Hummingbird - University of Southampton

Hummingbird - University of Southampton


Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Research Journal Issue 1 | April 2010

Quality in e-learning systems: Myths or facts?

Giving substance to aspirational law.

Are repetition and learning by heart ‘outlaws’ in second language learning? – Voices

from super learners.

Corporate social responsibility: What role for human resources?

The good, the bad and the healthy: The transforming body and narratives of health and

beauty in reality TV.

Peeling the body.

Beyond deep and surface acting: Perceived emotional effort in customer service roles.

Organ shortage in Malaysia.

The Ear of Dionysius: Caravaggio’s representations of hearing and acoustic space.

Capturing humanity: The implicated biography and validity in a narrative world.


Charanjit Singh-Landa

Peri Bradley

Hummingbird, University of Southampton’s Doctoral Research Journal ©. Issue 1 April 2010 ©.

Online ISSN: 2043-7838

Paper Print ISSN: 2043-782X

Copyright © 2010 University of Southampton. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, transmitted,

or disseminated, in any form, or by any means, without prior permission from the author, to whom all requests to

reproduce copyright material should be directed, in writing.

You can reference work from this Journal as: SOTONHDRJ, Issue1, 2010, pp.[add the relevant page reference here].


Welcome to this first issue of the University of Southampton’s Doctoral Research Journal. The Journal was an original

idea conceived by the University’s Law, Arts and Social Sciences Graduate School. It is designed to celebrate the

wealth of doctoral research produced within the University and will be an annual academic research publication in

the form of a collection of short papers and graphic images aimed at broad-base circulation thereby appealing to a

more extensive readership across the University and beyond; helping make research more accessible. The journal is

available in print and online via the University’s website at

As Editors-in-Chief we have been involved in an exciting and sometimes exhausting process, which has tested

our present skills and added many new ones to the list. We are grateful for the guidance and expertise provided by

Professor Sally Brailsford, Dr Traute Meyer, Dr Suba Subramaniam, Professor Roger Clarke, Dr Gill Clarke,

Mr Michael Erben, Dr Beth Harland, Professor Steven Saxby, Dr Jane Seale, Professor Tony Kelly and other much

valued academics who may have missed mention.

We have had the opportunity to work with ambitious people who make up the editorial board and to experience the

varied and innovative research of the many gifted scholars present in each school. The overall concept of the Doctoral

Research Journal is not only original but also pioneering in its intention to bring together the diverse research taking

place in the different disciplines across the school, in one cohesive and unique publication. Each article in the journal

represents an inimitable glimpse into the rich and varied theses emerging from discrete fields of study across the

Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences.


The Journal is intended to be the first of many and epitomizes the spirit, commitment and academic rigour of the

University of Southampton in its entirety. It will be the location where many doctoral students will publish their first

articles and gain the experience and confidence to write for other publications. It will also give others the chance to

acquire the editorial and reviewing skills required in contemporary academia. All-in-all the Journal represents an

exceptional opportunity for research students that should be praised for its unique purpose and intention.


Peri Bradley (Associate Lecturer in Humanities) at the Southampton Solent University and University of


Mr Charanjit Singh-Landa (MSc – Barrister) Field Leader Law and Criminology Undergraduate Programmes,

Senior Lecturer in Law and Programme Leader Qualifying Law Degrees at the Thames Valley University (London).

Supervising: Professor Sally Brailsford.

Administrative: Samantha Cottee.

Board Members

Adetoun Amubode

Winchester School of Art

Shah Bano

School of Management

Peri Bradley School of Humanities (editor in chief )

Ali El Dirani

School of Management

Hilke Engfer

School of Humanities

Patricia Murrieta Flores School of Humanities

Marcus Green

School of Social Sciences

Johanna Halmarsson School of Law (technical editor)

David Knight

School of Humanities

Charlotte Knox-Williams Winchester School of Art

Charanjit Singh-Landa School of Education (editor in chief )

Lynda Pidgeon

School of Humanities

Walter Van Rijn Winchester School of Art (web editor)

Clare Woodford

School of Social Sciences

For further details about this publication please see:

Copyright © 2010 University of Southampton. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, transmitted,

or disseminated, in any form, or by any means, without prior permission from the author, to whom all requests to

reproduce copyright material should be directed, in writing.

ii © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Quality in e-learning systems: Myths or facts?

Author: Tamer Sameer AbdEl-Badea AbdEl-Gawad, PhD Supervisor: John Woollard – School of Education.

Giving substance to aspirational law.

Author: A Harrison, PhD Supervisor: Dr Oren Ben Dor – School of Law.

Are repetition and learning by heart ‘outlaws’ in second language learning? – Voices from super learners.

Author: Xia Yu, PhD Supervisor: Professor Rosamond Mitchell – School of Humanities.

Corporate social responsibility: what role for human resources?

Author: Ali Dirani, PhD Supervisors: Dr Melanie Ashleigh and Dr Dima Jamali – School of Management.

The good, the bad and the healthy: The transforming body and narratives of health and beauty in reality TV.

Author: Ms Peri Bradley, PhD Supervisor - Professor Linda Ruth Williams – School of Humanities.

Peeling the body.

Author: Yvonne Jones, PhD Supervisor: Dr Beth Harland – Winchester School of Art.

Beyond deep and surface acting: Perceived emotional effort in customer service roles.

Author: Cristina Quiñones-García, PhD Supervisor: Dr Raquel Rodríguez-Carvajal and Dr Nicholas Clarke –

School of Management.

Organ shortage in Malaysia.

Author: Farah Salwani Muda@Ismail, PhD Supervisor: Dr Remigius Nwabueze – School of Law.

The Ear of Dionysius: Caravaggio’s representations of hearing and acoustic space.

Author: David J. Knight, PhD Supervisor: Professor Simon Keay – School of Humanities.

Capturing humanity: The implicated biography and validity in a narrative world.

Author: Charanjit Singh-Landa, PhD Supervisor: Dr Gill Clarke – School of Education.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


iv © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Quality in e-learning systems:

Myths or facts?

Tamer Sameer AbdEl-Badea AbdEl-Gawad

Supervisor John Woollard

School of Education


This research aims to find out whether quality in higher education e-learning systems exists or not and the

requirements for quality in e-learning systems? Thus, this paper represents the journey of quality in e-learning

systems from a myth into a fact.

Higher Education uses e-learning systems because of the challenges institutions face such as: the rapid developments

in information and communication technology (ICT); a shift in learners’ expectations; changing demographics of

learners; the rapid development of subject knowledge and decreasing financial support.

Through examination of the literature, a model for designing and evaluating quality in e-learning systems is proposed

based on the motivations arising from the challenges: improving the quality of learning, improving access to teaching

and reducing the costs for providers. It incorporates: (1) Stakeholders’ satisfaction; (2) Learning outcome; (3)

Environment facilities; (4) Evaluation during development.


“Excellence, by definition, is a state only the few rather than the many can attain”

Logan Wilson’s foreword to Cartter’s report (Cartter, 1964)

Quality in education is a multidimensional concept involving not only fitness-for-use or fitness-for-purpose but

also reliability and durability of the educational system. More generally, it means the quest for excellence in the

educational process.

Quality in education is an issue of great debates – for quite a while already (Ehlers 2004). The constant search for

quality in face-to-face (FTF) learning without reaching a solid framework to accomplish the desired quality in the

learning environment might have generated a state of disbelief in the existence of such terms in the field of education.

Similarly, in the field of e-learning, many attempts have been made to reach the desired framework for conceptualising

and structuring quality in e-learning systems. This research attempts to establish a framework (model) for identifying

quality in e-learning systems and discover whether quality is a myth or will become a fact.

Defining the term “quality in e-learning systems”

The cause for the argument regarding “Quality in e-learning systems” as a term in modern education could be the

competition between universities all over the world. Inglis (2005: p. 2) stated “Universities have wanted to ensure

that the standard of the educational products that they have been offering matches the standard of what they are

offering onshore.”

Ordinary face to face (FTF) higher education institutions are increasingly making use of e-learning to support

the delivery of their courses and in particular, expanding their e-learning provision through the use of web-based

technologies for delivering online and blended courses (Jara 2009). As a result of the increasing demand for e-learning

universities, governments, accreditation bodies are becoming increasingly interested in identifying the appropriate

strategies to assure the quality of e-learning (Parker 2008).

The definitional challenge associated with the concept of quality, along with its associated concepts (such as quality

assurance (QA), quality control, quality management, and quality enhancement), stems from the multidimensional

criteria of the quality of learning in higher education.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Challenges to traditional perspective of quality assurance arise. As Green (1994: p. 3) argued “Since the mid-1980s,

public interest in and concern about quality and standards has been intensified by the increasing attention given by

successive governments to reforming higher education”. The existing quality assurance processes have significant

limitations when it turns to deal with e-learning systems. The Quality Assurance procedures in Higher Education

Institutions were designed to assure and enhance the quality of ordinary FTF courses and it is not clear to what extent

they remain useful for e-learning courses.

Presenting the quality in e-learning models

The literature on evaluating the quality in e-learning systems shows that almost all of the evaluation process depended

on measuring the students’ learning as the only criteria to measure the quality of teaching. Hay et al. (2008: p. 1038)

state “all evaluation depends on measures of ‘fitness for purpose’, and because teaching has purpose only where it

supports learning, learning is the only authentic measure of teaching.” But evaluating quality according to learning

outcomes only is a misunderstanding of the definition of quality as a mixture of satisfaction:


Stakeholders’ satisfaction with the e-learning system;


Authority’s satisfaction with the e-learning outcomes;


Communities’ satisfaction with regard to the sociological impact of e-learning on students;


Working market’s satisfaction with regard to the abilities of the graduated students from e-learning systems.

Hay et al. (2008) contends that measuring quality of teaching depending on learning as the only authentic measure

is attributable to two important issues. The first is that the learning process is commonly deemed too complex for

empirical measurement; the second issue depends on the obvious truism that while teaching can lead to learning,

learning is not a necessary consequence of teaching. Indeed there is a persistent strand of literature that suggests that

learning is ultimately a consequence of student behaviour (rather than any direct consequence of the teaching they


Despite e-learning being a method of delivery whose efficacy many researchers advocate, there are no guarantees

that learning by e-learning can overcome all the problems that FTF learning suffers from. This could be because the

provision is not clear enough when it comes to conduct a learning process using e-learning as a delivery method.

“Models of learning under E-learning are not as well understood nor accepted as those for traditional higher education

learning.” (Connolly, 2005: p. 61)

As a result of this misunderstanding regarding the criteria that should be addressed in order to implement and

evaluate the quality in e-learning systems, many challenges still have to be overcome. Many items need to be addressed

in order to achieve quality in e-learning systems.

The main goal of this paper is to present a systematic and practical model capable of enabling institutions of HE to

integrate quality into their e-learning systems and to share lessons learned from a trial implementation of this model.

This model for implementing and evaluating quality in e-learning systems was originally made to host all the possible

elements that influence the quality of e-learning systems.

The model was first proposed by the researchers Abd El-Gawad & Woollard (2009). The model was proposed as a

framework for clarifying the purposes of various methods and techniques used to capture the multidimensional

aspects of quality in e-learning systems.

Figure 1 quality in e-learning systems model

2 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Quality, amongst other aspects, is the driving element in assuring the satisfaction of learners with their style

differences. In other words, a quality e-learning delivery method is one where any learner with any learning style can

find satisfaction.

Measurements (metrics and procedures) need to be designed in order to guarantee the effectiveness and enduring

satisfaction of e-learning systems. It is important to clarify any misunderstanding regarding the criteria that should

be addressed in order to guarantee the implementation and evaluation of quality in e-learning systems. This can then

enable institutions of Higher Education to integrate quality into their e-learning systems in order to achieve their

perspectives of learning.


Quality in e-learning systems is not a myth or an illusion or an imagination of one researcher or another. It is a fact,

explored by many respected researchers in the field of education. The reason for argument around its existence comes

from the difficulty to implement it in e-learning systems.

In order to capture the multidimensional nature of an online professional quality system, designers and evaluators

need to follow the guidelines from a number of conceptual frameworks to design a plan that will collect vital

information about whether or not system objectives were met and whether best practices were implemented. As a

reflection to this challenge, the author proposes a model for designing and evaluating quality in e-learning systems

incorporating: (1) Stakeholder satisfaction; (2) Learning outcome; (3) Environment facilities; (4) Evaluation during



Abd El-Gawad, T., & Woollard, J. (2009). Developing an e-learning quality model for higher education. Paper

presented at the INSPIRE 2009.

Cartter, A. (1964). An Assessment of Quality in Graduate Education Washington, D. C.: American Council on Education.

Connolly, M., Jones, N., and O’shea, J. (2005). Quality Assurance and E-learning: reflections from the front line.

Quality in Higher Education, 11(1), 59-67.

Ehlers, U. (2004). Quality in e-learning from a learner’s perspective. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning


Green, D. (1994). What is Quality in Higher Education? Buckingham: SRHE and Open University.

Hay, D. B., Kehoe, C., Miquel, M. E., Hatzipanagos, S., Kinchin, I. M., Keevil, S. F., and Baker, S. L. (2008). Measuring the

quality of e-learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 1037-1056.

Inglis, A. (2005). Quality improvement, quality assurance, and benchmarking: Comparing two frameworks for

managing quality processes in open and distance learning International Review of Research in Open and Distance

Learning 6(1).

Jara, M., and Meller, H (2009). Factors affecting quality enhancement procedures for e-learning courses. Quality

Assurance in Education, 17(3), 220-232.

Parker, N. K. (2008). The quality dilemma in online education revisited. In T. Anderson, and Elloumi, F., (Ed.), Theory

and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., pp. 385-409): Athabasca University.

Author biography

Tamer Sameer Abdel-Badea Abdel-Gawad is PhD student at the University of Southampton, UK. He received a BSc

in instructional technology from the University of Tanta, and MSc in Instructional Technology from the University of

Tanta. His research interests include e-learning, quality in learning, Programming, VLEs.


© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Giving substance to aspirational law

Alice Harrison

Supervisor Dr Oren Ben Dor

School of Law


More than sixty years ago, in a humanitarian reaction to two world wars, the United Nations (UN) agreed, in the

Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (‘the Declaration’) that the foundation of freedom, justice and

peace in the world was the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of

the human family. Why then do we, Britain, a staunch supporter of the UN and a member of the drafting committee

of ‘the Declaration’, and the (so called) developed World continue to ride, and allow others to ride, roughshod over

the dignity of members of the human family? Why do we continue to pursue law with the same ignorant arrogance

of colonisation, retaining a protectionist bias toward powerful, not always responsible, nations and companies? Why

don’t we learn from the history of Western law that the de-stabilising tension caused by imposed law, which shifted

power from Sovereign to State, from State to other States, and more recently from State to groups and individuals;

continues to niggle in the wider World, where Western countries still attempt to impose Westernised law? Demanding

the world accept our way is the right way, while we fail to live up to the promise of equality, is an imposition that

encourages negative reaction. Why don’t we learn from our own Western history, that the tensions of inequality

recognised in the Declaration, will continue to aggravate and that this demands we reconsider our world view, take

responsibility for our actions; live our law and live our aspirations?

This short paper glimpses at the destabilising tension created by imposing law. The paper uses my survey of dignity

through law, but it does not seek to define or substantiate dignity, rather to show its use in the arbitrary nature of the

development of law in Britain and how it evolved with law, through reaction to tension, to become something more

inclusive and equally just. The paper will introduce a further example, of law imposed through colonisation and

suggest how this too suffered and still suffers the destabilising tension of being unjust. The paper will then suggest two

destabilising tensions apparent in the globalising scheme of public international law, which threaten to undermine the

stability of that law. The first, is the drive for freedom to open up markets, which by financial incentives, prioritises

the lust of the global market over national needs, stripping assets and resources, while denying responsibility for

these actions. The second, ‘the Declaration’, which could by the words in its preamble mitigate this kind of market

exploitation, but which through its manipulation may actually support and perpetuate an un-equal global legal order.

The paper will ask how, in a world where we can no longer simply eliminate opposition, we are going to address these

tensions, suggesting that one way might be to take responsibility for our own actions and aspirations and seek the way

to equality through equal treatment.

Stabilising law

Although history exposes a multiplicity of roots of law, including custom, inequality, subjugation and occupation and

the impact this had on national laws, by the time it was recorded in written statutes and the discipline of reasoned law

reports, British law had become the sacred right of the Sovereign, through the doctrine of the ‘divine right of kings’.

Observing law using dignity allows us to witness the transition of governance from its embodiment in the dignity of

the Sovereign, declaring law supported by their chosen advisors and loyal courts; through the Glorious Revolution,

where power shifted to the dignity of a very limited Parliament, which in turn eventually expanded to almost universal

franchise; to today where dignity is emphasised for individual rights. Dignity can also guide us through law and

the transition of men and women from being slaves and chattels; subject to sexual, racial and religious persecution

and intolerance of their diversity to individual protection in discrimination legislation. The law was not always fair,

painless, bloodless or just, it was hard fought every step of the way. It was people outraged by the injustice of law, who

destabilised and reacted with the law and with the widening of franchise a mechanism of law developed that ensured

the law became more stable and just. The exaggerated dignity of Sovereign, State, State organs and individuals became

untenable, prompting rebellion against the unjust law. Modern law has evolved to become a stabilising feature in

British governance, but only by being subject to challenge and to continual review and revision.

4 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Law is always an imposition and exclusion too, but it is a discipline we are schooled to accept, its longevity relying on

that acceptance. Lack of acceptance can ultimately result in rebellion, which successful or not, may introduce a (re)

declaration of base law, in an attempt to draw a line under the past and start anew. Where law has evolved through

centuries many laws are deemed to be understood, but they are never absolute, and it is a necessary imperfection

of law that it is always incomplete and subject to review. Long and overlapping histories and the written tradition

of European nations, evidence a level of, not always welcome influence, between these nations. It also provides an

understanding of the influence of Western thought in forming notions of federal, supra-national and international law

(e.g. in the writings of ‘the enlightenment’ philosophers).

After centuries, British law, and many other laws, including some international law, are finally working towards

something more equally just. As already suggested part of law’s success is in its longevity, but it is also in its

independence from its originator. This means it enjoys power beyond the life of a Sovereign, Nation or Parliament and

is free to evolve with a free-floating locus and no loyalty. The mechanism works and a new government can wield its

power and only time will tell whether changes, good, bad and indifferent, will stand the test of law. Law has proven a

useful tool, its evolution and use means it has gained a global relevance, beyond the early decreed proclamations of law

created, supported and enforced. International law now drawing influence from multiple jurisdictions could provide

a balance for justice, a dynamic law, which where necessary will reinterpret or reinvent the law. This evolved law could

be the tool to support the UN’s latest aspiration of “Dignity and Justice for All”, the subject of a year-long campaign to

celebrate 60 years of ‘the Declaration’.

Destabilising law

Law observed through dignity reveals the need for the aspiration in the preamble to ‘the Declaration’, which translated

into 370 languages is the most internationally recognised example of aspirational law, that is the “recognition of

inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”, because we are not all

equal, either within or without the law. Birth is an arbitrary and increasingly legal designation of nation, social status,

race, sex, and often religion, outlining opportunities for development, education and personal autonomy, much of

which is then further shaped through law. Examples recognised in dignity through law include: Sovereign/State

immunity in customary international law; international humanitarian conventions, including refugee and torture

conventions, concretised in UN law; social and anti-discrimination laws at national and supra-national, e.g. European

level; and nationally evolved protection of those judged worthy, e.g. privacy and libel actions; and through recognition

in aggravated and/or exemplary damages. People identified through dignity without law are more truthfully described

as having no ability to engage with law. They may not be recognised by State law, or be unwilling or unable to engage

with it. This includes: people born into slavery, subservience, war, starvation; those who are vulnerable or less able,

and those who fall victim to disaster or action; either natural or manmade. Examples in UK law include disregard for

indigenous peoples’ property rights during and post colonisation, non-status refugees and victims of assault.

The preamble to the Declaration, although not exclusively, was a recantation of Western sins and a chance to ‘draw a

line under the past and start anew’. It may have been directed at the Holocaust, but colonisation had shown a similar

blatant “disregard and contempt for human rights” resulting in “barbarous acts which outraged the conscience of

mankind”; limited “freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear” and had been responsible “for tyranny

and oppression”. Indeed subsequent human rights law, cites the Declaration to try to recognise and make amends

for some of the injustices caused by colonisation, albeit belatedly and somewhat incrementally (e.g. in Canada

and Australia). But part of the problem with the Declaration is that even as it was negotiated and declared it was

unrepresentative; most African and Asian states were absent from the UN because they were European colonies and

for the same colonial reason many indigenous peoples across the world were denied franchise and therefore a voice

in the law making politics of their own country (again e.g. Canada and Australia). The UN may have come a long way

since those days and it has certainly been a source of much equalising law for many nations, but the law based on

notions of human and property rights is still too one-sided an imposition, which does not recognise a diversity of laws

and can be completely alien to community-based systems of governance.

The elevation of the notion of Sovereigns and States, within fixed boundaries arbitrarily designated by history and now

concretised by Westernised law, falsifies their position and creates a further tension. We have bound people within

their geographic birth location, effectively denying them any guaranteed rights beyond it. For example, while refugee

law offers asylum to those able to escape and to argue their plight before a sympathetic host, it denies free movement

to anyone else. In the case of colonisation we went even further, effectively alienating First Nations or Aboriginal

people, both inside and outside their own countries by subjecting them to elimination (corroborated accounts of

goods delivered in smallpox infected blankets in Canada and America, which decimated the ‘Indian’ population;

and stories of “Abbo” hunts in Australia and South Africa, which in today’s language would surely be genocide);

undermining them with dehumanising and debasing cultural slurs (stereotyping ‘Indians’ as socially impoverished

and savage or sub-human); imposed assimilation (with children physically removed from their families and forced to

adopt European culture), with no franchise (which was finally achieved in Canada and Australia in the 1960’s, thanks

to international human rights law) and subordinating their law to European law.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


How can we ignore the destabilising effects of colonisation? The colonised world reacted against our barbarism

and fought back to gain/regain independence. While we claimed aboriginal peoples were “uncivilised, ignorant,

barbarous” and “savage”, could our behaviour towards them have been anymore so? In places where we needed a local

workforce we subordinated, oppressed and degraded the people, while we forced them to aid us to strip their assets

and degrade their environment. In places where we did not need local help, we simply eliminated them. Our current

behaviour could help to mitigate this memory, but only if we stop dominating and show some humanity and respect

(we need look no further than the Britain to remind ourselves of heritage longevity).

Empowering aspirational law

This paper does not suggest that we can re-write or right history, but can we at least learn from it? We are in a fortunate

position that most of the world will still engage with us despite our abuses and certainly observed through dignity law

can be seen to have helped facilitate transference of power away from dominating European nations. This may be

a good thing, but the destabilising tension that drove us to equalise our own society, to introduce health, safety and

environmental legislation and to protect the vulnerable in Britain and Europe is going to gain a global voice. Almost 10

years ago the House of Lords in Lubbe and others v Cape plc - [2000] 4 All ER 268 held that a UK company was liable in

UK courts for African workers’ continued exposure to asbestos after the ill health effects were established and where

no other effective forum was available.

Taking this idea a step further, our market has decided it does not want goods to be produced in socially and

environmentally degrading conditions in Britain. If we truly believe in international equality, then buying goods

known to be produced in socially and environmentally degrading conditions sends out a ‘destabilisingly unjust’

message, it suggests that far from being equal, we will stand by and knowingly permit environmentally and socially

degrading abuses to continue in production of goods for our markets providing it is not in our country. With an eye to

history and a recognition that destabilising factors need to be resolved this paper suggests that instead of transferring

abuses of production to other fora and denying responsibility for it, for a short term financial advantage, we could take

responsibility for production for our market and only support production that recognises the importance of social

and environmental protection. This would be learning from history, leading by example and encouraging ethical

standards, rather than racing for the cheapest and possibly least ethical market. An example of this sort of pro-active

step that has been recently mooted within the European Union is to deny illegally felled timber a market in Europe.

Globalization need not be premised on exploitation, it would still happen even if the drive for it were more socially

and environmentally responsible. The fact that governmental and non governmental organisations have caused

some global social and environmental protective initiatives to be introduced recognises the tension caused by poor

social and environmental practices, but the niggle remains, un-equal, un-resolved inequality, destabilised, until these

initiatives are vastly improved. Instead of large corporations manipulating the law with ‘super injunctions’ (another

destabilising tension in itself ) to deny compromising information the opportunity to be heard, buyers from initial to

end purchaser, should be made aware and allowed to recognise and understand the actions being taken or permitted

on their behalf. In a democracy the government should be answerable to its people. It is in this light the paper accuses

States of attempting to disengage responsibility by hiding behind Statehood and using law to deny responsibility for

any abuses it encourages or allows. It is the British market that is buying the goods, the British market which could be

informed, the British government that should control it. As a country Britain decided long ago that people should not

suffer or die in production of our food, clothes and other goods and surely even the poorest people in Britain do not

need to take that risk. For any nation, including Britain, where this is not true, they should stop the pretence of equality

in the Declaration, for they are undermining the portent of the aspiration and will surely be seen and judged by history

as the liars they are.

It is time for the aspiration posited in the preamble to the Declaration to bring the responsibility of equality home,

at the very least to the nations that penned it, and that those nations should work to support the idea that “the

foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world is the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and

inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. For sixty years we have praised the Declaration and sold its

ideals to others, now is the time to give substance to its aspiration by bringing it home and living it in our own markets

and necessarily supporting work at every level to promote and support its promised ideals.

6 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Ban Ki-Moon UN Secretary-General at the launch of the campaign, “Dignity and justice for all of us,” to celebrate 60

years of the Declaration (accessed 31 October 2009)

The Charter to the United Nations (accessed 31 October 2009)

The Glorious Revolution (accessed 31 October 2009)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (accessed 31 October 2009)

Author biography

Alice Harrison is reading for a PhD considering how ‘Dignity’ works in law. This builds on previous research in

Human Dignity and Human Rights; and Legal Remedy and Corporate Responsibility in the ‘Global Marketplace’.

Alice returned to academia as a mature student obtaining a BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, 2001, Post-graduate

Diplomas in Law (2002) and Legal Practice (2003), and an LLM in International Business Law (2004). In a previous

life Alice ran an international road haulage company delivering goods throughout the UK and Europe. Between

work and study Alice enjoyed an extended ‘gap-year’ where she worked to travel, whilst also obtaining the necessary

schooling to return to academia. Alice visited many fascinating and beautiful places around the world, which inspire

and influence her passion in law.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Are repetition and learning by heart ‘outlaws’

in second language learning?: Voices from

super learners

Xia Yu

Supervisor Professor Rosamond Mitchell

School of Humanities


This article is concerned with the role of learning text by heart in language learning. General literature does not

recommend the practice which has not yet gained legitimate status among Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

researchers. However, recent research and specialist literature on learning strategies show extensive use of this

method by successful learners especially in China. Based on two typical cases of this practice, this paper aims to

speculate on the possible rationale behind this phenomenon from both cultural and language acquisition perspectives.

It is suggested that the role of learning by heart in language learning should now be reappraised.


I was greatly shocked when I learned that verbatim repetition and learning by heart are considered two ‘outlaws’ and

‘condemned by pedagogic and acquisition theorists’ (Cook, 1994) because they are ‘respectable citizens’ in China,

especially in the eyes of some beneficiaries of this practice. In the book Speaking for Success (Huang & Qi 2005), nine

of a dozen achievers partially attributed their success in English learning to learning texts by heart. Some researchers

(e.g. Ding 1987; Parry 1998) have documented the use of text memorization by Chinese students as an important

method of Chinese and English literacy acquisition and associated this traditional literacy practice with learning

achievement; however, the rationale behind this seemingly obsolete practice has remained an enigma for the general

Western public as well as the academia.

A misconception from culture differences

The superior capacity for rote learning among Asian students is seen as a clear example of culture-based learning

strategies because they have had more experience with teaching methods that involve memorization (Saville-Troike,

2006: 128). If it is true to a degree, the other side of the coin is that ‘Chinese learners are commonly misunderstood by

Westerners’ (Watkins & Biggs 2001: 3). While CHC (Confucian-Heritage Cultures) students are perceived as passive

rote learners, they do show high levels of understanding (ibid). Some western scholars (e.g. Pennycook 1996; Sowden

2005) have realized that memorization strategy can lead to high levels of understanding if applied appropriately.

A particular aspect of the so-called ‘paradox of the Chinese learner’ is the relationship between memorizing and

understanding. Cultural differences may be responsible for this Western misconception:

…many [Western educators] have failed to draw a distinction between rote learning, that is, memorizing ‘without

thought of understanding’ (Oxford English Dictionary), and repetitive learning, that is learning in order to enhance

future recall alongside understanding. Memorizing without understanding undoubtedly leads to very limited

learning outcomes, but many Western teachers mistakenly assume that when Chinese students memorise, they

are learning at the expense of understanding. (Watkins & Biggs 2001: 6)

Studies reported in The Chinese Learner (Watkins & Biggs, 1996) and elsewhere (e.g., Marton, Wen & Wong 2005)

reported that ‘many of the teachers and better students do not see memorizing and understanding as separate

but rather interlocking processes, and that high quality learning outcomes usually require both processes, as

complementary to each other’. In the study by Dahlin & Watkins (2000: 6), students are found to use repetition for

two different purposes: First, to create a ‘deep impression’ and thence commit to memorization; Second, to deepen or

develop understanding by discovering new meaning. The Western students on the other hand tend to use repetition

only to check that they had really remembered something. Whereas Western students see understanding as usually

a process of sudden insight, Chinese students typically think of understanding as usually a process that requires

considerable mental effort.

8 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Voices from two super learners

The following are two episodes in which two successful language learners (from East and West respectively) displayed

their perceptions of the practice of learning by heart.

Victor learning English

Victor, a Chinese teenager brought up in the countryside, reflected on his learning experience in an article titled ‘My

history of studying English’ (Zhang 2007). He began learning English at the age of 11 when he attended junior high

school, but the subject ‘turned out to be my biggest headache and trouble maker’. He attributed his failure in English

learning at that point to ‘the teacher’s quality’ (she dropped out from a high school and never went to a college) and

‘the terribly wrong methods and poor environment’. Is his attribution fair? Did he work hard enough? My answer

is ‘yes’. What Victor described characterises a typical picture of English teaching in Chinese countryside. And as he

wrote, – ‘I graduated from middle school as one of the top students of our county, with nearly perfect score of every

subject except English (62/100 points)’ – he was hard-working and excellent at other courses. As a result, ‘English

became the subject which I invested the most yet harvested the least, which, in turn, breeds my strong resentment

against this language’. The embarrassing situation did not change a bit during the first three years of his studying in a

Normal school later. ‘My English was among the poorest in my class’ and ‘I barely passed the English examination at

the end of every semester’. The turning point came in 2002 when he heard that some of his former classmates who,

though inferior to him in academic performance three years ago, attended senior high school ‘were admitted to some

upscale universities’. Motivated by the desire for being excellent again, he chose to study English on his own following

his teacher’s suggestion. How did he learn? He said, ‘At first I concentrated on grammar and tried my best to study

some cut-and-dried college English textbooks by myself ’. Did he make any progress? Yes, ‘Progress was made but only

a little bit’. It is far from being satisfactory for an ambitious young man who needs quick success to prove himself. ‘I

felt I was trudging the deserted road of English’. He was looking for an alternative because ‘I believed there should be a

better way of learning English’. ‘One year later, the dawn of hope popped up when I began to know about the Internet’,

for with the help of internet he was equipped with ‘the best tools possible: 1. Recite as many English passages as

possible! 2. Imitate as vividly as possible! 3. Do dictation for 1000 hours!’

How was he convinced that they are effective? He wrote, ‘Actually, each of these methods stems from three

successful English learner’s experiences’. What did he do next in reality? ‘For nearly seven hundreds days, I have

been remembering new words, imitating the tapes, reciting numerous English passages, in the belief that one day I

will be amply rewarded’. Was his effort this time rewarded as he expected? The answer is not only ‘yes’ but beyond

his expectation – ‘and now, I have really blossomed, I aced the CET4 (College English Test Band 4) with 90 points

(quite awesome in other people’s eyes – the full score is 100) and won the top prize of the National English Contest for

college students in 2004. To be frank, I think it would take me longer to reach that point.’

Bert learning Chinese

I had never expected that I could happen to find from the Western culture a language learner who turned out to be a

successful practitioner of text memorization. Bert, according to (Stevick, 1989: 21), is a ‘very successful learner’. He

was ‘a young diplomat who had reached an extraordinarily high level of competence both in speaking and in reading

Chinese’. The following is the transcript of Stevick’s (1989: 29-30) interview with Bert:

‘What about memorizing connected texts in a foreign language, such as dialogues or little stories or the like?’ I

asked. ‘Is that something you thrive on, or something you can do but don’t care for, something you detest?’

‘Well, this is essentially what we were required to do in Chinese. Within reason, of course. I mean, one doesn’t sit

down and memorize these pages of text—of narrative, but there is something to be…’

‘Memorization wasn’t something that particularly bothered you?’

‘No. No, within reason. By that I mean that one had to have assurance that this was what people really said. If I was

going to spend the time on it, I wanted to be sure it was going to be worth the effort.’

‘But memorizing twenty or twenty-five lines, or something like that…’

‘No, that didn’t bother me.’

‘You’d go home and do it, and bring it back the next day, and …’

‘Yes, and I stress that because, with the text we’re using in this language, I think all of us have a feeling that the

language in the book is rather stilted and artificial, and not necessarily what we’d be saying.’

‘That feature of the Chinese course was what gave you an instinct for what is actually said in the language—for

how sentences are put together.’

‘Yes. In this language I feel that I just have countless patterns sort of swimming around in my head.’

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


The apparent avoidance of discussion on this learning strategy in the comments by the author may reflect the

prevalent negative attitude toward learning by heart among most Western researchers. ‘It is as though there is no case

to argue’, for it is certainly ‘neither authentic nor communicative’ (Cook, 1994). This conception is clearly reflected in

the researcher’s talk – ‘the language in the book is rather stilted and artificial, and not necessarily what we’d be saying’.

Tentative explanations for the paradox

The above two cases may typically serve as evidence for a paradox summarized by Saville-Troike (2006: 116): ‘Some

individuals are able to achieve a relatively advanced level of L2 proficiency without the benefit of any interpersonal

communication or opportunity to negotiate meaning in the language with others’, namely, ‘acquisition without

interaction’. They finally, however, manage to communicate in real situations and achieve a relatively high level of L2

proficiency. We need to address the paradox from the point of view of the learner. According to Victor, he wrote on the

front page of New Concept English (NCE, a popular set of UK-imported textbooks in China): ‘to read a book, we usually

need to recite repetitively to make sure that the words written are truly ‘coming out of my mouth’ (spoken by myself );

and then think intensively to the extent that the meanings contained in the words seem to be ‘coming out of my own

heart’ (internalized in my thought). Only in this way can we truly gain something.’ (This is a sentence by a famous

ancient Chinese scholar; my translation) He claims it as ‘the theoretical origin of his decision to learn all the articles

in NCE (Book 2 &3) by heart’. Victor also believes what a traditional Chinese saying says, shu du bai bian, qi yi zi xian,

i.e. the meaning in a book shows itself after one reads one hundred times. It is apparent that while form is consciously

attended to, meaning is still at the core when the learner is trying to string words in the text into meaningful units by

rehearsal. Echoing this position, Cook (1994) speculates, ‘as the known-by-heart is repeated many times, it may begin

to make sense’. The Western learner Bert believes, on the one hand, that this practice gives him assurance that ‘this

was what people really said’ or gives him ‘an instinct for what is actually said in the language—for how sentences are

put together’; on the other hand, he has ‘countless patterns sort of swimming around’ in his head. According to Cook

(1994:139), ‘its [discourse which is known by heart] native-like structures and vocabulary, analyzed and separated out,

become available for creative and original use’.


Cook, G. (1994). Repetition and learning by heart: An aspect of intimate discourse, and its implications. ELT Journal

48(2), 133-141.

Dahlin, B., & Watkins, D. A. (2000). The role of repetition in the processes of memorising and understanding:

A comparison of the views of German and Chinese secondary school students in Hong Kong. British Journal of

Educational Psychology, 70, 65-84.

Ding, Y.-R. (1987). Foreign language teaching in China: Problems and perspectives. Canadian and International

Education, 16, 48-61.

Huang, Q., & Qi, Q. (Eds.). (2005). Speaking for Success. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Marton, F., Wen, Q., & Wong, K. C. (2005). ‘Read a hundred times and the meaning will appear... ‘ Chinese University

students’ view of temporal structure of learning. Higher Education, 49, 291-318.

Parry, K. (Ed.). (1998). Culture, literacy, and learning English: Voices from the Chinese classroom. Portsmouth, NH:


Pennycook, A. (1996). Borrowing others’ words: Text, ownership, memory, and plagiarism. TESOL Quarterly, 30(2),


Saville-Troike, M. (2006). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sowden, C. (2005). Plagiarism and the culture of multilingual students in higher education abroad. ELT Journal, 59(3),


Stevick, E. (1989). Success with Foreign Languages: Seven Who Achieved It and What Worked for Them. Hemel Hempstead,

UK: Prentice Hall International.

Watkins, D., & Biggs, J. B. (1996). The Chinese learner : Cultural, psychological, and contextual influences. Hong Kong:

University of Hong Kong. Comparative Education Research Centre, Australian Council for Educational Research.

Watkins, D., & Biggs, J. B. (Eds.). (2001). Teaching the Chinese learner: Psychological and Pedagogical Perspectives.

Hong Kong: CERC and ACER.

Zhang, X.-D. (2007, My English learning history.

10 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Author biography

Xia Yu is a PhD candidate working with Professor Rosamond Mitchell from Modern Languages, School of Humanities.

Xia had been teaching in China at both secondary and tertiary level for nearly a decade before starting her PhD

programme in Southampton . She also published widely in prestigious journals in China and recently in peer-reviewed

international journals. Her research interest includes second language acquisition, foreign language teaching and

cross-culture communication.


© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Corporate social responsibility:

What role for human resources?

Ali Dirani

Supervisors Dr Melanie Ashleigh and Dr Dima R. Jamali

School of Management


Corporations across the world are under immense pressure from different stakeholders in home and host countries to

show that their business activities and operations stand for more than maximizing the corporate shareholders’ profits

and private welfare. The main challenge in this context is how corporations integrate the principles of Corporate

Social Responsibility (CSR) with their business strategies and practices and work for the general societal welfare,

with the credibility of CSR depending primarily on actual implementation and deliverables. This paper argues that

the Human Resource (HR) function can play a critical role in embedding CSR within corporations through employee

communication and engagement, diversity management and community relationships. The paper highlights the

growing important interfaces between HR and CSR, and captures the roles that HR can assume in implementing CSR.

Why HR?

The role of corporations is changing as the societal context where they operate is becoming more complex and

rapidly evolving. Corporations have to take into account core social issues that go beyond their profit making scope

and legal compliance and therefore act in response to the growing pressures, demands and expectations of different

stakeholder groups or individuals. They are increasingly required to take account of the impact of their activities on

the society and environment, and thus foster the notion of CSR and align its initiatives with their business objectives

(Andriof and Waddock 2002; Dawkins and Lewis 2003; Porter and Kramer 2006). This quest implies that corporations

need to behave and act according to social, environmental and ethical standards and show profound commitment

and dedication to develop and implement CSR-related strategies and programmes. Nevertheless, an important

issue that corporations need to be aware of is that CSR is no more simply an activity practiced solely for public

relation and marketing objectives, or a peripheral commitment by corporations towards the society, environment

and stakeholders’ needs as disclosed in reports or stakeholder statements. Instead, CSR is a change to actions and

attitudes and the success of CSR depends on process, people, coordination, communication and change management

(Hopkins 2004). The central underlying notion is that CSR needs to be embedded in business practices and actions, or

it risks being constrained and defined by purely financial performance indicators and communication purposes.

Parallel to the development in the field of CSR, HR is already involved in communicating organizational objectives,

implementing managerial policies and managing changes and stakeholder relations. HR is increasingly being

responsible for many of the key management systems, approaches and processes in departmental and stakeholder

context (change management, health and safety, recruitment, training and development, communications) upon

which the effective delivery of organizational strategies and objectives depends (Ulrich 1997; Redington 2005). Also,

mandatory HR attention is given to social, environmental and ethical concerns and responsibilities (Paauwe 2004;

Schoemaker, Nijhof, and Jonker 2006). Under this umbrella, HR is expected to show strong commitment to individual

and organizational development and high concern with ethics, sustainability and environmental concerns (soft

model) (Fenwick and Bierema 2008; Legge 2005; Ehnert 2009). HR as a function is dedicated to implement the vision

and mission of the organization, and HR people have the relevant knowledge and skills in relation to organisational

learning, communication and engagement, knowledge and culture change.

Drawing on this overview, we feel that CSR and HR are strongly connected, and that previous literature has fallen short

in capturing the nature and essence of this relationship. HR’s expertise and knowledge in executing organizational

strategies, managing the change, maintaining the business efficiency and engaging stakeholders complete the

action and operational dimensions of CSR. For instance, the HR function as a strategic partner helps in designing a

systematic and practical guidance for implementing CSR strategies. While previous literature fails to capture the

valuable roles and contributions of HR to CSR, this paper takes an integrated view of both concepts in an attempt

to explore how HR contributes to a successful CSR strategy through employee communication and engagement,

diversity management and community relationships (Petrova 2007).

12 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

CSR-HR interfaces

The framework presented in Figure 1 summarizes examples of three CSR-HR interfaces: employee communication

and engagement, diversity management and community relationships. What is clear in Figure 1 is that HR can play a

crucial mediating role in bridging the gap between CSR objectives and plans, and actual implementation and outcomes

at the level of employee engagement, diversity management and community development. The quicker HR gets

involved and accepts responsibility the easier it will be to achieve aspired goals set out for CSR, which also should in

theory complement HR priorities as outlined above. There is little doubt that the involvement of HR is both timely

and needed and can make a real difference in terms of enhancing the success of CSR plans and aspirations. It is a real

challenge for HR to deal with complexities related to employee management, diversity management and community

relationship. However, HR’s leadership and contribution to CSR can help address these complexities and develop

creative potential interventions and approaches.

Figure 1- HR-CSR Interfaces

The CSR framework and mediating HR role outlined above correspond closely in turn to the recent characterization

of HR as an agent of change within changing HR priorities and agendas (Ulrich 1997). As an agent of change, HR must

go beyond designing and delivering HR processes efficiently, to focus on managing employee contribution, fostering

employee commitment, managing culture, and increasing strategic fit and integration. These new roles of HR are

increasingly advocated in the Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) literature (Schuler and Jackson 2006;

Wright and McMahan 1999). HR managers must therefore show genuine leadership, and gain credibility, through

creativeness, sensitivity, trustworthiness and equal attention to the needs of internal and external stakeholders in the

framework of a holistic approach that is concerned with the total interest of the business (Boxall and Purcell 2000).

The three interfaces discussed above become most relevant therefore in the context of a more organic and strategic

HR orientation. In the process, HR needs to define what it actually means to be strategic.

A recent pilot study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in 2007 on the role of HR

in CSR in the United States, Australia, India, China, Canada, Mexico and Brazil concludes that HR should be more

involved in implementing CSR strategies than in creating them (SHRM 2007). HR managers are able to align CSR

strategies with organizational business practices and management systems by communicating the organization’s CSR

strategy. HR can engage employees in CSR through enhancing their contributions to socially responsible programs

and initiatives inside and outside the organization (employee volunteering programs). As they become more of

a strategic partner in organizational business plans, HR managers will play a larger role in CSR from strategy and

conception formulation to execution and application.

HR is gaining worldwide value as a business tool and social effort. It is becoming more and more an important part of

the corporate brand. Thus, HR managers are invited to become more involved in CSR initiatives (Ehnert 2006; Ehnert

2009; Fenwick and Bierema 2008; Schramm 2006; Zappala 2004). Accordingly, the growing role for HR managers in

promoting social behaviour may lead to an expansion of the HR role in promoting at the same time CSR. Therefore,

HR managers should determine the limits, responsibility or otherwise, of CSR core values and beliefs. They should

especially consider how these limits will affect employees, the organization and the wider community. We believe

however as presented above that these limits are gradually expanding, and that accordingly HR will have a more

prominent role to assume in different aspects of the organization but also importantly in relation to CSR and the three

critical areas of 1) employee contribution, 2) diversity management and 3) community relationships.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010



Based on the review presented in this paper, it is clear therefore that there are important synergies between CSR

principles / initiatives and HR. HR is concerned with elaborating, promoting and strengthening the CSR philosophy

within the workplace and aligning those in turn with community needs and aspirations. The role, voice and expertise

of HR are important in setting the tone for the CSR agenda and putting it in the spotlight. The real challenge for many

organizations going forward is to further embed the role of HR in CSR. Findings in this paper suggest that good HR

practices facilitate and lubricate effective CSR initiatives. CSR is knocking on the door and it is for HR to answer the

call or miss the opportunity.


Boxall, P. & Purcell, J. (2000) Strategic human resource management: where have we come from and where should we be

going? International Journal of Management Reviews, 2, 183-203.

Ehnert, I. (2006) Sustainability issues in human resource management: Linkages, theoretical approaches, and outlines for an

emerging field.

Ehnert, I. (2009) Sustainable human resource management, Physica-Verlag Heidelberg.

Fenwick, T. & Bierema, L. (2008) Corporate social responsibility: issues for human resource development professionals.

International Journal of Training and Development, 12, 24-35.

Hopkins, M. (2004) Corporate social responsibility: an issues paper. Geneva, International Labour Organization.

Legge, K. (2005) Human resource management: Rhetoric and realities, Tottenham, Palgrave Macmillan.

Paauwe, J. (2004) HRM and performance, Oxford University Press.

Petrova, V. (2007) UC RUSAL unites cultures through local CSR programs: Corporate Social Responsibility as an HR tool for

managing a global organization. Strategic HR Review, 6, 24-27.

Redington, I. (2005) Making CSR Happen: the contribution of people management. IN DEVELOPMENT, C. I. O. P. A. (Ed.)

The Virtuous Circle. London, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Schoemaker, M., Nijhof, A. & Jonker, J. (2006) Human Value Management. The Influence of the Contemporary

Developments of Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Capital on HRM. Management Revue, 17, 448-65.

Schramm, J. (2006) SHRM Workplace Forecast. Alexandria, SHRM.

Schuler, R. & Jackson, S. (2006) Strategic human resource management, Wiley-Blackwell.

SHRM (2007) 2007 Corporate Social Responsibility: United States, Australia, India, China, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. A

Pilot Study. Alexandria, SHRM.

Ulrich, D. (1997) Human resource champions: The next agenda for adding value and delivering results, Harvard Business

School Press.

Wright, P. & McMahan, G. (1999) Theoretical Perspectives for Strategic Human Resource Management. Strategic

Human Resource Management.

Zappala, G. (2004) Corporate citizenship and human resource management: A new tool or a missed opportunity? Asia

Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 42, 185.

Author biography

Ali M. Dirani is a PhD student at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. He received his MBA and BS

degree in business management and administration studies from the Lebanese American University (LAU) of Beirut,

Lebanon. His research interest includes social responsibility and human resources, and particularly interested in the

role of HR in CSR.

14 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

The good, the bad and the healthy:

The transforming body and narratives

of health and beauty in reality TV

Peri Bradley

Supervisor Professor Linda Ruth Williams

School of Humanities (Film Studies)


This paper will explore the relationship between reality TV and contemporary notions of health and beauty and

their impact on the body. Reality TV is now a firmly established and extremely popular TV genre that continues

to raise issues around its historical roots in documentary as an objective and observational form and its potential

future composition as ever more subjective and influential. Reality TV has recently evolved a particular strand

of programmes that engages with how we should look and how we should eat and exercise that is intended to be

both prescriptive and authoritarian. These programmes establish a structure that narrativises the ‘real’ in order to

engage and convince its audience and as we observe various transgressive and undisciplined bodies go through the

transformation process the bodies involved become the site of ethical and moral issues. The binary oppositions of

‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ are played out across the transforming body, which is

then employed to firmly establish these as social and cultural ideals.


Initially I will be exploring the notion of the ‘ethical’ body and its association with recent reality TV texts. At the centre

of this concept lies the idea of what it is right to be rather than what it is right to do. Simply put, morality becomes a

question of how you care for yourself rather than how you care for others. Moral fibre is literally equated with physical

fibre where the flesh itself is taken as a measure of integrity. How you maintain your body and thereby fulfil a specific

role and take a particular place in society becomes a moral issue. Morality and goodness are now measured by an ideal

of physical health and fitness rather than spiritual purity. In some ways this evokes Descartes’ dualism, the Cartesian

split of the ethereal mind and the material body and the notion that all that is physical can be controlled. With

contemporary technological advancements there has developed a belief that by taking control of the actual material

of the body each individual will become a unit of ethical and moral behaviours (attached to the body rather than the

mind) that will seep into the fabric of society. With the postmodern decline of meta-narratives and the resultant

lack of traditional higher authorities to provide guidance, the question of morals and ethics has become increasingly

complex and problematical. The media, it appears, is filling the void left by the disappearing meta-narratives,

presenting itself as authoritative, knowledgeable and therefore capable of pronouncing judgement on moral and

ethical issues. Scientific and medical discourses are employed to qualify and dignify these pronouncements, lending

them a weight and credence that is both convincing and persuasive.

One particularly insidious strand of the media that has become progressively more popular and pervasive is reality

television. This is even more closely bound up with the notion of meta-narratives as it purports to deal with universal

‘truths’ or reality. It has many forms and many functions all of which appear innocuous and harmless and created

in the name of info or entertainment. However, I propose an investigation of a specific reality TV programme that

deals with somatic issues of morality and ethics, revealing an underlying trend by the media to act in a prescriptively

political manner, moving morality and ethics away from their former position as shared and socially cohesive values to

that of individual and socially isolating projects, which are confined to and expressed by the body. This investigation is

an attempt to demystify and clarify not only the purpose of these programmes but also the consequences.

The high profile of the ethical body has been increasingly elevated by the rising number of reality TV programmes,

both in the US and the UK, that use the transforming bodies of the participants as the foundation of their narrative

structure. Initially these programmes tended to revolve around the capability of the technology of plastic surgery to

transform the body; Extreme Makeover, The Swan and Make Me A Famous Face, in the US and Extreme Makeover UK, Ten

Years Younger and Bride and Grooming in the UK. These programmes are concerned with glamorising and perfecting

the body to produce an ideal, a type of Vitruvian Man to which ordinary people can aspire. Simultaneously a strand

of health programmes has also appeared, The Biggest Loser and Fat March USA in the US and You are What You Eat and

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Supersize vs. Superskinny in the UK. These still have the transforming body at their core, but are less about representing

the ideal body and more about representing an ideal society expressed and contained by the ethical body. Reality TV

is acknowledged to be largely about spectacle and a consideration of how this spectacle is employed and deployed in

the programmes is related to the Foucauldian concept of the clinical gaze. The clinical gaze derives from his text The

Birth of The Clinic where Foucault analyses the institution of the Clinic itself and how medical discourse influences

and manipulates the body. Foucault speculates that the formation of clinics and hospitals signalled an ordering and

organization of the treatment of disease and the individual, and

of a medicine sufficiently bound up with the state for it to be able, with the cooperation of the state, to carry

out a constant, general, but differentiated policy of assistance; medicine bec(ame) a task for the nation.

(Foucault 1989.19)

This forging of medicine to the nation and thereby the state places the clinic and the doctor as political. The economics

of a state are bound up with the wellbeing of its work force which is required to be healthy to be able to function in the

work place, earn money and more importantly, spend money. Without this basic strata of fiscal stability the nation

itself wanes and ‘sickens’. Therefore the doctor as an agent of the clinic and thereby the nation state, operates in a

political manner to ensure that even the lower echelons of society (the poor) remain healthy and able to perform their

assigned role in the economic structure. This results in an obligation being placed upon the poor to demonstrate their

gratitude in a way that the rich were and are not expected to. As Foucault explains,

The system of obligation and compensation between rich and poor no longer passed through the law of the state,

but, by means of a sort of contract, subject to variation in space and suspension in time, it belonged more to the

order of free consent. A stranger more hidden contract of the same kind was silently being formed about the same

time between the hospital, where the poor were treated and the clinic, in which doctors were trained… The most

important moral problem raised by the idea of the clinic was the following: by what right can one transform into

an object of clinical observation a patient whose poverty has compelled him to seek assistance at the hospital?...

he was now required to be the object of a gaze…what was being deciphered in him was seen to be contributing to a

better knowledge of others. (Foucault 1989.83)

So the poor became object rather than subject of the clinical gaze as their poverty rendered them powerless to resist

the necessity of treatment. Foucault’s study of the political significance of medicine and the clinic and its use of the

poor is illuminating when applied to the transformation texts of reality TV that base their content on modern-day

medicine and its methods. When analysing these texts it becomes apparent that the contestants/subjects are picked

from particular lower and disadvantaged social groups. It is very much a case that these people are unable to afford the

treatment offered by the programmes, just as Foucault’s poor of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries was unable to afford

clinical treatment. The moral problem that he identifies is identical, in that the patient becomes the object of the

clinical gaze due to their lack of financial capability. In the case of reality TV the subject comes under the voyeuristic

gaze of the TV audience as well as the clinical gaze of the doctor. The patient becomes the spectacle. The audience

become complicit in the exploitation of the patient and the immorality of exposing their body, their ‘disease’ and its

pathology in the name of ‘infotainment’.

These programmes purport to be instructional and cautionary, informing us of what constitutes a healthy life and

providing us with models of extreme bodies and how to avoid becoming like them. The structures of medicine are

deeply involved in the production of the ideologies of health. It is no longer a matter of passively observing and

treating, medicine is now active in preventative methods. These methods necessarily prescribe what a healthy body

and lifestyle is comprised of and the media of reality TV is chosen as the most suitable to gain the highest distribution

of such ideals. In Foucault’s writing on the clinic he describes the idyllic model of medicine as sought for by post

French Revolution society,

Medicine must no longer be confined to a body of techniques for curing ills and of the knowledge that they

require; it will also embrace a knowledge of healthy man, that is a study of non-sick man and a definition of the model

man. In the ordering of human existence it assumes a normative posture, which authorizes it not only to distribute

advice as to healthy life, but also to dictate the standards for physical and moral relations of the individual and of

the society in which he lives. (Foucault 1989.34)

As Foucault died in 1984 he was unable to view this model apparently in action on reality TV. How he might have

perceived and commented on such media and its content is difficult to guess. However this contemporary model of the

idyll is moderated by its exploitation or even abuse of the contestant/patient. Held up as examples in direct opposition

to ‘model man’ as a paradigm of health and perfection, the participants of the programmes become a spectacle of

suffering. There is a perception of physical traits that do not conform to the ideal, as part of a spectrum of disease that

can be treated and controlled that places an onus on the patient to actively seek a ‘cure’; to become ‘well’ (conform to

normative images) and therefore function properly as part of society. This aspect combined with the availability of a

large and willing body of ‘patients’ seeking that cure and who are unable to finance it, further facilitates the circulation

of Foucault’s ‘normative’ images of ‘model man’. The imperfect and extreme bodies of the ‘patients’ are presented in

direct contrast to ‘model man’ as a spectacle of ‘suffering’.

16 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

In the chosen case-study, Supersize vs Superskinny, this spectacle of suffering is the equivalent of a trial of martyrdom,

which has to be endured in order to emerge as a healed and whole ethical body. The basis of the programme relies

upon two participants who are chosen for their extreme bodies and their extreme diets. They are brought into what

is officially called a ‘feeding clinic’ under the instruction of Dr Christian Jessen to live for a week, without contact

with their normal lives or families, and they each have to survive on the other’s unhealthy and excessive regime. The

concept being that in a psychological manner seeing someone else eating these meals will affect an epiphany and

they will see the error of their ways. The structure of the programme is based upon a biographical narrative of the

participant’s lives for purposes of close identification but also to demonstrate the ‘truth’ or reality of the programme.

We first meet each of them at home where we are treated to a visual feast of their respective extreme eating habits. In

the case of the Supersize, a miniature camera is attached to whichever particular eating implement is being used, and

the audience is carried, along with the food, directly into the mouth of the overweight contestant. Here aspects of the

abject are being directly engaged with. We are given a privileged view of the internal cavities of a transgressive body.

Kristeva identifies one aspect of abjection as ‘exclusion or taboo (dietary or other)’ and another as ‘transgression’, both

of which she closely relates to the Christian concept of sin. Seen through Kristeva’s notion of the abject, the bodies in

the programme are identified and represented as ‘sinful’ and ‘immoral’. These bodies have pushed at the boundaries

that remind us of death. The Supersize body of Keith, consistently and excessively fed with ‘bad’ or sinful foods - fats,

sugars, processed foods - literally becomes what it eats. The view inside the mouth reinforces that the food and the

body consuming the food are abject, as Kristeva explains,

“subject”(Keith) and “object”(food)...confront each other, collapse, and start again – inseparable, contaminated,

condemned, at the boundaries of what is assimilable, thinkable: abject. (Kristeva 1982.18)

Here she is actually speaking of the abject in relation to Christianity and the sacred and how it exists at the level of

primal repression, always kept at bay by the rejection and denial of a ‘civilised’ society. In association with the concept

of the loss of meta-narratives, such as religion, these texts visually return us to the time of primal repression as they

display abject bodies (reminding us of death – Dr Jessen introduces them as being ‘morbidly obese’ and as ‘consuming

their own bodies’) which begin a purification process, turning them from abject (or immoral) bodies into ethical


After a weigh-in reminiscent of a prize fight, where they are exposed as transgressive, the two contestants are brought

together in flesh coloured underwear to affect a visual comparison of the abject bodies. Keith is almost five times the

size of Tiffany at 29 stone, but what is really interesting is the method of comparison of their diets. The programme

makers set up two ‘food tubes’ which they fill up with the appalling diets of the two contestants. As the food spills into

the tubes with the contestants placed closely next to their own, it becomes clear that the tubes are an externalisation

of their intestines. Their daily intake of food is poured into the tubes to form a visually abhorrent simulation of the

gut. The intention is to present the contestant’s diets as disgusting, as ‘non-human’ as ‘other’ and so as abject, to

them and to the audience. As Kristeva states, even in normal circumstances: ‘Food in this instance designates the

other (the natural) that is opposed to the social condition of man and penetrates the self ’s clean and proper body’

(Kristeva 1982.75). Obviously the contestant’s ‘clean and proper bodies’ have already been contaminated as their

physical appearance offers evidence to the fact that an immoral or unethical use of food will produce an immoral or

unethical body. To remedy both the physical and moral ailments they suffer from, Keith and Tiffany swap diets. For

both this is a punishment, a ‘rites of passage ‘ordeal that must be endured in order to begin the process of purification.

Both are disgusted at their own diets but even more so at each other’s and so the extreme nature of the food they eat

renders it even more difficult for them tolerate the swap. We follow them through this daily process but other more

psychological aspects are added to simultaneously test them and manipulate them towards a moral regard of food and

their own bodies.

In the case of the Superskinny (Tiffany) her rejection of food sees her only eating a tiny amount of the full portion

she serves herself. By denying herself what she sees as abject (in this case the food) her body begins to ‘eat’ itself in

order to survive, bringing her into close contact with the abject view of pollution by food. Kristeva identifies this as

the boundary between ‘nature and culture, between the human and non-human’ (Kristeva 1982.75). Tiffany controls

the pollution of her body by keeping the ‘non-human’ consumption to a minimum, but ultimately by rejecting the

abject she actually becomes the abject, a skeletal figure that firmly reminds us of the ultimate abject, the corpse. To

encourage her to eat healthily Tiffany is taken to a sparse white room resembling a gallery where photos of parts of

her body have been enlarged and displayed. Each photo represents a deterioration of her health and her body that

Dr Jesson wants to emphasise in order to encourage her to change. The correlation of Tiffany’s body and a corpse are

visually reinforced by these photos; her bones are clearly visible through her skin and according to Kristeva,

It is as if the skin, a fragile container, no longer guaranteed the integrity of one’s “own and clean self ” but, scraped

or transparent, invisible or taut, gave way before the dejection of its contents. (Kristeva 1982.53)

Tiffany’s internal/external boundaries are becoming so insubstantial that she has become an object of abjection. When

this is made apparent to her she moves up a level in the process of her purification as she begins to emotionally engage

with her body once more and so begins to view food not as a pollutant or ‘other’ or abject but as part of that process of

purification to be able to move closer to the concept of the ethical body.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Keith’s purification is necessarily different to Tiffany’s and involves a visit to see an abject body that is an example of

his possible future. Lisa is morbidly obese and is in hospital to have part of her stomach removed in a gastric sleeve

operation. Keith is taken to meet her and learns the reasons for her plight and realises he is headed in the same

direction. Lisa is used as an object of educational spectacle (much like Foucault’s poor bodies in the clinic) that is a

warning to Keith and the nation alike. As we and Keith view her gastric sleeve operation several aspects of the abject

are brought into play. Again we experience a breaking down of barriers, between the internal and the external. The

effect on the viewer is, as Kristeva states: ‘These body fluids, this defilement, this shit are what life withstands, hardly

and with difficulty, on the part of death. There I am at the border of my condition as a living being’ (Kristeva 1982.3).

Death is the literal breakdown between subject and object and as part of her stomach is pulled out of a hole in her

flesh we confront our own frailty and mortality. What was represented at the beginning of the programme by a large

plastic food tube has now become flesh; the internal has truly become external. For Lisa this is a radical part of the

purification process and is represented as an extreme aspect of the ‘rites of passage’ technique that is best to avoid.

For Keith this close encounter with the abject is a lesson in morality; his ethical behaviour (eating) has to improve in

order to avoid the same fate. Kristeva states that when we speak of or confront the abject there ‘takes place a crossing

over of the dichotomous categories of Pure and Impure, Prohibition and Sin, Morality and Immorality’ (Kristeva

1982.16). For Keith this crossing over leads to an epiphany that sees his purification process firmly established. The

breaking down of these specific binary oppositions finds a meeting place in the obese and contaminated body of Lisa.

Her confrontation with the abject is a final attempt to transform her from abject to ethical and engages with Foucault’s

notion of ‘model-man’, as its extreme opposite but capable in its impurity and immorality of advising how not to live.

Having finally completed the diet-swap week, the two subjects are sent away to follow a strict and healthy diet regime

compiled for them by Dr Jesson. They then return three months later for a final weigh-in and comparison. According

to the conventions of make-over programmes there is an understated final reveal, where the two are brought back

together to see the results. While they are not drastically transformed, the signs of change can be traced on their faces

and bodies. Healthier skin, hair and teeth and no exposed bony joints signal the transition from abject to ethical for

Superskinny Tiffany. Her body no longer resembles the corpselike reminder of death that it once did. The layer of flesh

and fat she has worked to gain is physical evidence of her healthy/ethical/moral behaviour. The programme has used

her transforming body as a narrative myth of morality and change where the actual fabric of her body acts not only as

evidence of moral rectitude but also as a register of difference. She is developing into Foucault’s ‘model man’ whose

very being is instructional and motivational. Keith has also altered, reducing in size and gaining in confidence. His

loss of flesh is also a monitor of his ethical behaviour, charting his journey from undisciplined obesity to controlled

weight loss. His body is used as an indicator and paradigm of model behaviour that is also an exemplar of how healthy

and moral conduct leads to happiness and success. The abject flesh that is symptomatic of iniquitous and unruly

action begins to reduce, demonstrating a moral commitment to self-improvement. Keith’s physical transformation

correlates with his narrative transformation, revealing a compelling story of moral and corporeal struggle that serves

as an allegorical lesson for society to follow.

What these programmes demonstrate is a need to supply and a corresponding need to find a lifestyle guide. With the

lack of meta-narratives to direct us, the media has stepped in and fulfilled the requirement. However, morality and

ethics have now become bound to the body, which is required to display and validate the dominant ideology. Able to

reach a maximum audience the media operates as a contemporary system of dispersal for these narratives of ideology

that is more effective and pervasive than ever before. While the media is supposedly governed by official ‘watchdogs’,

the latter tend to be re-active rather than pro-active and the voice of authority that once belonged to religion or

politics is now the fractured and fragmented utterances of a consumer-led ideology that tends to grope its way from

one moral crisis to another. Perhaps more than ever, these self-appointed voices of authority need to be interrogated

and tested for their validity and, just as important, for their methods.


Foucault, M. (1989) The Birth of The Clinic: An Archaeology Of Medical Perception (Routledge)

Kristeva, J, (1982) Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. (New York : Columbia UP )

Supersize vs Superskinny (Channel 4, 2008-2009, CheetahTV)

Author biography

Peri Bradley is an Associate Lecturer in Film and Film and TV at Southampton Solent University and in Film at

University of Southampton. She was part of the 1970s British Film project group at University of Portsmouth where

she was co-organiser with Professor Sue Harper of the conference British Culture and Society in the 1970s in July 2008.

She has chapters included in Dark Reflections, Monstrous Reflections: Essays on the Monster in Culture, Exeter University’s,

Don’t Look Now? British Cinema in the 1970s and Portsmouth University’s Culture and Society in 1970s Britain: The Lost

Decade. She is also contributing a significant piece of research based on archive investigation, to the 1970s British

Cinema book resulting from the AHRC project.

18 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Peeling the body

Yvonne Jones

Supervisor Dr Beth Harland

Winchester School of Fine Art


The researcher uses her experience of her medical events undertaken within a western medical environment to

investigate the literal posthuman associated with Moravec alongside the non-literal posthuman associated with

Hayles. The project also considers the researcher in relationship to the medics she encounters, a situation of subject

/ object where the experiencing subject comes to understand that she is the medical object for the medics. The

female researcher encounters questions of disempowerment. Ideas of empowerment from the ideals of feminism

are referenced. Evidence emerges that a person, specifically the participating researcher, can change the relationship

of subject / object when engaging with attributes of the posthuman, and demonstrates how an emerging subject

develops from this engagement, facilitating change for the subject from a position as a disenfranchised female liberal

humanist subject to an emerging posthuman subject who is female, an empowering and emancipating change, a social

movement consistent with the field of critical theory.


The researcher’s sharp awareness of her-self as corporeal body offered a setting to question the body. The collecting

of medical event material developed from the experience of being human in the terms of being mortal, having

emotions, compassion, weaknesses and imperfections; an experience resulting from physical trauma that included

the possibility of death. This experience of being human was challenged on being faced with the Moravec’s position

on the literal posthuman that offers immortality (Moravec1987). Hayles counterbalances this with the non-literal

posthuman where ‘it is the construction of subjectivity that is considered important’ (Hayles 1999). Studio practice

is the tool of research using videos, stills and medical leftovers collected from medical events of the researcher to

combine the internal experience of each event with evidence of the external view of the event. The participatingobserver-researcher

is the subject for the project. Subject comes to have two positions specific to the project. First

subject is the researcher as an experiencing being, the subject who is herself altered by the process of this research,

second is the researcher situated in the relationship of subject / object within the medical events (Fig 1), with herself as

the experiencing subject simultaneously perceived as the object by the medics. Object here means medical object that

is treated to objectification and where the body is, as stated by Foucault perceived as an inscribed body, the product of

socially enforced positioning (Foucault 1997). The project ‘peels’ off the body in terms of how the body is perceived,

both by the subject and by the medics.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Fig. 1 - One Body in Two Positions; Stills from Cyst (2006) Yvonne Jones


The roboticist Hans Moravec states his belief and desire for a situation where the information pattern of a human

mind is transferred into a machine, an advanced computer where the sense of ‘me’ will be carried across, the body

is left behind, the ‘person’ now immortal (Moravec 1987). Hayles explains how ‘information lost its body, how the

cyborg was constructed in the postwar years as technological artifact and icon, and how the human being became the

posthuman’. She argues and demonstrates erroneous thinking in the roboticists, that has become embedded in the

ideas of the posthuman, and makes a plea to challenge the idea of the literal post human before it is too late (Hayles

1999). Hayles states ‘we have already become posthuman when we are put into a cybernetic circuit that splices the

will, desire, and perception into a distributed cognitive system in which represented bodies are joined with enacted

bodies through mutating and flexible machine interfaces’ (Hayles 1999). She hopes that posthuman values are used in

improving the quality of human life while not overlooking materiality and not as a means of replacing human life. The

research demonstrates that there are difficulties with both positions, the researcher recognises a move in the direction

of both positions. A raised awareness of the development of such ideas along with incorporation of these posthuman

attributes is productive, offering the possibility of change and considered choices.

The research

Eight medical events are used for the research each with a focus on the human body. The events include breast disease,

salmonella poisoning and face interventions. The memory of the event together with video, stills and medical leftovers

are combined within the studio practice. With Action Research as methodology they are used for reflection to consider

the ideas that arise from this, that is the issue here of subject /object, and the changing position therein along with the

initial liberal humanist position of the researcher. Within the studio process the researcher was able to understand her

position not only from the inside but by combination with external information was able to increase her understand

of herself in relation to herself (initially as a liberal humanist subject) and herself in relation to her objectifiers in

the medical environment within a relationship of subject / object, a position which moved to a more encompassing

relationship at the end of the project shown when Fig 2a moves to Fig. 2b.

The outcome

The researcher moves from a position of existing as a disenfranchised female subject situated within the constraints

of liberal humanism about which Hayles states ‘the liberal human subject was constructed as a white European male,

a universality that worked to suppress and disenfranchise women’s voices’ (Hayles 1999), to an emerging female

posthuman subject, a subject who is aware of the body and, through raised awareness of the posthuman is aware

of her changing boundaries. The process of the research created an understanding of herself as this subject and as

subject / object that enabled the movement experienced within the project. By means of discussion, negotiation and

engagement instigated by the subject with the medics within the medical events; by means of combing the internal

experience of the subject with a sense of the subject body as medical object; using the posthuman ideas of distributed

cognition, explained by Hutchins (2000) as ‘information beyond the skull’ the subject became visible to herself and to

those who perceived her as medical object as referred to in Fig 1.

20 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Fig. 2a the start of the project - from Repair and Maintenance 1- breast disease

Fig. 2b The final subject object position where subject is emerging as a posthuman female subject and is seen both by herself and by the

objectifier resulting in a reduction of absolute dualism of subject /object


Foucault M. (1997) Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. IN BOUCHARD, D. F. (Ed.) Language, Counter-Memory, Practice:

Selected Essays and Interviews. Cornell University Press.

Hayles N. K. (1999) How We Became Posthuman, Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.

Hutchins, E. (2000) Distributed Cognition [online] pub University of California. Available from

edu/~drwhite/Anthro179a/DistributedCognition.pdf [Accessed 11th march 2009].

Moravec, H. (1987) Dualism from Reductionism; from proceedings of the International Symposium on AI and the

Human Mind, Yale University, New Haven CT. March 1-3 1986. Truth, Volume 2, Dallas TX.

Author biography

Born in North Wales, the author’s education includes Cert.Ed. Biology and Maths (The University of Liverpool); B.A.

Hons Fine Art (Liverpool John Moores University); M.A (Dist) Fine Art (University of Southampton); and Year 1

B.Sc. Hons Psychology (University of Southampton). As well as presenting at WSA Conference and The University of

Reading in the mind /body Conference 2007, her work was the subject of a paper by Michele Waugh at The University of

Leicester 2007. She is a contributor to the Winchester School of Art Research Anthology 2009. Her artwork has been

shown widely including at The University of Southampton LASS Conference, New Contemporaries 2004 (Liverpool

and London) and the Royal Academy London. Work is held in The Permanent Collection of Contemporary Women’s

Art at Murray Edwards College, formerly New Hall College Cambridge, and in private collections. Previously an

advisor to Southern Arts Regional Arts Board, she was a founder member and is currently a board member of ArtSway.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Beyond deep and surface acting: Perceived

emotional effort in customer service roles

Cristina Quiñones-García

Supervisors Dr Raquel Rodríguez-Carvajal and Dr Nicholas Clarke

School of Management


Emotional Labour (EL) is a central feature of customer service roles, which refers to the effort employees exert in

order to manage the emotions required by their role. Despite the emphasis placed upon “effort”, the instruments

developed to measure EL have been focused on the strategies “deep acting” (i.e. changing your own feelings to achieve

the required display) and “surface acting” (i.e. changing only the outward display). The lack of consistent findings,

however, reveals the limited explanatory power of deep and surface acting as predictors of employees’ well being.

Initial evidence from qualitative studies has started to emerge and suggests that the effort employees perceive to

perform EL could be a better predictor of employees’ well being. Based on these findings and building on relevant

stress theory, we present the development and initial validation of the perceived emotional effort construct.


In order to ensure a pleasant customer experience, front-line workers must display a range of positive emotions

when dealing with customers (Grandey 2003). Within this context, Emotional Labour (EL) becomes a fundamental

component of customer service work as it refers to the “effort, planning and control required to display

organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions” (Morris and Feldman 1996, p.987). According

to Hochschild’s pioneer work (1983), employees perform EL by either surface acting (SA) or by deep acting (DA). DA

describes the process whereby employees try to change their own feelings so that they match the emotions they have

to display (Grandey 2003). For instance, individuals perform DA when they try to recall a pleasant situation in order to

smile to customers more genuinely. SA, on the contrary, refers to the process whereby employees fake the emotional

displays keeping their own feelings untouched; for example “painting on a smile” (Grandey 2003:86).

A crucial aspect of Hochschild’s ethnographic work was highlighting the costs associated to EL. Thus, she found that

the maintained effort involved in managing emotions to meet role requirements, could lead to a form of chronic

stress called “emotional exhaustion”; but also to other negative indicators of well being such as inauthenticity and

depression (Hochschild 1983; Grandey 2003). These findings raised the awareness of the potential risks of EL and

encouraged the development of tools to examine the EL phenomenon in a quantitative way (Grandey 2000). The

mainstream tool used in the literature developed by Brotheridge and Lee (2003) however, ignores the central element

of the definition of EL as the “effort” employees make to meet the emotional requirements of the job (Hochschild

1983). Instead, they measure SA and DA strategies and its associations with well being, assuming that EL is an “effortful

activity” per sé (Brotheridge and Lee 2003). This assumption will be challenged and the development of a measure of

perceived effort will be justified.

Gaps in the literature

The lack of consistent findings from self-administered surveys in cross-sectional studies has evidenced the limited

explanatory power of DA and SA as predictors of employees’ well being. Whereas SA seems to be associated with

emotional exhaustion and job dissatisfaction in many studies (Grandey 2003; Brotheridge and Lee 2003), mixed

evidence has been found for DA. Thus, DA usually has weak or non relationships with emotional exhaustion however

some studies reported associations with job dissatisfaction (Grandey 2003) . Contrarily, DA has also been found

associated with positive outcomes such as professional accomplishment (Ashforth and Humphrey 1993). In view of

these mixed results we cannot conclude whether the strategies are beneficial or detrimental for individuals’ well being.

Initial support for the “ perceived emotional effort” as an alternative and more accurate construct whereby analyzing

the different impact of EL has started to emerge in qualitative studies. Thus, an exploratory study conducted by the

authors of this paper with Human Resources Practitioners found that emotional exhaustion was associated with

the effort employees perceived in meeting emotional display rules, regardless of the strategy they used. Similarly, in-

22 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

depth interviews conducted by Wong and Wang (2009) with tour representatives suggest that the emotional burden

reported by employees was the result of the emotional effort they had to exert when dealing with customers. The

latter increased with the size of the group they were working with but was independent of the EL strategies. On the

other hand, Guerrier and Adib (2003) found that when meeting emotional requirements was perceived as a “loweffort

activity”, tour-operators reported high levels of job satisfaction and authenticity. In short, these results suggest

that when perceived effort is high, negative consequences are expected but when perceived effort is low, EL can have

positive impact on individuals’ well being (Ashforth and Humphrey 1993). Based on this evidence and the limitations

shown by DA and SA, we argue that perceived effort is a more accurate construct by which to examine the impact of

EL on employees’ well being. In the next section, theoretical support for the construct will be presented.

Perceived emotional effort: A two dimensional construct

Lazarus’ stress theory (1993) states that individual’s experience of stress is largely determined by how threatening

they perceive the external demands of their environment. It is argued that when demands are related to meeting

emotional requirements of the role, the extent to which individuals perceive the latter as an effortful activity will

ultimately determine the stress they experience. Although many studies imply and support that EL is effortful, no

study so far has analyzed the role of individual’s perception of effort on handling the required emotions. Marginally,

support for the role of perceptions in the experience of stress within the EL field was found by Grandey et al. (2004).

In their study, the authors demonstrate that when employees perceived customer aggression as less stressful, they

also experienced less emotional exhaustion and had fewer absences from the job.

The role of effort in the experience of stress is also supported by the Ego Depletion Theory (Baumister et al., 1998).

According to this theory, there is a limited source of energy for self-control activities. Thus, if one activity involves

self control then the energy remaining for subsequent self control activities will be reduced. Based on this, Martinez-

Iñigo et al. (2007) developed a two item instrument to assess the effort indirectly, by interference with other tasks.

Although the instrument had low reliability and validity, their findings revealed that indirect effort predicted

emotional exhaustion beyond SA and DA. Thus, these results provide initial evidence for the role of indirect effort as a

fundamental component of EL and better predictor of well being than the EL strategies.

In view of this, we believe that the Perceived Emotional Effort is a two-dimensional construct that distinguishes

between direct perceived emotional effort (based on Lazarus classic stress theory) and indirect perceived emotional

effort or by interference with other tasks (based on the Ego-depletion theory and the existing items). In this study we

present preliminary findings for the development and initial validation of the Perceived Emotional Effort scale.


Procedure, item development and sample

We followed the standard procedure recommended in the literature for the development and initial validation of a

scale (Worthington and Whittaker 2006). The first stage consists of developing the initial pool of items. The item

development process in our study was inspired on the theoretical models outlined earlier. Thus, items for the direct

dimension were developed based on Lazarus Stress Theory (e.g. “How often have you felt that this activity involves

a great amount of effort”) and items for the indirect dimension were based on Ego Depletion Theory (e.g. “How

often have you felt that you make more mistakes in other areas due to this activity”). We also included the two items

developed by Martinez-Íñigo et al (2007). Secondly, there is an exploratory stage where researchers must administer

the initial questionnaire to a given sample in order to find out the psychometric adjustment of the initial pool of

items. Statistics analysis will show the internal consistency of the items (i.e. reliability) and whether or not the two

theoretical dimensions (direct and indirect perceived effort) are confirmed with the initial sample (i.e. factorial

validity). Finally, the questionnaire is administered to an independent sample to test the reliability and validity of the

final scale.

A total of 253 employees from the South-East of England dealing with customers on a regular basis participated in the

exploratory and item purification stage. Recruitment consultants and letting agencies made 45% of the sample; 26%

retail, 16% bars and restaurants; 7% travel agents, and 6% bank clerks and insurers. Ages ranging from 17 years old to

61, with an average of 30.5; 60% were female, and 40% were male. As a pilot study, a convenience sampling was used

(Field 2005). The final scale was made of 13 items and participants were asked to rate on a 5 point Likert scale (from

never to very often) the frequency with which they felt each of the 13 statements. A further 204 employees participated

in the second stage. Participants were customer service workers from a Theme Park and a large chain of Pubs and

Restaurants. Their ages ranged from 18 to 70 , an average of 30 years old; 65% were female, and 35% male.

Data analysis and results

Answers were entered into a Social Statistics Computer Package (SPSS) and analysis were performed. We performed

factorial analysis (to assess the extent to which the two theoretical dimensions can be maintained) and reliability

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


analysis (to assess the internal consistency of the scale). Factorial analysis was conducted as recommended in the

literature (e.g. Field 2005; Hayton et al. 2004). First, positive results on the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling

adequacy and Bartlett’s test of sphericity allowed us to conduct exploratory factor analysis. Second, Principal

Component Analysis with Oblimin rotation was performed. Finally, decisions to retain factors were informed by

three tests: Kaiser’s criterion to retain factors (those with eigenvalues >1); Cattel’s Screeplot (where only components

above the point where the shape of the plot changes should be retained) and Parallel Test. Then, items that reduced

the internal consistency of the scale were eliminated.

The best solution with regards to both validity and reliability was found for 2 dimensions which corresponded to the

theoretical ones, direct and indirect effort. The final scale was made up of 7 items. The “Indirect Factor” was made up

of 4 items and “Direct Effort” factor of 3 items. Factor analysis were replicated with the second sample confirming the

two factor structure of the scale. High internal consistency of the items was achieved in both samples. Indirect Factor

achieved. 72 in the first sample and .85 in the second one and Direct Effort achieved .64 in the first sample and .70 in

the second sample.

Discussion and future research

The need for a measure of perceived emotional effort has been justified. Also, the development and initial validation

of the “perceived emotional effort scale” has been presented. The final 7 item-scale showed good reliabilities in both

samples. As highlighted in this paper the EL literature assumes and even defines EL as “effort to manage emotions”.

However, the empirical measure of EL has been focused just on the EL strategies. We believe that by measuring the

effort with this new and reliable instrument we will be able to explain the mixed evidence found for DA, SA and its

impact. Authors may incorporate the perceived emotional effort in future studies along with measures of DA and SA.

In line with Martinez-Iñigo et al. (2007) we expect to demonstrate that the actual predictor of emotional exhaustion

would be perceived effort, regardless of the strategy.


Ashforth, B. E. and R. H. Humphrey (1993). Emotional Labor in Service Roles: The Influence of Identity. The Academy

of Management Review 18(1): 88-115.

Baumeister, R., E. Bratslavsky, et al. (1998). Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? Journal of Personality

and Social Psychology 74(5): 1252-1265.

Brotheridge, C. M. and R. T. Lee (2003). Development and validation of the Emotional Labour Scale. Journal of

Occupational and Organizational Psychology 76: 365.

Field, A. P. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS. London,Sage.

Grandey, A.A. (2000). Emotion regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of

Occupational Health Psychology 5(1): 95-110.

Grandey, A. A. (2003). When the show must go on: Surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional

exhaustion and peer-rated service delivery. Academy of Management Journal 46(1).

Grandey, A. A., D. N. Dickter, et al. (2004). The customer is not always right: customer agression and emotion

regulation of service employees. Journal of Organizational Behavior 25: 1-22.

Guerrier, Y. and A. Adib (2003). Work at leisure and leisure at work: A study of the emotional labour of tour reps.

Human Relations 56(11): 1399.

Hayton, J., Allen, D., & Scarpello, V. (2004). Factor retention decisions in exploratory factor analysis: A tutorial on

parallel analysis. Organizational Research Methods. 7: 191–205.

Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart. London, University of California Press.

Lazarus, R. S. (1993). From psychological stress to the emotions: A history of changing outlooks. Annual Reviews

Psychol. 44(1): 1-21.

Martinez-Iñigo, D., P. Totterdell, et al. (2007). Emotional labour and emotional exhaustion: Interpersonal and

intrapersonal mechanisms. Work and Stress 21(1): 30 - 47.

Morris, J. and D. C. Feldman (1996). The Dimensions, Antecedents, and Consequences of Emotional Labor. The

Academy of Management Review 21(4): 986-1010.

Worthington, R. L., & Whittaker, T. A. (2006). Scale development research: A content analysis and recommendations

for best practices. The Counseling Psychologist, 34, 806–838.

24 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Author biography

Christina Quiñones-García is a final year PhD Student at the School of Management. She received a BSc in

Psychology from the University of Oviedo (Spain) and MA Human Resources Management in Southampton Solent

University. Her research interests include cognitive and emotion regulation, emotional labour moods and well being

at work, job attitudes performance.


© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Organ shortage in Malaysia

Farah Salwani Muda@Ismail

Supervisor Dr Remigius Nwabueze

School of Law


Organ donation is one of the miracles of modern medical science and is the best if not the only life saving therapy for

patients with end stage failure of most essential organs. 1 However, even though this technology has managed to bring

hope to many dying and chronically diseased patients and has saved thousands of valuable lives, organ shortage is now

becoming a huge barrier impeding many more people to benefit from it. Malaysia is also facing this global problem,

as organs are insufficient to meet the rising demands for it. Thus, this paper will highlight briefly this issue of organ

shortage in Malaysia and the reasons causing it.


Organ donation is one of the miracles of modern medical science and is the best if not the only life saving therapy for

patients with end stage failure of most essential organs including liver, kidney, heart and lungs. 2 In organ donation

procedures, the whole or partial organ from an organ donor is transplanted to an organ recipient to replace the

recipient’s damaged or failing organ with a working one. That is why it is often referred as ‘the gift of life’. 3 ‘In 1975,

Malaysian transplants began with a renal transplant in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.’. 4 From 1995 and 1997, liver

and heart transplants have been practiced by local surgeons respectively. 5 Currently, an average of 40 to 60 kidney

transplants are done annually (2 per million populations per year), though unfortunately, this figure has not changed

since the 1980s, despite the number of renal failure patients which keeps increasing each year. 6 Currently organ

transplantation activity is considered relatively low in Malaysia, despite the many campaigns initiated to promote it 7

and the promising number of registered potential organ donors available. 8 This has led to organ shortage problems,

where the demand for organs is soaring high, beyond the limited supply of organs available. So, there are not sufficient

organs, to provide for the many patients in need of it. And, even though organ donation has managed to bring hope

to many dying and chronically diseased patients and has saved thousands of valuable lives, organ shortage is now a

huge barrier impeding many more people to benefit from it. Thus, this paper will highlight briefly this issue of organ

shortage in Malaysia and the reasons causing it.

The scenario in Malaysia

Malaysia as a vast developing country of an estimated population of 28.31 is counted globally amongst the countries

having the lowest number of donors. 9 For every thousand of the population there is less than a single donor, 10

compared to 8 in Singapore, 11 12 in Great Britain and 35 in Spain. 12 Though Malaysia allows organ donation from

1 Lela Yasmin Mansor. 1st. Report of the National Transplant Registry 2004, (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2005) p.1.

2 Ibid


4 See. n.1 above

5 Ibid

6 Ibid

7 Tan Chwee Choon, 2nd National Report of the National Transplant Registry 2005, (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2006) p.2.

8 National Transplant Registry,, Viewed on 1 October 2009.

9 Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Website,, updated on 31 July 2009,

Viewed on 7 October 2009.

10 Lela Yasmin Mansor, Fourth Report of the National Transplant Registry 2007 (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2007), p.170.

11 Volker H. Schmidt and Chee Han Lim, 2004, ‘Organ Transplantation in Singapore: History, Problems, and Policies’, Social Science &

Medicine, 59, 2173-2182.

12 House of Lords European Union Committee 17th. Report of Session 2007-08 Increasing The Supply of Donor Organs Within The

European Union, Volume 1: Report, [London, The Stationary Office Limited, 2 July 2008], Para 53, p.14.

26 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

oth living 13 and cadaver donors, 14 it can only be resorted to, when there is no elements of organ trading involved, 15

free informed consent has been obtained, and there is no other life saving treatment available other than the

transplantation. 16 The Human Tissues Act 1974 is the sole legislation regulating all organ donation matters. Practicing

the ‘opting in’ system, Malaysia does not make organ donation compulsory, so, individuals willing to contribute

their organs after death, must voluntarily register themselves as potential organ donors. However, the deceased’s

family also has authority to decide on behalf of the deceased, to donate his organs, while any objections by them can

predominantly override any individual consent already obtained. 17

Organ shortage in Malaysia

While organ donation is quite well known in Malaysia, nevertheless not many are willing to come forward and

voluntarily register as potential organ donors. In contrast the demand for organs keeps increasing; approximately

2500 chronic patients are added to the waiting list each year. 18 This is related to demographic changes including an

increase in the elderly population and the greater incidence of lifestyle-related diseases; raising the occurrences of end

stage organ failures in Malaysia. 19 Furthermore, more people feel confident to resort to organ donations to cure their

illness after witnessing many events of successful achievements in others.

Plenty of effort has been taken by the government to reduce the gap between numbers of organs available and the

large number of people waiting to get the needed organs, however, the number of actual donors is still decreasing.

For instance in 2005, from a total of 62 potential donor referrals made to the National Transplant Procurement and

Management Unit (NTPMU), only 13 became actual donors. 20 This resulted to a very low rate of only 0.53 organ donor

per million of the population. 21 However, although the next year, whilst there was an increase to 112 potential donors,

only 25 donations actually occurred. Unfortunately, the increase was insufficient to meet the continuously increasing

demand of organs nationwide and did not last. 22 There was another decline in 2007 with 73 referrals made, yet only 25

donations materialised. This figure translated to a donation rate of 0.99 donors per million populations. 23 Hence, as

of 31 August 2009, whilst Malaysia has 133,496 registered organ donors, only 256 have actually became donors. 24 From

these figures, it is shown that Malaysia does not lack registered, potential organ donors, though many more have not

registered as organ donors. Most importantly, there is something hindering potential organ donors from becoming

actual organ donors. Consequently, due to this shortage, desperate patients are purchasing organs at their own cost

from countries like China and India. 25

Family objection

One of the main reasons preventing actual organ donations from taking place accordingly is family objection.

Currently, whenever there is any objection expressed by the deceased family towards the intended organ donation

by the deceased donor, the organ procurement procedure will not proceed, despite clear evidence that the deceased

had officially registered as a potential organ donor during his lifetime. 26 Section 2(2) of the Human Tissues Act 1974

clearly states that the person lawfully in possession of the deceased body may authorise removal of the organs only

after ensuring that the deceased had not expressly retracted his wish to donate organs 27 or there is no objection from

the deceased’s surviving spouse or any other next-of-kin existing. 28 Therefore, family objection takes priority over

the deceased’s wish to donate his organs. Although this might have been intended to prevent further sufferings of the

13 Article 1.5, National Organ, Tissue and cell Transplantation Policy, (Kuala Lumpur, Ministry of Health Malaysia, June 2007) p.2.

14 Human Tissues Act 1974 S. 2(1)

15 Article 3.2, National Organ, Tissue and cell Transplantation Policy, (Kuala Lumpur, Ministry of Health Malaysia, June 2007), p.6.

16 Supra. Art.3.1

17 Section 2(2)(a) and (b) Human Tissues Act 1974

18 Nurul Anuar Kari, ‘Takut Derma Organ-9000 Pesakit Terpaksa Menunggu Ganti Buah Pinggang’,, 1 November

2006, Viewed on 2 April 2008

19 Article 1.1. National Organ, Tissue and cell Transplantation Policy, (Kuala Lumpur, Ministry of Health Malaysia, June 2007), p.1

20 Lela Yasmin Mansor, 2nd.Report of the National Transplant Registry 2005, (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2006), p.151.

21 Ibid

22 Lela Yasmin Mansor, ‘Cadaveric Organ and Tissue Donation’, Third Report of the National Transplant Registry 2006, 2006/Introduction_NTR2008final.pdf, Viewed on 25 August 2009.

23 See n.10 above. P.170

24 See. n.8 above.

25 Puteri Nemie Kassim, 2005, ‘Organ Transplantation in Malaysia: A Need for a Comprehensive Legal Regime’, Med Law, March, 24(1), 173-


26 Human Tissues Act 1974, S2(2)(b)

27 Section 2(2)(a) Human Tissues Act 1974

“(2) Without prejudice to the foregoing subsection, the person lawfully in possession of the body of a deceased person may authorize the

removal of any part from the said body for use for the purposes aforesaid if, having made such reasonable enquiry as may be practicable,

he has no reason to believe-

(a) that the deceased had expressed an objection to his body being so dealt with after his death; or”

28 Section 2(2)(b) Human Tissues Act 1974

(b) “that the surviving spouse or any surviving next-of-kin of the deceased objects to the body being so dealt with.”

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


ereaved family members, who are already in much pain as a result of the loss of the deceased, it nevertheless leaves

the deceased party with little authority over his own body. By virtue of this Act, the surviving spouse and next-of-kin

can legally overrule and veto the deceased’s final wishes to donate his own organs. Indeed, this is not an obligatory

power that must be exercised by them, but it does reflect huge respect and consideration given to the deceased’s

family. It is courteous to seek families’ opinions, especially in end-of life matters which are very sensitive and delicate,

and indeed ignoring the wishes of relatives could consequently invite more objections to organ donation from the

public, however regardless of the reasons, this clearly negates the deceased’s final wishes to contribute to society by

donating his own organs. Thus, all the hassle the deceased had gone through to register himself as a potential donor

would just be in vain. Not only would it have been a waste of time for him to register as an organ donor but, worst of

all, the precious organs would have been wasted as well, when they could have been used to save more lives. So, the

best way to prevent this is by permanently amending the Act. Powers provided to the deceased’s family, which enables

them to overrule the wishes of the deceased party must be removed. Previously, the law in UK was similar, where

the deceased’s family also had such overruling powers. 29 However, after amendments were made, the recent Human

Tissue Act 2004 now gives priority to the deceased’s wish and right of autonomy, by putting a stop to family objections.

If the laws in Malaysia could be amended in such a manner, there is a good chance that the number of donors would

increase dramatically.

Besides, registered organ donors must also be strongly advised to inform their family members on their intention

to become organ donors during their lifetime. This will ensure that, when the time comes, their families are already

prepared for such procurement procedures taking place, and would not simply object to it. Hopefully, when such

initiatives are taken, families would be more inclined to respect the donor’s wishes and simultaneously contribute

towards more organs being successfully harvested.


Undoubtedly, organ shortage is a serious problem in Malaysia. Therefore, continuous effort must be taken to increase

both the number of registered organ donors and actual donors. Seeing that family objection is the key reason causing

organ shortage, until further amendment is made to the Human Tissues Act 1974, to remove objection powers given to

families, the only alternative available is to ensure registered organ donors, responsibly inform their family members

of their decision to become organ donors. Meanwhile, families are also urged to respect and honour the wishes of their

family member, wanting to contribute the ‘gift of life’ to others. Hopefully, this simple effort would prove beneficial to

resolve the problem of organ shortage in Malaysia.


Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Website,, updated

on 31 July 2009, Viewed on 7 October 2009

1st. Report of the National Transplant Registry 2004, (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2005)

Fourth Report of the National Transplant Registry 2007, (Kuala Lumpur, National Transplant Registry, 2007)

Human Tissue Act 1961

Human Tissues Act 1974

Human Tissue Act 2004

National Organ, Tissue and cell Transplantation Policy, (Kuala Lumpur, Ministry of Health Malaysia, June 2007)

National Transplant Registry,, Viewed on 1 October 2009

Norlaila Hamima Jamaluddin. ‘Derma Organ Selamat Nyawa’. Harian Metro, 8 October 2006., Viewed on 7 March 2007.

Nurul Anuar Kari. ‘Takut Derma Organ-9000 Pesakit Terpaksa Menunggu Ganti Buah Pinggang’, , 1 November 2006, Viewed on 2 April 2008

Puteri Nemie Kassim, 2005, Organ Transplantation in Malaysia: A Need for a Comprehensive Legal Regime. Medicine

and Law, March, 24(1):173-89

Third Report of the National Transplant registry 2006, 2006/Introduction_NTR2008final.pdf, Viewed on 25 August 2009

Volker H. Schmidt and Chee Han Lim, 2004, ‘Organ Transplantation in Singapore: History, Problems, and Policies’,

Social Science & Medicine, 59, 2173-2182.

29 Section 1(2)(a) and (b) Human Tissue Act 1961

28 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Author biography

Farah Salwani Muda@Ismail is from Malaysia. She obtained both her degree in Law (LLB) and Master’s of

Comparative Laws (MCL) from the International Islamic University, Malaysia. As a senior lecturer at the Faculty

of Shariah and Law, University Science Islam Malaysia (USIM), she is dedicated to completing her PhD studies,

specializing in Medical Law and Ethics. Her PhD research focuses particularly on the issue of organ shortage in


© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


The Ear of Dionysius

Caravaggio’s representations of hearing and

acoustic space

David J. Knight

School of Humanities (Archaeology)


Caravaggio’s experimentation with light is known. This paper presents new evidence for his less discussed

complementary interests in sound. Firstly, his knowledge of the anatomy of the middle ear is identified in his The

Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602) and set within the history of anatomical knowledge and illustration. Secondly, the

painters’ interest in acoustics is identified in his Burial of Saint Lucy (1608). The context surrounding Caravaggio’s

execution of this painting is considered drawing together influences from Syracuse and the stories of its famous

quarry associated with the tyrant Dionysius. By revisiting these two early 17th century canvases a better appreciation is

possible for the history of acoustical investigation. The observations and interpretations offered here are hoped to be

beneficial also to Art, Literary and Medical Historians alike.

The anatomy of hearing

Studies of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) 1 are dominated by evaluations of his development and

mastery of naturalistic observation and dramatic chiaroscuro illumination. His knowledge of human anatomy is

acclaimed but remains contextually linked solely to observable physical reality. His exploration of hearing and nonvisible

acoustic phenomena has gone unnoticed and yet by 1608, when the painter reached the Sicilian city of Syracuse,

he appears to have already developed and demonstrated a substantial interest in and knowledge of the anatomy of


In 1599 Caravaggio was commissioned to paint two canvases for the Contarelli chapel in the church of the French

congregation, San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. In 1600 he completed The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and The Calling

of Saint Matthew. Then in 1602 he was further commissioned to provide a painting of St Matthew for the chapel’s

altarpiece. The first version, St Matthew and the Angel (Figure 1) was not accepted.

Figure 1: St Matthew and the Angel by Caravaggio in 1602 (destroyed 1945).

1 Cf. Friedlaender 1955, 1969; Hibbard 1983; Puglisi 1998; Langdon 1999.

30 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

The second, accepted version, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (Figure 2), is a radically different composition and

although both continue the artist’s exploration of dramatic lighting and naturalistic observation, the second version

provides evidence of an otherwise unwritten interest of Caravaggio: hearing and acoustics.

Figure 2: The Inspiration of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio in 1602.

Caravaggio’s depiction of the angel closely resembles an anatomical cross-section of the human skull, notably the

brain and ossicles of the middle ear. The angel’s flowing robe describes the frontal lobe of the telencephalon, the subtle

bulge in the material at the right indicating the cerebellum. The way in which the robe is wound and tied around the

angel’s waist may arguably represent the diencephalon, mesencephalon, pons and medulla. The section of robe seen to the

left of the angel’s right arm appears to represent the tongue. The feathers on the tip of the angel’s right wing can even

be interpreted as the left eyebrow.

The allegorical context of this anatomical display makes sense, the mind of God becomes known to Matthew by the

voice of an angel and Matthew’s ears are open to the message. This refers to Christ seeing Matthew, the tax collector

of Capernaum and telling him to “follow me” (Greek: Akolouthei moi; Matthew 9:9-13). Matthew got up and followed

Christ. The image is about listening. The ear (believed to be the seat of memory) and the mind of God are revealed to

Matthew who is figured as the human mouthpiece, through his writing, of divine revelation. Accordingly, the head of

the saint is placed directly where the mouth would be in relation to the brain.

Puglisi has interpreted the angel’s pose as “ticking off on his fingers the generations of Christ’s genealogy opening

Matthew’s Gospel” 2 . However, in light of identifying the angel’s robes as representing the anatomy of the brain it

follows that the angelic arms describe the pinna of the outer ear while the hands and fingers are posed to form the three

auditory ossicles of the middle ear, the stapes (stirrup), malleus (hammer) and incus (anvil) (Figure 3A). Considering the

date of this composition (1602), it is necessary to find its place in the historical context of anatomical knowledge.

The first description of the incus was by Alessandro Achillini (1463-1512) in his publications Corpores humani Anatomia

(Venice, 1516-1524) and Anatomicae annotationes (Bologna, 1520). In 1564 Eustachius 3 was familiar with both the malleus

and incus but it was the anatomist Vesalius (1514-1564) 4 who, by 1543, first gave them these names in his influential De

humani corporis fabrica (On the workings of the human body). The essence of Vesalius’ work was the conviction that the

brain and the nervous system are the centre of mind and emotion, contrary to the Aristotelian belief that the heart was

the centre of the body. Vesalius’ concept is writ large in Caravaggio’s Inspiration and his inclusion of the three auditory

ossicles strongly indicates his anatomical knowledge was current.

2 Hibbard 1983: 146; Puglisi 1998: 179-180.

3 Bartolomeo Eustachius (1500/14-1574).

4 Andreas van Wesel/Vesal (1514-1564).

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Fallopius 5 related in 1561 that Ingrassias of Sicily 6 was the first to discover, name and describe the stapes in 1546.

Vesalius did not know of this discovery for some years, as his Fabrica (1543-1555) includes only the malleus and incus. 7

It was not until 1600-1, when Ferrara Victorius Baldinus published Giulio Cesare Casseri’s (c.1552-1616) De vocis

auditusq[ue], that the three ossicles and their relationship to each other were illustrated (Figure 3B) 8 .

Figure 3: (A) Detail of Inspiration. (B) Casseri’s Table XI (Organi Auditus), figure labelled Hominis illustrates the human auditory ossicles 9 .

From the above observations it appears that Caravaggio had access to and saw Casseri’s De vocis auditusq sometime

between its publication in 1601 and 1602. Disguising the human brain as an angelic messenger may have been the

artist’s intentional reference to the late 16th century surreal compositions of Arcimboldo 10 who constructed portraits

using assembled objects such as fruit and vegetables, but Caravaggio offers a far more profound message.

The portrayal of acoustic space

In 1608 Caravaggio escaped imprisonment in Malta and fled to Syracuse. While there, the local antiquary Vincenzo

Mirabella showed him the ancient quarry (latomie) and cave with remarkable acoustic properties in what is known

as the Latomie del Paradiso. Caravaggio named the cave the Ear of Dionysius (L’Orecchio di Dionisio), as it resembled

a hearing trumpet. This anecdote was related five years later in Mirabella’s Dichiarazioni (Naples, 1613) 11 . Mirabella

believed the cave was constructed and that its design was intended to amplify the whispered secrets of the quarry

prisoners. He relates:

“I remember when I took Michelangelo da Caravaggio, that unique painter of our times, to see that prison. He,

considering its strength, inspired by his unique genius as an imitator of natural things, said: Do you not see how

the Tyrant, in order to make a horn to hear things, took no other model than nature had herself made to achieve

the same result. And so he made this prison like an ear. This had not been noticed before, and caused a great stir

...” 12

An understanding of this cave is necessary in order to unpack the meaning of Caravaggio’s reference to Dionysius.

The quarries of Syracuse (latomiae) were mined for limestone and are mentioned by ancient authors 13 . As they are

considerably deep they were also utilized as prisons from an early period. Cicero relates they were used as a general

prison for criminals from all parts of Sicily 14 . He also speaks of them as constructed expressly for a prison by the tyrant

Dionysius (431-367 BC) 15 . Specifically, following the Athenian expedition of 413 BC it is reported that approximately 7000

captives were incarcerated in these quarries 16 ; and they continued to be used as such by successive rulers of Syracuse.

5 Gabriele Fallopius (1523-1562).

6 Giovanni Filippo Ingrassias (1510-1580).

7 Asherson 1978: 454.

8 De vocis auditusq[ue]; organis historia anatomica, singulari fide methodo ac industria concinnata, tractatibus duobus explicata ac variia

iconibus excuses illustrata. The artist responsible for the engravings was Joseph Maurer, a German painter and etcher.

9 Images from University of Toronto Fisher Library Digital Collections, Jason A. Hannah Collection. Digital ID: RBAI008. Online at: http://link. Table XI digital ID: RBAI008-0033.

10 Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593)

11 Dichiarazioni della piñata dell’antiche Siracuse, e d’alcune scelte medaglie d’esse, e de’principi che quelle possedettero.

12 Langdon 1999: 367-8.

13 Cicero; Orationes Verrinae v 27; Aelian, Varia Historia xii 44.

14 Cicero; Orationes Verrinae v 27.

15 Cicero; Orationes Verrinae v 55.

16 Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War vii 86, 87; Diodorus Siculus; Bibliotheca historica xiii 33

32 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Philoxenus of Cythera (died c.380/79 BC) adapted Euripides’ satyr-play Cyclops, making the monster shepherd named

Polyphemus resemble Dionysius, and calling its cave dwelling the latomiae, a calculated piece of stagecraft eliciting

from the Athenian audience painful memories of relatives who had recently died in the Syracusian quarries, at the

hand of Dionysius 17 . Aelian says the most beautiful cave in the Syracusan latomiae was named after Philoxenus 18 ,

presumably the same cave later visited by Caravaggio. The acoustic amplification afforded by the cave’s shape and

smooth surfaces are said to have been used by Dionysius to listen in on prisoner conversations, a small long opening

connecting to the back of the cave used for acoustic espionage. In Philoxenus’ Euripides this same opening is Odysseus’

escape route.

The cave is most likely a natural slot canyon cut by prehistoric rainwater run-off through the limestone 19 . When the

limestone was quarried the slot was exposed and apparently utilised for its acoustic properties.

Figure 4: Burial of Saint Lucy by Caravaggio, 1608.

This cave became the setting for Caravaggio’s 1608 painting of the Burial of Saint Lucy (Figure 4), believed to be the

martyr’s resting place. Saint Lucy’s name derives from lux (lucis: light) and she is patroness of the blind. Mirabella

likely related these details when showing Caravaggio the cave and shortly afterwards, and with the aid of Mario Minniti

(1577-1640), Caravaggio was commissioned to paint the Burial of Saint Lucy for the Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro,


Figure 5: (A) Detail of bishop’s mitre (B) Entrance to the Ear of Dionysius, Syracuse.

17 Cf. Caven 1990.

18 Aelian; Varia Historia xii 44; Caven 1990: 223-224.

19 For slot canyon formation see:

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


In light of the historical/mythical background of the cave, several interesting points of Caravaggio’s painting can

be productively revisited. The bishop is shown in profile and therefore creates an immediate visual reference to the

Cyclops Polyphemus, with only one eye visible to the viewer. The bishop’s crook (crozier) can therefore additionally

refer to the Cyclops’ occupation as shepherd. The shape of the cave entrance is echoed in the shape of the lit surface of

the bishop’s mitre (Figure 5). Therefore the mythological and Christological significance of the location are conflated

in Caravaggio’s painting. The immensity of the space above the figures suggests the comparable immensity of the cave,

the volume of dark framed space a corollary of acoustic space filled with echoes, ancient and contemporary. This begs

the question whether the visual “pun” of bishop and Cyclops was noticed at the time. Vincenzo Mirabella may have

understood the double-meanings in the painting, but if he did he kept quiet about them.

Concerning the cave, Athanasius Kircher (1601/2-1680) visited the site in 1638 20 and by the 19th century the acoustic

properties of the cave were well known 21 . Therefore, with good reason the physicist Wallace Clement Sabine (1868-

1919), father of modern acoustic measurement, chose to visit the Ear of Dionysius.

Answers to why Caravaggio was communicating, in a covert way, his interest and knowledge of human hearing and

acoustic phenomena must remain for future investigation. Nevertheless, regarding the later painting, since St Lucy’s

name derives from the Latin word for light (lux) and she is the patron saint of the blind, the masked visual pun suggests

Caravaggio may have wanted educated viewers to know that “seeing is not believing”. At a time when the artist was on

the run and in mortal danger, desiring a formal hearing to clear his name, perhaps it is correct and appropriate that this

painting’s message emphasizes sound (explanatory words) over sight (visible evidence).

The observations made in this paper reveal new and potentially fertile details relevant to the current interest in the

history of acoustical investigation.

Thank you to Dr. Gary D. Knight (Ottawa, Canada) for verifying the 1602 composition’s resemblance to the human

brain, to Vasko Démou (Southampton, UK) for explaining Akolouthei moi, Professor Lamberto Tronchin (Bologna,

Italy) for encouraging my work and the reviewers of this paper for their insightful and encouraging comments.


Asherson, N. 1978. The fourth auditory ossicle: Fact or fantasy? The Journal of Laryngology and Otology (June 1978). Pp.


Caven, B. 1990. Dionysius I War-Lord of Sicily. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Friedlaender, W. 1955. Caravaggio Studies. Princeton University Press.

Friedlaender, W. 1969. Caravaggio Studies. New York: Schocken Books.

Hibbard, H. 1983. Caravaggio. London: Thames & Hudson.

Langdon, H. 1999. Caravaggio: A Life. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Puglisi, C. 1998. Caravaggio. Phaidon Press Limited.

Smith, W. (ed.). 1857. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company.

Author biography

David J. Knight is a PhD student at the University of Southampton, UK. He received an MA in Roman Archaeology

from the University of Southampton in 2002 and a BA in Fine Art/Art History from the University of Guelph, Canada in

1987. His research interest include ancient acoustics and music archaeology.

20 Musurgia Universalis; Lib. IX, Praelusio iii; Phonurgia Nova; Domus Dionysii Tyranni. Kircher reported its acoustic phenomenon in his

Musurgia Universalis (1650) and Phonurgia Nova (1673).

21 Smith 1857: 1065-1066.

34 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Capturing humanity: The implicated

biography and validity in a narrative world

Charanjit Singh-Landa

Supervisor Dr Gill Clarke

School of Education


Narratives are a phenomenon which, if as argued in this paper are accepted for their rich extent, can have the effect

of further enhancing research in education because everything ‘…studied is contained within a storied or narrative

representation’ which acts to privilege the linguistic and textual basis of knowledge (Denzin 2001: 58). Narratives are

a co-constructive process of claiming one’s own reality this facilitates the encoding of meanings which can be brought

from the subconscious to the domain of consciousness, awareness and individual volition because ‘…it is through

knowledge and the stories about our knowledge that allows us to bring forth and focus on our own identity revealing,

amongst other things, our values, attitudes’ (Pagano 1991: 193 – 205) and social influences (Ricoeur 1980). Discourses

relating to narrative methods highlight the implication of the personal narrative (Riessman 1993), it is generally

accepted that ideas presented using the narrative method may be influenced by a complex structure of dynamics on

more than one level and that these dynamics range from the economic, social to the political. Accordingly it is the aim

of this paper to explore the impact, if any, such implication has on the validity of research outcomes that utilise the

narrative method.


Narrative has seen a significant and positive shift or ‘turn’ 1 in study with questions regarding the explanation,

interpretation and understanding of individual and group action in the social sciences (Geertz 1973, 1983; Rabinow

& Sullivan 1979, 1987; Riessman 1993: 5 – 6; Chamberlayne et al. 2000; Roberts 2002: 3 – 4). Changes to the way in

which the very nature of scientific knowledge was perceived and the methods used to achieve it in the last thirty years

have meant that narrative, which is no longer regarded as the sole province of literary study, has added concepts of

emplotment through ‘story’ and ‘time’ to the research process (Roberts 2002: 4) or in Dilthey’s terms experience,

expression and understanding (Verstehen hermeneutics in Erben 1998; see also Palmer 1969) giving more scope for a

rather fraught postmodern individuality (Shilling and Mellor 1994). The omission of the ‘humanity’ of an individual

through the ‘pursuit of causal accounts’ by modern science (see Rustin 1999: 65 and Roberts 2002: 4) and the ‘heuristic

assumption[s], common in the natural sciences, that everything in the universe can, in principle, be explained in terms

of causality’ (Kirk and Miller 1986: 10) means narrative is now far more acceptable as a viable 2 ontological alternative

in educational research. Narrative as an auto/biographical research method raises a particularly interesting validity

issue that this paper will explore; to what extent, if any, does the implicated biography of the narrator (researcher) act

to delimit 3 the validity of narrative research?

There are many differing definitions of research, often categorised in general as being either academic 4 or applied

or policy 5 related. Research in education can be defined as being an exposure of ‘…the fragility [,] temporality [or]

limitation of the reinforcement of the strength or power of a framework or discipline of study and applied research

through schooling based research methodologies’ (Schostak 2002: 44). Narrative ‘…does not fit neatly within the

boundaries of any single scholarly field’ and is thus ‘…inherently interdisciplinary’ (Riessman 1993: 1). Narrative

is considered, in main, to be part of the broader practice known as the qualitative research methods: ‘…qualitative

1 Here the term turn is used to refer to change for example in the perception of narrative methods as a valid strategy of enquiry.

2 It should be noted that the term ‘viable’ is used in place of ‘valid’ or ‘robust’ because it suggests less of a relationship based on ‘cause and

effect’, alternatives such as ‘significant’ were considered loaded with suggestions of ‘automatic-reliability’ and hence would not be correct

in the context in which the discussion is presented, for further discussion see Kirk and Miller, 1986: 21.

3 The term delimit is used to denote the determination of quality.

4 Moore defines academic research as the development of ‘a theoretical explanation or the understanding of an issue’ (Moore 2006).

5 Schostak (2002) defines action research as ‘a process of systematic reflection upon circumstances to bring about desired results’ and

as the interrogation of ‘[the part of ] the world appearing to consciousness, where the ‘look’ of the researcher meets the ‘look’ of others’

hence it is ‘a process of systematic reflection… [the interrogation of the part of ] the world appearing to consciousness].

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


esearchers tend to espouse an approach in which theory and empirical investigation are interwoven…during or at the

end of field work, rather than [as] a precursor to it’ (Bryman 1988: 81 in Roberts 2002: 2), the philosophy of which is

often ‘…guided by highly abstract principles’ (Denzin and Lincoln 2008: 31 – 38; Bateson 1972: 31). Riessman (2008: 10)

describes narrative as a ‘…family of methods for interpreting texts that have in common a storied form’.

Narrative as a strategy of inquiry appears in many forms 6 , it contributes in value to research through a diversely rich

methodological and interpretative exploration of contemporary lives within cultural and structural settings providing

new and possibly narrower grassroots evidence of social change. Invariably narratives 7 will differ in degrees of richness

however the narrative method does not seek replication but a hermeneutic engagement of knowledge making a

narrative comprehensible to others and thus ‘…an apprehension [understanding] of the weight and meaning of the

concept of narrative per se’ (Erben 2000: 384).

Narrative richness

Narratives exist within a macro structure that is a structure or process greater than the parts that ‘narrative’ subsumes

for example a place, a time, an event, a role or an interaction 8 . What then is the whole of which these fragments are

part? Schostak (2002: 86) poses this exact question in relation to objectivity and ‘triangular cuts’, the same reasoning

can be philosophically applied to narrative and it can be stated that narrative acts to co-construct multiple realities

or truths through its post-positivist subjectivist-interpretivist or subjectivist-hermeneutic approach. This figure,

although not exhaustive, builds on the work of Schostak by exploring the possible parts narrative can be used to

explore and their relative value in terms of traditional learning strategies 9 where the strategy is considered a ‘whole’:

Macrostructure Fragment or Microstructure

Whole (Trajectory) Narrative Parts Value in terms of Research

Auditory Life Story/Biography/Music C, SC, Eth, Pol, P, S

Visual/Written Art/Photographs/Letters/Documents C, SC, Eth, Pol, P, S

Kinaesthetic Practice/Employment C, SC, Eth, P, S

C – Culture SC – Sub-culture Eth – Ethical

Pol – Political P – Psychological S – Sociological

Figure 1.1 Narrative Structures in Educational Strategies; Parts and Wholes.

Although such learning strategies are usually amalgamated this figure represents how narrative relates to their

postulated features, elements and dimensions, and their greater relationship to the educational research in value

terms 10 . For purposes of clarity the reference to ‘culture’ includes for example racial, gender and class, ethical includes

virtue and contract ethics, the psychological includes the cognitive process and the sociological an amalgamation

of other socially constructed hierarchical structures such as economics and power. Narrative fragments when

hermeneutically explored as microstructures can reveal the value and interactional 11 benefits of narrative in

educational research on two levels; the social and existential. The relationship between narrative and hermeneutics

in relation to the three traditional philosophical research paradigms (critical theory, subjectivist and objectivist) can

thus be logically mapped as follows, with benefits for educational research coming from the form of narrative in such a

relationship as being both recollective and interpretative (Freeman 1993):

6 Bar-Efrat explores narrative in biblical theology as narrative art (Bar-Efrat 1989).

7 Most qualitative research conforms to a set of procedures and although several typologies exist (cf. Cortazzi 2001; Mishler 1995) narrative

is far more fluid (Riessman 1993). Riessman (1993: 54) heuristically identifies four contemporary approaches to narrative study; thematic,

structural, dialogic and visual analysis, within each of these is an intrinsic link to the stages of the narrative research process identified by

her in her earlier work; telling, transcribing and analysing.

8 Schostak (2002) discusses this in relation to qualitative data, the same reasoning is applied here in relation to narratives.

9 Here three main strategies are used; auditory (sound), visual (images) and kinaesthetic (practical).

10 Here the relationship is an explorative one i.e. what narrative as a strategy of inquiry can reveal.

11 The term interaction refers to the interaction between the whole and part, and possibly even the interaction between the ‘self’ as an

individual and the ‘self’ as socially reconstructed.

36 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

N – Narrative in auditory, visual and kinaesthetic form

A – Anglo-Saxon Approach

NCE – Nomothetic Contract Ethics

Qual – Qualitative Data

Figure 1.2 Paradigmatic Hermeneutics Spiral 12

C – Continental Approach

IVE – Interpretative Virtue Ethics

Quan – Quantitative Data

Thus a more detailed and sophisticated analysis is facilitated through critical theoretical or simple plan generation

that acts to address fundamental problems and concepts in hermeneutics (Freeman 1993). Two philosophies that

contribute to general broader understanding are mapped here, the move from an Anglo-Saxon to an ontological or

epistemological continental philosophy is one of exploration as Schostak (2002) remarks from ‘what happens’ to ‘why

does it happen’? As a result the horizontal line filters inwards mapping a closer philosophical relationship between

narrative and value in terms of education research.

It is suggested that a continental hermeneutic philosophy informed narrative acts to raise the issue of causality i.e.

the search for the connection between the narrative and its generating conditions for example ‘…the impact of ideas

on practice.’ In addition, the exploration of why narrative exists in a particular form is possible on an existential level

thereby questioning the concept and associated practices on a more global, historical, philosophical and political level.

Its value to educational research becomes apparent through its challenge of personal narrative with a contemporary

form of virtue ethics by reason of its concentration on a reconstructed-self or ‘humanity’. Thus, qualitative narrative

studies are more beneficial to education research than most quantitative studies when considered within this

paradigm on the basis of two points; first, the concentration of quantitative research studies on method detracts from

consideration of the immeasurable existential i.e. personal realities that can reveal sub-cultures. Second, the greater

scope for exploration, from this it can be deduced that narrative is the broadest contemporary form in which the

self can be scientifically represented. Hence, if figure 1.2 is further mapped against ‘Hernadi’s Triad’ 13 (Hernadi 1987)

what is revealed is a deeper connection between narrative in its broadest sense and the three philosophical research

paradigms mentioned earlier:

12 This figure builds on Schostak’s hermeneutic spiral; see Schostak 2002 for more details.

13 The formulation by Paul Hernadi in the late 1980s, known as Hernadi’s Triad, was an attempt to abolish the traditional divides between

interpretation and explanation within the hermeneutic tradition.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


N – Narrative Study

A – Anglo-Saxon Approach

C – Continental Approach

NCE – Nomothetic Contract Ethics

IVE – Interpretative Virtue Ethics

Exploration – standing in for existential enactment, construction

Explanation – standing in for inferential detection, deconstruction

Explication – standing in for reproductive translation, reconstruction

Figure 1.3 Paradigmatic Hermeneutics Spiral and Hernadi’s Hermeneutic Triad 14

What begins to emerge is the level of exploration facilitated by narrative that contributes to education research. Where

such deep exploration is facilitated the issue of truth, validity, logical robustness and even reliability is also raised. In

relation to ‘truthfulness’ in narrative accounts Riessman (2002) validly points out ‘…there is no canonical to validation

to interpretative work, no recipes [and] no formulas’, this undoubtedly affects narrative as a truthful account. Two

further factors affect the truthful condition of a narrative and if, as it is my argument that, narrative is ontologically rich

then discourse requires a response to it’s criticisms – there are obvious methodological validity issues however the

rest of this paper centres on; the implication of the narrators biography and the mechanisms that seek to lend greater

validity to this research method.

The narrator’s implicated biography

Riessman (1993: vii) in her germinal work admits that her personal narrative is implicated when she conducts narrative

research because she has ‘…a point of view, and a network of relationships that influences the ideas presented’. Thus

the presentation of any narrative will be influenced by factors 15 including the location of narrator and narrated. Such

multi-disciplinary identities may mean that further weight is lent to undermining the validity of such research. In

essence a narrative can act as a historical record or a mirror of an outside world, Schostak (2003) argues that the

way in which ‘…an individual perceives the world is never a simple matter of just opening the eyes and looking – the

data of the senses are always pre-organised culturally, psychologically’. Therefore the biography of the researcher

is also always implicated in that it is a ‘…ready to wear coat created before an individuals birth and tailored by their

parents [society and other factors] to fit whatever projects they may in some shared family and social fantasy hold’

(Schostak 2002). Further validity issues are indentified by Bruner who argues that verification in narrative comes into

question also in terms of omissions; it is not adequate that the narrative covers ‘the events’ of a life – omissions are also

important and can often radically alter a narrative (Bruner 1987). Hence, the ‘choices’ made by the narrator, influenced

to varying degrees by their personal biography, also require consideration.

Albeit that the biography of the narrator is implicated the production process can be rather selfishly cathartic, thus

the delimitation of the rich extent of the narrative, from an epistemological and ontological perspective, occurs where

the construction of the narrator affects the narrative in content and form then the very same issue of the construction

of the narrated does the same especially in relation to a visual narrative (Clandinin & Connolley 2000). Figure 1.4

summarises the position of the narrative research process:

14 Hernadi 1987 in Czarniawska (2004: 61).

15 Other factors include past personal experiences of law, art, literature, the media, clinical work, socio-economics, psychology, theory,

teaching, race, disability, gender, politics and sexuality.

38 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

Narrator – the researcher

Narrated – the research participant or subject

Stage 1 – raw narrative

Stage 2 – narrative affected by the biography of the story teller and factors i.e. language/truth

Stage 3 – narrative affected by the biography of the narrator

Stage 4 – narrative affected by methodological factors

Stage 5 – narrative as perceived by others

a/c – narrator’s experiences during research process

b/d – narrated’s experiences generally

e – narrator’s considerations post-collection and pre-release

z – narrator’s experiences outside the process

Figure 1.4 Narrative Research Process

This figure, although not exhaustative, shows how a singular personal narrative is affected from its raw state i.e. more

reliable, through to what I term a perceived narrative, perhaps such a narrative would be better classified as social


Validity in a narrative world

Validity in research relates to, amongst other things, confidence, reliability and perhaps fact and truth – this will be

somewhat dictated by the ‘purpose’ of the research itself for example a reliable account may be regarded as truthful

and therefore appropriate for phenomenological studies but not for action research. What follows is a discussion

of objectivity, crystallisation and critical constellation in terms of validity. What, if anything, can objectivity lend to

the validity of narrative research? The purpose of objectivity is to promote confidence to research; without it would

a reader have a reason to accept what is researched? Where such authoritarian belief is lacking, objectivity serves to

harness the best possible level of validity and reliability that is ascertainable. The problem here concerns the existence

of one without the other – surely this, although perfectly plausible, undermines the exact confidence that should

have been lent to it. Achieving objectivity through narrative in education research could lead to the objectification of

the subject matter for purposes of over-measurement which could in turn stifle the richness of the data itself. In fact

as Riessman, Roberts and Denzin all suggest narrative research, like other forms of research, eschews the search for

an absolute truth. Thus, objectivity adds little validity to narrative research in education because by its very nature

the focus of narrative is to facilitate the provision of a variety of perspectives or viewpoints; a greater ontological or

‘binocular’ understanding of the subject matter concerned.

Kirk and Miller (1986) identify three types of validity of relevance to this discussion; apparent, instrumental and

theoretical or construct validity. Apparent validity concerns the creation of ‘obviously’ valid data for example the use

of an instrument closely linked to phenomena – such validity is often illusory (Kirk and Miller 1986: 22). In contrast,

instrumental validity occurs where the results of one instrument exactly match those generated by another already

accepted valid instrument. Finally, theoretical validity is generated where the paradigmatic use of theory corresponds

to themes obtained from data. It is the latter of these that would seem the most appropriate method of attaining

validity in narrative research – mainly because it is unconstrained. The problem here lies with the difficulty in testing

the hypothesis against alternatives and thus guarding against unforeseeable sources of invalidity. Further, such

validity cannot prevent the making of errors for example belief in the truth of a false principle, rejection of something

that is true or posing an incorrect question. Maybe then, as Webb et al (1966: 174), state ‘the most fertile validity comes

from a combined series of different measures… each pointing to a single hypothesis [which when tested by a range of

methods and survives] contains a degree of validity unattainable by one tested within [a] more constricted framework

of a single method’.

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010



Laurel Richardson, in a truly affirmative-postmodernist style, proposes crystalline as a form of validity in which

reliability and truth are problematized; Denzin and Lincoln (2005) argue this as being purposefully transgressive. This

has a three-fold effect first; it changes the relationship between the researcher and research, second researcher and

participant, and third it allows the researcher to uncover the ‘…hidden assumptions and life-denying repressions of

sociology’ (Richardson, 1997: 167). The basis of this lies partly in the belief that theories are inherently flawed because

they convey an erroneous representation of the external world. An unfortunate result of this is the subjugation of time

to a state of random or disjointedness when juxtaposed alongside incongruous plot development.

Richardson (2003) articulates crystallisation in qualitative research as allowing researchers to break free from

traditional and more generic constraints, thus she states: ‘…the scholar draws freely on his or her productions from

literary, artistic, and scientific genres, often breaking the boundaries of each of those as well. In these productions,

the scholar might have different ’takes’ on the same topic, which I think of as a postmodernist deconstruction of

triangulation…in postmodernist mixed-genre texts, we do not triangulate, we crystallise…I propose that the central

image for ‘validity’ for postmodern texts is not the triangle—a rigid, fixed, two-dimensional object. Rather, the central

imaginary is the crystal, which combines symmetry and substance with an infinite variety of shapes, substances,

transmutations, multi-dimensionalities, and angles of approach…crystallisation provides us with a deepened,

complex, thoroughly partial, understanding of the topic. Paradoxically, we know more and doubt what we know.

Ingeniously, we know there is always more to know.’ (Richardson 2000: 934).

Patti Lather (1993) argues in favour of ‘… [rupturing] validity as a regime of truth, to displace its historical inscription…

via discussion, circulation and proliferation of counter-practices of authority that take the crisis of representation

into account’ (Lather 1991: 647). Thus, what Lather seeks is an incitement to discourse. Crystallisation essentially fits

the social constructionist (Gergen, 1999; Holstein & Gubrium, 2008) and critical paradigms such as queer theory or

feminism (Ellingson 2008: 4). Hence, researchers tend to utilize a wider range of methods, practices, and perspectives

thus adapting crystallisation to their specific needs and goals. Crystallisation does not compliment positivism and

thus those researchers seeking objective ahistorical, unbiased or universal truth do not find it of use (Ellingson 2009:

4). It is generally accepted that it is almost impossible to remove subjective influences from the research process

(Atkinson 2006). If, as propounded by Ellingson, that crystallisation is in fact the ‘[combination of ] methods and

genres from across regions of the [qualitative research] continuum’ and that genres are ‘…groups of discourses which

share substantive, stylistic, and situational characteristics [or] a group of acts unified by a constellation of forms that

recurs in each of its members [forms which] appear in [isolation] in other discourses… what is distinctive about the

acts in a genre is the recurrence of the forms together in constellation’ (Campbell and Jamieson 1995: 403).

Crystallisation has the added benefit of allowing the richness of narrative data to be enhanced by tendering ‘…deep,

thickly described [and] complexly rendered interpretations of meanings [in relation to] a phenomenon’ (Ellingson

2009: 10). Further, it allows the combination of data sources from a variety of perspectives for example constructivist,

post-positivist and interpretative producing and representing knowledge from across the continuum that forms

the qualitative research method thus allowing the researcher to reflexively consider their own role in the research

process 16 . Additional richness is provided by the combination of writing styles perhaps even a mixture of Riessman’s

poetic, thematic and storytelling. In short, like narrative inquiry crystallisation eschews positivist claims to singular

truths and embraces ‘…knowledge as situated, partial, constructed, multiple, embodied, and enmeshed in power

relations’ (Ellingson 2009: 10), thereby surrendering definitive claims to truth and acknowledging the non-neutrality,

biasness and incompleteness of knowledge itself (Ellingson, 2009: 13). Hence, crystallisation can further enhance

narrative data improving dialogue thus effecting positive change in presenting representations that are less naïve

and thus harness more confidence. Crystallisation has the potential to further deepen the understanding of narrative

research without giving up systematic research methods and compromising validity through the promotion of

reflexive validity.

Crystallisation is not a panacea and has its fair share of limitations. First, to achieve the benefits of crystallisation

the researcher must have skills and expertise in conducting multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional research.

Second, as Lather (1993) concludes the breadth of subject matter often suffers to the expense of depth by reason of

specificity. I would argue that crystallisation, in its affirmative-postmodern form borders dangerously on rendering time

unimportant, the effect of which can be to make less reliable the individual and collective narrative where the story of

a life in time becomes a pure work of fiction denying the narrative its ontological purpose. Hence, it is arguable that

crystallisation, with its multiple genres and truths, marginalizes the life in narrative form because the plot becomes

the major focus of the subject matter rather than the life itself. Consequently, validity, in terms of rationality, is

brought into issue through a deliberate act of conflict. Further, crystallisation is not widely accepted as a viable or

necessarily ‘valid’ methodological framework and is often seen as lacking in validity and rigor – the exact issue that

narrative research often faces. It seems that crystallisation simply accepts that the researcher’s self is implicated that

interpretation is affected and that the truth of the account may be embellished or compromised – and thus avoids

the issue itself by simply accepting that, in legal terms, the probative value of such research outweighs the prejudicial

16 Here the research process includes design, data collection and analysis including interpretation, and representation.

40 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

effect of the implicated biography on it. Crystallisation in narrative form has the effect of marginalising a narrative life

and therefore it is not appropriate to rupture validity at the expense of ontological reliability, validity or even truth.

An alternative is offered in the form of Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin’s critical constellation [a concept relating

to literature], which when applied to narrative research can achieve the breadth of crystallisation whilst revealing the

regime (as per Lather above) so as to provide all important context, whether that is socio-political or otherwise, to

perspective. In short, it is my argument that, amongst other things, it is perspective that provides a degree of validity to

a narrative – so long as it is informed.

Critical constellations

Walter Benjamin in his critical constellations argues that uprooting something from its conventional context, and

carefully crafting, repositioning and illuminating it afresh so that it becomes a fragment of a different idea like a

mosaic provides ‘insight into the interplay between individual [narrative fragment] and the idea [the essence or story]

of which it is one instance’ (Gilloch 2002: 69 – 70, see figure 1.1 above). Here the ‘…phenomena are not incorporated

in ideas … they are not contained in them … ideas are, rather their objective, virtual arrangement, their objective

interpretation (The Origin of German Tragic Drama (OGTD from here): 34) like each individual tessera of the mosaic,

the [narrative fragment] is a constitutive fragment of the idea, and simultaneously derives its significance from its

location within it … the idea is constituted in the particular formation or pattern adopted by a set of fragments, and

manifests itself only within them … phenomena (individual works of art) contain as their truth content the idea they

compose … composition and containment, not distillation and abstraction, are the key to the relationship between

ideas and [individual narrative fragments] … this in turn points to Benjamin’s key figures in his understanding of the

character and significance of the idea: the constellation’ (Gilloch 2002: 70).

Benjamin writes ‘… ideas are objects as constellations are to stars (OGTD, p.34) … however the notion of the idea

as a constellation is used by Benjamin not only to articulate the importance of the patterning of phenomena by

concept, but also to point to the characteristics of this process … in a constellation of stars, the most remote objects

are conjoined to form a unique, legible figure, which cannot be easily undone … similarly, in the idea, a sudden yet

enduring connection between extreme phenomena is brought into being … Pensky describes this process well: “…

the constellation emerges – discloses itself – only insofar as the concept divests the particulars of their status as

merely particular, refers them to their hidden arrangement, but also preserves their material existence … at that

point a meaningful image jumps forward from the previously disparate elements, which from that point onward can

never be seen as merely disparate again … in this way the phenomena is rescued from their status as phenomenal or

fragmentary, without simultaneously sacrificing the phenomena in the name of an abstract concept (Pensky 1993:

70)’’ … the constellation involves a fleeting but irrevocable shift in the perception of phenomena which preserves both

their individual integrity and their mutuality … hence for Benjamin “ideas are timeless constellations, and by virtue

of the elements being seen as points in such constellations, phenomena are subdivided and redeemed’’ (OGTD, p.34)

the individual work is not dissolved in the realm of ideas, but, subject to immolation, remains ablaze as a point of

illumination within the constellation … moreover, this constellation is only one of a manifold of other constellations’

(Gilloch 2002: 71).

Furthermore, Benjamin states that ‘ …every idea is a sun and is related to other ideas just as suns are related to

each other … the harmonious relationships between such essences is what constitutes truth (OGTD, p.37) … the

individual artwork is a tiny point of light, one of many forming the idea (the tragic, the comic, the sorrowful), which

in turn is just one element of the wider realm of ideas (the idea of art), which is itself part of the universal, divine

creation: truth … this movement from individual instance to the totality is matched by a corresponding tendency

in the opposite direction … the idea is not just a constellation it is also a monad … derived from Leibniz, the notion

of the monad is based upon pantheistic conception of nature … according to this view, every fragment of creation,

however insignificant, contains and indicates its divine origin, imitates god … each element possesses, in miniature

yet intelligible form, the totality of which it is a part … Benjamin transposes this conceit on the realm of ideas: ‘’the

idea is a monad … the being that enters into it, with its past and subsequent history, brings – concealed in its own form

– an indistinct abbreviation of the rest of the world of ideas, just as, according to Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics

(1686), every single monad contains in an indistinct way, all the others (OGTD, p.47)’ (Gilloch 2002: 71). Further,

as a monad [for me this is explicable in the following terms; single metaphysical entity from which properties, both

material and relative, derive] every idea intimates the realm of ideas of which it forms a part, and in this way too, every

phenomena contain the ideas they represent. Every work of art is a microcosm of the greater realm of ideas’ (Gilloch

2002: 72).

Benjamin writes ‘the idea is a monad – this means briefly, every idea contains the image of the world … the purpose of

the representation of ideas is nothing less than an abbreviated outline of the image of the world (OGTD, p.48)’ (Gilloch

2002: 72). Thus, for Benjamin the image of the world is thereby discerned whilst retaining the origin (the moment

at which the constellation of phenomena comes into being, when it is suddenly recognized as a constellation, when

the idea is perceived by the critic of the idea, its cultural sensibility, theological understanding, historical condition

and dynamic context. The fundamental importance of this is apparent, because ‘individual works that compose the

idea always in flux, always becoming something other than what they were, through the corrosive, ruinous action of

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


criticism’ hence their meaning is not fixed by the author but ‘continuously reconstituted in their afterlife … origin

as the recognition of the meaning of, and truth within, the phenomenon is not so much an occurrence prior to the

afterlife … as, paradoxically, its final moment of mortification … thus origin [in this perilous dialectical image] is

a historical moment in which the idea is represented and recognized and the phenomena which compose it are

redeemed’ (Gilloch 2002: 72). Hence, because ‘re-recognition and re-thinking’ allow ‘misunderstandings’ in meaning

truth is revealed [by the process of ‘burning up of the husk as it enters the realm of ideas … a destruction of the work

in which its external form achieves its most brilliant degree of illumination (OGTD, pp 31-2) – here criticism can

illuminate the truth through a self-immolating process. Benjamin argues that the origin of the idea can only be found

via a ‘critical redemption of its truth, in actuality’ (Gilloch 2002: 73) in short recognizing the narrative as an idea. The

notion of the constellation captures both the potential deceptiveness of any scheme – points, which seem nearest to

one another may prove to be those furthest apart – and their contingency. Each constellation must be recognized as

only one permutation among an infinite number of possible configurations, conjunctions and correspondences.

Reliability in narratives when considered as critical constellation could be enhanced through an illumination of

the individual fragmentary and collectively formed essence of the narrative itself. The effect of this is would be,

as Benjamin argues, to reveal the origin of the narrative by providing an informed context-perspective. Critical

constellations, relative to ideas, are distinctive from crystallisation as the latter can more easily subconsciously

subjugate or perhaps even consciously marginalise the origin of the narrative fragments that provide important

context to perspective. In contrast, the framework of the critical constellation has the effect of preserving this. Both

crystallisation and constellation rupture the narrative fragments, provide differing perspective, however the context

provided to perspective by the critical constellation provides an image of the world that is far more reliable – being

freer from the dynamics that bring into implication the narrators biography.

Synthesising in the alternative, can such implication act to enrich rather than delimit narratives?

Generally, limitations such as those discussed in this paper are taken to undermine, reduce, make less reliable or

less trustworthy such research and or its findings; it seems so difficult for scholars to accept that such constraints

may act to enrich research. If for example narrative seeks to provide an understanding of a far more intimate reality

then perceptions of ‘why we are the way we are’ that are inherently restrained (see above) provide rich research in

presenting a view of something, someone or a group of individuals from a given perceptive insight. Here richness is

harnessed through perception-representation in accepting something for what it is i.e. what a middle-class white

male researcher acting as champion regards as the problems or hurdles experienced by a working- class black male

labourer who may for many reasons lack a voice, regardless of the framework in which the narrative is represented;

whether that be through crystallisation or critical constellation. The point is that if narratives are accepted as rich data

then why can a perceptive insight (although limited) not be accepted as being just as rich, a strand within the chord?

As Freud argues in Civilizations and its Discontents (1930) ‘ is impossible to resist the impression that people

commonly apply false standards, seeking power, success and wealth...yet in passing such judgement one is in danger of

forgetting the rich variety of the human world’.

Verification and validity procedures rely heavily on realist assumptions and hence are somewhat irrelevant to

narrative which does not seek to validate a historical truth, on the contrary it assumes a point of view, as Chafe (1980)

states ‘...individuals construct very different narratives about the same event’. Thus, facts are rendered a production of

the interpretive process; both require and shape the other (Stivers 1993). Riessman offers four methods of validation;

persuasiveness, correspondence, coherence and pragmatic use (Riessman 1993), Lieblich et al offer width, coherence,

insightfulness and parsimony (Lieblich 1998); much of these link together for example Riessman’s persuasiveness

and Lieblich’s width are much the same barring that Riessman adds plausibility and style. Albeit the validity of the

truth of narrative is implicated the achievement of that is not its aim, it is trustworthiness through the assumption

of a binocular objective-subjective reality, rather than a purely objective reality, that can mean that narrative has a

truly peculiar and rich value – accepting this position may result in the scientific rigorousness and validity of narrative

research not being called into question that often.


In conclusion, narrative knows little boundary and thus facilitates an opportunity through which human experience

can be explored, it has as Riessman states ‘…penetrated all human sciences, and practising professions’ (Riessman

2002). In this paper I have argued that there is much to be learned in education research where validity is at issue

by reason of the implication of the narrator’s biography even though narrative researchers tend to accept that a

risk of interior-self reification exists as narrative purports to offer authenticity in the representation of subjective

truth idealising individual agency (Riessman 2002; Atkinson and Silverman 1997; Bury 2002) and that an overpersonalisation

of the narrative can result in the production of a preconceived narrative i.e. a manifestation through

imagination and strategic influence of ones own beliefs rather than a personal or social truth.

Perhaps validity in narrative analysis simply involves a deeper appreciation of meticulousness in respect of the ‘…

[subtle]: nuances of speech, the organisation of a response, relations between researcher and subject, social and

historical contexts [and] culture’ (Riessman 2002). It seems to me that narratives are ‘valid’ precisely because they are

42 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

interpretations of the past rather than a factual account of ‘what was’. This point is made well by Riessman who states

that ‘…the ‘truths’ of narrative accounts are not in their faithful representations of a past world, but in the shifting

connections they forge amongst [the] past, present and future’ (Riessman 2002) allowing narrators to re-imagine lives

and forge identities.


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Author biography

The author is a Barrister, currently working as Field Leader of Law and Criminology Undergraduate Programmes, a

Senior Lecturer in Law and Programme Leader of Qualifying Law Degrees at the Thames Valley University (London).

He is the author of a number of books on the Law of Evidence and Employment Law, and is currently registered on

the Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) with the School of Education at the University of Southampton, under the

supervision of Dr Gill Clarke MBE.


© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


Books published

The works listed on this page are monographs, based in whole or in part on doctoral theses completed at the

University of Southampton.

The editors would be delighted to receive notices of publication of doctoral theses for the next issue of the

Hummingbird. Reviews of these and other similar works are also welcomed.

Brooks, R. (2005) Friendship and educational choice: Peer influence and planning for the future Basingstoke: Palgrave

Macmillan, 240 pages. ISBN 978-1-4039-3369-0

De Toledo Vieria, M. (2009) Analysis of longitudinal survey data: Allowing for the complex survey design in covariance

structure models, VDM Verlag, 256 pages ISBN 3639202953

Gurses, O., Reinsuring clauses, (London: Informa, 2010) (forthcoming)

Knight, D.J. 2008. King Lucius of Britain. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing / The History Press Ltd ISBN 978

0 7524 4572 4

Nebbia, P., Unfair contract terms in European law: A study in comparative and EC law (Oxford and Portland: Hart, 2007),

248 pages ISBN: 978-1841135946

Noussia, K., The Principle of indemnity in marine insurance contracts: A comparative approach (Berlin: Springer, 2007), 297

pages ISBN: 978-3540490739

Paolini, A., and D. Nambisan, Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance (London: Informa Law, 2008), 214 pages ISBN:

978-1843116301 (awarded the 2009 BILA Book Prize by the British Insurance Law Association)

Saunders, C. (2012) Environmental networks and social movement theory Bloomsbury Academic: London (forthcoming)

46 © Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010

The future of Hummingbird

Hummingbird was inaugurated in 2009 by the LASS Faculty Graduate School as a student-led publication celebrating

the wealth of doctoral research within the Faculty. The 2009-10 Editorial Board (including the Editors-in-Chief ), the

reviewers and the contributors were all PGR students from LASS Schools. The original aims of the Journal were:-


To publicise and promote doctoral research within the Faculty of LASS


To appeal to a broad readership across the University and beyond


To be inclusive across all LASS disciplines


To give a flavour of the research in the LASS Schools, without necessarily attempting to be representative


To give contributors the opportunity to develop their skills in communicating their research to a wider audience


To give PGR students training and experience in reviewing academic papers


To give the Editorial Board training and experience in academic editorship and managing the review process

Following the organizational restructuring of the University of Southampton, the disciplinary scope of Hummingbird

will change. However the Journal will definitely continue to be published, and building on the success of the first issue,

the LASS Faculty Graduate School is very keen to ensure that the Journal fulfils the above aims in a wider context

across the whole University.

If you are a University of Southampton PGR student and are interested either in being part of the academic Editorial

Board, or in submitting a paper for publication, or would simply like more information, you are invited to contact

either Professor Sally Brailsford ( or Dr Beth Harland (

Original cover art design by

Walter van Rijn, School of Art

© Hummingbird, University of Southampton's Doctoral Research Journal. Issue 1 April 2010


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