he video “The Cell Phone Paradox” is a video about how cell phone technology is aiding in fueling a deadly, decade-long civil conflict in the Congo.Colton, which is a mineral used to manufacture small electronics, is being found in mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In fact, 80% of the world’s colton is found here, making it extremely valuable. The problem with this is the miners, some of which are still minors, are only being paid $2 or $3, or sometimes nothing at all, and are being exposed to very unsafe working conditions. They are working with no protective equipment whatsoever with bare hands and a flashlight strapped to their heads with what looks like a rubber band. They are crawling down into these mines with barely any air to breathe which is causing people to collapse and die. What’s even more interesting is that these miners don’t even know what colton is or what it’s used for. Here these people are, risking their lives for meager wages, and mining a mineral in which they don’t even know its purpose. How does anyone with a conscience allow this to happen? If one thinks about how much a cell phone or laptop costs to buy and how much these miners are being paid to risk their life in order for us to take part in consumerism, one will notice an extremely large gap between the two which just results in larger profits for the electronic companies. Another great example of modern day slavery.
Annie Leonard released her book The Story of Stuff: How our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health and a vision for change in March 2010. She uses this new platform to delve further into flaws of the materials economy, calling out “unmentionable” capitalism in its current form as unsustainable, asserting that it is patriotic to examine our failed economic system.
“Our Project is systems-focused, solutions-oriented and change-driven,” the Story of Stuff Project website states. Coming out of the depressing truth of a massive system out of control, the book is speckled with signs of hope and viable alternatives. She transmits a sense of consumer empowerment and responsibility by providing links to resources, and laying out the options and outcomes of our everyday choices.
As in her video, Leonard gives more examples of power imbalance, with such specifics about how the world’s wealthiest nations are dumping toxic waste on the world’s poorest countries. In her video, Leonard presents her case with chapters on: extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal, and “another way.” Also her blog contains a categories section on materials economy. Her book chapters are arranged the same way, unfolding deeper facts that clarify the framework with more illustrations to help you feel the reality of this burdensome system.
Between April and July 1994, Rwanda went through one of History‘s darkest periods; an estimated more than one million Rwandans were brutally killed by fellow Rwandans in a very systematic state planned genocide unheard of in recent history confronted with the prospect of sharing power with exiles fighting for the right of return, the regime in Kigali at the time marshaled all its resources, including masses in Rwanda ’s country side and mobilized them to kill in groups so that none would be individually held responsible for genocide at the end of the day. Ten years after, the legacy of the genocide lays heavy on the Rwanda government. Even after the recent presidential decree pardoning the sick, elderly and the young , there remain over 80,000 people sitting in Rwanda’ s prisons awaiting trial for genocide charges and other crimes against humanity .The sheer number of cases would clog even the world’s most developed legal system .And, for Rwanda , whose legal system was devastated by the genocide; the caseload would take centuries to sort through. After the genocide something good did come out of the country because they forgave the people and help them get back into the society which must have been something hard to do.
I have learned many new things in our Social Justice class this semester. I came into this class with many ideas about what I might be learning, but I found myself very ignorant about many issues around the world. I soon learned that I was not a fair-minded thinker and that I needed to start thinking critically to understand the injustice that goes unnoticed.
A concept that has stuck with me since the beginning of the semester is sociological imagination. Charles had told us that this was going to be an important term this semester, and it sure was. Sociological imagination is defined as having the insight to see the world/ any give situation extends beyond the individual. This means we only consider external factors such as politics, economy, government and so forth, but most of us do not open our eyes or our minds to the many other factors that are affecting the world. My knowledge about globalization was that it was something that kept the world going and was exclusively beneficial to the power elite, and like social justice, was decided by the upper class members of society. After all it seems like common sense knowledge that those with power in our society determine what is considered right and wrong. Despite all the news we hear about the horrible effects of globalization on regular people like me. I believed social justice was keeping globalization in check. However, after realizing and understanding the concept of the sociological imagination I realize this is not necessarily so. In addition I realize that as much as I may think the world is unfair with one group of people profiting off capitalist ventures, which do harm to another person’s life, I realize it is an unfortunate zero sum game we all take part in.
For instance, globalization generally involves the economic gain of a developed country by utilizing goods and services on a global scale . A good example of globalization comes from Charles his love for cocoa beans. He explained that people in Ghana work endlessly to collect cocoa beans which is turned into chocolate goods such as chocolate bars, hot chocolate and many others. We buy these chocolate goods and therefore the money earned from the cocoa beans helps support the community in Ghana from which it came. It was very interesting and special that Charles shared his history with cocoa beans with us. This made me look at all my local goods from a whole different perspective. A lot of times I have stopped and thought of the labour and hard work that has gone into the things I buy, even if it is just a bottle of water. I think to myself, this bottle was made by someone and assembled in a factory somewhere around the world. I can say that I have gained a lot of knowledge on the collective efforts of merchandise be it food or technology, not only through Charles’s story but many others. I appreciate little things like a bottle of water much more.
I have always thought of social justice without thinking “outside the box”. I always thought that if you were being subjected to it you must have done something wrong. But now I’ve come to see social justice is more about just right and wrong and how it protects me as an individual. It takes into consideration the wishes of a collective group of people and works to better serve those people. This concept has opened my eyes to new possibilities and has taught me to ask questions and seek alternatives because I understand now that there is always another way to do something and I shouldn’t be afraid to speak my mind. This class has truly made me a more fair-minded thinker
Paraphrastic Reading Method
This chapter was interesting and very informative about the different processes in human rights and social justice. There was a lot of information in this chapter that I have learned before about society, however, the information gave me a different insight as to what our society is based on. Socialization is the main process in what makes us who we are and who we want to become. This chapter states that there is a path we will go down based on how we have been socialized; either good or evil. I believe that how you are bought up in life greatly influences the path you decide to take. Our society is very fortunate to have basic human rights. We live in a country we have freedom of speach, gender equality and so forth. Different parts of the world do not have these freedoms and much more, to this day. There are many other types of justice that these coiuntries are deprived of. Therefore children growing up may not have the same socialization process as us, leading to difficult futures for them.
|What questions did the text raise?||How did the text answer this?||How does the answer match my personal beliefs/ideas?
|Does society operate on an “us vs them” mentality?||Society does operate on an “us vs. them” mentality, through the process of aggregation and dichotomization. For example the separation and categorizing of people by various factors: race/gender etc)||I strongly agree that different socities around the world are based on an “us vs. them” mentality. Every culture or religon has its own beliefs and sometimes they may clash with other cultures and their beliefs. However, some cultures think that they are superior to every other culture and may not see things in the same way as other cultures.|
|How are societal inequalities perpetuated in society.||There are various methods of oppression in society the most subtle method used is enforcing “invalid ideologies” such as the idea of a superior gender by using pseudo-science.||There are many people in the world that believe and live by some of the invalid ideologies enforced in our society. It can be difficult for some people not to believe these ideolgies because they help them make sense of the world. However, some ideologies can be so far-fetched that its difficult to understand why some people believe them. I personally do not believe everythign I hear.
|What, if any are the positive benefits of stereotyping?||On a small level stereotypes help keep order in the world and prevent people from being burdened by the ever large amount of information.||I do not agree or disagree with this passage. I think it depends on what kind of stereotype is being presented. Also, what is the meaning of large amounts of information? Is this information on different cultures around the world or just general information?|
|What questions did the text raise?||How did the text answer this?||How does the answer match my personal beliefs/ideas?|
|What it reality?||Reality or social constructionism is based on us giving meaning to things that did not have meaning before. An example would be the concept of time. What being on time means for one society does not mean the same view will be shared in another society.||This is very true. When I think of the different customs/norms of society I am reminded of this very chapter.For instance in our North American culture a thumbs up is an indication of a job well done. In certain countries like Italy for example it is the opposite.|
|Who is responsible for societal norms/social reality?||According to the Critical Constructionism theory the answer would be the power elite of
society shapes their views/standards on us the minorities.
|I agree wth this theory as it’s something I encounter every day. One obvious instance of this is how I give up my seat on the bus for women with babies or the elderly. I didn’t just wake up one day and think this is what I’m going to do it’s a standard of conduct that’s imposed by the lawmakers of society. Respecting the chain of priorities so to speak.|
|What is a social problem?||Although this question has a multi-faceted answer the book would say it’s what the power eliete choose to inform us about.||I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. The news is tailored to the interests of its consumers. In addition, they must also consider the wishes of its affiliates and sponsors, anything that would be damaging would most likely not be allowed to air.|