metropolitan multi-culturalism. They would claim that if minorities could celebrate their identity then why couldn’t the white English? They showed no understanding as to why something like ‘Empire Day’ wasn’t really something that could be celebrated equally alongside Black History Month.
Locals were not essentially racist or divisive; they just didn’t talk about themselves and others in the ways that social scientists would. However, during the mid-noughties, before Brexit, it was difficult within social science circles to discuss this world view without damning them for everyday racism and locating them in terms of predictable conceptions of class. This made understanding difficult. It’s difficult to empathise with a young woman telling you that they think all Asian people should be packed onto a boat that is then sunk. Does the fact that the young woman left school at 15, had never had a job, had no training or skills, had three children and was teetering into homelessness make a difference to your understanding?
I think that the current political situation is in part an outcome of the social sciences’ inability to impact positively and sensitively upon society over the past 30 years or so. And the reason is because we’ve shied away from confronting the challenging and often harsh realities of normal ordinary white British people – the self-identified ‘silent majority’. There has also been an over reliance on secondary data in much social science research that focussed on social characteristics that had little relevance to these people’s reality – an obvious example is the fact that these people couldn’t identify in the UK Census as English. From the late noughties onwards there were journal articles here and there, but no consistent position or intervention. This meant that post-truth got greater traction in the minds of ordinary people than social science.
In part this was a geographic problem because these people lived in places where little ethnographic research was occurring. Fake news has been rife for years in insecure economic spaces at the rough end of the economy, where ideas about knowledge, evidence, data, and perspective familiar to universities and the public sector simply do not exist. The Brexit result is an eruption of this world into the public sphere, and a widespread sense of a people who have been forgotten.
I’m not saying its social sciences’ fault that this is happened, I’m saying that it happened ‘on our watch’ and we should reflect on this fact. It is therefore our responsibility to engage with it and try to impact on the conditions that push people towards rejecting openness and internationalism. Without social science providing an empirical and conceptual compass for public issues, fake news and post-truth fills that space. We shouldn’t let an embarrassment that public opinion trumped our influence force us to abandon our normative commitments. We need to do more than hold more conferences and seminars, we actually need more engaged ethnographies. This will enable us to re-acquaint ourselves with society, because ultimately ‘Brexit’ shows just how much we’re estranged from it.
I might have been naïve when I was doing my PhD, but current events will not dent my resolve over the enriching role of social science in everyday life.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
This week, Martin Parker considers whether the University of Leicester should commit to being a University of Sanctuary for refugees.
A sanctuary is a place which is sacred, or more generally, somewhere that is protected from the outside. A room of one’s own, a walled garden, a refuge, a defence against the hostility of the world. Under medieval law, fugitives or debtors enjoyed immunity from arrest in certain churches. Nowadays we also have the word used to describe somewhere that is protected for wilderness too, set aside for wild plants or animals.
The idea of a university already contains the idea of sanctuary. It is a place set apart from the turmoil of the world, somewhere for students and teachers to think, write and stroll the cloisters, slowly talking of great things. Of course most universities don’t have cloisters any more, and the world and its needs are much noisier, but the university is still a distinctive institution. It stands for something, for an ideal of community and the rational life.
One of the ways in which this ideal is being pursued by several US universities in a post-Trump era is the idea of a ‘sanctuary campus’. Portland State, Wesleyan, Pennsylvania and quite a few others have now declared their campuses to be sanctuaries for students who are undocumented migrants. The term is modelled after the idea of a ‘sanctuary city’, a status adopted by over 30 municipalities in the USA.
In November 2016, students around the USA staged demonstrations, walk-outs, and sit-ins in an effort to push their schools to oppose Trump’s avowed policy of mass deportations. Though this is a new movement, proposed policies on sanctuary campuses include – not allowing immigration officers onto campus without a warrant; not allowing campus police to enforce immigration law; and not sharing student immigration status or citizenship status. As well as these attempts at protection, there have been proposals to provide tuition support; distance-learning options for deported students; and legal support to students with immigration law questions and issues.
The American Association of University Professors has endorsed the sanctuary campus movement and urged more colleges and universities to adopt sanctuary policies. Is there anything that universities in the UK could do? More specifically, is there anything that Leicester University could do?
In the UK, the ‘City of Sanctuary’ is a movement which attempts to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary. Its goal is to create a network of towns and cities which are places of safety for people seeking sanctuary, helping them integrate into their local communities. It’s not a new movement. In September 2007, with the support of the City Council and over 70 local community organisations, Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’. Leicester followed soon after.
Since then, the movement has supported the development of over 90 City of Sanctuary initiatives in towns across the UK and Ireland. Schools, health and maternity services, theatres and arts venues, churches and other faith centres, sports clubs, communities and businesses become ‘places of sanctuary’. A key element across all these initiatives is awareness raising, telling the stories of refugees to those who never hear them. Local groups work to build coalitions which make a public commitment to welcome and include refugees and people seeking sanctuary in their usual activities. The endorsement of government is sought on the basis of demonstrated community support, rather than being a ‘top-down’ council initiative.
When local organisations and communities include people seeking sanctuary in their activities, personal relationships are formed which lead to greater understanding and support from the host community. City of Sanctuary seeks to influence the political debate on sanctuary through cultural change and through a commitment to awareness raising right across society.
Out of these streams has come University of Sanctuary, an initiative to celebrate the good practice of Universities welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into their university community. Bradford, Sheffield, Gloucester and Wolverhampton are among the universities that have signed up so far.
The idea is to develop a culture of welcome in institutions of Higher Education. Universities are in a powerful position to secure equal access to higher education for sanctuary seekers. This means reaching out to and supporting sanctuary seekers in their local communities who could benefit from University resources.
Since the refugee crisis hit the news in 2015, there has been a surge in interest and support for refugees, in universities and across society more widely. A University of Sanctuary should be a place where anyone can welcome and able to pursue their education. University can seem like an impossible goal for some. This should not be the case. University should be a possibility for everyone, and even for those who do not wish to study, universities can be welcoming and safe places, even just by letting people use the facilities who may not otherwise have access to books in their own language, computers, sports facilities and more.
Universities like Leicester are well placed to be able to lead on initiatives which would help refugees locally and globally. Can we become a place of sanctuary too?
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
ULSB PhD student Secki Jose explores the paradoxical effects of India’s recent decision to get rid of some of its banknotes to combat corruption. Secki can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the stroke of midnight on November 8, 2016, India launched what seemed like an extraordinary experiment in monetary economics. Identifying India’s historical problems of corruption and national security as being caused by easy cash, a war was declared – on cash money. India attempted a ‘demonetisation’ by scrapping the existing denominations of 500 and 1000 Rupees that formed around 86 percent of the paper notes in circulation. Any cash over a specified limit that you brought into the bank after this date would be heavily taxed and your finances subject to the taxman’s scrutiny.
It seemed like a bold move, and one that seemingly had the ability to strike at all the evils in the country. But did it have any effect? I was fortunate to be in India starting from the second week of this ‘demonetisation’ and was able to closely follow its trajectory and the corresponding events on the ground.
A curious thing had been happening in India over the previous three years. The rate of cash in the hands of the public had been rising much faster than the rate of growth of the broad money supply. In other words, the people were accumulating cash outside the banking system faster than it was being printed out by the central bank. No one could explain the reason for this rise in cash holdings despite there being several developments that appeared to run in the opposite direction (such as e-banking and mobile banking).
Several suggestions were put forward to explain this but all involved a high degree of speculation because the money, by definition, was outside the banking system. It is also disconcerting for a central bank like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The more the cash floating outside the formal banking system, the less control the RBI and the government has over the size of transactions as well as monetary policy in general.
Demonetisations have been done for a variety of reasons in the past. Its most common form is seen in ‘redenomination’ where inflationary, high face-value notes are removed from circulation. Other examples include the removal of very low values that are no longer used, or removal due to adoption of new systems – such as the British ‘decimalisation’ in 1971-72, or the introduction of the Euro. But this was probably the first time that a country tried demonetisation to tackle corruption. That the unabashedly right-wing Indian PM could also sell it as being an anti-terrorist move, as well as a nationalist one, was an added bonus.
For anyone who has studied monetary history and its vagaries, Demonetisation is a nerve-wracking experiment. It is therefore no wonder that there were almost no established academics or economists behind this idea. The previous Governor of the RBI, Raghuram Rajan – an economist of some standing – had resigned and left 2 months before the demonetisation. Economists have been split on the consequences of the move with the two camps being bitterly divided. One side argues that the move has been successful in unearthing money that had been hidden away, whilst the other side points to the damage to the economy and the poor in particular. Both the positions in the argument have their merits, but I’m not going to explore those here. Instead, I want to point out that there were two striking things about these discussions.
First was the lack of any solid data to back up any arguments. The large size of India’s informal sector, both in terms of employment and cash transactions, means that there are few ways to capture any real-time changes happening in the economy. The formal sectors with good data were already integrated into the digital economy and banking system and so faced less disruption. It was the cash intensive informal economy that has really faced the brunt of the demonetisation. And there is little anyone can do to measure it. This meant that there were only a few small stories that could be used as evidence, but no way of gauging the move’s wider impact.
The second major issue was about how to interpret the results. Since something of this scale or nature was unprecedented, there was confusion on what was the meaning of the information coming in. For example, it seems that almost all the targeted cash has come back. But does that mean that there was no ‘black’ money left or does it mean that those with ‘black’ money managed to slip it back into the banking system? Failure to release statistics by the RBI has only exacerbated this confusion.
The subsequent actions of the Indian government have shown that it is looking to continue to combat cash holdings, as it sees cash as the oil that fuels corruption. However, not only has this resulted in new ‘innovative’ forms of evasion but crucially, there is no way of ensuring that the ruling dispensation itself remains corruption-free. There is a consensus that the overall execution was shambolic with dead cash machines, long queues, incompatible currency sizes and daily flip-flops by the RBI. But the overall effect of demonetisation was simply obscured by India’s large informal sector – where there are few clear measurables.
With all sides trading barbs, the elections in the coming years will tell us whether ordinary people think that the whole exercise was a success or not. The people in the informal sector whom I spoke to seemed to think of it as just another part of the general turbulence of their lives. They hope that all the trouble helped the country in some of the ways that they had been told it would. I’m not sure whether we will or can ever know whether that was the case.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/
Emeritus Professor Peter Armstrong (email@example.com) discusses an episode in the journal reviewing process that led him to believe that power and politics play their part too.
Around 1990 I still believed that peer review worked as it is supposed to do. I had begun my career as a reviewer at the journal Work Employment and Society under the editorship of Richard Brown and tried to follow his injunction to ‘let the author write their own paper’. That is, I tried to make a judgment of quality, doing my best to set aside my own preferences for method, theoretical approach and research question. As an author, I was as hurt as anyone else by rejection, but never thought of arguing. Naturally I sometimes believed the referees to be mistaken, but I accepted that they were competent people who had made their judgments in good faith. I was totally naive.
It was in the foregoing spirit that I approached the review of a paper which claimed that a dispute between a catering manager and company accountant over the amount allowed for catering purposes could only be adequately understood in the light of a particular social theory. As far as I could see from the author’s account, the dispute could perfectly well be understood as a straightforward difference in priorities rather than requiring any complex theory. I also knew enough about this particular theory to see that the author’s understanding of it was imperfect, to put it kindly. Accordingly I asked for revisions to the exposition of the theory and for the inclusion of any additional case material which might justify the author’s claim that it was necessary.
In their reply the editors of the journal enclosed a hand-written rejoinder from the author. A journalist would have described it as a green ink letter. The theory, it declared, MUST STAND, bold, capitals, double-underlined. The case material was perfectly adequate as it stood, and so on for two furious pages. Appended there were a number of references just so I would know who I was dealing with, never mind that this was a clear breach of the ideal of blind refereeing and one in which the editor seemed happy to collude.
Faced with a flat refusal to revise anything at all, I didn’t have a great deal of choice. I recommended rejection. The next communication from the editors informed me that, since the two initial reviews had disagreed, the paper would go to a third referee for adjudication. In the ordinary way of things, that would have been the last I heard, except that the adjudication had gone the author’s way. Author 1, reviewer 0.
At the time, I was working in a university about 180 miles from my home and was desperate for a job within feasible commuting distance. It so happened that the department at which I had applied for a lectureship was also the one which employed the author and a senior co-author who had also featured in the list of references. Anticipating that I would have problems in working with someone capable of writing a letter of the kind I had received, I considered withdrawing the application but went ahead on the basis of greater need. As luck would have it, neither of the two were on my interview panel. Whether consequently or not, I got the job.
On their return I found myself on the receiving end of a little chat with the senior co-author. To the best of my recollection, it went thus. ‘X doesn’t know it was you, and I won’t tell.’ The evident presumption was that the paper was OK and that it was I who had something to apologise for. The speaker seemed to think they were doing me a favour in keeping my misdeeds from an injured party. Apparently it never occurred to them that there might be something improper about discovering the identity of a supposedly anonymous reviewer. The little chat concluded with, ‘We’ll work on it. It’ll be OK, you’ll see.’
And so they did and so it was. The paper was not only published – largely unmodified – but was also awarded a prize by the publisher of the journal. About two years later, through a chance turn in a conversation with another academic, I discovered that they had been the second reviewer and that they had made precisely the same objections to the paper as me, and had asked for similar revisions. In other words, there had been no disagreement between the first two reviews, and so no justification for sending the paper to an adjudicating referee, if indeed this was what had actually happened.
At the time the senior of the two collaborators was already a distinguished scholar and, as time went on and the publications piled up, that also became true of their protégé. Both of them were honoured guests at the celebration which marked the tenth anniversary of the journal concerned. Though I worked alongside the pair of them for four years, the affair was never mentioned again and I could never work out how the pair of them saw my part in this episode. Was I some ogre of vindictiveness overcome by the temptation to slap down the aspirations of a rising star, or was I simply too prejudiced or stupid to see the virtue in a piece of work whose objective worth was later attested by the publisher’s prize?
Unless there are good reasons to the contrary, my working assumption is always that what I have experienced is not an isolated occurrence. On the basis of my chance behind-the-scenes peek at the review process, I wonder if we who submit to it in good faith are the fools who obey the speed limit whilst the more worldly-wise swish past us in the outer lane with their eyes glued to their speed-trap detectors.
Originally published at http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/management/