The Fossil Records and Theories of Evolution

The Fossil Records and Theories of Evolution.

Introduction

In general, the term ‘evolution’ can imply a drastic or gradual change from a very broad perspective. Life on earth, the universe,galaxies, as also the earth in general have evolved through millions of years. In this essay we consider only one aspect of evolution emphasizing on evolution as a biological tool for change among species and consider fossil record as supportive of both evolution theories and also the other theories contrary to evolution. Evolution is the central unifying concept, a theory that successfully connects biology, palaeontology and other branches of science. Evolution is a gradual descent of organisms accompanied by changes that help the organisms to adjust and adapt to the surroundings. ‘Descent with modifications’ as Darwin contended implies changes in organisms in successive generations (Mayr, 1976). These changes are triggered by the derivation of new species and there is a change in the properties of populations of organisms and these properties tend to transcend the lifetime of any single individual. Newers pecies are modified versions of older species.

Although, individual organisms do not biologically evolve,populations evolve when heritable genetic materials are transmitted from one generation to another. Biological evolution can range from very limited changes to drastic transformations on a large scale changing the entire special together and bringing in new forms. Evolution can thus be defined as inheritable changes in populations of species that are spread and transmitted over many generations (Zimmer, 2002). It is also more scientifically defined as changes in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool carried through different generations as understood in the Darwinian version of the theory(Dawkins, 1989). Evolution studies are supported by detecting changes in gene frequency within a population and the fact that the theory of evolution emphasizes on a common ancestor, only indicates that two or more species show successive heritable changes in populations since they are separated from each other as distinct forms (Allen and Briggs, 1989). Most popular definitions of evolution however highlight not the transmission of heritable traits and changes but the processes of diversity that has given rise to millions of species from the most primitive organisms. Here however we move on to the evidence for and against evolution theories and the role of fossil record in this context. Some researchers claim that the theory of evolution has been supported by four primary sources that serve as evidence (Zimmer, 2002; Allenand Briggs, 1989):

  1. The fossil record that tracks changes in early and primitive forms of life
  2. The anatomical and chemical similarities in the constitutions of different species.
  3. The genetic changes observed and recorded in several living organisms over several generations
  4. The geographical spread and distribution of species that seems to suggest a definite pattern, and

The Fossil Record

Fossils are buried in rock layers as indentations of dead plant and animal materials. The totality of these artefacts and their impressions on the rock formations is considered a fossil record. Fossil record as we have briefly mentioned is the primary source of evidence supporting the theory of evolution and the gaps in these records ironically also forms the bone of contention taken up by anti-evolution theorists. Fossil records are used by scientists to understand the process of evolution in general, and the subsequent changes in several species at several times of the earth’s existence(Donovan and Paul, 1998).

The Fossil Record seems to provide an important clue to the changes in primitive and even now extinct species and this definitely helps us to frame a conceptual graph on how evolution has taken shape. Fossil and rock record forms the primary source of evidence collected by scientists for nearly400 years and the consequent database obtained is mainly observational. The fossil record among all other evidence gives a large database of documented changes in past life on earth. The use of Fossil record to study life forms on earth dates back to pre-Darwinian times and the changes in life forms could be studied from a sequence of layers of sedimentary rocks and fossils of different groups of species were found in each of these successive layers (SA, 1982).Sedimentary rocks are found widely across the earth’s surface and are formed when small particles of sand, mud or gravel, shell or other materials withered off by water or wind accumulates in sea beds and oceans. As these sediments pileup they bury shells, leaves, bones, and parts of living organisms. Layers of sediments are thus formed for every large period of time and all these layers become subsequently cemented to each other to become different layers of sandstone,limestone, shale and so on. Within these layers of sedimentary rocks the plant and animal remains become buried as fossils and are later revealed as fossil records (Allen and Briggs, 1989). From these fossil records several species have been identified, some of which are extinct and some of which have traits transitional between different major groups of organisms. Fossils of transitional forms actually give considerable evidence of species evolution over time. However there is not enough evidence through fossil records to conclusively prove evolution, as there are still talks of ‘missing links’ as very few and according to some, no transitional forms have been actually discovered. The Fossil record data available to us is incomplete and in conclusive at present.

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,William Smith, a British Engineer observed different assemblages of fossils preserved at different levels and different ages of rocks. These assemblages succeeded one another in a regular and determinable order (cited in, Wikipedia,2004). This was further bolstered by the fact that rocks collected from different locations showed similar fossil formations according to the different times they represented. Smith named this correlation of rock fossil data as the principle of faunal succession. The occurrence of faunal succession was one of the primary arguments of Darwin who used fossil evidence as supporting the theory of evolution.

Various modern approaches to the theory of evolution have been recently developed. Mayr claims that the theory of Punctuation for instance has two basic points that

  1. most or all evolutionary change occurs during speciation events, and
  2. most species usually enter a phase of total stasis after the end of the speciation process (which involves formation of new species).

Speciation thus involves transformation of species in geological time (Erwin and Anstey, 1995). Formation of new species is explained either by phyletic gradualism or a gradual steady transformation of species by phyletic evolution highlighting the deficiency of the fossil records, or by sympatric saltational speciation that highlighted punctuational equilibria and branching of species rather than transformation as lineages as the real explanation for evolution (Mayr and Provine, 1998). Biologists like Gould and Eldredge have also supported punctuation theories. Richard Dawkins on the other hand stresses on the principle of gene multiplication where genes as replicators seems to be the focal point of defining evolution (Sterelny, 2001).

In quite an important paper Volkenstein (1987) suggests that there can be no contradiction between punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism if synergetics and theory of information are incorporated within the theory of evolution. Punctualism can be seen as phase transition maintaining the directionality of evolution. Volkenstein argues that Punctualism, non-adaptationism and neutralism form the triad of internally connected features of evolution.

Problems with Fossil Records

Of course at that point, the absence of a proper theory of evolution prevented Smith or other researchers from providing an explanation of the actual cause of faunal succession. The cause of faunal succession as is known today is mainly due to evolution of organisms and species that change,transform or become completely extinct, leaving behind their traces on earth as fossils. Age of rocks and the changes in species features are both determined by fossil record and faunal succession used as tools in bio stratigraphy. However fossil data show extremely few records of transitional species,organisms that can conclusively suggest how and when evolution of new and different species occurred (Donovan and Paul, 1998). Darwin himself suggested that the geological record itself is imperfect and incomplete and this is further strengthened by the fact that transitional species were short lived and had very narrow geographical range.

Radiometric and Carbon dating have made it possible to identify fossils more than 3.5 billion years old and have indicated that animal species may have appeared abruptly, a phenomenon which Darwin himself found difficult to accept. Even though one or two forms of organisms which may be considered as transient have been identified, there are no records of transitional plants and thus an evolutionary plant history could not be drawn as of yet. Along with these issues it has also been seen that most of the fossils found are of species which have existing forms and are either similar to existing species or are completely identical. The intermediate temporary stages as serve to act, as links between two related species seems to have been completely downplayed by the fossil data obtained. Animals seem to have remained more or less unchanged through all these years. Despite the collection of a huge number of fossils,nearly all of them being fossils of presently existing animals have created problems for the theory of evolution. It is a general belief that based on fossil discoveries already made, there will be little or no evidence that evolution had actually occurred and continues to occur (Donovan and Paul,1998). If animals die a natural death, they are usually decomposed even before being fossilized. However during sudden catastrophes can bury the animals and embed them deep in the earth. Some rocks and organisms that transformed to show fossils for years and decades were actually deposited within a short period of time.

Although Darwin based his arguments heavily on fossil record, most scientists now believe that fossil record is actually incompatible with evolutionary theory as no transitional links or intermediate forms have been discovered among this huge collection of fossils in all these years. This suggests that there is no real evidential data that the theory of evolution is in fact true. There is no evidence of partially evolved species or intermediate forms either in the past or in the present fossil record and the fossil record available is quite representative of all fossil data that will ever be collected. Evolution seems to point out towards more undefined and partially evolved species, fact completely undermined by available fossil record that shows well-defined organisms rather than gradual gradations. The incomplete fossil record is the primary bone of contention in the evolutionary debate and seems to give an edge to non-evolutionists.

Conclusion:

Considering all the aspects of the debate and gaps in fossil records and weighing this against evolution theories highlighting either generational transformation of lineages or drastic changes and speciation at specific periods, we can conclude that available gaps in fossil record may be more indicative and supportive towards speciation and abrupt changes rather than gradual evolution through phyletic transformation.

NHS Cervical Screening Programme: Liquid Based Cytology vs. Conventional Cytology

HS Cervical Screening Programme: Liquid Based Cytology vs. Conventional Cytology

Introduction

Cervical screening, such as the regular programme provided by the NHS, is a very successful way of detecting the early signs of cervical cancer (Kitchener, Castle, & Cox, 2006). The NHS programme screens around 3.5 million (Moss et al., 2003) to 4 million (Karnon et al., 2004) women annually and it is estimated that this prevents between 1100 and 3900 cases of cervical cancer a year (Moss et al., 2003). In recent years a new way of screening the cervical samples has been developed. This is referred to as liquid based cytology rather than conventional cytology. However, there has been considerable debate over the costs and benefits of the new technology, as will be examined below.

Background Information

Cervical cancer is linked to human papillomaviruses (HPV), a family of common sexually transmitted viruses (Eifel, Berek, & Markman, 2011). It is believed to be fairly common for women to be exposed to HPV viral cells but usually these are readily cleared by their immune response (Bosch & Iftner, 2005). However, in some instances women can develop an HPV infection following exposure to viral cells. The infection can seem largely asymptomatic but actually causes the abnormal multiplication of cells in the cervix, leading to warts, lesions or benign tumours and, if the infection persists, it can cause cervical cancer (Bosch & Iftner, 2005; Eifel et al., 2011). In fact, HPV is believed to be the main, perhaps even the sole, cause of cervical cancer.

The NHS cervical screening programme is available to women aged between 25 and 64 years of age and involves taking a regular swab or smear of cells from inside their cervix (Moss et al., 2003). These are then sent to a pathology laboratory where they are screened by a cytologist for any abnormalities associated with HPV. In the absence of any abnormalities women between the ages of 25 and 50 years are advised to return for testing every three years, and those aged between 50 and 64, every five years (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2013). The 2013 national statistics for the UK screening programme indicated that 78.3% of eligible women were up to date with their smear screening (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2013).

Cervical Cytology

The focus of this essay is on the process that takes place in the pathology laboratory, where the cervical samples are sent for cytological screening. A cervical cell sample that has no abnormal cells is categorised cytologically as being negative (negative for the presence of HPV or risk of cervical cancer). Alternatively, samples may be identified as containing borderline abnormal changes, or having dyskaryosis (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2013). In some literature the terms dysplasia or CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) seem to be used in place of dyskaryosis (Eifel et al., 2011), but NHS literature seems to make most consistent reference to dyskaryosis. The extent of dyskaryosis is then classified across a range from mild to severe. Depending upon the severity, the woman may be referred for colposcopy or recalled for a repeat cervical smear test 6-12 months later. In the 2013 national statistics, 6.5% of cervical samples were identified as being abnormal, although only 1.2% were classified as being high risk (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2013).

Recently a new cytological screening technique has been developed, called liquid based cytology (LBC). The aim of this new method was initially to try to reduce false-negative and false-positive results (Karnon et al., 2004; Siebers et al., 2009), as well as the number of samples that are ‘inadequate’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ for effective screening (Arbyn et al., 2008; Siebers et al., 2009). In the conventional cytology method, a woman’s cervical sample is transferred directly from the collection spatula onto a microscopic slide (Arbyn et al., 2008; Moss et al., 2003). This transfer process seems to sometimes lead samples to be ‘inadequate’ for screening because the transferred cells are too difficult to clearly discern. This manual process does also, very occasionally, result in false results, even when conducted by experienced cytologists. The liquid based cytology (LBC) method involves a slightly different approach to the preparation of the slides. The cell sample is placed into a vial containing a preservative fluid (Arbyn et al., 2008; Moss et al., 2003). This creates a liquid suspension of the sample, which can then be poured onto the slide in a very thin, uniform layer. However, debate remains over whether this method really offers a substantial improvement over conventional cytology. The main points of contention surround accuracy and cost effectiveness, with other arguments relating to patient anxiety and opportunities for HPV testing.

Exploring the Issues

Accuracy

Evidence is mixed over whether LBC offers a substantial improvement in accuracy compared to conventional cytology. Early studies, such as that by Monsonego et al. (2001), were very favourable towards LBC. Further, in an extension of the LBC technique described earlier, it became possible for a computerised system to read the LBC slides to identify potential areas of concern prior to examination by a cytologist (Davey et al., 2007). Across a large Australian sample of over 55,000 women, Davey et al. (2007) found that this method of LBC was significantly better at detecting additional high grade histology cases than conventional cytology. However, more recent studies seem to undermine these reputed improvements of LBC over conventional cytology. For instance, in 2009, Siebers et al, drawing upon a sample of close to 90,000 women in the Netherlands, concluded that LBC “is neither more sensitive nor more specific in detecting CIN or cancer” (p.1764). This same point is reiterated almost exactly by Arbyn et al. (2008) at the end of their thorough review of the most reputable, gold standard comparison studies.

Whilst this creates a somewhat inconclusive picture, it is evident that LBC has not offered as marked an improvement in accuracy as might have been hoped. However, it is important to point out that none of the studies suggest that LBC is less accurate than conventional cytology. In fact, all of the studies mentioned above agree that LBC probably is more sensitive at picking up mild abnormalities and changes. It is just that this too is framed from a negative angle in the more recent studies because of concerns that unnecessarily following up these cases, when they are likely to be cleared by the patient naturally, would waste resources that would be better focused on high risk patients (Arbyn et al., 2008).

There is, however, one clear point that emerges in favour of LBC in relation to accuracy. All studies seem to conclude that LBC does reduce the number of inadequate or unsatisfactory samples (Arbyn et al., 2008; Davey et al., 2007; Doyle et al., 2006; Moss et al., 2003; Siebers et al., 2009; Williams, 2006). For example, when LBC was initially trialled at three sites in the UK in 2002, Moss et al. (2003) collated data showing that LBC reduced inadequate slide preparations from 9% of samples down to 1-2%. In Scotland the difference was even greater, falling from 13% to 1.9%, and consequently referrals to colposcopy for women with repeated unsatisfactory results dropped from 25% to just 0.5% (Williams, 2006). These improvements substantially raise the efficiency of the whole screening programme. Therefore, it seems likely to have been these sorts of results that influenced the NHS that it would be cost effective to adopt LBC across the UK (Arbyn et al., 2008; Moss et al., 2003; Williams, 2006).

Cost Effectiveness

Turning to cost effectiveness, there are a number of aspects to take into consideration. As mentioned above, LBC may lead to a potential increase in costs if there is an increase in following up low risk abnormalities. Whilst this is framed negatively by Arbyn et al. (2008) it might be better, both for the patient and economically, to fully confirm that there is no cancer risk earlier on, rather than allowing any potential cancer to develop. Further, the significant reduction in inadequate samples may outweigh this through much larger potential savings. Reducing the number of women who are recalled due to an inadequate sample saves valuable nursing time, reduces administration costs and reduces the costs associated with repeating the whole procedure. With these primary care benefits in mind, Moss et al. (2003) estimated that LBC could generate savings of between one to ten million pounds annually.

More recent studies have focused on the laboratory to consider whether LBC improves productivity during this part of the process. Doyle et al. (2006) studied several laboratories during the change over from conventional cytology to LBC and found that on average each scientist was able to process more samples per day. The data collated by Williams (2006) similarly demonstrated that overall workload in the laboratories decreased and backlogs were cleared. Presumably, if LBC is combined with the computerised imaging technology that automates a large part of the process, there may be further efficiency as cytologist time and effort can be focused on the samples identified to contain abnormalities.

Of course, all of this economising does not take into account the initial investment costs involved, or the on-going cost of the LBC specific materials. It is notable that both techniques mentioned in the NHS pilot study, ThinPrep and SurePath, are registered trademarks. Perhaps this is why more recent studies tend to argue that one of the disadvantages of LBC is that it is more expensive, both in terms of initial outlay and on-going operating costs (Arbyn et al., 2008; Eifel et al., 2011). Therefore, Arbyn et al. (2008) suggest that “economic advantage might be peculiar to the United Kingdom where inadequacy rates for the conventional Pap were excessively high” (p.175).

Patient Anxiety

Beyond economics, another important point to consider is patient anxiety. A benefit of reducing inadequate samples is the reduction in anxiety for the patient. Although the nurse may try to reassure the woman that an inadequate sample does not indicate any abnormality, it may be difficult for the patient not to fear a risk of cancer. On the otherhand, if minor abnormalities picked up via LBC are followed up, as Arbyn et al. (2008) suggest, this might create unnecessary stress and anxiety for these patients and their families. This seems to suggest that between the two technologies patient anxiety may balance out – being alleviated for some patients or created for others. However, perhaps the balance swings in favour of LBC here, as it would seem preferable to monitor cases of mild abnormality just in case these progress, rather than to create unnecessary anxiety due simply to technical inferiority.

HPV Testing

The other key advantage of LBC is the potential it offers to conduct additional laboratory tests. Preparing an LBC slide from the cervical sample uses only a small amount of the solution in the vial. Therefore, the remainder can be subjected to further tests. In particular, it is now possible for laboratories to test for the presence of HPV using HPV DNA testing (Kitchener et al., 2011). Any cases showing cell abnormalities during LBC can undergo HPV testing on the same sample. This might clarify any false-negative cases or mild abnormalities without the woman even knowing. It would also reduce the costs of referring false-negative patients for colposcopy or for an unnecessary recall screening.

Whilst controversy has largely focused on conventional cytology and LBC, the NHS actually introduced LBC in combination with HPV testing (Moss et al., 2003). Recent studies have demonstrated that HPV testing may be more powerful than cytology, and suggest it may come to replace cytology as the primary screening technique (Katki et al., 2011; Kitchener et al., 2011). Katki et al. 2011 advocate that one negative result via HPV testing offers “strong reassurance against cervical cancer for five years in women from age 30” (p.1470). This could significantly reduce primary care costs as currently women aged 30-50 are tested every 3 years under the NHS screening programme. Kitchener et al. (2011) have gone further than this, suggesting that HPV testing might even allow the interval between cervical screens to be extended to every six years.

Conclusion

There has been significant debate around the shift from conventional to liquid based cytology when screening for cervical cancer. This has been particularly heightened given the evidence that LBC does not appear to reduce false-positive or false-negative results in the way that had been hoped. However, in the UK at least, LBC significantly reduces the number of ‘inadequate’ samples, reducing primary care costs and patient anxiety in these cases. Although it is a little unclear whether LBC is more cost effective when all costs are taken into consideration, it seems that by investing in the technique the NHS is now well placed to quickly and easily adopt new scientific developments, such as wide-scale HPV testing. Given LBC, HPV DNA testing and the HPV vaccination, cervical cancer prevention seems to be a rapidly advancing area of science where new developments progress fairly quickly from research into routine health practice. Therefore, it seems wise that the NHS chose to invest in LBC and HPV testing when it did so that it can keep apace, and continue to offer cutting edge cancer screening to women.

References

Arbyn, M., Bergeron, C., Klinkhamer, P., Martin-Hirsch, P., Siebers, A. G., & Bulten, J. (2008). Liquid compared with conventional cervical cytology: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 111(1), 167-177.

Bosch, X. F., & Iftner, T. (2005). The aetiology of cervical cancer. Sheffield: NHS Cancer Screening Programmes.

Davey, E., d’Assuncao, J., Irwig, L., Macaskill, P., Chan, S. F., Richards, A., & Farnsworth, A. (2007). Accuracy of reading liquid based cytology slides using the ThinPrep Imager compared with conventional cytology: prospective study (Vol. 335).

Doyle, B., O’Farrell, C., Mah

The Interrelationship Between the Systems of the Human Body

The Interrelationship Between the Systems of the Human Body

Introduction

This essay will consider the structure and function of the 11 systems within the human body. It will detail the interrelationship between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system and between the circulatory system and the lymphatic system. It will then explain the roles of the circulatory and lymphatic systems in the immune response and the role of hormones in metabolism.

Human Body Systems

The human body is made up of 11 separate but interconnected systems (Sherwood, 2007). These are the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, integumentary, immune, endocrine and reproductive systems. The success and survival of the human body is dependent on the ability of separate body systems to work together.

The skeletal system provides structure for the human body, stores minerals, produces blood cells and provides protection for delicate organs (Kelly, 2004). 206 bones are connected with ligaments, muscles and tendons, with cartilage, a softer cushion like material, providing protection in jointed areas. Body movements are controlled by the muscular system, with these muscles being connected to bones via tendons (Adams, 2004). Stimulation of these muscles by the nervous system causes contraction and the resulting movement of bones to which they are attached. A number of involuntary muscles ensure the respiratory and circulatory systems continue with contraction of the heart and lungs (Adams, 2004). The heart is central to the circulatory system and acts as to pump blood through arteries, veins and capillaries. The circulatory system is responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen to cells as well as removing waste products and aiding the immune system through the circulation of white blood cells (Jacab, 2006). The immune system is comprised of lymph organs, such as the spleen and thymus, and the skin, all of which are responsible for protecting the body against invading pathogens (Parham, 2005).

The circulatory system and the respiratory system are closely interconnected with the latter bringing fresh oxygen into the body through the alveoli of the lungs (Johnson, 2004). The respiratory system is closely connected with the excretory system as it is responsible for the removal of carbon dioxide and other waste gases through exhalation. The excretory system eliminates both solid and liquid wastes in addition to these gaseous products, and is made up of a number of specialist tissues along with the large intestine, bladder, kidneys, rectum, lungs and skin (Sherwood, 2007). The physical and chemical breakdown of food into energy is carried out by the digestive system. This system commences with the mouth, teeth and salivary glands then passes through the oesophagus to the stomach and small intestine for digestion. The liver, pancreas and large intestine are also involved, through the production of digestive enzymes and bile and the processing of nutrients (Windelspecht, 2004).

The nervous system is responsible for sending messages to and from the brain through neurons. The nervous system controls all bodily functions by sending electrochemical signals through the neural network (Llamas, 1998). The endocrine system acts as a communication network but uses hormones as chemical messengers which travel through the bloodstream (Klosterman, 2009). The hormones have specific target organs and carry signals to start or stop performing a specific function. Finally, the reproductive system is responsible for the production of children and reproductive hormones cause our bodies to develop into sexual maturity.

Relationship between the nervous and musculoskeletal system

Muscle is a contractile tissue that can be histologically divided into three types. These are: striated or skeletal muscle, which are under direct nervous control; cardiac muscle, which is also striated but is a specialist form that is confined specifically to the heart; and smooth or visceral muscle, which is not under direct nervous control (Nair and Peate, 2013). This latter form can be found in the walls of blood vessels and the alimentary tract and in arrector pili. Smooth muscle is usually in the form of flat sheets and forms circular and longitudinal layers, or can be arranged as a sphincter in order to control passage through a tube, for example the anus (Ikebe, 1996). Skeletal muscle is usually attached to two separate bones via tendon, fleshy or aponeurosis connections.

Muscle action control is carried out by the nervous system (Stein, 1982). Contact between nerves and muscles often occurs through chemical stimulus conveyed by motor end plates, which instruct muscles to contract. Signals can also be sent through tendons via specific receptors that are able to measure the stretch of the tendon (Stein, 1982). Messages from nerves are referred to as efferent when they take a message to a specific tissue and afferent when they are taking the message to the spinal cord and brain (Craig, 2005). As such the nervous system comprises two separate but combined systems. These are the central and peripheral nervous systems, with the former being made up of the brain and spinal cord, and the latter comprising the remaining neural network (Cervero, 1988). This neural network comprises 12 pairs of head nerves connected to the brain and 31 pairs of spinal nerves connected to the spinal cord. Nerves which transfer information from receptors within the body to the central nervous system are sensoric nerves, whilst nerves that transport information from the CNS to muscle fibres are motoric nerves (Cervero, 1988). As such, the peripheral nervous system comprises collections of nerves, their insulating myelin sheaths, Schwann cells and connective tissue. The majority of these nerve cells are able to carry out efferent and afferent cell processes (Craig, 2005).

Figure 1 shows the organisation of a neuron, with the body being the axon and the smaller projections being known as dendrites. The neuron uses the dendrites to obtain and pass information from and to other neurons (Spruston, 2008). The axon passes the information to other cells particularly muscle cells. The information is then passed along the neuron through voltage changes within the cell membrane. This is known as the action potential (Bean, 2007). Information transfer between individual nerve cells occurs through chemical agents which are released when the action potential has reached the end of an axon.

The organisation of a neuron
Figure 1. The organisation of a neuron (Biomedical Engineering, 2016).

Relationship between the circulatory and lymphatic systems

These systems primarily comprise of the body’s blood circulating and waste removal capabilities. The two systems are significantly intertwined and work collectively to transport substances throughout the body (Sherwood, 2007). Both systems work in a similar manner as they both produce a liquid substance, either lymph or blood, which flows through a network of vessels and ducts to reach every part of the body. Both of these liquid substances are responsible for carrying nutrients or removing waste and are therefore both circulatory in nature (Sherwood, 2007).

The primary role of the circulatory system is the transport of blood throughout the body. It comprises the heartand a network of veins, arteries and capillaries that move oxygenated blood to the body’s tissues and deoxygenated blood and waste products away from body tissues (Johnson, 2004). This crucial blood transport system carries nutrients, oxygen and fluids throughout the body, which are needed for normal cell activity.

The primary role of the lymphatic system is waste removal. When muscles absorb unneeded material, lymph fluid picks up this waste product and transports it to the lymph nodes (Cueni and Detmar, 2006). This system is responsible for eliminating old red blood cells, which means that the lymphatic system is effectively the circulatory system’s waste disposal unit. Blood plays a major role in the creation of lymph as blood plasma develops into interstitial fluid after contact with body tissues (Wu et al, 2013). Some of this interstitial fluid enters the lymphatic vessels where it develops into lymph. As such, one of the major responsibilities of the lymphatic system is to act as a drain for the interstitial fluid surrounding tissues. This clear fluid is carried through the lymphatic vessels into lymphatic ducts and through lymph nodes where lymphocytes attack foreign bodies and pathogens (Alitalo et al, 2005). After passing through these areas, the lymph passes into the large brachiocephalic or subclavian veins and re-enters the circulatory system.

Role of the circulatory and lymphatic system in the immune response

Whilst the circulatory system is responsible for the transport of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body, it is also often responsible for the carriage of bacteria and other pathogens throughout the body. The lymphatic system isa crucial part of the body’s immune response to these pathogenic invasions (Bajenoff et al, 2007). Lymphoid tissue, which is found in a number of organs, specifically in the lymph nodes and in lymphoid follicles that are associated with the digestive system, including the tonsils, contains lymphocytes. The lymphatic system also includes bone marrow, the thymus and the spleen, along with other dedicated circulatory and lymphocyte production structures (Bajenoff et al, 2007). There are two types of lymphocyte with the first type being responsible for directly attacking any invading pathogen and the second type being responsible for the production of antibodies that then circulate within the bloodstream and attack any further invading pathogens (Bajenoff et al, 2007). Any invading foreign particle or pathogen is picked up by the lymph and transported through the lymph vessels to the regional lymph nodes. Within these lymph nodes, dendritic cells and macrophages phagocytose the antigens, before processing them and presenting these foreign antigens to the lymphocytes (Wei et al, 2003). These lymphocytes then produce antibodies or act as memory cells, which are responsible for recognising specific antigen attacks in the future, thereby improving the speed of the immune response. As such, the lymphatic system can be described as a system responsible for both transport and defence. Figure 2 shows a diagram of the human lymphatic system showing the network of lymph nodes and connecting lymphatic vessels.

Circulatory system

Role of hormones in the metabolic process

In order to control nutrient intake, store any excess and utilise the stores when necessary, a number of hormones are used. Insulin and glucagon are the two primary hormones responsible for maintaining blood glucose homeostasis, additional regulation is also mediated by thyroid hormones (Patel et al, 2008). Beta cells of the pancreas produce insulin after stimulation from a rise in blood glucose levels. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood glucose levels by increasing the rate of glucose uptake and by encouraging target cells to use this glucose for the production of ATP. The liver is also stimulated to convert glucose to glycogen with the latter being stored for later use. Glucose transport proteins are incorporated into cell membranes when insulin bind to these target cells via receptors and through signal transduction (Patel et al, 2008). This method allows for the transport of glucose into the cell where it can be used as a source of energy. This results in the lowering of blood glucose concentrations which then results in a negative feedback loop and inhibits further insulin release from the beta cells.

When blood glucose levels drop below normal levels, usually between meals or when glucose is being utilised through exercise, the pancreas releases the hormone glucagon (Patel et al, 2008). Glucagon is responsible for raising blood glucose levels through eliciting the hyperglycemic effect. This is the breakdown of glycogen to glucose within the liver cells and skeletal muscle in a process known as glycogenolysis. This free glucose can then be utilised as energy by the muscle cells whilst the liver releases glucose into circulation for use by other key organs (Patel et al, 2008). Glucagon also stimulates the liver to absorb amino acids from the blood, with this organ then being responsible for conversion of these amino acids to glucose. This synthesis of glucose is named gluconeogenesis (Patel et al, 2008). Any rise above normal levels in blood glucose levels is also controlled buy a negative feedback loop with any further release of glucagon by the pancreas being halted. Therefore, homeostatic glucose levels are controlled by insulin and glucagon working together.

References

  • Adams, A. (2004). The muscular system. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Alitalo, K., Tammela, T., & Petrova, T. V. (2005). Lymphangiogenesis in development and human disease. Nature, 438(7070), 946-953.
  • Bajénoff, M., Egen, J. G., Qi, H., Huang, A. Y., Castellino, F., & Germain, R. N. (2007). Highways, byways and breadcrumbs: directing lymphocyte traffic in the lymph node. Trends in Immunology, 28(8), 346-352.
  • Bean, B. P. (2007). The action potential in mammalian central neurons. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8(6), 451-465.
  • Biomedical Engineering (2016). Biomedical Advances: Neuron Damage. [online] Available at: http://biomedicalengineering.yolasite.com/neurons.php [Accessed 2 Feb. 2016].
  • Cervero, F. (1988). Organization of the autonomic nervous system — Central and peripheral mechanisms. Pain, 33(3), p.390.
  • Craig, A. (2005). Forebrain emotional asymmetry: a neuroanatomical basis? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(12), pp.566-571.
  • Cueni, L. N., & Detmar, M. (2006). New insights into the molecular control of the lymphatic vascular system and its role in disease. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 126(10), 2167-2177.
  • Ikebe, M. (1996). Contractile Mechanisms: Biochemistry of Smooth Muscle Contraction. Science, 274(5286), pp.367b-368b.
  • Jakab, C. (2006). The circulatory system. North Mankato, MN: Smart Apple Media.
  • Johnson, R. (2004). Respiration and circulation. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.
  • Kelly, E. (2004). The skeletal system. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Klosterman, L. (2009). Endocrine system. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.
  • Llamas, A. (1998). The nervous system. Milwaukee, Wis.: Gareth Stevens Pub.
  • Nair, M. and Peate, I. (2013). Fundamentals of applied pathophysiology. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Parham, P. (2005). The immune system. N

Conflict Between Greek Revival and Gothic Revival

Conflict Between Greek Revival and Gothic Revival

The Greek Revival and the Gothic Revival are terms that carry specific meanings in relation to the history of architecture. What did they represent at the time and what was the nature of the conflict between the respective adherents?

The Gothic Revival represented chiefly two things: firstly, in its earlier form, it was a Romantic celebration in stone of the spirit and atmosphere of the Middle Ages; secondly, in its later and more serious form, the Gothic Revival reflected the architectural and philosophical conviction of its exponents that the moral vigour of the Middle Ages was reflected in its Gothic architecture, and that the reintroduction of this Gothic style of architecture to eighteenth-century society could re-invigorate it morally. Neo-Gothic architecture in its earlier forms, typified by buildings such as Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, was characterized by a highly ornamental, decadent, visually powerful and intricate style; and, what is more, a style that cared little for functionalism or strict adherence to specific structures. By these characteristics Neo-Gothic architecture encapsulated the Romantic literary and poetic spirit of the age, as had been evinced in the works of men like Horace Walpole, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott. In this sense, the Neo-Gothic was a nostalgic and sentimental backward glance. In a different sense the Gothic Revival represented the attempt of certain architects and churchmen to transfer the liturgical vigour of Gothic churches of the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century by capturing it in stone. Thus men like Augustus Pugin and John Ruskin came to argue that the Gothic Revival represented a standard of moral excellence that was to be practised and imitated as widely as possible.

The Greek Revival grew out of the neoclassicism movement, and represented in essence an attempt by its adherents to find in the architecture of antiquity a form of architecture that corresponded to the principles of reason and order emerging from their own Age of Reason and Enlightenment. Neoclassicism, and the Greek Revival in particular, represented a pursuit for architectural and intellectual truth. An architect could perceive in the forms of antiquity principles of excellent reasoning and intelligence that prevailed in the rationalistic spirit of his own age, and by reinvigorating the ancient style the neoclassical architect could build buildings that were inspired by and inspired in others principles of reason and rationality. Neoclassicism and the Greek Revival conflicted with the Gothic Revival because they perceived the moral truths claimed by the Gothic revivalists as chiefly illusory and false. The Gothic Revival was, in the neo-classicist’s eyes, a decadent celebration of style over substance that elevated illusion and ornament above reason and truth. Neo-Gothic architects were seemingly content to produce endless copies and weak imitations of Gothic style merely to please frivolous aristocrats; neo-classicists however believed that their architecture was a creative act that gave birth to constantly new adaptations of the classical model. Neo-Gothic architects in turn conflicted with neoclassicism because it was cold and devoid of emotion, feeling or moral purpose; its elite attitude rendered any collaboration between the two styles most difficult.

Art historians divide the Gothic Revival into two stages, and each of these stages came to represent quite different ideas. The first stage of the Gothic revival was characterized a ‘raw’ and naive imitation of Gothic architecture that lacked either an architectural philosophy or a coherent system of organization. The first building of this early type was Lord Horace Walpole’s villa Strawberry Hill which was built in 1747; another prominent early specimen was Fonthill Abbey designed and built by James Wyatt. Both of these buildings, in the spirit of Walpole’s atmospheric novel Castle of Otranto (Walpole, 2004), were attempts to preserve in stone the Romantic atmosphere of the Middle Ages; both also demonstrated perhaps more clearly than any other buildings of this time the impracticality and lack of structure of much Neo-Gothic building. This first flourishing of Neo-Gothic architecture was extended into the public sphere also: for instance in the new Houses of Parliament designed and built by Sir Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin. In America too, this nascent Neo-Gothic style was reflected in buildings such as Richard Upjohn’s Trinity Church built in New York in 1840 and Renwick’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral also built in New York. The picturesque quality and organization of many of these buildings led to applause for its Romantic splendour, but also much criticism for its lack of substance and for its unfaithful imitation of the original Gothic form.

If the first stage of the Gothic Revival lacked diligent observation and restoration of Gothic architecture or philosophical principles, then serious efforts were made at the turn of the century to ground the movement more securely upon such principles. The ‘late’ period of Neo-Gothic is thus characterized by a stricter adherence to medieval architectural form and to a philosophical interpretation that viewed Gothic architecture as a paragon of moral virtue and excellence. In England two men were of foremost importance in the development of this second stage: A. Pugin and J. Ruskin. (In France, Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Due played an equally important role). By this time, architects were no longer content to merely imitate Gothic forms and designs, but sought to create original works founded upon the principles of the original Gothic architecture and which fitted to the particular circumstances of nineteenth-century society.

Thus at the turn of the nineteenth-century it is possible to observe a clear evolution in the form of the Gothic Revival away from the loose sentimentality and picturesque quality of the early period and towards a style of dominated by precise architectural limitation of Gothic form as made possible by detailed and comprehensive investigations into this style. One such early investigation was John Carter’s The Ancient Architecture of England (Carter, 1795) which was the first work that recorded with extensive detail and exactitude the Gothic style of medieval buildings; Thomas Rickman’s An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture (Rickman, 1817) gave an extensive account of the varieties of Gothic styles, whilst Pugin’s Specimens of Gothic Architecture (Pugin,1821) deepened and extended the range and accuracy of these initial investigations. Nonetheless, despite the great advances that had been made in the scholarship of the Gothic Revival, the actual building of Gothic buildings remained for some time in the earlier ornamental style that characterized the first period of the movement — famous examples being Windsor Castle which was restored in 1824 by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, and King’s College Cambridge in 1827to 1831. The greatest use of the Neo-Gothic style at this time was however for church buildings — the style being cheaper and easier to construct than neoclassical designs.

For all the diligent and pain-staking work of the Gothic Revival scholars to come to life in actual buildings it took the skill and vision of one particular man. This man was Augustus Charles Pugin: he presented the argument that Neo-Gothic architectural style was the most fitting emblem of the spirit of the Catholic Church and so was also therefore the only permissible architectural form to express the work of Godin his Church. In Contrasts (1836) Pugin argued that architectural form imitates the condition of the society that creates it; since the society of medieval times was a paragon of virtue and moral integrity then it was natural and obvious that Gothic architecture is the most moral form of architecture. Thus in The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841) Pugin was able to set down comprehensive and coherent principles for the justification of the Gothic Revival. In a major step away from the earlier decadence or the style, Pugin argued that all features and designs of a church must be essential for its correct functioning and structural shape; architecture form must be clean and purposeful since these are also the qualities that we expect of our moral condition. Pugin put this architectural philosophy into practice most assiduously in the years 1837 to 1844: in St Mary’s Church in Derby, in St. Wilfred’s Church in Manchester and in St. Oswald’s Church in Liverpool and many other church buildings. Pugin’s work quickly became an inspiration for Anglican Church reformers such as the Tractarians in Oxford who used his architectural church style as an ideal form by which to carry out their own agenda of church building restoration.

It should be noted here that Pugin’s work as well as that of many other architects across Britain and Europe was profoundly influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin and his two seminal works The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (Ruskin,1854). Ruskin’s ideas were inspired by the architectural forms that he had seen in Italy and particularly in Venice; Ruskin thus argued that Gothic was the supreme form of architecture due to the ‘sacrifice’ made by stonemasons in detailing every stone of a building. Ruskin thus exalted Doge’s Palace as ‘ the central building in the world‘ (Ruskin, 1854) — arguing that Pugin’s programme of Gothic Revival in churches should be extended to government buildings also. Moreover, Ruskin himself by his teachings extended the Gothic Revival further by promoting a ‘polychromatic’ style of work inspired by Italian Gothic architecture. This work in turn inspired buildings such as Butterfield’s All Saint’s Church, Keble College in Oxford and Rugby School.

In short, by the end of the eighteenth century the Gothic Revival had been transformed from what began as a Romantically inspired fondness for majestic ornamentalism, into a style of architecture grounded upon powerful moral and philosophical principles as well as an intricate and comprehensive awareness of Gothic form.

The Greek Revival, a growth out of the neoclassicism movement, flourished in the years 1750-1830, and was in many ways the antithesis of the Neo-Gothic form of architecture with which it was contemporaneous. As we have seen, whatever its later manifestations, the Gothic Revival had been a product of Romanticism and of the passions and emotions; the Greek Revival, in complete contrast, exalted reason, the intellect and rationality above all else. Neoclassicism sought as its highest aim to realize architectural and intellectual purity and truth — in stark contrast to what it perceived to be the ornamentalism and illusory truth of the Neo-Gothic style. ‘Neo’-classicism was founded upon a corpus of work that had in antiquity achieved canonical status, that is, it was based upon the observation of ‘classic’ art and classic form. In the words of Crook (1995) ‘ Ideally – and neoclassicism is essentially an art of the ideal – an artist, well-schooled and comfortably familiar with the canon, does not repeat in a lifeless reproductions, but synthesizes the tradition anew in each work ‘. In other words, neoclassicism — of which the Greek Revival was to become the most refined example — sought the highest possible levels of artistic achievement; the neo-classicist style existed only to reinterpret for contemporary circumstances the great work and principles that had already been achieved in the past. Thus, in Crook’s words (1995), ‘Neoclassicism exhibits perfect control of an idiom’ (Crook,1995); that is perfection already achieved, the architect’s task is to fit that perfection of antiquity in a modern cast. All of these above points are significant for understanding the opposition of architects of the Greek Revival against the Gothic Revival. For, in the beginning, much of Neo-Gothic architecture consisted of little more than crude and naive imitations of far superior original Gothic works. Thus in such imitation work there was no creativity and no continuation of the development of an existing idiom. Thus Neo-Gothic form was viewed by Greek revivalists as superfluous and as inferior to their own architectural pursuits.

The emergence of the Greek Revival was made possible by an astonishing efflorescence of archaeological exploration into the sites and cultures of classical Rome and Greece around the middle of the eighteenth century. The discoveries of the archaeologists inspired and sustained the Greek revival. In 1719 Bernard de Montfaucon’s released his giant ten-volume opus Antiquity Explained and Represented in Diagrams (Montfaucon, 1719). This book was hugely popular and intrigued the imaginations hundreds and thousands of European tourists who began to flock to the sites of ancient Rome and Greece. Furthermore, the sensational excavations of cities like Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1748 and 1738 further fuelled the imaginations of architects, archaeologists, novelists and many others. Many other works on classical art and architecture such as Giovanni Piranesi’sPrima Parte di Architecttura, Robert Wood’s Ruins of Palmyra (1753) and Robert Adam’s Ruins of the Temple of the Emperor Diocletian (Adam’s, 1764)were soon published and led to still further thousands going on adventures to the Continent.

This general interest in classical antiquity quickly transformed in the eighteenth century into a burst of fascination with Greek antiquities in particular and displayed a conviction as to the superiority of Greek above Roman architecture. The discovery of the sixth-century ruins of Paestrum received much publicity and was recorded by Italian artist Domenico Antonini and French architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot; soon afterwards Pancrazi published his seminal Antichita Siciliane and Dumont released his Ruins de Paestrum. Deeper investigation into the Greek mainland territory led James Stuart and Nicholas Revett to publish The Antiquities of Athens (Stuart & Revett, 1750) which was highly influential upon architects in England. Whilst it took some time for this appreciation of Greek form to be turned into actual imitative buildings nonetheless the superiority of Greek to Roman architecture had been established by the time of Johan Winckelmann’s Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks in 1765.

Thus architects of the Greek Revival sought to infer from these classical forms principles of order and reason that corresponded to those being discovered in their own age of Enlightenment; neoclassical architects argued that if their own buildings came to embody these principles then society at large would be edified by the experience. Nonetheless, the Greek Revival, like Neoclassicism generally, contained an inherent paradox. Its longing backward-stare to the times of antiquity was inspired by as much by an emotional fondness for antiquity (supposedly the characteristic of the Romantic Gothic Revival) as a predilection for principles of pure reason and rationality. Thus some twentieth century arthistorians have come to speak of this aspect of the Greek Revival as ‘Romantic Classicism’ (Stillman, 1998).

After 1800, in England, the internal dynamics of Neoclassicism directed the movement away from Roman architecture and toward that of ancient Greece – as such, a huge number of buildings were built in these years according to the architectural principles of ancient Greece. Sir John Soane, the architect of the Bank of England, developed a highly influential architectural style that involved promoting the linear abstraction of classical Greek forms and, by using extensive archaeological evidence to inform the designs of patterns, he achieved a spectacular dramatization of the interior spaces of his buildings — a style reminiscent of Etienne-Louis Boullee and Claude-Nicholas Ledoux on the continent. A prominent example of this new style in England was Downing College, Cambridge, modelled upon the Erechtheum from the Acropolis in Athens. The Covent Garden Theatre in London, built by Sir Robert Smirke, was the first Doric style building in the capital; the planning of Regent Street as well as Regent Street Park by John Nash reflected the use of classical Greek styles of city planning and organization. So too the British Museum in London built in 1847 is perhaps the most prominent example of ionic Greek imitation in Britain. In Edinburgh — named admiringly the’ Athens of the North’ by locals at the time — the Greek Revival was extremely influential in the eighteenth century, as shown in buildings such as the Royal High School and the Royal Scottish Academy. The dominance of Greek neoclassical architecture would dominate the British landscape until the advent of Modernism in the twentieth century.

In the final analysis, even if it is paradoxical to say so in light of the sustained conflict that existed between them, both the Gothic Revival and Greek Revival had similar goals, and used similar means to attain those goals. The Gothic Revival began life as a celebration of the spirit and forms of a time other than its own: the Middle Ages. So too, the Greek Revival was engendered by a renascent fascination with classical archaeology and the Greek Revival’s preoccupation was with the ideals and forms of ancient Greece – somewhere even more removed than Medieval Europe! The Greek Revival ultimately represented an attempt to renew and reinvigorate the classical Greek belief in the purity and perfection of architectural form and its corresponding revelation of ‘truth’. It was thus no coincidence that the spirit of the neoclassical age was also dominated by the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. The Greek Revival thus cast the ancient principles of classical Greece in the mould of eighteenth century rationality; the aim here, like with the later Gothic Revival, being to produce a form of architecture that would edify society. The bitter conflict between the Gothic Revival and the Greek Revival can be explained simply by the fact that each were prepossessed by attitudes quite contrary to the other: one exalting reason and order, the other passion and emotion. Both revivals were each consumed in the whirlwind of their own zeitgeist and only with retrospect and the other advantages of history is it possible show the equal validity of their separate truths.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adam, R. (1764). Ruins of the Temple of the Emperor Diocletian. Graham Henry, London.

Atterbury, P. (1996). A.W.N. Pugin: Master of the Gothic Revival. Yale University Press, Yale.

Carter, J. (1795). The Ancient Architecture of England. Sawsbury Press, Sawsbury.

Crook, J.M. (1995). The Greek Revival: Neoclassical Attitudes in British Architecture 1760-1870. John Murray, London.

Eastlake, C.L. (1970). A History of the Gothic Revival. Leicester University Press, Leicester.

Ferguson, F.G. (1973). The Neo-Classical Architecture of James Wyatt. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts .

Hamlin, T. (1946). Greek Revival Architecture in America. Open University Press, London.

Montfaucon, B. (1719). Antiquity Explained and Represented in Diagrams. London.

Pugin, A, P. (1821). Specimens of Gothic Architecture. Nattali Press, London.

Pugin, P,A. (1836). Contrasts. Peter Cough Books, London.

Pugin, P,A. (1844). The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture. Berry Press, Burnside.

Rickman, T. (1817). An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture. Threebells Press, Glasgow.

Ruskin, J. (1849). The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Trent House Press, London.

Ruskin, J. (1854). The Stones of Venice. Trent House Press, London.

Stillman, D. (1998). English Neo-Classical Architecture Vol.1. W Zwemmer, London.

Stuart, J. & Revett, N.(1750). The Antiquities of Athens. Dasterfield Press, Bedford.

Walpole, H. (2004). The Castle of Otranto. David & Charles, Newton Abbott.

Wiebenson, D. (1969). Sources of Greek Revival Architecture. A Zwemmer, London.

Winckelman, J. (1765). Reflections on the Paintings and Sculptures of the Greeks. John Paul, Edinburgh.

Wood, R. (1753). Ruins of Palmyra. Falstaff Press, Dublin.

Art Concept Article

Art Concept Article

Journal entry for Readings

This essay provides a very good understanding about Art and I found it very interesting. Art is basically a conceptual concept. In other words, it can be defined as a creation, which is created by the will of person. As per my study, different forms of art exist but the author has laid the emphasis on graphic art. In this type of art, the design is created on a material like Plexiglas or rubber so as to move the designs onto another medium like wood, paper, cloth, metals, and plastics etc.

In the present scenario, Japanese manga are inspiring the comic artists of the west, fashion designers, modern artists and millions of ordinary readers. The appearance of the wide-eyed figures of manga are found over t-shirts, video games, CD covers and even in the museums of art (Manga and Japanese Contemporary Art, 2005).

I found the article very informative as it depicts the collection of the most appealing artists from modern manga and also tells me about the different variety of manga styles. It also contains the prints of woodblock by Hokusai. The exhibition of graphic art and its program of events depict the fan culture, which is closely linked with manga. The examples include cosplay or dressing similar to the manga characters.

This program of events permits the visitors to attempt their hand at manga, listen to lectures on modern Japanese culture and also provides an experience of singing karaoke. In this article, the author has depicted cute and funny figures along with the strange and aggressive figures similar to those of manga (Manga and Japanese Contemporary Art, 2005).

Journal entry for controversies

In my point of view, art is created by the mind. It is the blend of ideas and concepts. In my point of view, art should be such, which doesn’t hamper any religion, values or beliefs i.e. art should form the basis of inspiration for the viewers by containing effective messages in it. But if the art is developed for a particular reason, it might lead into big controversies (Cox, 2006).

A controversial event took place in the Dallas Museum of Art. Here, Sydney McGee who was a teacher (female) took a group of children aged 9 to 10, in Frisco from Fisher Elementary School to the Art museum of Dallas. It was found that the father of a child has filed a complaint that his child has been exposed to art which was absolutely unauthorized as he was shown an abstract nude. As a result, this brought controversy upon the school. Therefore, art should be created so that it is appreciated by its viewers and creates a good impact on them (Cox, 2006).

Another controversial issue was that Hitler could not become part of the art school because it was painted in a traditional style and hence, was not able to fulfil the criteria of the art school. Art school requires a contemporary way of painting, which is less realistic. Hitler, during his regime, barred new artists, who were selling artwork and was in favour of the traditional artists. Art varies from place to place and as a result to this, the frequency of controversy increases.

Journal entry for movies

I found certain movies like Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Agony and the Ecstasy very artistic. Both of these movies have depicted art in their content but in different ways. In the movie Girl with a Pearl Earring, an artistic temperament is depicted by girl. The movie reveals an artistic passion.

The photography in the film is very sensuous, showing the golden age of Dutch culture. The pictures in the photography contain fantastic colour and scale, crowded with plentiful costumes and magnificent architecture. This photographic art keeps the eyes engaged.

In 1930s, the art scene in America was greatly dominated by the practicality and regionalism. The film on Jackson Pollock by Ed Harris presents a powerful picture of Jackson Pollock. The film has performed in an outstanding manner by evoking the true feeling of the time duration with the help of the costumes and scenery. The film depicts the darker side of Pollock’s life as he struggled with demons. This movie became the centre of attention for those American people who liked the modern art.

Art in Exile

On the other hand, the film Agony and ecstasy shows huge interesting reflection of art. It is characterized as the superior period piece, which became an epic. I really appreciate this movie as it pictured Charles Heston as the grand artist. I really found it fairly attractive, the way they have displayed the stressed relationship. The movie depicts the true sense of the art and love. This movie clearly describes how art can move the soul of the person. I admire the extent of time spent by chuck in learning how to paint (Reed, 1965).

Journal entry for the relevance with the Puerto Rico:

In the late 20th century Graffiti has turned into a well-known force in urban settings. The extent of attitudes towards graffiti has shown a broad and contentious concept. Most of the writers regard the graffiti as a social term, which was introduced for culture around 70’s. Therefore, I would use graffiti as writing.

The tradition of folk art for carving the santos i.e. using saints of wood for house hold devotion forms the par of Puerto Rican culture. The santos from the past served as the prime object of devotion, but at present they form the part of artistic merit, which is because of the link with the ancient culture of Puerto Rico.

Both the old and new santos of Puerto Rican function continuously in a devotional framework for a few number of their owners and santeros. For the carvers of Puerto Rico, carving a santos forms a religious experience (Dennant, 1997).

Graffiti showed inter connected factors to the world of hip-hop, sometime also studied as a part of its own entity. Graffiti depicts an artistic aspect of confrontation towards the authority and simultaneously reflects expression towards subculture. I have found that in the early time of Christianity, saints were given honour as role models, courageous heroes and guardians.

In the present time the carving of the santeros remind me of the fundamental task played by these holy pictures in the everyday lives of supporters. From the point of dedication towards the signs of Puerto Rican traditions and art, the modern santos from Puerto Rico fit into the highly prosperous tradition, which goes forward to progress in response to the changes in the political, social and religious context.

References

Manga and Japanese Contemporary Art. (2005). Retrieved August 23, 2008 from http://www.taidemuseo.hel.fi/english/tennispalatsi/programme/manga.html

The Santos Tradition. (2004). University of Florida. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from http://www.harn.ufl.edu/santos/introduction.php

Carol Reed (1965). The Agony & The Ecstasy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://charltonhestonworld2.homestead.com/AgonyEcstasyPg1.html. [Last Accessed 23 August 2008].

Ian Cox (2006). Teacher Sacked Over Nude. [ONLINE] Available at: http://coxsoft.blogspot.co.uk/2006/10/teacher-sacked-over-nude.html. [Last Accessed 23 August 2008].

Pamela Dennant (1997). The Emergence of Graffiti in New York City. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hiphop-network.com/articles/graffitiarticles/emergenceofnycitygraffiti.asp. [Last Accessed 23 August 2008].

Arts of the Renaissance period

Arts of the Renaissance period Essay

Introduction

Some of the artists known for their work of art in the Renaissance period consist of Giovanni Bellini, Leonardo Da Vinci, Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael. The Renaissance was a time period in which stunning sculptures and artwork increased all over the world (Denna’s World: The Renaissance, 2008). It described the high points of humanism and the expression of creativity and beauty of life. The Renaissance period rapidly approached the simplicity, monumentality and heftiness of the art of Renaissance of the early 16th century (Denna’s World: The Renaissance, 2008).

Artists and their contribution

The three artists which I have chosen are Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was the incarnation of the Renaissance ideal of the universal man. He was the first artist to achieve comprehensive mastery all over the branches of art (Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519), 2008). Besides being a scholar in the natural sciences, medicine and philosophy, Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect and engineer. He was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor whose brilliant paintings characterized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His art contribution includes: The last supper, Mona Lisa and St. Jerome in the Wilderness (Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519), 2008).

The last Supper

The Last Supper is a 15th century painting created by Leonardo Da Vinci for his supporters. His painting particularly portrays the reaction given by each follower when Jesus said one of them would deceive him (Leonardo Da Vinci, 2008). With various degrees of anger and shock, all twelve apostles have different reactions to the news.

Mona Lisa:

During the Italian Renaissance, Mona Lisa is a 16th century portrait painted in oil by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic (Leonardo Da Vinci, 2008). The ambiguity of the sitter’s expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition and the subtle forms of modeling were the qualities that have contributed to the fascination in the painting (Leonardo Da Vinci, 2008).

St. Jerome in the Wilderness

This painting was an unfinished painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting depicts Saint Jerome during his draw back to the Syrian Desert, where he lived the life of a solitary person (Leonardo Da Vinci, 2008).

Raphael Sanzio

Raphael was an Italian painter and designer of the Renaissance period. He was known for the excellence and refinement of his paintings and drawings. Raphael is best known for his large shape compositions in the Vatican in Rome (Raphael, 2008).

Vision of knight

The theme of the painting was controversial. The painting depicts a sleeping knight who was dreaming to choose between Virtue and Pleasure. There were two feminine figures that were representing as the ideal attributes of the knight (Raphael, 2008). The picture holds the ideals of a scholar, soldier and lover.

Madonna and the child

The painting describes a woman known as Madonna who is holding the Christ Child with enormous kindheartedness. The pictures itself says that they two are linked in such a way that any reader can read the book which is open for all (Raphael, 2008).

Connestabile Madonna

The Connestabile Madonna is a small and unfinished painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. The painting reveals the Madonna holding the Child while reading a book (Raphael, 2008).

Michelangelo: Michelangelo was a sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who usually used to make the use of an unparalleled influence on the expansion of Western art.

Bacchus: Bacchus is a marble sculpture designed by Michelangelo. The statue represents Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, in a revolutionary intoxicated state. Bacchus is shown with rolling eyes, with staggering body, almost teetering off the rocky outcrop, sitting behind a faun and eating the bunch of grapes that are slipping out of his left hand (Michelangelo, 2005).

David: It is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture and one of the greatest works of Michelangelo. The painting describes the statue of the young Israelite king David that almost without doubt holds the title of the most identifiable stone sculpture in the history of art. The picture is regarded both the symbol of strength and youthful human beauty (Michelangelo, 2005).

Pieta: it is a marble sculpture designed by the Michelangelo. This work of art gives a picture of the body of Jesus on the knees of his mother Mary after the excruciation. The theme is basically of Northern origin (Michelangelo, 2005).

I have chosen these particular pieces because their work is admired for the clarity of form and ease of composition and for the visual achievement of the ideal of human dignity. The structural design of the Italian Renaissance period is the most lucid and comprehensive volume available till today.

The painting of these artists extravagantly illustrates the readers everything they need to know about the architectural life of the paintings and drawings. The art in Renaissance shows the freshness and breadth of approaches used by the artists. The drawings of the renaissance period focus on works of art, their creators and the state of affairs that affect the creation. The sculpture of Michelangelo defines the work of art very clearly and specifically.

Renaissance period

The renaissance period was a period of attractive artwork and structures. These pictures and sculptures boomed all over the Western Europe. The renaissance period of art was expected to commence in Rome, but it started out in Italy where there was always a remainder of classical-styled structural design (Denna’s World: The Renaissance, 2008). In renaissance period, there was a greater interest in the depictions of pattern and color.

Color was underlined by utilizing the diverse marble inlays, for example, the front wall of the church of the Certosa di Pavia and Venetian structural design. There were many painters and sculptors from the period of renaissance period. All these paintings and the sculptures are the important work of art and also balance the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism (Denna’s World: The Renaissance, 2008).

The museums which I visited at the end of the essay are Musée du Louvre in Paris and Vatican Museums, Rome.

References

Denna’s World; The Renaissance,(2008). Retrieved June 11, 2008 from http://www.dworldonline.com/REN.HTM

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519). Retrieved June 11, 2008 from http://www.theartgallery.com.au/ArtEducation/greatartists/DaVinci/about/

Leonardo Da Vinci, (2008). Retrieved June 11, 2008 from http://www.abcgallery.com/L/leonardo/leonardo.html

Michelangelo, (2005). Retrieved June 11, 2008 from http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/michelangelo/

Raphael, (2008). Retrieved June 11, 2008 from http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/raphael/

What were the distinctive features of the Manchester school of anthropology?

What were the distinctive features of the Manchester school of anthropology?

Structural-functionalism, which dominated British social anthropology for much of the twentieth century, interpreted society in terms of its institutions. Institutions provided society with its structure and worked together to keep society, a bounded unit, in a state of equilibrium.

A person’s role or position in the structure determined their behaviour. In the early 1950s, criticisms of the structural-functionalist approach began to emerge from the Manchester school of anthropology, a group of anthropologists involved with the anthropology department at Manchester University. The Manchester school reacted against the obsession with formal institutions and the structure they supposedly produced.

Many felt it was time to move away from the search for ideal types and focus on the much-neglected individual and how he/she coped in a system full of contradictions and inconsistencies. The Manchester school developed a distinctive approach which focused on the role of conflict in society, acknowledged the importance of the wider context (particularly the impact of colonialism), shed light on the issue of multiple identities through their studies of urban and rural communities, and advanced a new analytical model; namely social network analysis. Although the school is distinct in certain ways, its continued reliance on the structural-functionalist paradigm must be realised.

In contrast to structural-functionalists, the Manchester school did not see social equilibrium as “a simple affair, resulting from the neat integration of groups or norms. On the contrary it emerges through the balancing of oppositions in a dialectical process” [Kuper 1973, 139]. In other words, conflict is an inherent part of society but certain mechanisms exist to ease the tensions and maintain an equilibrium. Ritual, according to Max Gluckman, was one such mechanism.

He analysed “rituals of rebellion” in southern African societies and argued that “whatever the ostensible purpose of the ceremonies, a most striking feature of their organization is the way in which they openly express social tensions” [Gluckman 1963, 112]. One such ceremony occurred in Swaziland. The dominant cleavage in the society was between the king and his subjects.

During the ceremony various groups formed cross-cutting ties which undermined and reduced the severity of the dominant cleavage and the king’s subjects were given the opportunity to voice their hatred towards him. “This ceremony is…a stressing of conflict, a statement of rebellion and rivalry against the king, with periodical affirmations of unity with the king” [Gluckman 1963, 125]. One could infer that such a ritual could totally disrupt a society based on the domination of the ruled by the ruler.

Crucially however, the people are rebelling specifically against the king, and not against the institution of kingship; “the rebellious ritual occurs within an established and unchallenged social order” [Gluckman 1963, 126-27]. In sum Gluckman explains,

The acceptance of the established order as right and good, and even sacred, seems to allow unbridled excess, very rituals of rebellion, for the order itself keeps this rebellion within bounds. Hence to act the conflicts, whether directly or by inversion or in other symbolic form, emphasizes the social cohesion within which the conflict exists [Gluckman 1963, 127]

The ritual reaffirms and perpetuates the social order.

Gluckman’s fieldwork in Zululand and Swaziland established conflict as an unavoidable aspect for analysis in the study of society. However, he has been criticized by many for continuing to use a structural-functionalist paradigm. His studies address the issue of conflict but always in terms of how it is contained by mediating mechanisms (such as ritual) which reaffirm the social order. Kuper explains that this

emphasis on the maintenance of equilibrium grew out of his study of white-ruled Zululand, ‘which despite its many unresolved and irresoluble conflicts, “worked”’, obliging him to consider ‘how social systems could contain the deep conflicts which are present in all of them’ [Kuper 1973, 141].

In other words, Gluckman concentrated on repetitive (as opposed to changing) social systems in which “changes occur not by alterations in the order of offices, but by changes in the persons occupying those offices” [Gluckman 1963, 128]. This, Kuper argues, is “the most vulnerable feature of Gluckman’s theory” [Kuper 1973, 140]. Although it may shed light on small-scale, non-centralized communities, it ignores conflicts “in which the contending parties no longer share the basic values upon which the legitimacy of the social system rests” [Swartz 1966, 34].

From the viewpoint of the sociology of knowledge, it is no accident that this alteration of analytical focus from structure to process has developed during a period in which the formerly colonial territories of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific have been undergoing far-reaching political changes that have culminated in independence [Swartz 1966, 3]

In other words, with many countries engaged in the struggle for their independence, anthropologists working in the 1950s and 1960s finally accepted that “the total political situation should be taken into account” [Kuper 1973, 142]. As the Manchester school anthropologists carried out most of their work in British Central Africa they focussed particularly on the impact of colonialism and capitalism in the societies they studied. Gluckman argued for the recognition of “a Central African Society of heterogeneous culture-groups of Europeans and Africans” [Kuper 1973, 141].

The point of articulation between imperial and indigenous cultures was epitomized in the position of the headman or elected elder, an office institutionalised by the British. He was seen as an “inter-calary figure”, caught between the demands of the state and the demands of his people [Kuper 1973, 143]. As Epstein’s classic study of Politics in an Urban African Community shows, when Africans rioted against the British in response to an increase in taxes in 1935, the elected elders were also attacked and forced to take shelter with the colonial masters [Kuper 1973, 146]. Such studies shed light on the flaws of the colonial system and the social problems it had caused, topics almost entirely avoided by previous anthropologists.

The Manchester school also focused their attention towards urban and not just rural localities. Through recognition of the urban as a valid and necessary unit of study, the school brought the issues of multiple identities and situational selection to the fore. The process of urbanization in colonial Africa markedly increased the number of identities people associated with themselves. “Sometimes a man might side with Bemba against non-Bemba; at other times with clerks against underground workers; and then again line up with fellow Africans against the white mine authority or the government” [Kuper 1973, 146-47].

In other words, people responded to this identity dilemma by choosing to use or ally with different identities, depending on the social situation; this technique is known as situational selection. In the Kalela Dance Mitchell argues that the same group of people can have very different relationships depending on whether they are in a tribal or urban setting. Thus, “ethnic identity is both situational and negotiated by actors amongst each other, and any continuity is possible in principle but not guaranteed” [Rogers 1995, 23].

In 1954 Barnes published his study of a Norwegian Parish and introduced the concept of the social network as an analytical tool [Mitchell 1969, 5]. “Basically, network analysis is very simple: it asks questions about who is linked to whom, the nature of that linkage, and how the nature of the linkage affects behaviour” [Boissevain 1979, 393]. Social network analysis studied the relationships of interacting people in actual situations.

The individual, instead of structures or institutions, was the starting point. This allowed anthropologists to “concern (themselves) with individuals using social roles rather than with roles using individuals, and with the crossing and manipulation rather than the acceptance of institutional boundaries” [Rogers 1995, 20]. In contrast to the structural-functionalist approach which viewed a person’s role in the structure as determining their behaviour, social network analysis considered how individuals adopt and modify the rules to further their own interests and “use network linkages in order to achieve desired ends” [Mitchell 1969, 38].

Network analysis was found to be particularly useful for studies of larger scale communities. As Mitchell argues, this is because of the “large number of single-stranded relationships in them, therefore institutional integration is relatively weak” [Mitchell 1969, 48]. In other words, in bigger, more complex communities people have fewer overlapping relations; using an institutional approach is simply not sufficient for such societies. Also, “social network analysis facilitates the tracing of the connections between locality and wider contexts”, an important factor in an approach so concerned with the “total” situation [Rogers 1995, 18].

An interesting aspect of social network analysis is its application of mathematical methods to anthropological study. Mitchell argues that the “use of graph theory and probability mathematics provides an intriguing method of erecting model networks with which empirical networks can be compared” [Mitchell 1969, 34]. This “openness to methodological innovation” was a key feature of the Manchester school but the school also widely accepted that statistical methods should be used as an aid, and not form the basis of anthropological analysis [Kuper 1973, 142].

There are numerous problems with social network analysis. “The study of personal networks requires meticulous and systematic detailed recording of data on social interaction for a fairly large group of people, a feat which few fieldworkers accomplish successfully” [Mitchell 1969, 11]. Social network analysis is simply too time-consuming and detailed for it to be a viable analytical model in many situations.

Also, although the level of abstraction is not as great as it is in the structural-functionalist approach, the anthropologist must still identify the limits or extent of a network, and select the individual or group at the centre of it. The isolation of one part of the network is “based on the fieldworker’s judgement of what links are significant in explaining the behaviour of the people with whom he is concerned” [Mitchell 1969, 13-14]. Just as structural-functionalists “found” structures in society, the Manchester school “found” networks.

However, the important factor to keep in mind with regard to social network analysis is that it was always intended as a complement to structural-functional analysis. As Mitchell outlines, the “notion of social networks is complementary to and not a substitute for conventional frameworks of analysis” [Mitchell 1969, 8].

In conclusion, it is clear that the Manchester school was distinctive for several reasons. Firstly, it was an action-oriented approach which described the social system as it actually was, full of conflicts and contradictions. Cleavages and tensions were dealt with through various redressive mechanisms. Secondly, it rejected the view of society as a bounded unit and acknowledged the influence of a wider context in all situations; the role of colonialism in causing social problems in Africa was highlighted.

In addition, the Manchester school addressed both urban and rural localities and in doing so furthered anthropology’s understanding of multiple identities and the necessary application of situational selection. Finally, the school advanced the use of social network analysis, applying mathematical methods to the study of culture and bringing the individual and his/her interactions with other actors in actual settings to the centre of study.

Despite these advances, the Manchester school continued to function within a structural-functionalist paradigm. This is shown, for example, by the fact that conflict was studied only in relation to equilibrium; the school did not account for social change or transformation. Also, although they emphasised the impact and inequalities of the colonial system, the Manchester anthropologists did not provide a general theoretical approach for the colonial situation.

Finally, its analytical model was designed as a complement to structural-functionalist modes of analysis. The Manchester school is characterised by several distinct features however, overall it “represents more of a shift of emphasis than a complete departure from pre-war structuralism” [Kuper 1973, 148].

Bibliography

Boissevain, J. 1979. Network analysis: a reappraisal, Current Anthropology 20: 392-394.

Gluckman, M. 1963. Order and rebellion in tribal Africa. London: Cohen & West.

Hannerz, U. 1992. The global ecumene as a network of networks, in A. Kuper (ed.) Conceptualising society. London: Routledge.

Kuper, A. 1973. Anthropology and anthropologists: The modern British school. London: Routledge.

Mitchell, J.C. 1969. Social networks in urban situations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rogers, A. & S. Vertovec. 1995. The urban context: ethnicity, social networks and situational analysis. Oxford: Berg.

Swartz, M., V. Turner & A. Tuden. 1966. Political anthropology. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co.

Question: What was the reaction of British anthropologists to Lévi-Strauss’s work?

Question: What was the reaction of British anthropologists to Lévi-Strauss’s work?

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908) was and is the pope of structuralism, to quote Marcel Hénaff. (1998:2) As my account of his contribution to the shaping of this ‘method’ or ‘tool’ – as he himself insisted on calling it (Kuper 1996:175, Hénaff 1998:6) – later in this essay illustrates, that is something that can hardly be disputed. It is not so self-evident, however, what the overall importance of his work for social anthropology was, and how well-received his ideas were at the time of their emergence. In this essay, I will focus on the latter question in the context of Britain, in particular with reference to Edmund Leach (1910-1989).

To come to an answer to this question, I will first briefly describe the British anthropological landscape before the introduction of Lévi-Strauss’s concept of structuralism. Then I will give an outline of Lévi-Strauss’s ideas and his applications thereof, and assess of every aspect of Lévi-Strauss’s work to what extent it was valued, adopted and applied by British anthropologists such as Leach.

It is hereby necessary that I pay attention to the positive reactions as well as the substantial criticism Lévi-Strauss received from British anthropologists. Finally, by summarizing previously made points, I will hopefully be able to assess whether the reaction of Leach and others to Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism and the ideas it brought forward was predominantly positive or negative and what the overall impact of Lévi-Strauss on Leach’s anthropology was.

Needless to say, Lévi-Strauss was not the first French theorist whose ideas would have noticeable influence in British anthropology. In the first half of the 20th century, after the ‘fall’ of Frazer’s evolutionism that aimed to compare the details of human culture on a worldwide scale, Durkheim’s sociological theories were a major inspiration for one of the central figures in British social anthropology: Radcliffe-Brown. (Leach 1970:7)

His focus was on coherence within groups in (primitive) societies; put very simply, the dominant view was that all institutions and ‘aspects of cosmology’ such as religion served primarily to maintain the group structure, by functioning as tools for the recreation of appropriate sentiments and the enforcement of norms. (Kuper 1996:160) Radcliffe-Brown’s anthropology was clearly naturalist, in the sense that Radcliffe-Brown and his followers tended to assume that the associations and oppositions which people seized upon were somehow presented to them by their environment. (Ibid:170)

Another important aspect of British anthropology, introduced by its ‘founding father’, Malinowski, was the fact that it was thoroughly empiricist. The belief reigned that theories had to be distilled from empirical facts obtained through fieldwork. (Ibid:170) Malinowski and those in his tradition can be classified as functionalists, for the purpose of their research was to show how a community functioned as a social system, and how its individual members lived their lives. (Leach 1970:7)

Lévi-Strauss was not the first anthropologist to be concerned with structure either. In fact, the Oxford school in the 1940’s, led by Radcliffe-Brown, were already looking into the explicit code of social behaviour. However, they did not pay much attention to ‘psychological problems’, that is to say, processes of thought, which was a result of their sociological orientation characterized by neglect of the tradition of Tylor and the culture concept. (Kuper 1996:159-160)

It is worth noting that Lévi-Strauss entered anthropology from philosophy, for this explains the choice of many of his focal points. (Hénaff 1998:2) Lévi-Strauss, too, was inspired by Durkheim – particularly by his later work on a model of society built up of segments integrated by force of mechanical or organic solidarity – as well as by Mauss’s work on exchange, yet he came to different conclusions than Radcliffe-Brown and other British anthropologists, as we will see. (Kuper 1996:160,162)

Other sources of inspiration for Lévi-Strauss were American cultural anthropologists from the tradition of Boas, as well as trends in psycho-analysis (notably Freud), mathematics and communication. (Leach 1967:XVI) But the most determinative influence on his work came from Roman Jakobson and his De Saussure-inspired linguistic theory, based on the distinction between ‘parole’ (code, utterances) and ‘langue’ (message, grammar). (Kuper 1996:160, Leach 1970:45-46)

In the following section of my essay I will give an outline of the conclusions Lévi-Strauss came to through his research inspired by the abovementioned. I will first explain the goal of his work and his definitions of and views on certain concepts, and then discuss how he applied his method of structuralist analysis to the major themes in his work (in chronological order): kinship, primary classification, and myth.

At the same time, I will shed light on the reactions of British anthropologists to these ideas, with specific reference to Leach. The interest of British social anthropologists in structuralism arose in the 1950s and 1960. British imperialism was falling into decay, and partly because of these circumstances British anthropology became more open to new, foreign ideas. (Kuper 1996:161)

The goal of Lévi-Strauss’s anthropology was a fundamentally different one from that of functionalists. His ultimate concern was to understand social relations by uncovering the social structure and, in that way, to establish facts which are true about ‘the human mind’. To achieve this, he reasoned, one should use models. (Hénaff 1998:14, Leach 1970:7)

“In anthropology as in linguistics […], it is not comparison that supports generalization, but the other way around. If, as we believe to be the case, the unconscious activity of the mind consists in imposing forms upon content, and if these forms are fundamentally the same for all minds – ancient and modern, primitive and civilized […] – it is necessary and sufficient to grasp the unconscious structure underlying each institution and each custom, in order to obtain a principle of interpretation valid for other institutions and other customs, provided of course that the analysis is carried far enough.”

(Lévi-Strauss 1963:21)

In order to understand his work, it is important to determine what Lévi-Strauss understood when using the term ‘social structure’. He went further than Radcliffe-Brown, who defined social structure as the set of social relations organized in a system, by arguing that a structure was in fact a model of which social relations are just the “raw materials” and that therefore “social structure can, by no means, be reduced to the ensemble of the social relations to be described in a given society”. (Hénaff 1998:13-14)

According to Lévi-Strauss, a structure was conceivable only where there was a sufficient degree of internal motivation (as opposed to arbitrariness). Therefore, certain objects only were receptive to the structural approach; their nature had to be closed and finite, and their function had to be to differentiate and order positions and statuses and to link groups through individuals. Lévi-Strauss focused primarily on primitive societies, for their forms of organization were stable and tending toward stability, and their activities limited and integrated. (Ibid:8-9)

This groundwork of structuralism became a source of inspiration and guidance for various social anthropologists in Britain, such as Douglas, Needham, and most notably Leach, who Kuper described as “the most enthusiastic and original of the British social anthropologists who experimented with structuralism” and who was responsible for extending its range of applications. (Kuper 1996:173) Lévi-Strauss revived their interest in the study of systems of thought and encouraged them to apply linguistic methods onto their anthropological research, as I will illustrate when discussing individual themes in Lévi-Strauss’s work.

Leach and other British structuralists adopted his notion of an ‘underlying grammar’, that was based upon a series of binary oppositions which were related to form a system. (Ibid:172) Moreover, Leach always praised Lévi-Strauss for causing innovation in anthropology, in the sense that the latter was responsible for applying an original method to categories of orthodox ethnography and directing anthropologists’ attention towards problems that earlier British anthropologists scarcely considered. (Leach 1967:XVI-XVII)

However, this is not to say that Leach was a ‘slavish imitator’ of Lévi-Strauss. (Leach 1967:XV) In fact, he challenged or in some cases even set aside some of the very foundations of Lévi-Strauss’s approach. (Hénaff 1998:70)

First of all, the goal of Leach’s research was different from Lévi-Strauss’s. Leach did not aim to identify psychological universals, but rather to elucidate particular social systems. (Kuper 1996:167) This different viewpoint on the purpose of structuralist analysis was caused by Leach’s non-belief in the universality of the mind; he saw it as Lévi-Strauss’s own ‘invention’, meant to create a philosophical extension of ethnological results. (Hénaff 1998:113)

Besides, Leach considered the linguistic model Lévi-Strauss employed too simplistic for the purpose of reaching into ‘the human mind’. (Leach 1970:112) Rather than displaying the structure of the human mind, Lévi-Strauss had “ended up by telling us something about the structure of aesthetic perception.” (Ibid:113) Through ‘verbal juggling’, as Leach called it, Lévi-Strauss tried to convince his readers of this theory that was generalized and paradoxical, for what is universally true must be natural while Lévi-Strauss held the humanity of man to be non-natural by definition (as I will explain in the section on primary classification). (Ibid:82,112) Leach, for one, never came to understand Lévi-Strauss’s notion of the mind fully. (Hénaff 1998:262)

But perhaps the most important point of criticism from Leach and other structuralists and critics of Lévi-Strauss was that the initial model – revolving around ‘universally true, basic meaningful principles’ – which Lévi-Strauss relied on was in fact a product of the observer’s own prejudiced presuppositions and rarely corresponded closely to an ethnographic reality. (Leach 1970:19,110)

This point is related to the different stances on empiricism that Lévi-Strauss and most contemporaneous Anglo-American anthropologists held. Lévi-Strauss did value and indeed conduct observation, but as he believed in an underlying social structure and universality of the human mind, he saw ethnographic facts as displays of a theoretical model at work; mere examples of what is possible. (Ibid:42) As Hénaff put it:

“In fact, he asked anthropology to proceed just like any science of observation: to be very empirical and meticulous regarding data gathering and very conceptual regarding the theorization of the set of such data.” (Hénaff 1998:15)

Not surprisingly, this position caused significant resistance among British social anthropologists, even those who viewed structuralism positively. According to Leach, among others, it led to Lévi-Strauss treating his topics too theoretically and systematically and ignoring time, space, emotion and taboo throughout his research. (Leach 1970:87,60) In other words, he criticised Lévi-Strauss’s reductionism.

Lévi-Strauss generally provided too little ethnographical evidence, and if he did, he seemed to select this ethnographical evidence to fit his theories. (Ibid:87,90,98,117) A consequence of this is that the contrary is difficult to demonstrate, and therefore Lévi-Strauss’s theories can not be critically tested. (Ibid:50,117)

Kinship was the first object that Lévi-Strauss regarded receptive to the structural approach, and this is the field where the influence of Mauss was most perceptible.

Lévi-Strauss came to the conclusion that reciprocity was the key for understanding kinship. He went as far as to say that marriage was the primary exchange system and that the system of exchanges of women formed the basis for the organization of all societies with any ideology of unilineal descent. (Ibid:104) A central position in his theory about kinship was occupied by the incest taboo, which provided certain prohibitions and in ‘simple’ kinship systems also a positive marriage rule as to who one can/cannot/should marry.

In the case of the latter he drew an additional distinction between generalized and restricted exchange, and created a third ‘bastard form’: delayed reciprocity, which is basically a generalized exchange system where the next rather than the same generation returns a woman. Lévi-Strauss identified the problem that generalized exchange was speculative and led to differences between groups in terms of their ‘richness in wives’ despite its egalitarian and integrative nature, an idea that Leach agreed with. (Kuper 1996:162-164)

While studying kinship, Lévi-Strauss assumed that both the marriage rules and the actual marriage choices were more or less independent refractions of the single underlying, unconscious grammar of reciprocity and opposition. Therefore, he believed that the way to discover this grammar was either through an analysis of the people’s model, or of the statistical distribution of marriage choices, with a preference for the first method because of the influence political, economic and demographic factors have in practice.

Lévi-Strauss was convinced that analysis of simple kinship systems could also illuminate complex kinship systems, for his research had shown that even in the absence of explicit rules a pattern of choices could be discovered. (Kuper 1996:164-165)

Leach and his students adopted Lévi-Strauss’s view of society as a system of communication in which women were the ‘message’. He made Lévi-Strauss’s analysis more specific by defining the units that exchanged women: local groups of adult males recruited by descent. (Kuper 1996:166-167) Leach did however reveal ambiguities in Lévi-Strauss’s ideas about kinship: Lévi-Strauss’s confusion of ‘marriage’ and ‘exogamy’, the unclear meaning of ‘elementary structures’ and the mistaken presumption that unilineal descent systems were universal. (Leach 1970:102-105) Most importantly, Leach argued against Lévi-Strauss by pointing out that forms of exchange were adapted to political and economic circumstances. (Kuper 1996:167)

In the 1960s, after having published several books on kinship systems, Lévi-Strauss himself too noticed that kinship was too embedded in social action to provide a sure guide to mental processes, which is why he shifted his scope to ‘purer expressions of social thought’ that did not deal with objects: primary classification and myth. (Ibid:169)

In his works La Pensée Sauvage and Le Totémisme aujourd’hui, among others, Lévi-Strauss studied the way in which the social and natural environment was ordered by verbal categories. The human mind, he argued, imposed patterns on its world by classifying objects using terms that were arbitrary, yet the relationships between these terms had a more universal character. In this way, our process of thought created a set of binary oppositions that formed a system that could be applied to other kinds of relationships, for example between social groups. (Ibid:169-170)

The most important oppositions in the structural conceptual system, and therefore in Lévi-Strauss’s work, were Culture/Nature and – closely related – Humanity/Animality. (Ibid:172, Leach 1970:36) Totemism, the application of transformations of the animal level categories to the social classification of human beings, is a method for members of a society to distinguish their fellow humans according to their mutual social status. (Leach 1970:39-40)

Lévi-Strauss saw distinguishing between ‘two poles’ as necessary in the analysis of primitive thought and manifestations thereof, such as myth, language, colours, and foodstuffs and their modes of preparation:

“Where Barthes opposes system and syntagm, the corresponding contrasts in Lévi-Strauss are metaphor and metonym or sometimes paradigmatic series and syntagmatic chain […]. Although the jargon is exasperating the principles are simple. As Jakobson put it, metaphor (system, paradigm) relies on the recognition of similarity, and metonymy (syntagm) on the recognition of contiguity.” (Ibid:48)

The final conclusion Lévi-Strauss came to on the topic of the human mind, was that its ‘algebra’ could be represented as a rectangular matrix that could be read horizontally and vertically, and that this principle was universal.(Ibid:52)

Lévi-Strauss’s works on primary classification belonged to his most Durkheimian, and they therefore became the ‘entry’ for many British social anthropologists to structuralism. (Kuper 1996:169) As I have made clear earlier, British structuralists were extremely critical of Lévi-Strauss’s use of mathematical models.

Despite the fact that he did not take all of Lévi-Strauss’ applications of structuralist analysis in the field of primary classification seriously (as was the case with Lévi-Strauss’s study on food preparation), Leach applied his less reductionist version of structuralist analysis in ‘new’ fields, for example on animals.

Leach, as well as Douglas, had a particular interest in anomaly, and the taboos originating from it. Douglas was more critical than Leach on this point: she rejected Lévi-Strauss’s system of categories of thought for it failed to take into account the emotive force of symbolic action, and she also suggested the addition of a third term to binary oppositions. (Ibid:173)

More or less simultaneously with studying primary classification, Lévi-Strauss started looking into myth. According to Lévi-Strauss, the aim of myths was to provide logical models capable of resolving some of the contradictions and problems people faced in their lives. (Ibid:172) Many of the myths he analysed had by that time already become divorced from their religious context, but in Lévi-Strauss’s eyes this did not make them any less valid for they still possessed their essential structural characteristics. (Leach 1970:56)

Put very simply, Lévi-Strauss believed that the real message of myth was contained in a system of relationships (often binary oppositions) with which the myth concerned itself. (Kuper 1996:172) To identify these relationships, the myth should be broken up into incidents. (Leach 1970:62) Lévi-Strauss already referred to the importance of taking all versions of one myth into account in order to compare them. He saw the mythology of a given society as a whole as a ‘system’, and each individual story as a syntagm of that system. (Ibid:67-69)

Leach developed this latter notion further. According to him, the existence of multiple myths was a matter of ‘redundancy in communication’ and an intrinsic and necessary feature of mythic tradition, for it ensured that the message, determining the myth’s social and political value by being a system of concepts and categories in terms of which a claim for power or status may be made, got through.

The combination of several versions of one myth formed a structured system of categories organised in local relations of identification, opposition and mediation, which blurred the otherwise stark paradoxes and mysteries that arose. Therefore myth had a cognitive function. Only structuralist analysis could reveal abovementioned system, Leach argued, and thus discover the real message of a myth. (Hugh-Jones and Laidlaw 2000:14-15)

While clearly using his method, Leach criticized Lévi-Strauss’s own research on myth for using sources that ‘normal’ people could not consult, and for considering predominantly myths about animals endowed with human attributes, thereby supporting Lévi-Strauss’s – from Rousseau derived – thesis that the Humanity/Animality (or Culture/Nature) opposition was a primary concern in human thought. (Ibid:15, Leach 1967:IX)

Finally, Leach disagreed with Lévi-Strauss’s belief that structuralist analysis could not be applied to the traditions of the world traditions as it was ‘sacred history’ rather than myth. Leach proved his point by conducting structuralist analysis on the Bible. (Hugh-Jones and Laidlaw 2000:16)

Now I have described both the praise and criticism of Leach and some of his fellow British anthropologists that Lévi-Strauss’s structuralist analysis and his applications thereof received, the moment has come to return to the central question of this essay: what was the reaction of British anthropologists, specifically Leach, to Lévi-Strauss’s work?

As I have shown, Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism was a departure from the functionalism and empiricism that reigned British anthropology in the middle of the 20th century. The reductionism and the supposed universality of the human mind that Lévi-Strauss advocated were generally rejected, and his cavalier use of ethnographic evidence was disapproved of.

Leach definitely was a fierce critic of the errors in Lévi-Strauss’s analysis, but at the same time he considered the ‘study of fallacies’ rewarding, and the complexity of Lévi-Strauss’s work revealing. (Leach 1970:111,118) Moreover, he and most other British ‘reviewers’ of Lévi-Strauss’s work could not deny that Lévi-Strauss had made significant theoretical observations and was responsible for creating a ‘new anthropology’.

Leach, like Douglas and Needham, drew a great deal of inspiration from Lévi-Strauss structuralism as abovementioned examples from the fields of myth, primary classification and to a lesser extent kinship have demonstrated. By taking both positive and negative aspects of Lévi-Strauss’s method into account, Leach developed a less generalized, more empirical form of structuralist analysis, with a more realistic goal in mind, which he used come to improved conclusions on topics Lévi-Strauss had already looked into as well as to study other phenomena.

“He has provided us with a new set of hypotheses about familiar materials. We can look again at what we thought was understood and begin to gain entirely new insights. It is not a question of Lévi-Strauss being right or Lévi-Strauss being wrong; it is more like literary or dramatic criticism. Faced with the challenge of a new point of view one is suddenly able to see the familiar in quite a different way and to understand something which was previously invisible.” (Leach 1967:XVIII)

Bibliography

Hénaff, M. 1998. “Introduction: Lévi-Strauss and Structuralism”, “Structures of Kinship”, “Unconscious Categories and the Universality of the Mind” and “Notes”. In Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Making of Structural Anthropology, 1-21. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hugh-Jones, S. and Laidlaw, J. 2000. “On Scholastic

Corporate Governance Arrangements for Tesco

Corporate Governance Arrangements for Tesco

Essay Question: Research and evaluate the corporate governance arrangements for Tesco PLC

Tesco Plc, one of the largest food and beverages retailers in the world is a non-cyclical company that has seen enormous investment from around the globe including Warren Buffet’s parent firm Berkshire Hathaway. On grounds of the company’s established strategy and mature business model it is a recommended investment for the client.

The report:

  • Defines Corporate Governance
  • Discusses Tesco’s governance structure
  • Value drivers for corporate governance

Corporate Governance:

The fundamental pillar as to how corporations are run day to day and all stakeholder interests (shareholders, management, suppliers etc) are taken into consideration is referred to as “Corporate Governance”. The term encompasses the framework for internal controls that a company has in place to help management and those in charge of running the company to act in the best interests of the shareholders (CFA Institute, 2013).

Principles relevant to Corporate Governance that achieve maximum shareholder wealth are attributed to three fundamentals (CFA Institute, 2013):

  1. Ability of shareholders to voice their opinions and concerns in regard to running of the company with minimum hassle; and
  2. The management responsible for running the company acts in an ethical as well as an independent capacity towards all stakeholders of the company so as to ensure the most efficient running of the corporation
  3. Consistent high quality financial reporting so as to ensure investors are receiving all relevant information in a timely and verifiable manner that eventually results in maximum profitable allocation of resources and capital.

Tesco PLC Structure of Governance

Tesco’s operations around the globe have allowed it to develop a strong and fair framework for running the company across all the markets it operates in. The Board of Directors incorporating the Chairman, the Chief-Executive alongside Non-Executive Directors who provide independent appraisal of the vision of the company whilst adding insight to the strategy lies at the forefront of governance (Tesco, 2014). Furthermore, a senior Independent Director is also present on the Board to ensure all conflicts amongst management and shareholders are resolved in the interests of the shareholders which eventually prevents any “agency problems” or front running by the management in regard to the shareholder investments.

The specialised tasks of running the company have called for segregations of major duties to respective committees in the corporation. At present Tesco Plc supports its vision with the help of five committees (Tesco, 2014).

The Tesco Committee

Tesco PLC Board Committees

The major drivers of each committee alongside its evolvement over the years are summarised below.

The Audit Committee: The committee is tasked to ensure that the risk management principles for the company are effective and are consistently updated to keep risk management of Tesco in line with its strategy (Tesco, 2014). Furthermore, interim audits and financial disclosures are verifiable and accurately presented to any person who demands knowledge of them.

The Audit committee is also responsible for recommending the appointment of an independent external auditor for the yearly audit and conducting inquiries into management in regard to any investigative matter it deems fit (Tesco, 2014). Over the years the committee has hired external legal counsel to advice on matters that have raised concern.

“Corporate Governance” Critique for Tesco

  • Presence of knowledgeable financial experts to help the operating environment of the company
  • External auditors appointed through shareholder participation and not by management decision
  • Adherence report in regard to compliance with the UK Governance Code
  • Continuous training of personnel on the committee to remain updated on matters of accountancy and finance

The Remuneration Committee: The Remunerations committee is primarily responsible for determining the compensation agreements of senior management as well as analyse structure of compensations that needs to be extended out to Executive members so as to retain the most competent and diligent executive management for overseeing the company (Tesco, 2014).

The committee sets out the incentive fee specifications for senior management as well as deliberates on the aptness of expenses that can be claimed by management so as to focus on long term profitability and not short term goals (Tesco, 2014).

“Corporate Governance” Critique for Tesco

  • Disclosures regarding share scheme payments to management are discussed in the Annual Reports or any other public document
  • “Clawback” provisions are present to discourage management from participating in short term profitability at the expense of long term ones
  • Use of external counsels and consultants to ensure no conflict arises in regard to compensation between management and the committee
  • Outlining philosophy for compensation to management and shareholders so as to assess compensation in “Best case” and “Worst case” situations

The Corporate Responsibility Committee: The committee was established in 2012 and incorporates the principles of the Companies Act 2006 to help govern its scope of operation (Tesco, 2014). The committee ensures Tesco acts in a sustainable manner to benefit the communities and environment. Moreover, it considers impact of corporate actions by Tesco or any of its subsidiaries on the ethical culture present across all its markets of operation.

“Corporate Governance” Critique for Tesco

  • Consistent and timely updates on ethical stances of Tesco throughout its financial year and implications of such actions on the communities
  • Updating investor and consumer beliefs in regard to sustainable business model and sourcing of operations for Tesco Plc
  • Develop strong communication channels to ensure investors are aware of business model and the company is living up to its reputation

The Nominations Committee: The Nominations committee lies at the heart of the company. It is tasked primarily with all matters relevant to management. Acting in accordance with the Companies Act 2006, the committee ensures that executives on the board possess relevant skill to discharge duties, project a vision for the achievement of goals and the balance required between executive and the non-executive directors so as to maintain independence within the organisation (Tesco, 2014). Furthermore, the committee deals with regular appraisal of management so as to make sure the leadership quality of the board is not compromised.

Since its development the committee has also taken up the responsibility to ensure that equitable nomination procedures are drawn and implemented on a firm wide basis as well as a smooth transition mechanism is prevalent for passing over of responsibility when managerial personnel change.

“Corporate Governance” Critique for Tesco

  • Presence of independent members ensure shareholder interests are at the forefront of discussion
  • Linking management performance to compensation by means of regular appraisals helps Tesco ensure that it is extending out the most cost-effective expertise at every level

The Disclosures Committee: The committee not only makes sure that consistency prevails in financial statements making them easily verifiable but also scrutinizes the annual reports to ensure that accounting estimates or policies are not inappropriate for treatment of various matters (including financial and operating leases) (Tesco, 2014). The committee also deals with incorporating a framework within the firm to handle “material nonpublic information” and how it is to be disclosed.

“Corporate Governance” Critique for Tesco

  • Helps ensure effective risk management with regard to insider information and assessing best course of action to dealing with speculations in the market
  • Enhancing investor confidence by making sure that notes to the financial statements are comparable over periods of time

The Corporate Governance framework at the Executive Management level is limited to the Board, the Board’s composition and the committees formed to review their respective matters. To deal with corporate governance on a business strategy level Tesco ensures that each division possesses its own strategic plan to enhance performance and help achieve the company’s vision. The committees can be thought of as being responsible for a distinct business segment of the company and at the moment are made up of the following (Tesco, 2014):

  • Compliance Committee
  • Multichannel Committee
  • People Matters Group
  • Property Strategy Committee
  • Social Responsibility Committee
  • Technology Committee
  • Commercial Committee

Given the nature of the work of such committees the overall oversight responsibility lies with the Chief Executive of the company. These add value by ensuring the laying down of a strategy for fulfillment of objectives.

A brief critical outline for other minor stakeholders is also provided below. However, corporate governance should be more closely linked with management, the Board and shareholders. (CFA Institute, 2013).

Customers

Tesco’s “Clubcard” rewards programmes and the “Finest Product” range helps the mature company retain its trusted image. Customers see such aspects as the most value efficient means for satisfying their needs. A store format from hypermarkets to corner stores ensures that each store type caters to the unique needs of the community it is housed in. Tesco’s ability to house a multichannel leadership under one roof helps keep barriers to new entrants high and protect market share in the UK.

Employees

Tesco places immense importance on the skill and betterment of its employees. The company trained more than 250,000 employees last year in light of turning around the company. The employees are not only encouraged to suggest improvements in stores or company policies through Tesco’s feedback approach but are also made to feel as an intangible asset of the company by continuous investment in their betterment.

Regulators

Legislation has a huge impact on how Tesco conducts its businesses around the globe. The impact is further magnified when the company’s policies are in the spotlight. Anti-competitive and employment legislation have affected Tesco the most over the years, whether in developing or developed markets (Tesco, 2014). For a better public image and to comply with local legislation Tesco actively hires from the local community where new stores are opened. Furthermore, Tesco actively participates in sustainability projects where its huge hypermarket stores open up so as to benefit the community.

Suppliers

Tesco’s significant market share allows it to obtain favorable terms from its suppliers from a monetary point of view whereas special teams such as the agricultural team within the corporation help make sure that the company obtains products of utmost quality from its suppliers (Tesco, 2014). Moreover, the “protector line” initiative by Tesco under which any wrongdoing on part of the supplier can be raised by the suppliers’ employees on behalf of Tesco would enable Tesco to improve its operations (Tesco, 2014).

Having analysed the broad corporate governance framework prevalent at Tesco, improvements that can be instituted to reflect better corporate publicity and reputation are related to three main aspects of the company. The table below illustrates methods for strengthening the prevalent model.

The Board
  • Election policy of the Board members should be with staggered whilst keeping a majority of independent members at all times thus making sure that shareholders’ interests are paramount
  • Related party transactions or any conflict of interest arising from people serving on the Board should be disclosed in all interim reports and annual reports
  • The board should meet without the presence of the management so as to prevent any over riddance of independence
  • Little or no barriers to communication with investors or shareholders should be prevalent
Management
  • Establish a Code of Ethics to dictate corporate culture of the firm
  • Increased transparency of options, their exercise period and fees paid out to management for their services rendered (currently amounts disclosed in Financial Statements)
  • Choosing the optimal “peer group” to benchmark performance so as to allow for the most meaningful comparison
  • The use of company assets and property should be limited to circumstances as determined by shareholders and the usage as such should be disclosed at the Annual General Meeting
Shareholders
  • Use of different share classes with different voting powers are fully known to the shareholder
  • Whether the company allows for shareholders to cast their vote in absence (proxy voting)
  • Procedure for raising concerns at the Annual General Meeting
  • Procedures that need approval from the shareholders prior to implementation by the management ( such as defenses in takeovers)

Recommendation Summary

The complex and ever-changing nature of Corporate Governance does not allow for a limited set of principles that govern the matters. The interpretation of the framework for the corporate governance lies with the collaborate interaction of the shareholders and the management.

Given Tesco’s strong framework to delegate matters of public interest and scrutiny to committees independent of the Board and delegating internal strategy vision to segments within the corporation, Tesco successfully ensures that all stakeholder interests are looked after at all times.

The continuous updating of the foundations that form the Corporate Governance framework allows the company to retain its strong customer base and investor confidence. The internal review and revamping of the company’s strategic committees after the “Horse-meat scandal” ensure that the company strives to deliver the very best of responsibility at all levels. Given the responsibilities of various committees of the Board and a “Corporate Code of Ethics” within the firm it is safe to conclude that the company has established an effective corporate governance framework.

Reference List

CFA Institute (2013). Corporate Finance & Portfolio Management. USA: Wiley.

Tesco PLC [2014] Annual Report [Online] Available from www.Tescoplc.com/files/pdf/reports/ar14/download_annual_report.pdf

Bibliography

Gray, I. & Manson, S. (2011). The Audit Process. 5th ed. USA: South Western – Cengage Learning.

Hillier, D., Ross, S. & Westerfield, R. (2010). Corporate Finance. 1st European Edition UK: McGraw-Hill Higher Education

Robinson, T., Greuning,H., Henry,E. & Broihahn, M. (2009). International Financial Statement Analysis. USA: John Wiley & Sons Inc

Seal, W., Garrison, R. & Noreen, E. (2009). Management Accounting. UK: McGraw Hill Higher Education

Target Costing & Lifecycle Costing Systems Comparison

Target Costing & Lifecycle Costing System

Introduction

Letscommunicate Ltd produces mobile phones for sale in supermarkets. In today’s competitive market of mobile phones with short product life cycles, it is important for mobile phone producers to develop and market products that not only meets the customers demand for features at a certain price level but also generate the desired profits. This essay analyses the benefits and limitations of using target costing and life-cycle costing systems over the existing costing and performance measures used by the company. The current techniques used by the company are useful for keeping costs under control but they do not provide an indication of either the maximum costs allowable for defined product features or profits over the total life of a product.

Target costing

Target costing is a method to determine the cost at which a product with specified parameters must be produced to generate the required rate of return. It involves cost analysis during the developmental phase as well to keep the overall costs below the threshold. The cost control techniques currently used by the company are useful in managing costs during production stage. However, moving cost management efforts from the production stage to the product development stage translates into higher profits because of lower costs . This is particularly useful for companies producing mobile phones for supermarkets because supermarkets drive tougher bargains.

The benefits of target costing are higher if specific targets for costs and product features are established earlier in the product development cycle . Cost analysis in earlier stages of the product development may indicate whether it is feasible to produce a mobile phone that not only meet customers’ expectations of price and quality but also generates the desired returns for Letscommunicate Ltd. Also, modifications to the product in the initial development stages cost less and will increase the company’s profit and ability to compete better.

However, the target costing concept will take lower priority if Letscommunicate were to focus on meeting fast time-to-market demands because of shorter time to launch a mobile phone . It is also difficult to forecast price in the future due to rapid technology developments in mobile phones and changes in customer preferences .

Life-cycle costing systems

The competitive nature of the mobile sector means that mobile producers have to not only manage with lower profit margins and shorter product life but also spend a significant amount on developing new products and features. This means that costing methods like absorption costing systems that only look at production costs are less useful because they neglect research and development costs in evaluating profitability of a product. Life-cycle costing systems overcome this drawback as they evaluate costing from the research and development phase through to the eventual conclusion of a product’s life. This approach is useful in determining the overall profits from a product like a mobile phone that has high development costs and a short product life due to new products being launched constantly by competitors.

The major challenge of using the life-cycle costing system is that it would be difficult for Letscommunicate to estimate full life-cycles of a mobile phone in a rapidly changing environment and increasing competition.

Conclusion

Target costing overcomes some of the drawbacks of the current costing and performance techniques used by Letscommunicate as it focuses on maximum allowable costs during the development phase so that the company can generate the required returns. Life-cycle costing is useful as it will incorporate high development costs and short product life in determining the feasibility of a product.