Conceptual Understanding and Self-Analysis

Introduction

Now at the end of it all, the quarter coming to a close, I’m a little sad that the topics we’ve touched on in these past few weeks are over so quickly. Things certianly got deeper and more serious as we stepped into issues that we continue to face even today, with new added grievances and attrocities being added to the lineup of human injustice, gender and sex inequality, war, and the ever-present strive for peace. I personally enjoyed reading what my classmates had to say about these very important topics and, in the future, hope that I can continue to learn from those outside of my circle, further expanding my perspective and understanding of it all from a global point of view. Moreover, I intend on carrying what I have personally learned and discovered within myself and my own opinions, taking these experiences with me as I continue to study the world in my journey through linguistic anthropology.

Important Definitions

Pathogen: “A disease-causing organism, such as a bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungus” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 188).

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Cisgender: “Of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth” (Merriam-Webster).

Convergence: “Describes the blurring of boundaries between, or the coming together of, media, information technology, and telecommunications sectors” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 253).

Information Literacy: “The ability to define an information need and to effectively and efficiently find, evaluate, and use information ethically and responsibly” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 257).

To what extent is disease a socially produced condition caused by human beings through our dynamic interactions with each other, the ecosystems we live and work in, and our local and global economic activity?

While, of course, disease as a general concept is not specifically manmade, human influence is still greatly involved in not only the spread and success of diseases but also in the evolution of diseases we previously thought to have been destroyed. At the heart of the issue is vast colonialism, globalization, and the constant interaction of one group with another, often spreading and unknowingly trading diseases. Meanwhile industrialization brought cramped quarters, often poor and otherwise unsuspecting humans in close proximity to breeding grounds for disease, and the immediate spread of illness from one home to the next in rapid fire. These urbanized areas “proved to be major breeding grounds for pathogens [and] made epidemics and pandemics possible” (Keiffer-Lewis, 2019). “Warfare also created new paths along which infection could travel” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 194) further exasperating the issue at hand, ultimately putting stressors on safety, food supply, and the ability to grapple with whatever new or drastic health issues were thrown their way. This continues to be an issue as “human population continues to grow at an astounding, exponential rate, doubling in the last half century to more than six billion people” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 201) and each person requiring their own base amount of resources, each moving about and further interacting with others on a more immediately global scale. The demand combined with pollution now added to the aforementioned issues has created “conditions for infectious diseases to thrive and spread” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 201).

What are some of the major challenges in the global fight against infectious disease?

The number one primary reason, I feel, is that unfortunately disease, or rather the pathogens to blame for disease, continue to adapt and evolve, refusing to be eradicated for good. We, as human beings, don’t help our cause much either as we continue to abuse products—such as “[f]actory farming has also led to increased use of antibiotics, which contributes to greater microbial resistance to these drugs” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 203)—and drugs that when used in small increments can help combat potential illness but instead destroy any potential competition for pathogens that might have outnumbered otherwise resistant pathogens. With this continued cycle “it is likely only a matter of time before the virus evolves to allow for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 201).

What is gender and how does it differ from sex?

By definition sex is “a biological distinction that is determined by anatomical characteristics and genetic material”(Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 215) indicating a more scientific perspective to the topic versus gender which “refers to the socially learned behavior and expectations that distinguish between masculinity and femininity” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 215). As such, gender is a social and cultural construct used to define notions of femininity, masculinity or (in some cases) genders that may fall in between or outside of the two. Gender continues to establish a person’s role within their society and what responsibilities, restrictions, or purpose they may be expected to fulfil. Within the Western world, gender and sex are treated as interchangeable, with those born to one sex being automatically assigned the corresponding gender, but other cultures think differently and, moreover, this approach is more demonstrative and oppressive than necessary given that the individual may not find their assigned gender to be true to their identity.

How do gender roles and other assumptions about gender impact policy creation and policy implementation?

In looking at much of the world, which is largely male-dominated, there is an obvious divide between who truly benefits from policies and who suffers with cisgender men all too frequently being awarded the most. It’s important to recognize this discrepancy to understand the role all other genders have within the global context. For example, in Our Century’s Greatest Injustice Sheryl Wu Dunn clearly showcased not only the importance of education to a girl’s sense of self and empowerment, but also in how it could just the same provide value to the family and community as a whole. Here she introduced girls and women who were afforded the same opportunities as men and, in their success, could turn around to provide not only for themselves and their families but help bring up their communities as well.

What are some of the ways that gender intersects with human rights concerns?

All too frequently cisgender women and transgender individuals are victims of gender-based assaults, attacked simply for who they are or how they choose to present themselves within societies that may otherwise be opposed to their presence or genderal sense of power. For example “[t]ransgender people in Malaysia face criminal prosecution […] and discrimination in accessing employment, health care, and education” (Human Rights Watch, 2014) which, despite efforts within communities to dehumanize and other them, directly infringes on the basic human rights presented as belonging to everyone. If we are to attack human rights issues as a whole it is vital to include everyone, not just cherry pick here and there according to archaic and arbitrary gender-based guidelines.

What kinds of information skills are needed to be personally, professionally, and academically successful in the Information Age?

With varieties of media and communication platforms being offered online and “mobile phones in particular [being] increasingly emblematic of convergence” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 254) it is, above all else, important for people to be information literate (and confident) so that they can “learn new skills in order to retrieve and use information effectively and efficiently” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 257). Technology continues to grow, adapt, and change—seemingly new products considered obsolete and outdated in the blink of an eye—so being able to keep up with these changes and continue to learn without error is paramount to the success during this Information Age.

What are some of the potentially positive and potentially negative consequences of the globalization of media?

On the one hand, there are a lot of opportunities to share, to grow, to learn and more importantly to support people who you otherwise would know nothing about with media providing a globalized platform. Globalization of media allows for issues and major points of interest, that otherwise would have remained unknown to so much of the world, to be brought forward and shared with a greater audience. Potentially even hitting the right audience that could inspire movements and change. It’s also hugely influential on our local economies and how we can use that to better not only ourselves but our communities. And, of course, on a more selfish note globalization allows for someone like me to be introduced to new ideas, cultures, and languages and to explore my interests and passions.

However, media globalization is often pushed according to the agenda of singular powers who operate with their own intentions in mind and with little to no care of what damages they cause on the world around them. There’s still a huge issue of ethnocentrism that hinders our global ability to participate in globalization from a purely positive and beneficial or supportive perspective and until this is solved globalization will continue to be negative issue. It further pushes one culture, ideas, or values as being supreme and can further oppress smaller or less supported cultures. It can also be used as a platform to bury racism, sexism, or other forms of generalized hatred and structured violence deep into the minds of societies that previously had no such opinions.

What factors cause or contribute to war?

The three primary forces behind war can be broken down into: resources, power, and civil unrest. Though history certainly paints power as being the number one cause of war, researchers have actually found that it is actually “competition over resources and the struggle for reproduction [that] are the root causes of conflict” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 310). Which, of course, makes sense when considering the immediate need to survive and prosper, our ancestors certainly would have been willing to fight to keep themselves and their families or communities ahead of the curve in a historically unfair world. This continues even today as we see “resource conflicts (either in whole or in part), fought over access to things like water, land, food, oil, minerals, etc”(Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 310) and it is only after resources, as a number two cause, that power comes into play. The third then being civil unrest, which is more frequently seen in poorer countries who cannot financially accommodate minorities in accordance with their needs or desires, as religions, political, or other groups rise up against majorities for injustices they feel they have endured.

Are we, as a species, genetically predisposed to engage in war?

While I personally don’t believe that we, as a species, are predisposed to war, science and continued studies outright tramples my hopes and dreams and instead “indicates that humans have an innate, evolution-shaped potential for violence and aggression” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 309). Of course, “these behaviors are best viewed as options rather than as irresistible, hard-wired commands” (Campbell, MacKinnon & Stevens, p. 310) but it does indicate that, despite popular notions of a historical identity of peacefulness, there is a deeply rooted tendency towards the more sinister that ought to be addressed and recognized before we can tackle any possible notion of changing the issue.

In addition to human casualties, what are some of the other major costs of war?

Environmental devastation is surely a top issue as war continues to wreak havoc on our planet, digging into resources and leaving permanent scars that cannot be repaired. Chemical warfare in particular proving to be have disastrous and lasting effects on the world, stretching far past initial hit-site and bleeding into the soil, infecting natural resources and harming the health of humans and animals alike. This only further adds to the issues of disease, man-made tragedies now mutating and providing fuel to the illness fire.

What is the relationship between war and peace?

They are opposites, drastically different outcomes stemming from the same situation but nurtured by opposing views, emotions, and perspectives. War is the aggressive and violent response, whereas peace is not so much about lack of action or emotion but more about the steadfast desire to uphold an entirely different set of values that includes the well being of all.

Is peace more than simply the absence of war? If so, then how do we define it?

Peace requires more than only the absence of war. Laws and justice systems are key components, but I would add that constant open and empathetic communication is equally as important. Peace as a general whole is greatly dependent on the participation and willingness of others, without interaction and willing cohabitation keeping peace becomes extremely difficult.

What forms of violence beyond armed conflict pose the biggest threats to peace in the global context?

Slavery, starvation, sex crimes, gender and sex inequality, structured violence bred from historical and/or cultural injustices, and lack of access to basic rights greatly impose on the success of global peace. As mentioned above, as well, without fully addressing the issues everyone is facing all across the globe we cannot expect to actually tackle the issues at hand. It cannot be a matter of cherry picking who we do or do not help but rather an all encompassing effort to ensure that as many people as possible are allowed the same opportunities to enjoy the basic human rights they are owed. Moreover, as we continue to ignore the plight of one community or another, there are issues of potential uprisings or calls to war as people grow restless and tired of being pushed aside and disregarded.

What conditions foster peace?

Conversation, willingness to participate and work together, as well as the support of important figures and/or large numbers to combat against the impatience or violence of others.

Might nonviolent resistance be a successful strategy for overcoming violent injustice?

I don’t think that nonviolent resistance alone can be successful, but it is a key component to pushing towards challenging injustices. But, unfortunately, the nonviolent resistance still requires backing, attention, perseverance and patience to understand that results are not immediate. Particularly if others respond with violence or try to drown out the message of nonviolence.

Conclusion

Though it may seem rather (detrimentally) optimistic of me, I had previously assumed that humans were not genetically predisposition towards violence, so I was a little disappointed to find that in our readings. Of course the textbook did mention that this does not mean much in terms of immediate action or actual tendency for the violent in general day-to-day, it is still worrying to consider that in a global context, with so many people living today, we are each potentially just as capable of violence as the next person. I had always assumed that it was selfishness, desperation, or something reminiscent of hive-mind mentality that pushed towards the greater scale conflicts, but now knowing the opposite I feel that my perspective on both the past and the future has changed. Not so much for the worse, I will happily continue to hope for the best, but rather it has allowed me a broader sense of how I can approach issues, how I might interpret interactions or grievances, and (more to my own personal interests) how the need to survive and succeed in bringing about violence may have influenced how we communicate with one another.

References

  1. Campbell, P., MacKinnon, A., & Stevens, C. (2010). An Introduction to Global Studies. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
  2. Human Rights Watch. (2014). Malaysia: Transgender People Under Threat. [Online] Available at: https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/24/malaysia-transgender-people-under-threat.
  3. Keiffer-Lewis, Veronica. (2019). Chapter 7 PowerPoint [PowerPoint]. Retrieved from https://deanza.instructure.com/courses/10222/files/1894815/download?wrap=1.
  4. Merriam-Webster. Definition of CISGENDER. [Online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cisgender.
  5. WuDunn, S. (2010). Our Century’s Greatest Injustice. [Video] Available at:

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