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All posts for the month February, 2013

The Entrepreneurial Culture

Published February 27, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Research reveals that more and more companies are embracing an entrepreneurial culture in the innovation process within their organizations. Firms have begun to comprehend that the nature of innovation is transforming the workplace and have developed policies to accommodate this paradigm shift.  The field of innovation now expands beyond the traditional arenas of science and technology.  Organizations have done this by instigating innovation in ways that also address new components to include: 1) co-creation, 2) user involvement, and 3) environmental and social challenges (Prahalad, 2010). The Lego Corporation, for example has emerged as a company that incorporates a visible entrepreneurial culture.

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In 2006, innovators at Lego decided to involve users in the early stages of the development process for the next generation of a popular product called Mindstorms.  They picked four advanced users from an online community to help develop new features. This strategic union between users and non-users from the in-house production staff turned out to be quite successful and a contribution to Lego’s culture toward a better organizational experience. The experience and insight users offered were a valuable asset for the engineers who could now develop a new product directly with the feedback of the operators. It was so successful, they eventually became a part of the Lego Innovation team and the new version of Mindstorms NXT went on to garner two achievement awards within the first few months of its release. MacDonald (2008) purports that working for a huge corporation can hinder productivity due to the bureaucratic nature.  In other words there is less freedom to engage in creativity that can help individuals fully realize their potential (MacDonald, 2008, pp. 4-6). The Lego corporation has found a way to break some of these bureaucratic barriers by incorporating innovative entrepreneurial techniques.

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Economic crisis and high unemployment rates forced some out of the world of bureaumania and into the world of entrepreneurship. It forced some individuals to find solutions outside the box for employment. For example, one person began offering marketing and social media production services to a select corporate executives as an independent contractor.  The venture is still in the infancy stages as they continue to learn from their experiences and work out the bugs from the structures that hinder the process which include the expansion of a client base and the resources to support it. Badal (2013) suggests that creating the right environment which includes: (a) being open to risk, (b) developing trusting relationships, (c) building skills and knowledge, (d) offering support, (e) obtaining access to resources, (f) maintaining a supportive organizational structure, and (g) setting realistic goals, is pivotal for the innovation process that is emerging in the entrepreneurial sector (Badal, 2013).

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References:

Badal, S. (2013). Building corporate entrepreneurship is hard work. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from Gallup Business Journal: http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/157604/building-corporate-entrepreneurship-hard-work.aspx

MacDonald, R. (2008). Beat the system: 11 secrets to building an entrepreneurial culture in a bureaucratic world. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Prahalad, C. K. (2010). The new nature of innovation. Ann Arbor, MI: OECD.

Creative Disruption

Published February 25, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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There are many things that can impact creativity in the entrepreneurial process within the workforce of an organization. Echeverria (2012) postulates that there is nothing more challenging for a leader than managing creativity effectively to assist with breakthroughs and the delivery process of new innovations. Idea agents require support and freedom in the creative process. Effective leaders support innovators by: (a) providing authentic leadership that inspires and motivates individuals to perform at optimum levels, (b) understanding and identifying the idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses of creative personalities, (c) letting innovative individuals take flight, encouraging them to keep in alignment with the organization’s interests, and (d) creating a clear configuration of structure that liberates the creative spirit and nurtures a culture of empowerment (Echeverria, 2012).

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Simon (2010) contends that another component that can disrupt the creative process are the entrepreneurs who have concerns about technological innovations that may eliminate the need for certain skills; replace workers; and require training on new systems. For example, because of technological advances a small restaurant can attract new clients without a marketing budget through the internet; an iPad case manufacturer can generate over $1 million in profits in just a few months with only a handful of employees; or a voice over company can connect artists with opportunities without expensive hardware and software (Simon, 2010). These are new frontiers that can prohibit adaptation to change.

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Although new innovations may be disruptive and cause alarm for some entrepreneurs, the most successful ones recognize new challenges as opportunities for growth.  This is the mindset and focus of an effective entrepreneurially managed firm. A trailblazing entrepreneur uses opportunity: (a) as a stimulating agent to address challenges, (b) to find resourceful adaptations and solutions, and (c) to discover the best way to capitalize on it (Bygrave & Zacharakis, 2010). This entrepreneurial philosophy is in alignment with the kind of corporate entrepreneurship that encourages associates with innovative ideas like Apple’s Steve Wozniack and Disney’s Don Bluth to remain within an organization rather than branch out to create competition. Corporate entrepreneurship support is fundamental.  With the aid of incentives and rewards, trailblazers are encouraged to pursue innovative ideas as well as participate in the creative and decision making process. This strategy can be beneficial and a profitable experience for both the entrepreneurial innovator and the organization.

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References:

Bygrave, W., & Zacharakis, A. (2010). Entrepreneurship. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Echeverria, L. (2012). Idea agent: Leadership that liberates creativity. New York, NY: AMACOM Publishing.

Simon, P. (2010). The new small: How a new breed of small businesses is harnessing the power of emerging technologies. Henderson, NV: Motion Publishing.

Social Change Analysis – Part III (Conclusion)

Published February 22, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

The Ancient World View

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Sumer – The Cradle of Civilization

One method to navigate the direction of progress in humanity is by probing the origin of the human agency which points us to Sumer – the cradle of civilization. Here we can find examples of materialistic and idealistic shifts in their economic production and the introduction of new technologies. These were instrumental components for the conversion in the condition of man from a hunter and gatherer species (Free, 2011).  This significant demographic transformation was ushered by the appearance of the first ruling kings, whose choices and ethics induced a social change that precipitated the beginning of an entire new perspective and a relationship between the populace, the land and their rulers.

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According to Zecharia Sitchin (2007) most historical inscriptions discovered, lead back to Mesopotamia’s earliest civilization that surfaced in Sumer. The Sumerians impact and influence on the cultivation of human civilization has become known through the translations of their cuneiform texts and clay tablets by many distinguished scholars (Sitchin, 2007). The late erudite Sitchin, spent most of his life deciphering and translating their records which have been preserved in his collection of books entitled The Earth Chronicles.

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Zecharia Sitchin

Conditions – A New Frontier in Leadership

The Sumerians were considered a people of the earth who struggled to survive the conditions of a land where water washed away their fields leaving crops to decay in the sun. According to the clay tablets that preserved the tradition of kingship, known as The Sumerian King List, one of the mysteries uncovered was the duration of their first ruler King Alulim. His reign is documented to have lasted for 28,000 years and marked the beginning of human civilization. To them kingship was a welcomed gift from the gods that helped in their transformation from the old world of hunters and gatherers to a new civilized world. Bauer suggests these monarchs were either demigods taken out of mythology or merely long-term rulers (Bauer, 2007).

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Many modern scholars like Sitchin however, consider an alternative perspective as an explanation that leads to a radically different supposition in proposing the ancient astronaut theory. This theory suggests that an advanced race intervened in the human agency passing on their knowledge of archeo-astronomy and employed advanced forms of technology. For many, this theory is the most logical and congruent rationalization for explaining anomalies like the extended life spans of ancient rulers, as well as other inexplicable wonders like the Nazca lines of Peru which can only be observed from aerial views.

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Nazca Lines in Peru

Other innovations that infer the use of highly developed levels of technology in the ancient past include megalithic structures like Stonehenge, the pyramids, ziggurats, and temples located throughout the globe. Recent discoveries and closer examination have provided more clues with concrete evidence of construction from precision instruments with an advanced level of knowledge in engineering, mathematics, and astronomy (Sitchin, 2007).

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Precision technology in the stone carvings at Puma Punku, Bolivia

The debate among scholars continues on how and who constructed these marvels cognizant that the indigenous human agency during that period consisted merely of hunters and gatherers. Historical records report that harsh conditions and flooding swept the region making it difficult to ascertain a definitive conclusion while officials continue their work to construct an accurate depiction. What is known for certain however is that the first Sumerian King has his genesis in a very remote past (Bauer, 2007).

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Functional Structures and Innovations of the Ancients

The Sumerian civilization was a stable society with a functioning structure comprised of interrelated parts that coalesced efficiently to promote their survival and the expansion of their empire. They are the earliest known culture to have introduced writing, which was a significant new component in the evolution of the human agency. The Sumerian’s documentation of historical records and the manner in which they expressed themselves with words were depicted pictorially on cylinder seals. These translations uncovered many other innovations they are credited with that consist of a multitude of firsts, including the wheel, the brick, high rise buildings, the kiln, mathematics, astronomy, law codes, contracts (including marriage and divorce), religion, banking and a unique form of writing that remained in use almost until the time of Jesus (Sitchin, 2007).

Sumerian Clay Tablet

Sumerian Clay Tablet

Bauer’s research also reveals that the peoples of the ancient world made another cultural shift which resulted from the stresses and strains of the weather cycle and the recurrence of a hardened and dry ground when the waters subsided. The geography did not provide stone or timber from forests; neither were there grasslands. Reeds embellished the banks and streams along with an abundance of mud. These resourceful materials were adopted as innovations to create a mixture that could be molded and dried. This amalgam produced the foundation for their homes and the bricks that formed their cities as well as their cooking ware.  These were sources of innovation that motivated cultural development. They were eventually diffused and assimilated into other cultures as interaction between different peoples played an influential role in their progress. These systematic changes in the functioning structures of their civilization were in response to their fluctuating world (Bauer, 2007).

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Environmental Factors of Mesopotamia

Humanity’s comprehension of the ancient world can also help guide us through climate changes than can lead to migration. For example, modern geological studies suggest the ecological perspectives of change that occurred in Mesopotamia were forged from the ice that sheeted the land from the polar caps reaching the Mediterranean. Ocean levels in the region were low from the water contained in the ice and rain fell regularly creating a plush fertile land. As the climate warmed, the icecaps melted, the ocean crept up, and settlements retreated. In 6000 BC for example, Britain was formerly a peninsula off Europe (Bauer, 2007).

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Sumerian Cycles, Patterns, and Trends

Evidence suggests the entire region contained water until climate change occurred and rising temperatures slowly dried out the Tigris that continued to retreat. The region was watered by more than the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that remain today. In fact, there was a whole complex of powerful waterways and streams whose existence can be verified by the dried out river beds that are still discernible from satellite photos (Bauer, 2007).

Research points to a pattern in the environment that emerged and was adapted into the civilization’s culture when the rivers and streams swelled from the heavy rains. The flooded conditions washed away their agricultural fields. When the waters receded silt remained on the banks. This cyclical event pushed interweaving streams apart and the Gulf that continued to creep north further transforming the economics of the civilization as the people in the south near the Gulf scraped for survival in the unstable environment (Bauer, 2007). Contemporary experts make comparisons of patterns that occurred in the Mesopotamian region to similar trends on a global scale in the modern era. The current warming cycle is thawing the glacial and Polar Regions while current sea levels on the rise threatening coastal development. By examining the annual flooding event in the Mesopotamian region to help solve modern problems, experts can learn from the successes and failures of the ancients by the methods of management that were employed when flood waters carpeted their fields.

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Ancient Labor Forces

Basic Strategies and Ideological Changes

Another significant development to occur in the human genus transpired from the dynasties that presided over the irrigation and cultivation of the Mesopotamian region. Rulers began to engage huge labor forces for the construction of their buildings and temples. Also introduced at this time was the manufacture of exquisite jewelry and art. These innovations instilled ethnocentrism and adulation towards their rulers (Bauer, 2007).

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Sumerian Gods

The accepted ideology of the Ancient Sumerians was a belief in a host of deities denoted as the Anunnaki (which roughly translates to Sky Gods). Circulation of Sumerian traditions was instrumental in the alteration of cultural themes in that region that spread throughout Egypt and ultimately reached Europe. It is there where these ideologies emerged into a more extravagant rendition of the multi-God systems that helped shape the Egyptian, Olympian and Roman cultures and their mythologies (Free, 2011).

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Greek Gods

Invasions, War and Class Status

According to Cantor (2004), by 1330 BC, the forces of change that continued to shape the Mesopotamian civilization was determined by wars that were stimulated from external incursions as well as the induction of a monotheistic religion with similarities to Judaism. Pharaoh Akhenaton eliminated the traditional power of priests that served the multitude of deities during his reign. This was not long lasting however, as the theological revolution was overturned immediately upon the Pharaoh’s death (Cantor, 2004).

Invasions from the north helped continue to shape the Tigris-Euphrates valley as each civilization following the Sumerian (Chaldean, Assyrian and Babylonian) succeeded one another while the structural component of these ancient cultures and agricultural based economies remained the same. The invasions finally subsided around 500 BC, and the area became absorbed by the expanding Persian (Iranian) Empire to the east. Additionally, by the first century BC, Egypt was consumed by the expansion of the Roman Empire and remained the wealthiest province until the Muslim Arab Empire materialized in the seventh century AD (Cantor, 2004).

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Sumerian War Chariots

The human agent’s social status also played a role in shaping these early civilizations. The divisions of classes were diverse and divided into three sects: (a) the monarchy, (b) the aristocrats, and (c) the laborers. The monarchy was considered divine appointment and the aristocrats derived their wealth from royalty. This group also included the priests who supported the throne.  For the peasants and urban laborers on the other hand, life expectancy was short, never reaching above the age of forty until the twentieth century.  Slaves, laborers, peasants, and urban workers which constituted 95 percent of the populace, were all connected to the servitude of the king, priests and aristocrats throughout their entire lives (Bauer, 2007).

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The End of an Era

According to The Biblical Archaeological Society (2012), Geologists from the Byrd Polar Research Center attribute that more than 200 years of excessive drought was the culprit that may have ultimately doomed the Sumerian civilization. New geological records point to an extended period of drought that began around 200 BCE, with increased rates of evaporation in both the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, coupled with lower rainfall across the region. Archaeology reveals that during this period, nearly 75 percent of the ancient Mesopotamian settlements were abandoned. In the meantime, groups of marauding invaders took up residence that effectively brought the Sumerian civilization to its end. The collapse of this civilization does not constitute abandonment in its entirety however, as some would surmise. People still resided there, but there was a sharp change in the population (Staff, 2012).

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Conclusion

Neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza (2012) suggests that in order to affect change we must change ourselves. He concurs that an idealized version of us must exist in our thoughts first, which emulates a different and a better version of ourselves and our world (Dispenza, 2012). This is a key component to becoming an agent of change.

In conclusion, this research disclosed some of the significant components and motivating factors that operate as facilitators of social change. Humanity’s continued exploration and comprehension of self, the ancient world, the modern world, and our interconnectedness, can guide the development of the human agency to a future with different and better outcomes.

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References

Bauer, S. (2007). The history of the ancient world. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, LLC.

Cantor, N. (2004). Antiquity: From the birth of the Sumerian civilization to Rome. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishing.

Dispenza, J. (2012). Breaking the habit of being yourself. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Publishers.

Free, J. (2011). Sumerian religion: Secrets of the Anunnaki. New York, NY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

Sitchin, Z. (2007). Journeys to the mythical past. Rochester, VT: Bear & Company Publishing.

Staff, B. A. (2012, December 5). Did climate change bring sumerian civilization to an end? Retrieved February 5, 2012, from The Biblical Archaeological Society: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-places/did-climate-change-bring-sumerian-civilization-to-an-end/

Social Change Analysis – Part II

Published February 20, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Analysis and Overview

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Causes of Social Change

Humanity approaches an historical juncture that is prodding social change as the traditional methods of managing human affairs, at the interpersonal and international levels, are becoming less and less effective (Weinstein, 2010). To better comprehend causes of social change, experts study the where and how of material production as well as the distribution and consumption of goods and services significant to society. Studying the ancient past can be instrumental in facilitating homeostasis in the modern era. Without observation and analysis of the social sciences, causes and implications of change would be difficult to ascertain.

Experts also take into consideration demographic changes. In addition, researchers labor to comprehend the various natures of population transformations and the scale of a civilization’s interconnectedness that involves both the expansion and amplification of economic relationships (Dicken, 2011). Without sufficient knowledge of these components, all geographies of development can be disrupted.

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Conditions of Social Change

Researchers acquiesce that social change is brought on by transformational conditions that include: (a) significant events like invasions or earthquakes; (b) repeating cycles, patterns, and trends on a macroscopic level; and (c) from social activities that affect individuals (Chase-Dunn & Babones, 2006). In other words, barriers and obstacles that arise from causes like world events and behaviors of groups that seek basic human rights for example, are some of the elements that drive social change.

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Functioning Structures and Innovations

Social change can also influence the efficiency and functionality of nations.  Conflicts that occur extend opportunities for cultural evolution as a society interprets the variety of components that motivate action from them.  The conflict perspective theory of the social sciences, suggests cultural change evolves at a particular point in time when the availability of resources and opportunities alter as a result from collective action or reform.  The structural functionalism theory also known as the functionalist theory, looks at the interconnectedness of a society and how they function together to promote their system.  For example, scarcity of resources creates strain and conflict within a culture that disrupt functioning systems. Struggles with issues like inequality and ideology can also become engines of change (Weinstein, 2010).

Innovations occur as a result of the grievances and unrest that emerge in a society. These certain (often hidden) motivators emerge from a lack of an effective, efficient or equitable system (Cels & de Jong, 2012). There are four phases of the innovation stage: (a) a clear awareness of a challenge; (b) the setting, conditions, and the assembly of the elements involved; (c) a new meaning, configuration, or a eureka moment; and (d) a crucial upgrade or revision to an invention. These innovations are likely to succeed when a society is ready to adapt them.

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Environmental Factors and Cycles

Catastrophic events like typhoons, earthquakes and landslides, present new problems that have consequential effects on a population and their migration.  Scientific research confirms that climate change has an effect on the environment. McNall (2011) purports that human impact of change on the global environment has effected the levels of CO2 on our planet that is higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years. He cites this for one reason that everything frozen on the planet thawing (McNall, 2011).

Identifying patterns of change in the economic and political aspects of a society is essential in understanding developmental change.  An economic theory of politics (also known as public choice) applies a more rational look at cultural behavior. By studying linear, cyclical and dialectical models of change, experts can assess whether patterns will follow a linear before and after frame, or a cyclical pattern, by determining if it is capable of returning to the same point (Weinstein, 2010).

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Basic Strategies of Change

Fundamental strategies can assist in the delineation of change that outline characteristics and boundaries of a population or system. These strategies can facilitate challenges between leaders and factions (Weinstein, 2010). Some of these tactics involve education, persuasion, and power as well as violent and nonviolent action.  Leaders that are capable of identifying problems and needs are able to make effective changes.

External assistance can also be a factor for those open to receiving it. This is especially true when it instigates community improvement and active participation with focus on an end goal (Weinstein, 2010). In short, a variety of ideas that are substantially different from the status quo, whether as modifications, substitutions or mutations of materials, also play an important role in stimulating cultural movement and growth.

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Changes in Ideology

As a civilization evolves, a culture’s ideological beliefs also helps shape the development of humankind.  For example, politicians, artists, and social activitists garner the power of the market with innovative ideology.  They contend the ability to champion a better ideology, also referred to as cultural orthodoxy, is the key to creating a demand for a new culture (Holt & Cameron, 2010).  In the meantime, archeological and mythological records of early civilizations typically focused their energy on pleasing their Gods to attain favorable conditions.  This major component is a commonality that shaped earlier cultures.

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Invasions and War

Social change is also incurred from the hostilities that arise in groups due to: (a) sorrows and grievances; (b) the incompetence of leaders to manage challenges; (c) the difficulties in adapting to change; or (d) a shift or circulation of new radical concepts and ideologies.  These components offer a fertile breeding ground for conflict that can lead to revolution and battle. Social change scientists look at the interconnectedness of a culture with a scientific approach to the components that drive them on a macro level.  Bauer’s (2007) research concludes that the interconnectedness of governments, religion, the urban environment, social structure, and the economy of earlier civilizations, extends for millenia (Bauer, 2007). To illustrate these constructs we will examine man’s earliest civilization to better comprehend ours in our next post.

 To Be Continued … Part III – An Ancient World View

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References

Bauer, S. (2007). The history of the ancient world. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, LLC.

Cels, S., & de Jong, J. (2012). Agents of change: Strategy and tactics for social innovation. Harrisonburg, VA: R. R. Donnelley Publishing.

Chase-Dunn, C., & Babones, S. (2006). Global social change. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Holt, D., & Cameron, D. (2010). Cultural strategy: Using innovative ideologies to build breakthroughs. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

McNall, S. (2011). Rapid climate change: Causes, consequences, and solutions. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

Weinstein, J. (2010). Social change. Pymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Social Change Analysis – Part I

Published February 18, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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ABSTRACT

This extensive research is broken into three parts and takes an in-depth look at the constructs and implications of social movements that emerge from various conflicts and cycles. This analysis includes: (a) the theories behind the conditions, the trends, the political processes, and the environmental factors that act as locomotives of change; (b) the functioning structures and innovations; (c) strategies that civilizations incorporate to adjust to climate change, migration, famine, and war; (d) influences from changes in ideology and social status; and (e) the effects on resources by population growth.  To illustrate this our research looks at the beginning of the human agency to the land of Mesopotamia and the cradle of civilization. In doing so, we can learn from their struggles, their strains, their cycles and patterns, and their conflict management methodologies to help us determine more effective ways of application in the modern era. Our conclusions deduce that in studying the past and the elements that facilitated the rise of the human genus, we can learn from the components of change to avert a similar demise in the modern era.

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Social Change in the Ancient World

INTRODUCTION

The pervasive feeling is that something fundamental is occurring worldwide with the current explosion of interest in globalization and feelings of uncertainty has intensified. There is an increased awareness of what is transpiring in one part of the world that has a deep affect (sometimes immediate) by events unfolding in other parts of the world (Dicken, 2011). In analyzing how we arrived at this juncture, studying the ancient world can give us clues.

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Many individuals in the meantime, often become confused by the mythological depictions and cultural belief systems of ancient civilizations. The quest of the modern seeker is to establish an erudition of our ancestors and the components that incurred social change by examining the momentous shifts that transpired in the human condition (Free, 2011). This research examines the major causes and underlying conditions that prompted social change in the ancient past, as well as the main choices, innovations, and factors that ancient cultures faced in their attempts to shape their individual and collective futures.  We will also examine humanity’s comprehension of the ancient world on macro and micro levels as well as the various patterns and cycles that shaped it. By scrutinizing earlier civilizations of the human agency, we can learn from the management of their successes and failures.  Learning from the demise of past civilizations helps us comprehend and avert analogous conditions in the modern era that can decelerate the upgrade and reconfiguration process of human destiny.

 To Be Continued … Part II – An Overview and Analysis of Social Change

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REFERENCES:

Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Free, J. (2011). Sumerian religion: Secrets of the Anunnaki. New York, NY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

Population Density

Published February 15, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

Mankind’s global population density problem was exposed in the 1960s and 1970s from heavily saturated media coverage.  Attention was put on demographic behavior which includes changes in population size, composition, and distribution as well as the significant affects it has in policymaking at all levels, local, state, national, and international.  The term demography comes from the Greek words demos and graphia. The word “demos” translates to population and “graphia” means writing.  Therefore demography literally means “writings about populations.” This research takes a look at the American experience of growing populations, the special rules that emerge as a result from the problems they face, and how different classes of the populace deal with their challenges.  Without observing the human agent, consequences can be disastrous. Demographic studies can help determine the factors that affect changes in the environment and its inhabitants.

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Population Fluctuation

The social science of demography focuses on the following components: (a) the size, composition, and distribution of the human population in a given area at a specific point in time; (b) the changes populations experience (like fertility, mortality, and migration); and (c) the consequences from changes in relation to population size, composition, and distribution, or in the components themselves (Poston & Bouvier, 2010).  By studying the demographics of a population scientists and policy makers can determine different aspects of change both ecologically and economically to help predict future needs and problems a civilization may face.

According to the US Census Bureau, the current world population has reached 7 billion with 315 million situated the US (Commerce, 2013).  As the global population continues to increase analysts are working on solutions on how to meet growing consumer needs.  In nature, when the demands of the masses are not dealt with, migration and starvation problems ensue.  When critical mass is reached, and the population has stripped the land of vegetation and healthy soil, entire civilizations are inclined to fall as archeological evidence suggests transpired on Easter Island in the South Pacific.

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Yaukey and Douglas (2007) purport that observing the size and constitution of a population is not enough to understand and predict change.  A look at the diverse range of criteria including the age, sex, marital status, educational attainment and spatial distribution are significant components that can help a society interact with each other as well as the physical environment in which they exist (Yaukey & Anderton, 2007).  This is necessary to make assessments to adjust and help maintain the delicate balance of the planet’s natural resources, like food and water which may become disturbed by consumption without replenishment.

Take for example, the hardship of the early settlers and pilgrims at Plymouth Rock whose existence differed from that of the pioneers that later headed westward during the great American expansion era.  The Plymouth Rock settlers faced decreased population due to their lack of knowledge in surviving the harsh conditions of the new wilderness.  Local neighboring Native Americans from nearby tribes educated the settlers in farming, hunting and other survival techniques.  This crucial component allowed the population to thrive which ushered the expansion age of the Westward Pioneers.  By observing the rise and fall of various cultures, demographers can make predictions as to how a civilization can evolve and thrive.

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Factoring Trends

Trends also play an integral role in the evolution of a society with special rules that can emerge as a result of various changes.  Demographers can work with policy makers to create new systems and adaptations as solutions to problems a populace may face in areas like education, clean air and safe water reforms, as well as environmental reforms.  For example, by observing the trend of globalization in fast food corporations, an exposé revealed in the mid-1980s that fast food giant Burger King, in an effort to meet growing consumer demands, engaged in practices that led to the deforestation of an enormous portion of the Amazon rainforest to raise cattle for beef import.

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US environmentalists were outraged.  Armed with scientific evidence that supports the important role rain forests have on our ecosystem (like keeping carbon from being released into the atmosphere, and the oxygenation of our planet), they formed movements to actively boycott the corporation.  Their efforts succeeded.  Burger King suffered great losses from the negative press reflecting a 12% decrease in revenue. A change emerged in the company’s attitude. They cancelled their $35 million contract with Costa Rican beef suppliers and agreed to use US domestic cattle only (Aronoff, 2011).  Although Burger King no longer is engaged in this practice, according to a report released by Greenpeace, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon continued with 7000 km of the rainforest destroyed in just a five month period due to the rising demand of beef and soy products (Amazon, 2008).

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Observing the demographics of different classes, or social statuses of populations can help us better understand the needs of a particular part of the human agency. For example, in areas of developing nations where birth rates are rising, the effects of rapid population results in higher levels of consumption of resources.  Research suggests less affluent  less educated groups, expand their population and utilize the labor force of their offspring as a means to sustain the family, tribe or community.  Societies that consist of a populace with higher education on the other hand, are less likely to confront the same overcrowding issues and make choices based on the importance and inter-connectedness of their surroundings. Their conscious adaptations reflect a society that consists of families who produce less children. In addition, women are supported and empowered to experience their own careers. Their contributions helps balance the family unit which adds to a more fulfilling life of comfort and joy.

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Conclusion

Demography is an essential component for understanding and predicting changes and trends that help direct us to a better future. Without these studies, which includes the observation of present conditions, as well as from clues left behind from extinct civilizations, more events like Easter Island will occur.  People who are conscious of the consequences that lead to climate change, make adjustments to allow inhabitants to continue thriving.  In conclusion, as we continue to develop technologies, demographic studies and further advancements in education can help regulate population density and predict future trends.

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References:

Amazon deforestation on the rise again. (2008, January 25). Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Greenpeace International: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/amazon-deforestation-increase-250108/

Aronoff, K. (2011, September 18). US activists stop Burger King from importanting rainforest beef. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Global nonviolent action database: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/us-activists-stop-burger-king-importing-rainforest-beef-1984-1987

Commerce, U. D. (2013, December 03). US and world population clocks. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Us Department of Commerce: United States census bureau: http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

Poston, D., & Bouvier, L. (2010). Population and society: An introduction to demography. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Yaukey, D., & Anderton, D. (2007). Demography: The study of human population. Long Grove IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Environmental Problems

Published February 11, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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As we continue to absorb fossil fuel energy at alarming rates, society is actively searching for new innovations in the development of practical renewable energy sources. Natural gas supplies, due to new technologies, are being discovered, mined, and processed for both industrial and consumer use. One current significant issue that has environmentalists up in arms is the controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, (also known as fracking, fracing, or Hydrofracking). This process is vastly expanding natural gas production in the US. So much so, that Spellman (2013) compares fracking to a modern-day gold rush, or more accurately a shale gas rush, where in a tough economy, business owners struggling with declining revenues, view this industry as an option in spite of the difficult choices it presents.

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Peeples’ (2012) recently published an article that raises concern regarding families in Pennsylvania who have been sickened by the effects of fracking pollution pointing out that at this time, little information is known about the long term affects. She suggests evidence exists of related levels of gases like methane in the water supplies close to the gas well is cause for alarm. Local communities are concerned about lower birth weights and exposure to carcinogens that may elevate because they are close to these natural gas sites.

Peeples’ expose reveals that other studies conducted found animals in the vicinity of the hydraulic fracturing wells have also incurred serious health issues. In addition, residents report that drinking bottled water and showering at other places have reduced the symptoms that afflicted their families. Additional concerns have been voiced about the irritability, headaches, and other health issues they continue to experience which they believe are attributed from the air contaminated by the drilling. Residents also report these wells give off bad odors and complain the noise interrupts their slumber (Peeples, 2012).

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Although natural gas expansion lowers US energy costs, one of the most significant concerns is the frac-fluid that is being released and re-injected into the rock formations. The Marcellus Shale formation under the Appellations is the prime target for these companies. This black shale formation holds an abundance of natural gas. The frac-fluids contain potentially hazardous chemical additives that also raise concern about operator safety, possible water pollution, drinking water contamination, on-the-job safety hazards, and harmful chemical exposure to workers and residents near well areas (Wilber, 2012).

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The fracking process has been employed to enhance the production of oil and gas from underground reservoirs for more than 40 years. In the process the frac-fluid is pumped at a high pressure into a selected section of the shale bed. The fluid pressure creates a fracture extending into the rock medium which contains oil or gas. Since the fracturing operation is conducted at a great depth into the properties of the reservoir rock it creates stress (Yew, 1997). Many believe this process is the culprit for the greater occurrences of earthquakes in the surrounding area that have been reported since fracking activities commenced.

Gas industry executives argue that hydraulic fracturing has been used for more than sixty years and has an excellent safety record with federal and state regulations in place to address public health and safety issues.  How many times is the public supposed to accept and believe that spoon-fed retort?

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References:

Peeples, L. (2012, October 12). Fracking pollution sickens Pennsylvania families, environmental group says. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/fracking-pollution-pennsylvania_n_1982320.html

Spellman, F. (2013). Environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Group.

Wilber, T. (2012). Under the surface: Fracking, fortunes, and the fate of the Marcellus Shale. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

Yew, C. (1997). Mechanics of hydraulic fracturing. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.

Agents of Change

Published February 8, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

Change agents operate to amend laws and introduce legislation that benefits society.  For example, one growing trend in our culture is single motherhood.  Recent data from government agencies collected from social scientists and researchers worldwide, suggests that single mothers in the United States, most of whom are either separated or previously married, work longer hours and experience higher poverty rates than their peers in other high-income countries.  The reason for this is due to a flawed income support system.  Plus, there is a high rate of low-wage workers purports Tim Casey, the senior staff attorney at Legal Momentum. (Kaufman, 2012).

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According to a report published by Legal Momentum (2012) half of single mothers’ annual income is less than $25,000 and two fifths of single mother families is “food insecure.”  In addition, one third of children around the country grow up without a father according to the US Census Bureau.  Studies indicate that children who grow up in a fatherless home have greater risk of major challenges in life than those who are reared with both parents present.  Twenty-seven million children in America are affected by this problem and it continues to spread.  Higher rates of poverty, failure in school, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, violent crime, and depression have been linked to the influence of absentee fathers (Legal Momentum, 2012).  This research is focused on how an agent of change can bring awareness to these issues that affect modern families and introduce reforms.

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Awareness

A change agent works to shift public perceptions and is passionate about engaging public awareness.  Resources are allocated to educate the public on the absentee parent issue and stir deep emotions in others about this crisis that has reached epidemic levels.  In addition, an agent of change seeks further understanding and empathy by bringing to light important information from the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) addressing that only one quarter of single mothers receive child support monies (ACF, 2012).  Pre-planning and strategy techniques help rally sympathy and gathers allegiance from an unaware public.  Furthermore, change agents expose other staggering OCSE data revealing that out of nearly sixteen million single mothers, only two million receive assistance.

Agents of change also use to their advantage, the many political voices that have indicated a strong desire to track down absent fathers that have gone without fulfilling child-support obligations to their biological or adoptive children (OIG, n.d.).  This key component is used to rally individuals in joining to support the movement’s efforts.  Persons of political influence in this atmosphere can be swayed by the renewed interest from the realization that the social welfare programs are picking up the tab for abandoned children, contributing significantly to the increasing federal budget deficit.  These are ideal conditions for attracting influential membership.  Change agents actively seek ways to garner more resources and educate individuals on the effects of an absentee parent on children, while emphasizing the economic ramifications of taking no action.

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Advocacy

Agents of change also work to revolutionize old systems.  Their platform addresses sensitivities and comprehend that most deadbeat dads do not perceive themselves as fathers, let alone deadbeats, acknowledging that this is one possible reason they do not embrace fatherhood.  They are also aware that there are others that feel no obligation to fulfill parental duties and in a state of emotional incompetence attempt to justify their irresponsible behavior by proposing foolish notions of being deceived into parenthood as a form of entrapment.  Although this may be true in some extreme cases, it is not cause or justification for the abandonment of parental duties or accountability to these children.

Agents of change conduct extensive research on current legislation to ascertain what established methods and systems are both effective and ineffective.  For example, when an absentee father is delinquent or ceases to pay court ordered child support monies, the mother is forced to seek emergency methods and alternative solutions to cover expenses.  Most mothers are dependent on child support funds and factor them into to their monthly budgets.  When support is delinquent or ceases altogether, a mother goes into fight or flight mode.  It is under these stressful and desperate conditions, she must seek alternative means to compensate for the loss.  She therefore resorts to government aid in the form of nutrition and medical assistance, and in extreme emergencies payment for utilities, emergency cash, and even temporary housing.

When an irresponsible parent neglects payments or submits support intermittently, that payment is construed by the government’s human resource division as additional income and has an impact on their benefits. Adjustments however are not made in the mother’s favor for the period support monies were absent. In short, the system penalizes these moms while the absentee dad faces no repercussions in the form of penalties or fines.

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Activism

Indeed, while the actions of change agents can cause confusion and pain, their servitude is focused on making society better.  They engage their resources to reach out and network with women in similar conditions at forums and support groups to open a dialog.  They organize and provide a safe, accepting, and life-changing platform online, eventually opening local group chapters.  These provide similarly strong women a place to gather, exchange ideas, share inspirational stories of survival and triumph, and look for additional help and resources.

The recruitment and support from corporations and individuals with influential power in the political arena is equally important to change agents.  They solicit these individuals and reveal that the intent of the movement is noble.  They make their goals and intentions clear: to stop the spread of fatherless homes and help put an end to children growing up without their dads.

Agents of change acknowledge that one way of doing this is the formation and implementation of fatherhood support programs and initiatives.  Not all fathers set out to become inactive participants in their children’s lives.  Many are unemployed and looking for opportunities to become a better parent but lack the education, support, and guidance.  In addition, strict measures would be sought for those fathers who do have the means to support their children, yet choose to hide or avoid their responsibilities as an active participant because of their bitterness and anger towards the mother.

Initiating tougher laws on tracking down these types of absentee parents would include strict penalties.  Deadbeat dads that have the means to support their children and deliberately withhold support should be subject to substantial fines and in extreme cases spend time in a penitentiary offering these individuals sufficient opportunity to rethink their choices and poor judgment.

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Conclusion

In summary, even though their actions can be disruptive, agents of change transform society by shifting perceptions and revolutionizing old systems.  The absence of a father impacts a child their entire life – their attitude, their actions, their beliefs, their decisions, and their identity.  Children do not ask to be neglected.  It is the responsibility of the adults to provide a safe, loving and supportive environment for them.  Children of negligent fathers are forced to adapt to their condition in order to address the resulting negative behaviors, break free, and experience a confidence building, empowering love that will heal their hurts and fulfill their deepest longings.

As an agent of change for this movement, educating and setting up programs for single mothers and absentee fathers can inspire motivation to reform.  Working to transform these individuals into empowered, accountable, and caring parents, aids their healing process.  Creating new opportunities for estranged fathers and encouraging them to become active participants in their children’s lives ultimately benefits everyone.

This research addressed how an agent of change would address the epidemic in the absence of fathers that continues to plague society and affects families from every corner of the world and in all walks of life. Whether fathers leave entirely during childhood or are physically present but emotionally distant, those who miss out on an affirming, intimate father relationship continue to experience the devastating consequences of that loss. Change agents who support an issue as a noble and worthy cause work diligently to set the stage for social transformation.

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References

Administration for Children and Families. (2012, October 1). Office of child support enforcement preliminary report. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy2011-preliminary-report

Kaufman, G. (2012, December 21). This week in poverty: US single mothers – the worst off. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from The Nation.com: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171886/week-poverty-us-single-mothers-worst#

Legal Momentum. (2012). Single motherhood in the United States. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from: http://www.legalmomentum.org/our-work/women-and-poverty/resources–publications/single-mothers-snapshot.pdf

Office of the Inspector General. (n.d.). Child support enforcement.  Retrieved January 25, 2013, from: https://oig.hhs.gov/frau

Getting Involved with Social Movements

Published February 6, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

There are many different kinds of movements to motivate individuals that become involved in them.  According to statistics the rise of the new middle class for instance, is one of the primary driving forces of social movements that seek reform to help tackle the challenges they face in a new global economy.  The intrinsic distrust in politics provides the impetus to advocate their democratic rights.  The key factors that rally enthusiasm in individuals for enlistment are: (a) the formal and informal methods of organization available to protestors for initial mobilization; (b) political opportunities and restrictions that confront the insurgents; and (c) the ability of interpreting the collective processes, ascription, and social composition that arbitrate between opportunities and action (McAdam, 1982).  This research takes a look at the political and social arenas that lure individuals to become involved in social movements and how conflicts are addressed by applying the resource mobilization and the political process theories.

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A Call to Arms

Even though change poses a threat to the status quo, it takes passion, determination and commitment for people to become involved with social movements that effect social change.  The resource mobilization theory posits that success for a social movement is contingent on the timing of its genesis and the atmosphere of the culture.  It is a movement whose motives are relevant to the current events in which the masses can emphasize and relate to.  In other words, the manner in which a movement affects the hearts and souls from the supporters recruited, plays an integral role.  In addition, it must have a unique quality that is unlike any other.  This element can be the incentive that others respond to from the emotions that are invoked.  Effective organizers use this aspect to their advantage and even look to trends of a specific social class to help with their cause.

The inclusion of the political process theory in social movements outlines emphasis and focus on the group’s ongoing process and evolution, rather than the discontent of the majority.  The political process broadens the efforts of the resource mobilization process by enlisting the aid of the elite and the political system.  Organizations work to disband the upper echelon in key positions of the political and corporate arenas by enlisting the aid of likeminded elite to support their cause and provide further resources in the process.

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A single mother for example, as a result of the many infractions and frustrations she endures from numerous failed attempts to collect support from an absentee father, may resort to becoming an active contributor to a social movement to help make new laws that will change a failing system.  The individual’s sense of abandonment and defeat; coupled by the failure to act from the proper authorities and government channels, out of desperation and as a last resort, instead turns to seek comfort and advice in forums and support groups.  In an attempt to acquire more knowledge and information, friendships emerge and discussions begin among these women with a common cause.  As more individuals gather, the realization of a collective emerges and they begin to organize, motivate each other and gather momentum.  This is the juncture where the group begins to unify their efforts.  Their level of success is contingent upon the organizational efforts, leadership, and their ability to create a cohesive group.

Mobilization and Action

Next focus is put on their functional requisites and as the resource mobilization theory posits, to marshal further support for their activities by formulating a concept that states the importance of their role.  Consequently, they look for solutions that address any power struggles they may face from their efforts to rally forces for collective action and taking into consideration the atmosphere of the current social conditions.  In this case, namely that gender development has grown exponentially, particularly in the last thirty years.  This awareness can help them address the challenges they may face in their attempt to create gender-sensitive policies in public and private organizations that continue to occur regardless of the diversity of an organization and notwithstanding the influence of the group’s elders and other non-related sympathizers.  Efforts to address women’s issues and the ostracism they confront from bureaucratic resistance can intensify and sometimes in extreme cases are demonstrated in a culture of violence (Jaquette & Summerfield, 2006).

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The next level of the movement’s development is to define their parameters and the components required to organize a coherent structure.  They can focus their intent to open an avenue that will attract political opportunity.  Their subsequent agenda is to propose new legislation that will eventually lead to the reforms they seek.  It is at this stage, their organization follows the path outlined by the political process theory, and in companionship to the mobilization theory, that their pursuit begins to mobilize the resources of the major social systems.  This includes the recruitment and support of influential individuals on a state level, to local leaders, and the media, in addition to corporate sponsors and politicians.  The movement closely scrutinizes both the support and opposition they will face, emphasizing their labor on the political aspects and opportunities available to break the unity of the elite in key positions, in accordance to the political process theory.

Individuals that are discontent yearn for improvement and reforms.  Incorporating the methodologies presented here as outlined by both the resource mobilization and political process theories is one example of how an individual or a social group can become motivated and assist in the development of a social movement.  They can also elicit the support of a popular personality as other established organizations of social movements have with celebrities like Robert Redford or Jane Fonda.  Other tactics include the implementation of methods similar to organizations like The Wildlife Foundation and the Humane Society whose recruiting efforts to solicit new membership entail the use of mailers and incentives that include complimentary return address stickers and desk note cards with their logo which we continue to receive in the post.

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Conclusion

It takes great passion and determination for people to become involved with social movements, especially from individuals that face issues of injustice and equality.  Social movements that reach the “petitioning” stage will discern whether their movement can continue to move forward by the momentum and size of the forces that have gathered or whether they disband due to the lack of support, reflected by the number of signatures acquired.  One can determine the amount of populace dissatisfaction by visiting the official government website, “We the People”, where petitions are submitted.  Some of the recent petitions logged there include noteworthy causes from worthwhile movements like: the taxation of religious organizations and churches; a requirement that all genetically modified foods should be labeled as such; and the re-evaluation of the federal minimum wage for tipped employees.

Other petitions submitted are of an inane nature, like the deportation of British Citizen and CNN TV host, Piers Morgan, for his recent rants on gun control.  The most humorous petition we encountered, requested the US Government to build a Death Star.  In fact, they received so many signatures that White House Chief of Science and Space, Paul Shawcross, had to respond.  One of the reasons cited for its rejection: “The Administration does not support blowing up planets” (Dothan, 2013).

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In conclusion, social change is brought about by recurring economic crises that have not been sufficiently addressed.  Changing institutions, the control of resources and the mobilization of power are key components that motivate individuals to become involved in social movements as contributors, elders and sympathizers.  It is passion and a profound desire to make a difference that is deeply embedded into the human agency.  As long as those passions exist, people will continue to get involved making social change inevitable.

References:

Dothan, A. (2013, January 14). White House ups the ante for peition website: 100,000 signatures. Retrieved January 18, 2013, from Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-white-house-raises-signature-limit-for-petition-responses-20130116,0,973194.story

Jaquette, J., & Summerfield, G. (2006). Women and gender equity in development theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

McAdam, D. (1982). Political process and development of black insurgency. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Creativity

Published February 4, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Creativity can have a positive impact on an organization’s effectiveness as well as provide an enriching experience for us. CEO, Dorie Clark (2012) suggests that there are two significant types of creativity: (a) conceptual or theoretical; and (b) the gradual process. Clark purports that the conceptual or theoretical process of creativity is derived from situations or challenges that require immediate solutions (Clark, 2012). In this context, creativity is looked to as a means to an end.  In other words, the creative process is implemented with the intent to generate resolutions for organizational problems.

For example, a Senegalese farmer living in destitution can look to creative solutions to improve the living conditions set forth by the social, economic and political structure of his geography by expanding his agricultural abilities with the advent of technological upgrades like farm machinery  (Harper & Leicht, 2011, pp. 292-294). This is one example of a possible solution that was conceived from a concept based on the success of farmers in core nations.

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The second type of creativity Clark cites, the gradual process, is just that; finding a path to resolution step by step with no eureka moment.  This method is harder to identify due to its nature and is often referred to as experimental or empirical creativity which requires time for development and evolution.

Clark offers three tips she believes are significant for stimulating the creative process:

  1. Bring both types of thinkers to the table – conceptual and gradual process.  Their opposing views and arguments offer a ripe atmosphere for new creation.
  2. Offer rewards – Rewards (like mid-career innovation) in the form of grants, prices, and other resources.
  3. Nurture experimental thinking – When this is done correctly, working on something new and completely different affords the opportunity to learn new techniques, new concepts, and new systems.

Albert Einstein

The creative process is complex. The more variety of methods and ideas, the better. Michalko (2001) focused his studies on individuals at the genius level.  His observations conclude that most geniuses think productively, not re-productively.  When confronted with a challenge, they ask themselves how many different ways they can crack the problem, rethink it and solve it, rather than follow traditional methods.  Geniuses tend to think out of the box; outside the norm and implement unconventional methods.  Productive thinking generates many alternative angles, taking into consideration the least and the most likely approaches.  In short, there is a willingness to explore all avenues.  Einstein for example, said that if the average individual were asked to find a needle in a haystack, that person would stop upon the task’s completion.  Einstein on the other hand, would tear through the entire haystack looking for all the possible needles (Michalko, 2001). It was after all, Albert Einstein who said that imagination is more important than knowledge.

In contrast, reproductive thinkers tend to foster attitudes of rigidity and an unwillingness to try new things. They are set in their ways, comfortable with the norms and repeating traditional methods of problem solving. They interpret challenges from a more cautious perspective and tend to view different ideas as foreign concepts.  This attitude puts constraints on the creative process.

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Ray and Myers (1986) have a unique approach to organizational creativity. They simply view business as art, stating that capital, people, the markets, and ideas (that have lives of their own), are the tools required. The creative process merely lies with taking these tools and reorganizing them in new and different ways. In conclusion, creativity isn’t a destination; it is a journey that thrives at all levels and in all phases of a business. These are just a few concepts one can look at when opening the door to the creative process.

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References:

Clark, D. (2012, April 3). Three ways to foster creativity in your organization. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2012/04/03/three-ways-to-foster-creativity-in-your-organization/

Harper, C., & Leicht, K. (2011). Exploring social change American and the world (6th ed.). Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking creativity: The secrets of creative genius. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Ray, M., & Myers, R. (1986). Creativity in business. New York, NY: Broadway Books.