Sunday 29 September 2013

International Coffee Day, the Secretary Coffee Protest & a Collection of Husband Pleasing Advertisements

29 September is International Coffee Day. On this day, coffee is celebrated and - among other things - awareness for fair trade coffee is promoted. Coffee also seems to have some potential to raise gender role awareness ...
In 1977, the 35-year-old legal secretary Iris Rivera refused to make coffee in the Illinois State Appellate Defenders office for her bosses every day as a) making coffee was not listed as one of her job duties, b) this order carried the role of homemaker too far and c) she did not drink coffee herself. She refused and was dismissed from her job. Her dismissal launched a secretary coffee protest (via and via).

"You're always ready in a Westbury" (via)

"If your husband ever finds out you're not store-testing for fresher coffee ... if he discovers you're still taking chances on getting flat, stale coffee ... wee be unto you!", Chase & Sanborn Coffee (1952). (via)

"Husband pleasing coffee ... at wife pleasing prices" (via)

"Husband pleasing coffee" (via)

"Treat him instantly to the rich, rich coffee with the - Husband Pleasin' Heartiness. If your husband's fussy about his coffee, it's time to change to Edwards Instant." (via)

"Young married's dream" (via)

"Don't blame the coffee pot! When that man across the breakfast table says the coffee is terrible - don't pout and blame the coffee pot!" (via)

"Sometimes husbands must be mothered. Strictly between ourselves, Alice, sometimes the only way to handle these obstinate men is to treat them as you do a child - simply give them what's good for them. " (via)

"This new coffee flavor makes early morning angels" (via)

1950 Maxwell House Coffee Ad "This famous coffee has just what it takes to make a hit with the man of the house these winter days." (via)

"And Maxwell Coffee is truly good coffee - the kind men like." (via)

"Some husbands actually break out in a jig when they taste that grand Borden flavor, folks tell us." (via)

"Now! Even a man can make perfect coffee in just five seconds!" (via)

"Darling - To make good coffee, use enough. A heaping tablespoon for each cup. Betty" (via)

"Your husband's TV.jee-bees. Every night after dinner it looks like the American male married the T.V. set. (...) Good luck, ladies." (via)

"Signora, affinchè suo marito trascorra senza scosse ..." (via)

Prefer tea? "I was about to divorce you Clementine, because you couldn't make decent tea. But this wonderful brew makes me love you all over again!" "Oh, lucky day I changed to Lipton Tea ... it has given me back my husband!" (via)

In the 21st century, coffee advertisements still cause controversy. In 2006, for instance, the Swedish Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) judged a Lavazza coffee advertisement showing a woman lying in bed drinking coffee with an unbuttoned shirt to be discriminatory "because the woman was used as an eye catcher and had nothing to do with the advertised product" and because Lavazza had not lived up to the principle that "advertising should be formed with due regard for social responsibility". (via)

International coffee day link pack (husband pleasing coffee commercials on YouTube)
- How can such a pretty wife make such bad coffee watch
- Your coffee tastes terrible watch
- Mountain grown for richer flavor watch
- Bad taste watch
- Honey, you're coffee is not drinkable watch
- I've got to do something about my coffee watch
- A vacation away from your coffee watch
- Don't serve your awful coffee with my steaks watch
- Take it from me girls, the way to a man's heart is through coffee (Lauren Bacall) watch
- I'm married a year and I still can't make good coffee watch
- He is right. I don't make good coffee watch

Thursday 26 September 2013

The Italian Womaniser

Media (particularly non-Italian media) often presented Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) as a "Latin Lover", a label Mastroianni found highly unpleasant. He pointed out that he had played an impotent man, a pregnant man, a homosexual man ... and nevertheless journalists continued to describe him as a Latin Lover. Mastroianni did not get rid of this label although most of his roles on screen did not conform to this image. The very reason why has probably little to do with Mastroianni himself and more to do with the international image of Italian masculinity - a product of popular culture and the imagined embodiment of the rather uncivilised Latino whose exotic passion contrasts with the audience's more civilised society (Reich, 2004).

Stereotypes are pictures in our head that can simplify, distort, and do injury to meaning. They are also useful devices for visual communicators as they are easily understood (Dente Ross & Lester, 2011). And a fascinating effect of stereotypes is that once we have the stereotypical background knowledge we see them even when they are not portrayed.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
- Dente Ross, S. & Lester, P. M. (2011) Images that injure: Pictorial stereotypes in the media. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO
- Reich, J. (2004) Beyond the Latin Lover: Marcello Mastroianni, Masculinity, and Italian Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
- photograph via

Monday 23 September 2013

The Metaphor of Face

Face is the public image a person presents or wants to present. Facework is the process of maintaining or gaining face and supporting or challenging another person's face (Amarasinghe, 2011). In other words, we can lose, save, give or get face. When we are in face, we typically respond with feelings of confidence and assurance. And when we are out of face, we are likely to feel ashamed and inferior (Goffman, 1967).

The concept of face is of Chinese origin and traced to Confucian ideology. In Chinese culture it is conceptualised as relational, affective and emotional. Face is based on feelings and an appeal to promote harmonious human relationship which is considered as a major component of a collectivist culture. In contrast to individualist cultures, collectivist cultures stress the importance of cohesion and the priority to group goals over individual goals - hence the importance of harmony. The concept of face can only be understood from the point of reciprocity and interdependence. Face is essential to healthy social interactions and places emphasis on relationships instead of impression management (Jia, 1997).

Three types of facework are identified, i.e. dominating (e.g. defending and aggressive behaviours in order to maintain or gain face), avoiding (e.g. giving in) and integrating (e.g. apologising, compromising, problem solving). While dominating strategies are rather self-face oriented, avoiding and integrating strategies allow to save mutual face.

Face and facework are believed to be universal with culture-bound values and strategies. It is hypothesised that people in individualistic cultures might be more concerned about self-face needs than people in collectivistic cultures where harmony plays a central role and that they therefore apply more defending and aggressive strategies to save their own face (Chang, 2011).

- Amarasinghe, A. D. (2011) A comparative analysis of facework strategies of Australians and Sri Lankans working in Australia. Queensland: Master Thesis
- Chang, Y. (2011) You Think I am Stupid? Face Needs in Intercultural Conflicts. Journal of Intercultural Communication (25)
- Goffman, E. (1967) Interaction Ritual. New York: Doubleday
- Jia, W. (1997) Facework as a Chinese Conflict-Preventive Mechanism - A Cultural/Discourse Analysis. Intercultural Communication Studies, 8(1)

For a critique of the dichotomous classification individualism vs. collectivism see e.g. Voronov, M. & Singer, J. A. (2002) The Myth of Individualism-Collectivism: A Critical Review. The Journal of Social Psychology, 142(4), 461-480

Photographs by Life magazine photographer Ralph Crane via and via and via and via and via

Friday 20 September 2013

Touching Strangers

Proxemics is about the organisation of space, the distance between people in daily transactions, in houses, buildings and towns (Hall, 1963). Proxemic patterns can be observed in the intimate zone (only emotionally close people are allowed to enter), the personal zone (for friends and family), the social zone (e.g. acquaintances at a social event), and the public zone (more formal interaction, e.g. at a conference). The patterns refer to how close we get to each other.
There are a great many studies on cross-cultural differences in proxemics often leading to the two categories of contact cultures - where people stand closer together - and and non-contact cultures - where people stand further apart. Some studies support this classification, others reject it for its reduction (Parker & Leo, 2011). On the basis of reduction and generalisation, "people in the south" are often described as contact cultures and "people in the north" as non-contact cultures. Apart from cultural effects, gender effects are also discussed in promexics.

Mazur (1977) conducted a study between strangers seated on public benches in parks in Seville, San Francisco and Tangier. After taking photos, he measured the distances between the individuals. In all three cities, people only sat together on a bench when all the other benches were already occupied. In addition, people preferred to sit at the extreme ends of the benches no matter if they were in Spain, the USA or Morocco (Parker & Leo, 2011).

"Touching Strangers": In 2007, the photographer Richard Renaldi started the series of photographs for which he asked (and still asks) complete strangers to touch each other, to physically interact while they pose for his portraits (photos via and via).

Last picture: Rinaldi approached the Yeshiva student Shalom Lasker and told him about the project. When he agreed to take part, the photographer gathered Jeff Desire who worked in the fish market across the street, directed the pose and the photograph was done (information and photo via).

Hall, E. T. (1963) A System for the Notation of Proxemic Behavior. American Anthropoligst, New Series, 65(5), Selected Papers in Method Technique, 1003-1026
Parker, L. & Leo, T. (2011) Proxemic Distance and Gender amongst Australians. Griffith Working Papers in Pragmatics and Intercultural Communication, 4(1/2), 19-25

Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Ideal Man

The vast majority of body image research focuses on females, there is comparatively little research on the effects of media exposure on males' body image. For both men and women, there seem to be similar trends with differing approaches. A comparison of the most popular magazines, for instance, reveals that print media encourages women to control their weight through dieting and men through exercise (Agliata & Tentleff-Dunn, 2004). In the last years, the ideal man marketed to men (including a rather young target group) became more muscular: Toy action figures became more muscular than they were 25 years ago resulting in decreased body esteem in young males (Hobza et al., 2007).
In a study, males were exposed to ideal vs. neutral male images on TV. Results indicated that participants who were exposed to ideal image advertisements became significantly more depressed and dissatisfied than those exposed to neutral advertisements. The rate of body image dissatisfaction among males may be increasing (Agliata & Tentleff-Dunn, 2004).

Agliata, D. & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2004) The Impact of Media Exposure on Males' Body Image. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 7-22
Hobza, C. L., Walker, K. E., Yakushko, O. & Peugh, J. L. (2007) What About Men? Social Comparison and the Effects of Media Images on Body and Self-Esteem. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 8(3), 161-172

Photo (detail) of Bill Gold via (for the whole picture see)

Monday 16 September 2013

The Hitchhiking Astronaut & Stages of Culture Shock

"You always return from a journey as a different man to the one who set off." 
Graham Greene

The anthropologist Kalervo Oberg (1901-1973) describes culture shock as the anxiety that results from losing our familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse and therefore losing orientation in daily life when we enter a "strange" culture.

He calls the first stage abroad the honeymoon stage during which people are fascinated by the new. When individuals have to cope with real conditions of life abroad (e.g. house, transportation or language trouble), the second stage (i.e. crisis) follows in which fascination turns into a hostile and aggressive attitude towards the host country. According to Oberg, individuals blame the people from the host country for their difficulties, start disliking, criticising and stereotyping them and take refuge in the colony of their country. If people manage to overcome this crisis, they stay, if not, they leave before reaching the next stage, which is recovery. In this stage, the visitor begins to open the way into the new cultural environment, takes a superior attitude to the people of the host country (instead of criticising makes jokes about them). In the fourth stage the adjustment is complete, the individual accepts the customs of the country as just another way of living and starts enjoying them (Oberg, 2006/1960).

The last stage also implies that when you return home you may take things back with you, things that shaped you. Parts of the once "strange" culture become part of you. Since you have become "different from the one who set off" a reverse culture shock (re-entry shock or own culture shock) may take place when you return home.

Oberg, K. (2006) Culture Shock: Adjustment to New Cultural Environments. curare 29(2+3), 142-146 (reprint from 1960, Practical Anthropology, 7, 177-182), photo via

Thursday 12 September 2013

Priming Age Stereotype & Walking Slowly

In 1890, James stated that the mere act of thinking about a behaviour increased the tendency to engage in that behaviour. Lashley coined the term priming in the 1950s describing the preparatory function of thought. Priming is the activation of knowledge structures such as stereotypes. Once activated, they tend to influence our behaviour and interpretation of behaviour. Attitudes and other affective reactions can be triggered without conscious intention or awareness.

Studying the effect of activation of the elderly stereotype on behaviour, participants were instructed to work on a scrambled-sentence task as part of a language proficiency experiment. There were two groups with two different priming conditions. The neutral priming group worked with a scrambled-sentence task that contained no age-specific words. In the elderly priming group, the scrambled-sentence task contained words relevant to the elderly stereotype. However, all references to slowness – which is stereotypically associated with elderly people – were excluded.

After completing the task, participants left the laboratory room. Using a hidden stopwatch, the amount of time each participant took to walk down the corridor was recorded. Results showed that participants who had been primed with the elderly stereotype walked more slowly (m= 8.28 s) than those who had not been primed with stereotypical stimuli (m= 7.30 s). In other words, when the elderly stereotype was activated, people acted in ways consistent with the activated stereotype (Bargh et al., 1996).

Bargh, J. A., Chen, M. & Burrows, L. (1996) Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype Activation on Action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(2), 230-244

Photo by F. C. Gundlach (1966) via

Monday 9 September 2013

"That Godless Institution in Gower Street"

Founded in 1826, University College London (UCL) describes itself as radically different. And it started rather early. When attendance at an English university still required conformity to the Church of England, University College London decided not to apply religious tests to its students. This secular approach caused a lot of resistance, scepticism and rejection (Götz, 2008).


The educator, historian and supporter of the Broad Church Anglican Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) called UCL the "Godless institution in Gower Street". The Scottish clergyman Edward Irving (1792-1834) referred to it as "the Synagogue of Satan".


From the beginning, one of the main principles of UCL was the prevention of religious discrimination. Today, the university's secular approach is to deliver diversity, equality and tolerance. Its Equalities & Diversity website provides information for UCL managers to enhance tolerance for religious and non-religious staff, on the Religious Equality Policy for students, a Religious Festivals Calendar, and much more. The university also offers a contemplation/quiet room for its staff and students.


University College London decided not to apply religious tests. And with this very act, the "Godless" institution attracted both atheists and - most interestingly - members of other religions.

In fact, most of the international human rights documents that protect religious freedom tend to avoid clear definitions of religion in favour of broader terminology that includes theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs. According to the UK regulations, references to religion or belief include reference to an absence of a particular belief (Vickers, 2006). Accepting only students from one's own religious background means discriminating against those with different belief but also those with non-belief. University College London opened its doors to both.


- Götz, R. (2008) Die Gründung der University College London, in Beck, R. & Schröder; K. (eds.) Handbuch der britischen Kulturgeschichte: Daten, Fakten, Hintergünde von der römischen Eroberung bis heute. Stuttgart: UTB
- Moazedi, M. L. (2012) Religion und "die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern". Ein Gedankenabriss zur Beziehung zwischen Religion und Bildung. In: Prisching, M., Lenz, W. & Hauser, W. (eds.) Diversität als Bildungsfaktor, 51-68. Wien: Verlag Österreich
- Vickers, L. (2006) Religion and Belief Discrimination in Employment - the EU law (via)


More photographs by Arthur Schatz (Life Magazine, 1969) via

Sunday 8 September 2013

International Literacy Day

For more than 40 years, UNESCO has been celebrating the International Literacy Day on 8 September with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy and to globally remind the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning. It is essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, ensuring sustainable development, and achieving gender equality (via).

While illiteracy, the total inability to read and write, has been more or less eradicated in Europe, the phenomenon of "functional illiteracy" is becoming increasingly serious as those affected e.g. have little access to employment and are more likely to be marginalised. Functional illiteracy refers to reading and writing skills that are insufficient to manage daily living.

Europe 2012. Together against functional illiteracy. Facts, information and solutions (via), photo via

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Minority Status and Bullying

Bullying is a major concern and can lead to long-term behavioural, emotional and physical adjustment problems (Hamburger et al., 2011). Being exposed to bullying at work is a significant source of social stress and might lead to psychiatric problems in victims (Einarsen et al., 2002). While, theoretically, every individual can become a victim, some people seem to be more likely to be targeted.


A study carried out among employees of the National Health Service came to the conclusion that the minority ethnic staff had disproportionate experiences of bullying and harassment (Bécares, 2009). Males with gender minority status are more likely to be bullied, too (Wang, 2012). Age also seems to correlate with bullying as e.g. research in Norway shows that particularly older employees feel affected by bullying (Einarsen et al., n.y.). And, people with a disability are at higher risk of being victimised (Sin et al., 2009).


In other words, being a member of a minority group increases the likelihood of being bullied. In case of intersection, i.e. the individual belongs to more than one minority group (e.g. the person is of a different ethnicity than the majority plus queer), the likelihood of being bullied might rise. For instance, if one is already being bullied for being a sexual minority, then the additional membership of an ethnic or a religious minority group increases the odds of being bullied even more. According to a study, as people move to one additional minority group membership, they are 22 times more likely to be bullied because of their sexual orientation, when they move to two additional minority groups, the likelihood increases 37-fold, and in the case of three minority groups it increases 167-fold (Rivera, 2011).


Bécares, L. (2009) Experiences of bullying and racial harassment among minority ethnic staff in the NHS. A Race Equality Foundation Briefing Paper
Einarsen, S., Hoel, H. & Nielsen, M. B. (n.y.) Workplace Bullying (via)
Einarsen, S., Mikkelsen, E. G. & Matthiesen, S. B. (2002) The psychology of bullying at work: Explaining the detrimental effects on victims (via)
Hamburger, M. E, BAsile, K. C. & Vivolo, A. M. (2011) Measuring Bullying Victimization, Perpetration, and Bystander Experiences: A Compendium of Assessment Tools. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Rivera, L. K. (2011) Bullying of sexual minorities: How does multiple minority status affect the likelihood of being victimized? Master Thesis: Kaplan University
Sin, C. H., Hedges, A., Cook, C., Mguni, N. & Comber, N. (2009) Disabled people's experiences of targeted violence and hostility. Manchester: Research Team - Equality and Human Rights Commission
Wang, M.-L. (2012) Gender Differences Are Predictors of Workplace Bullying. Conference on Arts and Humanities 2012 Conference Proceedings
(photos via and via)

Monday 2 September 2013

Prime Time

Television has an entertainment function, but not only. Apart from information and education, for new immigrants it can provide a first window to the new home country and is therefore discussed in the context of integration and participation. Television's power to combine sight and sound makes the medium particularly attractive for those who are not yet fluent in the language. A survey among new Canadians, for instance, showed that many of them regarded television as a language tutor and cultural guide. In the second generation, however, television is seen as a means to retain their cultural heritage and multicultural programming is used when available (Solutions Research Group, 2003).


In Canada, the representation of diversity in media is understood to be crucial for a healthy civil society since Canada's population is multicultural. Media present social values that possibly influence attitudes about culture, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. An analysis of popular Canadian primetime television dramas came to the conclusion that religious stereotypes and traditional gender roles are reinforced, that non-White main characters and characters with differing levels of physical ability are absent and that there is a growing visibility for non-stereotypical portrayals and constructions of queer characters (Media Action Media, 2010).

Media Action Media (2010) Representations of Diversity in Canadian Television Entertainment Programming: Case Studies (via)
Solutions Research Group (2003) Cultural Diversity on Television. Phase IV Research - Focus Group. December 2003 (via)

Photos: astronaut watching TV via and Panasonic/National Flying Saucer also known as The Eyeball orignally TR-005 Orbitel (with the advertising slogan "Attention, Earth People.") via