Studies have also found that the rich exert far more influence over government than the rest of us. This imbalance means that wealthy people who do something about inequality may have more power to make an impact than everybody else. As scholars of social change, we wanted to learn more about how a small number of affluent Americans choose to spend their own time, clout and money fighting inequality.
Greetings, dear Americans! As our new President appears and promises to change this system and make America great again, it’s time we look at one of the things he could do to really make America great, and it’s in his specialty, business.
Recent events in Ferguson, MO, have generated a national discussion about the growing militarization of the police and their accountability to the public for potential abuses of power. While Massachusetts does not have the worst national reputation in this regard, we do have deep and historical reasons to be concerned. Recent claims that some Massachusetts law enforcement agencies are in fact private corporations, and thus exempt from public reporting requirements, should only add to growing public concern.
At the recently concluded gathering of world elites, also known as the World Economic Forum at Davos, one issue seemed to come up more than it has in the recent past: societal inequality. Oxfam released a well-timed report on economic inequality and directly asked for world elites at Davos to turn their attention to it.
The report highlighted how the 85 richest people in the world (who could hypothetically fit into a double-decker bus) now own wealth equal to the lower 3.5 billion people (half the world’s population). Interestingly, the Oxfam site’s link to the report had the picture of a boat, or more precisely, that of a luxury yacht – presumably the kind that those elites may own or have access to. The water all around it seems stable and beautiful as ever. It is hard to resist a metaphor here, which I will expand on through this article.
On the face of it, the call by Oxfam can be puzzling. The fact that societal elites are being asked to give attention to inequality raises a fundamental question: Why should they care?
By Nick Stewart (PhD Student at UMass Boston, OSC Track).
You better work b#tch, you better work b#tch, Now get to work b#tch!
Britney Spears, lyrics from her new song…you guessed it! “Work B#tch”
Through the penmanship and performance of politically pointed music or through visible endorsements of political campaigns and nonprofit organizations, celebrity entertainers have a long history of engaging in the arena of politics and social issues. In 1939, Billie Holiday made use of symbolic imagery to comment on racism and lynching through the song “Strange Fruit”. Recently, rapper Macklemore tackled issues surrounding same-sex marriage and homophobia through performance of the song “Same Love”. Marketers can attest to the power of endorsing ideas, political or not, by those with elite social status. Britney Spears is unquestionably one of the most internationally recognized entertainers alive today (both famous and infamous). Spears, oh I can’t help it, Britney, has a forthcoming album which launched a promotional single recently. Her new song “Work B#tch” has hit the airwaves.
On my Amtrak-commute to work, I noticed a group of thirty-something men and women in business attire occupying the seats in front of me engaged in a lively conversation. At one point, a young woman got up and started asking the five other members of her group if they wanted anything from the café car—three women said, “no, thank you” while one woman asked for tea. A blond young man who remained sitting, turned his head towards the woman and with a sly grin, he said, “I’d like eggs benedict!” His statement was followed by laughs and “oooohs” from the women while I glared at him in disbelief. The woman didn’t say anything, shook her head and walked to the café car presumably to get herself and her coworker a drink.
The new documentary “Landfill Harmonic” tells the story about a group of children from Cateura, a Paraguayan slum, who play instruments made entirely of garbage from a nearby landfill. A related Kickstarter campaign raised $214k in May this year to support not only the film project, but outreach programs and a world tour of “The Recycled Orchestra”. Is the Kickstarter campaign right in saying that “[such] creative and simple solutions can bring powerful social transformation to the poorest communities”? The campaign and a related video posted on Kickstarter, upworthy.com and other websites sparked a recent controversy about the real impact of such initiatives.
As Stephan Manning commented in a recent blog post, many of us who attended the recent Academy of Management conference in Orlando, Florida, felt some of the discomfort of the fakeness of the place, the endless “have a magical day” greetings from overly perky staff (“castmembers”, in Disney’s Orwellian newspeak), the over-engineered physical environment of artificial beauty with an enormous carbon footprint (the steady stream of planes arriving, the acres of over-air conditioned buildings – but you save the earth if you hang up your towels!) Parallels with the TV series The Prisoner or the classic movie The Stepford Wives jump to mind (indeed in the book, the leader of the men’s club is a former Disney engineer).