Research Problem Rants

First things first, I LOVE research. The process and the feeling you get at the end of it all, one word. Amazing.

As a psychology and sociology major, I have an extensive background in research (3 statistics classes up to the advanced level, 3 methods classes, and I served on a year long research team last year and currently serving on another this year, this is excluding research papers for other classes too mind you), however, there is a problem though. I enjoy getting out in the field, designing ways to collect data and analyzing everything. I love to read (don’t get me wrong!), but I much rather get out in the field and collect stuff.

That being said, in the beginning some of the difficulties I faced was actually collecting some primary resources. Being told to collect resources, that was interrupted in my head as: go out and find the supplementary articles. This was remedied by talking with Dr. Fernsebner. Now, however, I have another problem. My topic is too interesting! That was not a good way to state my new problem, let me try again. My research topic has many very interesting avenues to explore, so I need to make sure that once I decide which route I want to take, I need to not wander into down another. Pretty much, I need to maintain a mindfulness of the time I am working with.

Some other problems I have a feeling I will face, this is my first paper in Chicago Turabian (I had to look that up to make sure I spelled it right), usually my papers are in APA or ASA. This I know will be a challenge for me, thank goodness for the internet though I suppose. I will talk to real human beings though when I need help. Also, I know it only made it a little difficult for me in the beginning to find primary sources, but again, I not being able to go out into the field, in this case it would be China, and collecting my data is a feeling I need to get used to.

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Jacob

March 23rd

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Charter 08 – What’s Between the Lines?

I suppose rather than jumping right into my report I should give a quick briefing on my project. My research project will examine different documents of Chinese intellectual thought in order to understand the role of modernity, or lack thereof, in the context of social movements and intellectual thought. So far I have two primary sources for my research, those two being Charter 08 and the New Citizens’ Movement. For this post, as can be guessed by the title, I am focusing on Charter 08. 

Charter 08 definitely makes it clear what China needs to change, using a ‘in order to catch up in the international arena’ tone. That is, the author takes a tone that not only is China uncivilized, but also preventing the progress of China and all of human civilization. The Charter also does a great job essentially defining what it means to be a modern nation, to the Chinese intellectuals at least. I present a truncated excerpt from Charter 08 illustrating this:

This is a historic moment for China, and our future hangs in the balance. In reviewing the political modernization process of the past hundred years or more, we reiterate and endorse basic universal values as follows: Freedom…Human rights…Equality…Republicanism…Democracy…and Constitutional rule.

By the end of the Charter, the author is calling for the government to change to better fit the name of the state, The People’s Republic of China. Another thing to note is that in the recommendations to the government, the author is saying that they (the government) needs to turn towards “fostering the consciousness of modern citizens who see rights as fundamental and participation as a duty”. This is important to note because, what of the citizens that do not see rights as fundamental or participation as a duty? If this is what the modern citizen is, what is the counter?

Overall, this article provides a lot of content, there is definitely more to be found in this source as I comb through my other primary source and my secondary sources.

But enough about the good, lets see where Charter 08 falls short. The Charter focuses very heavily on China’s political action, I suppose this is kind of a ‘duh!’ moment. However, the Charter is predominantly calling for action from the “ruling elite” (I am taking note of the usage of this term by the way. I think it will be important down the road). So what are the modern citizens supposed to do in the meantime? I address what needs to happen, and what citizens should be able to do, but it does not focus much on what the citizens can do right now to speed-up the process.

To take a look at Charter 08 for yourself, or you can find it on the Charter 08 for Reform and Democracy in China website. The website offers more than just Charter 08 itself, it is definitely worth taking a look around.

Liu Xiaobo. “Charter 08.” Charter 08 for Reform and Democracy in China. Accessed February 27, 2014. http://www.charter08.eu/2.html .

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Jacob

March 14th

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Fang Zhimin – Inspiring Awe by Upholding Justice

Inspiring Awe by Upholding Justice - 1976

Inspiring Awe by Upholding Justice – 1976

Fig. 1. Designer: Cai Chao (蔡超). “Inspiring Awe by Upholding Justice.” January 1976, Poster. Writing: Inspiring awe by upholding justice; Dayi linran (大义凛然). Call nr.: BG E15/9 (Landsberger collection). Available from: ChinesePosters.net, http://chineseposters.net/themes/fangzhimin.php (Accessed February 11, 2014).

This poster depicts Fang Zhimin standing on top of an automobile with his wrists and ankles in chain cuffs. Fang Zhimin has his right arm raised with an open hand facing the crowd of people that are gathered around the automobile that he is standing on. While his left arm is bent slightly back, at say maybe a 90 degree angle (This can be a contested measurement, I am not a mathematician, nor am I someone who is good at geometry). Fang Zhimin’s stance is upright and strong, his feet are positioned to form an almost “L”, maybe a “V”. There are two people directly at the automobile facing Fang Zhimin, and two others that appear to be keeping the crowd at a distance. Judging by the hats and uniform of these people I’m guessing that they are some kind of aw enforcement officers. The other members of the crowd is wearing clothes that brings the word working class to mind. The faces of the law enforcers is one of awe, while the other members of the crowd look very serious, and inspired, as if looking off into the future.

Further, Fang Zhimin’s face is one that shows a very serious, and more anger than inspiration. His face combined with the position of his arms, give me the impression that if he was speaking he would be saying “Stop.” Fang Zhimin’s clothes are plain, grey shirt with black pants type bottoms. However, the collar of Fang Zhimin’s shirt is very soviet-communist inspired. That is, his collar is a vibrant red, straight and sharp. Fang Zhimin is also wearing a brown overcoat.

The colors are dark, and grungy at the bottom of the poster, as you move up the poster though the colors seem to gradually brighten, there is still a dark undertone but compared to the bottom of the poster it is noticeably brighter. Also interesting to note is that viewers are only really shown the face of one of the law enforcement people, yet it seems the artist wanted to make sure that as many of the people in the crowd had their facial expression showing. The colors and the detail distribution would lead me to believe that this picture is anti-nationalist (considering that Fang Zhimin fought nationalist oppression), and the gradual increase of brightness could signify hope in communism but only if everyone come together against the Nationalists (hence the recognition of the vast majority of the crowd’s face).

Although the page where I found this poster at does not give any direct insight for this specific poster there is an excerpt at the bottom of the page that gives some info:

Fang was arrested by the Nationalists in January 1935. Although they tortured him, and tried to lure him into surrender, he ‘inspired awe by upholding justice’ and proved that he was a true Communist hero. Even while in prison, he wrote important theoretical contributions.

Fang Zhimin died in 1935 but his image was used by the CCP for many years, and has been honored as late as 1999 by the CCP. For opposing the Nationalists Fang Zhimin was made a model (in the positive way, not the bad way) and used as a communist icon.

 

Photo

Jacob

February 11th

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Education in China

I found the webpage for the organization, OECD,  that administers the Pisa. Here are a few tidbits from their website that give a little insight to what the Pisa is:

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment.

PISA is unique because it develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. The information collected through background questionnaires also provides context which can help analysts interpret the results.

The “About Pisa” page on the site: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/

This is OECD’s webpage that reports the 2012 results of each participating country: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results.htm

This is the BBC article that I had showed in class on Friday, where an Education expert from OECD calls Shanghai’s results ‘mind boggling’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25090034?ocid=socialflow_twitter_bbcworld

And this is the article from the Guardian that I pulled up in class that had the lovely graph: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/dec/03/pisa-results-country-best-reading-maths-science

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Jacob

February 8th

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The “New Citizens’ Movement”, or Social History in the Making

I love how the research paper is so open and free, and yet it has put me in a very tight situation. I have been very fascinated in the art and hip-hop culture of China and would be interested in looking at its progression since inception with a sociological / psychological lens. And this was going to be my article without a doubt originally…

Then I discovered this gem…

Xu Zhiyong; Photo provided by Greg Baker/AP

Xu Zhiyong (许志永) – Photo provided by Greg Baker/AP

I was not aware of this phenomena going on in China actually, and the more I read the more I become interested in following this movement and making this my research topic, well not it by itself but also drawing comparisons to past Movements and their successes/failures.

To bring anyone who is not aware (and hopefully I am not only on just finding out about this!) up to speed here is the article, The New Citizens’ Movement, translated into English and written by the man pictured above, Xu Zhiyong.

The first paragraph of the article gives a good intro to what the Movement is.

China needs a new citizens’ movement. This movement is a political movement in which this ancient nation bids utter farewell to authoritarianism and completes the civilized transformation to constitutional governance; it is a social movement to completely destroy the privileges of corruption, the abuse of power, the gap between rich and poor, and to construct a new order of fairness and justice; it is a cultural movement to bid farewell to the culture of autocrats and subjects and instead create a new nationalist spirit; it is the peaceful progressive movement to herald humanity’s process of civilizing.

Since this article so much has transpired related to The New Citizens Movement, thankfully China Change has compiled all of the articles they have related to the movement (Movement Compilation).

As with all great movements though, it is always interesting (and in my opinion helpful) to start by looking at the history of the leader, or the one who started it all. My concern however, is that I wont be able to find much due to Chinese censorship. Curious though, what is you all’s impression of the New Citizens’ Movement? Do you think that it will accomplish ALL of it’s goals or just some?

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Jacob

February 6th

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Graffiti in China

Photo provided by Ransom Wingo

Photo provided by Ransom Wingo

 

For today’s (or tonight’s; however you wanna look at it) blog I found myself exploring City Weekend. I would first like to mention that I found the services provided for Nightlife to be very interesting! Now, in regards to my research interest. Generally I am very interested in criminological studies, however, as I mentioned during my visual self-introduction I am also very interested in art.

I think it would be very interesting to look at graffiti and what it can tells us about the artists and even the societal pressures (or lack there of). The article quotes graffiti artists about a 600-meter-long wall on 50 Moganshan Lu that has been sanctioned by the government in Shanghai for graffiti. One artist, Brand Fury One, was quoted as saying that the wall is open to anyone who passes by, as long as graffiti etiquette is followed.

According to graffiti artist Brand Fury One, “Anyone can go on by and paint on this wall with no permission required. It’s an area where you can go and showcase some of your work to the general public. However graffiti etiquette implies that you don’t just go and paint something over anyone else’s work, unless you’re doing a bigger piece.”

The article goes on to quote another graffiti artist, The Orangeblowfish, about the demographic of people that have done work on the Wall (from amateur tourists to professional artists) and how frequently work is done on the Wall (something new each week). Brand Fury One is quoted as referring to the Wall as the billboard sign for the art district. Brand Fury One’s quote is the response to the fact that the Wall is slated to be demolished. The article closes by saying that graffiti will not be stopped by the destruction of one wall, and then highlights other popular graffiti locations.

Nevertheless, the impermanence of graffiti art is inherent, and the destruction of a wall will not discourage graffiti artists from continuing their craft. Artists and local supporters have requested that the city sanction more areas for legal graffiti, and there are other popular venues for street art such as the Shanghai Graffiti Park at Lingshi Lu and walls surrounding several universities such as JiaotongFudanTongji and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.

While the article is definitely very interesting, something else really caught my attention. Part of one of the comments made on the article itself by one of the users

…Still no respects for the “street” (food or art, in this case) culture here yet… (posted by aliyeo)

It gives a little hint at something very important here, the graffiti culture. While the “Great Wall of Graffiti” is extremely popular, icon even the article says, it is still sanctioned and recognized by the government. How much does this recognition, even though it is set to be destroyed, take away from the true meaning of “street art”? Or graffiti even? I do not claim to know graffiti culture, but if a characteristic that makes it appealing is the illegal nature, then perhaps aliyeo is on to something about this not being very representative of culture. Is this an example of true Chinese culture being censored?

 

Article: http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/articles/blogs-shanghai/art-affairs/great-wall-graffiti/

 

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Jacob

January 29th

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“Young & Restless in China” Response

I took notes on my laptop while I was watching the first 1:10:00 of the documentary. Rather than try to neaten up my notes to look pretty, I think just this once I am going to just post exactly wat I have typed down and then my answers to the questions from the syllabus.

Viewing Notes

Chapter 1 – Returning Turtles = Chinese that return to China Business from America; work as businessmen and entrepreneurs

Chapter 2 – Financial troubles for migrant workers; work at factories [wei zhanyan]

Rap music reflects social issues [echoes Rap history]

Wang xiaolei identify with African American culture-although expresses personal experiences even his methods of expression reflect American influence, right down to the tattoo culture

Same end goals as capitalist americans, and same justification; “I have nothing/poor living, I want a better life”

Chapter 3 – those from the Tiananmen era have tried to distance themselves from govt

The desire to have something tangible that can be built up

Common for people to lose their insurance

Chapter 4 – many do not have medical insurance

Zhang Yao chose western medical practice over the traditional practices of his father

Many patients cannot afford their medical bills or treatments

More than half the pupation lives in the country side

Farmers have a self-sense of importance, yet the male farmer do not like “tanned/darker” women; pale skin associated with pretty, while darker skin is the opposite

Yang haiyan’ mother was a victim of human trafficking – the village sees her kidnapping as shameful and something she should be ashamed of, thus leading the consensus to be that they do not want her back in the village [ yang haiyan wants her mother back though]

Chapter 5 – wei zhanyan returns to her village, on leave, after a year of migrant work

Zhanyan returns to an arranged marriage, it’s customary in her village that all of the marriages are arranged and cannot be gotten out of

Zhanyan does not want to get married

Happiness was not thought about in zhanyan’s arranged marriage, at least by the husband; just how it would look if zhanyan breaks off the marriage

Miranda hong fears her mother and serves her mother out of duty; she admires her father more than anyone else

Miranda hong experiences pressure from her parents to have children sooner rather than later, but never directly from them, she is told through her relatives

Chapter 6 – Zhang jingjing is more dedicated to work than her family

Xu weimin struggles to balance his families distance, and feels there is no clear definition between corruption and ethics; he feels corruption is deeply imbedded in Chinese business

Xu weimin – Money has to spent in a business process in order to turn yourself from stranger to friend with partners

Ben wu does not agree with corrupt practices

Xu weimin acknowledges that corruption goes on but says that it is the culture, and is not sure if he would be totally clean of corrupt decisions

Ben wu also struggles with his family; his family is in the US and he is in China y himself; while he is home he feels confused as to where home really is; often wants to return to the states to his wife, but doesn’t and he doesn’t know why

Wang xiaolei – fell victim to an internet scam; a female was lonely and wanted agreed to come stay with him but needed money for the trip, after getting his money she disappeared

Chapter 7 – Zhang jiingjing has become separated from her husband, she acknowledged that her work always came first

Wang xiaolei feels many women only believe in money and not love and experiences depression b/c of this

Jiingjing feels it is really hard for a women to balance personal life and work life

Lu dong feels that culture has changed; he feels Christianity is the answer to his loneliness

Miranda hong struggles with her job of advertising funds and people’s personal lives and is concerned b/c they don’t understand economics or mutual funds; She feels they need to be warned that they might lose their money; she doesn’t want to do her job successfully and set people up to lose their money

Miranda hong fights with her husband often b/c she does not get raises or promotions in her job and he feels guilty that she is not doing good work b/c she only came to Beijing b/c of him when the market is better in shanghi

Zhanyan broke off her arranged marriage; she is more pleased with this decision and that her father backed her decision and encouraged her to do what was best for her

Zhanyan met a man through a friend that she feels happy with and who also feels happiness with zhanyan

Chapter 8 – yang haiyan has found her mother; she was sold to a farmer after being abducted

Haiyan went through what she described as a hell when she was told she would never see her family again, after trying to run away she was caught, strung up and beat; she ran away after some years to a neighboring village to a family she thought would take care of her, but this family won’t let her leave either even though she wants too, the man she is staying with currently does not give her money for fear that she will leave and not return [obviously, Stockholm hasn’t set in]

The next morning, haiyan’s mother had changed her mind about wanting to leave b/c hope was fading that she would ever leave [I spoke too soon it would seem]

Yang haiyan returned without her mother and saddened; haiyan feels her mother is in conflict b/c she does not want to leave what she has now behind but does want to return with her daughter; haiyan also feels that her mother finally has a sense of home.

Questions

What aspects of these accounts and this documentary seem most significant?

The people being interviewed come from different backgrounds and are being followed-up on over time

Although everyone is dealing with problems specific to them, the problems faced seem to be similar almost; many experienced problems in relationships be it with a spouse, significant other, or even family member

What trends or dynamics do we see happening in daily life among different classes of people in the mid-2000s decade that resonate?

Financial hardships; Everyone is doing something in order to improve their monetary situation and increase the quality of their life

There was a lot of people feeling disconnected and unsatisfied

Seem to match other significant global trends? Differ?

Corruption in businesses seemed to be commonly understand as existing around the globe

An increase in environmentalism

Personal responses to challenges, trends?

Lu dong turned to religion in the face of his depression; wei zhanyan defied cultural norms by breaking off an arranged marriage b/c she was not happy and instead chose someone she actually likes

Other aspects, details that struck you?

The businessmen didn’t seem to be speaking of corruption in a way that signified an attitude for change but more so one that was like “yeah, it’s here to stay, live with it whether you like it or not”

Overall, I was most interested by hearing the narratives of people all over. It provided some insight into what is kind of considered normal in China (e.g. “corrupt” practices in business). The interviews also show how people are influenced by a more global world (i.e. people are turning away from less traditional methods in favor of other international methods to progress in their lives; like a rap career to make money, Western medical practices, choosing ones own partner, and ignoring  the common perception of an entire village and attempting to find one’s mother).

Photo

Jacob

January 23rd

Uncategorized

Narrative from Music

What I found on GlobalVoices was not really an article but a video from a YouTube channel (The Sound Stage). The artist highlighted in the video is Shuangzi, a musician from Beijing. Shuangzi addresses Chinese upbringing and pretty much says that kids just need to be given the time to be kids. After the musical performance the band sits down to give an interview. American music is cited as the primary source of inspiration for style while daily life was the topic of discussion.

Further, this article from the China Digital Times also mentions that China’s Education System has been accused of taking creativity away from students by putting more emphasis on test scores.

In America during the 80’s rap music was used as a tool to speak out against government activity and to just express oneself without major repercussions, this act spread internationally and inspired many countries experiencing injustices from their governments. Rap provided the people an outlet, allowing for musicians such as MC Yan and Shuangzi to speak out against pollution and the Education System.

 

Original  Article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/05/china-beijing-rapper-shuangzi/

Photo

Jacob

January 20th

Uncategorized

Silencing in China

Zhou Kehua Case

Photo provided by China’s Ministry of Public Security

Zhou Kehua is a 42-year old Chongqing native, who was wanted in connection with multiple robberies and murders across southern China since 2004, including one Chongqing police officer. In the U.S. we usually go end up at the “why did they do that” question, especially after a year. However, a quick look into Zhou Kehua shows articles that predominantly speak to his elusiveness, some mention the victims or the methods, but compared to the amount of time that is spent on detailing police effort to catch Zhou Kehua. Since the death of the Zhou Kehua news reports mainly focus on the manhunt that led to the death, the actual death itself, and the suspicions that surround the case. One such suspicion is actually related to a photo of Zhou Kehua’s possessions being collected by police officer. This photo has apparently stirred talks on the internet based on four points: no gloves were worn when collecting evidence; using a normal plastic bag, instead of a special evidence bag; the tattoos on both arms raise questions of the person’s actual identity; and, the person wearing sandals and bracelets to a crime scene to collect evidence does not appear to be appropriate work attire.

However, I would like to focus on another article that I found on CDT that talks about what is referred to as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth”. Rather than trying to think of a way to define this term I will simply provide what the passage from the article (also it reminds me very much of an opening for an episode of Law and Order):

The following example of censorship instructions, issued to the media and/or Internet companies by various central (and sometimes local) government authorities, has been leaked and distributed online. Chinese journalists and bloggers often refer to those instructions as “.” CDT has collected the selections we translate here from a variety of sources and has checked them against official Chinese media reports to confirm their implementation.

This article goes on to mention how news media and reporters were told to “play down the story” and “not publish any further reports or commentary, particularly those concerning Zhou’s childhood and criminal motives”. This might explain why the most recent articles I have been able to find pertaining to Zhou Kehua were published in August of 2012. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I will ask the question of what do they not want people to know about Zhou Kehua? I am approaching this from view that in the West (I know, China is not in the West, but bear with me for a moment here), serial killers that are targeting people with money, and only simply killing them, nothing more (i.e. they’re act focused vs process focused) tend to be hedonistic and killing to expand, or increase, their experience of life. What seems interesting though is that hedonistic serial killers do not tend to be outwardly aggressive in there kills, that is they wont normally shoot people out in the open and run off after taking the money. What I am getting at is, while Zhuo Kehua is responsible for the death of 11 people, maybe there is something more to why the important details needed are not allowed to be discussed. Or, perhaps this other Directive suggests that China does not wish to discuss the details of any violent crimes with the public.

 

Main Article: http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2012/08/chinese-rambo-gunned-down-in-chongqing/

Photo

Jacob

January 16th

Uncategorized
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