Table of Contents
Vignette 1: Dr. Hans Pieters
Dr Hans Pieters devoted his research to people who lost their jobs because of retrenchment. In current economic conditions, such people form a large group that is unable to come to terms with the loss and find a new job. Globalisation is accompanied by transition from a large-scale production to a flexible labour force. However, for some people, this transition proved to be painful. Many workers who were made redundant are unable to adjust to new conditions; thus, after a lifelong work at one place, retrenchment is perceived as a crash of their lives (Pieters 2013a). The author considers it necessary to shift the policy tackling the problem of retrenchment. The hypothesis of Dr Pieters is that the loss of a promised job for life is for many people a psychological trauma rather than lack of skill to find a new place in the market (Pieters 2013a).
The paper represents the findings of a three-year study in the suburbs of Adelaida after 2004 mass retrenchment in two automotive industry plants. According to data, restructuration of the automotive production branch cost around 5 000 jobs in South Australia alone (Pieters 2013a). The group under research lost jobs in retrenchment on Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) in Lonsdale (700 people) and Tonsley Park (400 people) around Adelaida. The author attempts to overcome “the myth of suburbia” and challenge the stereotype of newly unemployed workers as victims of the globalisation process because along with the loss, new opportunities are created and the benefits people receive help to alleviate the shock of retrenchment. He analyses “how adjustment is influenced by the retrenchment package, the journey to work, the new job and the meaning of home” (Pieters 2013a)
The double research question is clearly stated at the beginning of the article. The paper investigates “the key issues and opportunities that arise for workers as a result of retrenchment and how does the experience of suburban life mediate the adjustment process” (Pieters 2013a).
The study is purely empirical and qualitative. The author used as a basis the data collected by Beer et al. in 2006, his previous PhD devoted to a related problem and the impact of the retrenchment in general. Thus, in-depth interviews construct the base of the research. The original research comprised three surveys with a one year interval of 372, 3016 and 300 participants respectively and two semi-structured interviews with 38 respondents who agreed on an interview. Some of them had lost their jobs, while others were still working at MMAL; however, many of them managed to find a new job after retrenchment. Apparently, as any intervention in the private life, the methods needed ethical approval, so the agreement of people to give an interview can be considered an approval. The chosen methods are appropriate, since they can answer the key question of the research and test the hypothesis because the surveys and the interviews give sufficient information for analysis.
Dr Pieters applied a multi-disciplinary approach in this case study, namely the psychology of adjustment to a major life event, discourse analysis of retrenchment rhetoric and policy, labour market analysis and meaning of home and work. It is important to be able to exceed the limits imposed by a single discipline, and a mixed-method approach is likely to provide more insight into the problem. However, there is a danger that the outcome of the analysis can be too fluid and indefinite. Nevertheless, this principle is fair for any research because the usefulness of the results of the research is dependent on the unbiased and unrestricted approach to the analysis of the obtained information.
The pattern of coping with retrenchment in the suburbs of Adelaida metropolis is transferable to another set of circumstances in a different region with a certain restriction. The variables are the employment possibilities around, the size of the retrenchment package, housing opportunities, and the particular economic situation. However, the psychological picture of the workers who were made redundant is accurate enough to predict similar difficulties in the situation with another employer and another location.
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Vignette 2: Dr. Matthew Rofe
Dr Matthew Rofe tackles the changing socio-spatial structures in the process of globalisation. Eradication of space is a phenomenon that accompanies globalisation. As a result, the rooted notions of social and cultural identities undergo changes, and the understanding of community extends its borders (Rofe 2003). The emerging global community develops new transnational and cosmopolitan elite, while this notion is so far abstract and inaccurate to the author (Rofe 2003). In his 2003 study, Rofe attempts to check whether gentrifying class is the new elite of the new community.
Rofe’s research used both qualitative and quantitative methods. First, the analysis of statistic records confirmed the emergence of gentrifying class and enabled the construction of its demographic profile. Second, the author conducted a questionnaire within 700 households to obtain a broad vision. A telephone survey of the agents of gentrification and real estate agents followed the questionnaire. Finally, the obtained information was thoughtfully collected to compile a holistic image of a typical agent of gentrification. The ethical considerations during the research were observed, as only volunteers from the initial group participated in the telephone survey.
The study of previously stigmatised areas of Glebe in Sydney and Newcastle, 150 km out of it, showed that the process of gentrification benefited these former slums. Today, they are green residential areas for highly-educated and highly-paid professionals. Furthermore, over 60% of population of both locations were employed at a high-status job (Rofe 2003).
Another feature of the global world is the existence of cyber-communities that help contract and erase the distance between spatially remote communities. In such a way, the notion of a community loses its geographical characteristic.
The type of a global citizen described in literature and the agent of gentrification in this research are both highly educated individuals who are also highly paid and usually have a high social status. However, there is one crucial difference between them, and that is spatial connection. The global citizens are stateless persons and transnational individuals who do not recognise borders and do not identify themselves with any specific location. An agent of gentrification, on the opposite, is a person of property who aspires to acquire a house in a prestigious district. Rofe comes to the conclusion that gentrifying class constitutes real transnational elite in the globalised community because it is the reorganizational force that structures and restructures the landscape of the new world. The new gentry fulfil the gentrifying function by converting landscaped into commodified territories. Their purchasing ability is directly linked with the improvement of the territories by bringing specific lifestyle and high life standards (Rofe 2003).
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The methods applied by Rofe (2003) are a valuable tool for the enrichment of the research project by incorporating the lived experience of an associated community via interviews. The community finds response to interviewing. One should always think about privacy of personal life of the citizens, so the interviews should not be imposed on people.
Rofe’s research revealed the changing scene of the global community and presented the class that drives those changes. The author offered a new view on the notion of elite in the global community and proved that it is the gentrifying class.
Vignette 3: Dr. Sharolyn Anderson
Dr Sharolyn Anderson together with Katherine Williams conducted a Soil Moisture Spatial Survey (SMSS) study in order to “examine the relationships between soil moisture and other physical variables such as land cover and microtopographical features such as bedrock outcrops and seeps” (Williams & Anderson 2014). The researchers applied the data derived from satellite Ikonos-2 and lidar data to construct the model that would accurately reflect soil moisture patterns. Further, the accuracy of the model was proven by an extensive field research. The objective of the study was purely practical, namely to build a reliable model for prediction of the soil moisture on the hill slopes. Thus, the application of remote sensing sources yielded unexpected accuracy of the result.
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The research question that was set by the authors was double. The first aspect was volumetric water content (VWC) dependence upon and influence of other variables (Anderson n.d.). The second part was reliability of GIScience for interpolation and prediction of VWC. The satellite photographs of the selected area were used, and the result was checked by a field survey of 117 points in a subalpine zone. In fact, both methods proved to be fairly accurate (Williams & Anderson 2014). In the conditions when manual measurements are problematic, a field campaign is impeded; thus, satellite technologies have an obvious advantage (Williams & Anderson 2014; UniSA Engineering 2015c). Anderson claims that ArcGis statistical records provide extensive information that can be used in multiple ways. Therefore, the researcher should learn to ask and answer the right questions and develop an unbiased perception of statistical information.
Nevertheless, one method cannot completely replace the other one. Some geospatial mapping exercises compromise on fine scale data representation, for example differentiating among tree species in an analysis of forest cover. Thus, the combination of both fine- and broad-scale data representation methods can provide the broadest picture available.
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Vignette 4: Dr. James Ward
The topic Dr James Ward discussed is possible collapse of the industrial civilisation. The scholar was concerned with emissions of gases into atmosphere that lead to global climate change. The emission of gases increases in parallel with the consumption of fossil fuels (UniSA Engineering 2015). Ward connected the prospective collapse to fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. In collaboration with other scholars, Ward modelled supply and demand for fossil fuels for future years (Mohr et al. 2015). The article came to the conclusion that the peak of civilisation expansion will take place around 2025, after which rapid or gradual decline will start (Mohr et al. 2015). The authors’ hypothesis was that the resources of fossil fuel will exhaust in the nearest future and their end will lead to the global economy collapse.
The idea behind the research is that an industrial civilisation that wants to grow and consume more and more is deemed to collapse after a peak of growth. The obvious reason for decline is energy crisis caused by the exhaustion of fossil fuel deposits (Ward n.d.). There is no immediate remedy for it, as fossil fuel is the source of 93% of all energy consumed by the humanity (Mohr et al. 2015). Thus, decline in fossil fuels excavation is likely to put the end to the civilisation much sooner than the climate change provoked by fossil fuels combustion (Ward n.d.).
The research question concerned the duration of Ultimately Recoverable Resources for fossil fuel performance in separate countries and in general. To predict the possible development, the authors referred to GeRS-DeMo (Geologic Resources Supply-Demand Model). The model represents the dynamic interaction of supply and demand which is achieved “by taking the percentage difference between supply and demand. If supply is higher than demand the model provides a signal to decrease supply and increase demand (and vice versa)” (Mohr et al. 2015, p. 122). The researchers apply this principle to different kinds of fossil fuel and to different countries. In the course of research, three scenarios were investigated, namely Low, Best Guess, and High. In all cases, the growth peak occurs at approximately the same time. However, in the Low scenario, the collapse is steep; in the Best Guess variant, the collapse is less rapid; in the High scenario, the peak is followed by a gradual decline (Mohr et al. 2015).
The applied methods were appropriate to test the hypothesis. The GeRS-DeMo allows one to predict the peak excavation and the use of fossil fuels with reasonable accuracy. The further development has many factors of influence; therefore, the authors developed three scenarios. Moreover, the supply-demand interaction model does not reflect the prices for fossil fuels. The research does not offer solutions but only food for speculations. However, Ward sees the only possibility in the collective recognition of the limits of the civilisation and in cultural acceptance of a non-growing model (Ward n.d.).