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Have British Jews Fully Assimilated in the UK Labour Market?
Nabil Khattab 1
1) University of Bristol, United Kingdom, and Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, Israel
Date of publication: July 30 , 2015
Edition period: July 2015 – November 2015
To cite this article: Khattab, N. (2015). Have British Jews Fully Assimilated
in the UK Labour Market? International and Multidisciplinary Journal of
Social Sciences, 4(2), 121-148. doi: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1490
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RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 121-148
Have British Jews Fully
Assimilated in the UK Labour
Nabil Khattab
University of Bristol and Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
This paper analyses the patterns of occupational attainment and earnings among the
Jewish community in Britain using UK Labour Force Survey data (2002-2010). The
findings suggest that although British-Jews cannot be distinguished from the
majority main stream population of British-White in terms of their overall
occupational attainment and earnings, it seems that they have managed to integrate
through patterns of self-employment and concentration in the service sector
economy, particularly in banking and financial services. It is argued that this selfemployment profile is a Jewish strategy used to minimise dependency on majority
group employers and by doing so to helping to escape any religious penalties.
Keywords: British Jews, England, UK LFS, labour market, earnings, selfemployment, religious penalty, salariat, Labour Force Survey
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1490
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 121-148
¿Se Han Asimilado Plenamente
los Judíos Británicos al
Mercado Laboral del Reino
Nabil Khattab
University of Bristol, Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
Este artículo analiza los patrones de logro ocupacional y salarial entre la comunidad
judía de Gran Bretanya a partir de los datos de la UK Labour Force Survey (20022010). Los resultados sugieren que, a pesar que no se puede distinguir entre los
judíos británicos y la mayoría de blancos británicos por lo que se refiere a su logro
ocupacional y salarial, parece que se las han apañado para integrarse a partir de
patrones de autoempleo concentrándose en el sector servicios, concretamente en los
servicios financieros y bancarios. Se argumenta que este perfil de auto-empleo es
una estrategia judía utilizada para minimizar la dependencia respecto de los
empleadores pertenecientes al grupo mayoritario y que este hecho les ayuda a
escapar a cualquier sanción religiosa.
Palabras clave: judíos británicos, Inglaterra, UK LFS, mercado laboral, ganancias,
auto-empleo, sanción religiosa, asalariado, Labour Force Survey
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1490
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
eligious belief, religious affiliation and attendance have declined in
the UK. The decline is most evident in relation to the majority white
ethnic group (Crockett & Voas, 2006; Voas & Crockett, 2005), but
also in relation to the non-white ethnic minority population, especially when
looking at the rates of intergenerational decline (Voas, 2006). However,
religious identity for most people in the UK remains important, at least to
the extent that they select a particular religious category in the census and
the other official surveys whenever the question about religious affiliation is
present. Furthermore, evidence from the US, Canada and the UK suggests
that religion is significantly related to labour market outcomes (Brown,
2000; Burstein, 2007; Chiswick & Huang, 2008; Khattab, 2009; Khattab &
Johnston, 2013; Meng & Sentance, 1984; Model & Lin, 2002; Steen, 1996).
These studies have revealed significant labour market differences between
various religious groups and denominations. While UK based studies (e.g.
Heath & Matrtin, 2013; Khattab & Johnston, 2013) have highlighted the
disadvantaged position of Muslims and Sikh, other studies (mainly USbased studies) have focused on the relative advantages of Jews over the
majority populations in the US and Canada in terms of education,
employment and earnings (Burstein, 2007; Chiswick & Huang, 2008; Meng
& Sentance, 1984; Steen, 1996).
While Jews in the US have received considerable research attention in the
past (Burstein, 2007; Chiswick, 1983; Chiswick, 1985; Chiswick & Huang,
2008; Steinberg, 1977), we know relatively little about how well Jews do in
the UK. To the best of our knowledge, not a single study has focused solely
on this group, despite their importance and long residence in the UK. This is
the first paper to systematically analyse the educational, employment
profiles and earnings of British Jews using the Labour Force Survey (LFS)
data from 2002-2010. By doing so, this paper expands our knowledge in
relation to this specific religious group, but more generally it contributes to
the literature on religious differences in the UK labour market and beyond.
Most previous studies analysing ethno-religious penalties in the UK
labour market have excluded Jews from the analysis (Heath & Martin, 2013;
Lindley, 2002; Model & Lin, 2002). However, from the very little that has
been published so far in relation to Jews in the UK, there is a sense of
considerable educational and employment success (Khattab, 2009; Khattab
124 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
& Johnston, 2013). Yet, the lack of systematic research and data leaves us
with speculations on the extent of their success, the factors that explain it
and whether Jews in the UK are vulnerable to the hostile attitudes against
immigrants and minorities (including White and European groups)
throughout the country. This study aims to answer these questions by
systematically analysing the educational and economic performance of Jews
in the UK and drawing on theories of human capital, cultural distinctiveness
and particular strategies, and on theories of group threat and competition. In
the next section we will review these theoretical perspectives followed by a
discussion of the study context (background). In the fourth section we will
discuss our data and methods followed by a presentation of the empirical
results. Finally, we discuss these results and provide some conclusions along
with implications for further research in this area.
Why are Jews Successful? Theoretical Considerations
Particular Human Capital
General theories of human capital explain between-group differences in the
labour market (e.g. employment status and earnings) as a result of their
differential educational qualifications and skills (Coleman, 1988; Mincer,
1958). Previous studies on American Jews have pointed out that controlling
for human capital between Jews and non-Jews in the US does not explain
their between-group differences (Burstein, 2007). A number of researchers
have explained the remaining differences (after controlling for human
capital) by turning to Jewish particularity, most often the importance that
Jews place on education (Chiswick, 1983) and the “Jewish way” of being
involved in communal religious organisations (Hartman & Hartman, 1996).
However, these studies neither provided any strong empirical support to this
unique characteristic of Jews nor explained its source.
However, a recent study by Botticini and Eckstein (2007) (see also
Botticini & Eckstein, 2005) has provided some explanation on how and
where this particular human capital has come from. They argue that
following the destruction of the Second Temple, the educational and
religious reforms that took place under the new religious leadership
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
obligated every male Jewish to read and to teach his sons the Torah (p. 924).
This reform created a large number of Jewish males who could read and
write, although the majority were farmers, similar to other populations
within their areas of residence. With the expansion of urban centres in the
Muslim empire during the Seventh and Eighth centuries, Jews began to
migrate to these centres as their economic returns there were higher than that
in agriculture. Given their initial knowledge in reading and writing, they had
an advantage over many other groups which facilitated a rapid move into
urban occupations. The high economic return on education within these
urban centres (e.g. Baghdad) encouraged these groups to invest even more in
education and other related skills as the demand for urban and skilled
occupations was rapidly increasing with the Establishment of further new
cities, such as Samarra in 836 (p. 939). Thus, Jews as a minority within the
Arab and Muslim Empire specialised in urban skilled occupations which
helped to generate various forms of capital.
These capitals were (and still are to a large extent) highly transferable
and Jews have been able to utilise them in every place they have migrated to,
including Eastern Europe, Russia and later to the rest of Europe and
America. Likewise, these can be key factors in explaining the success of
Jews in the west in general and at present times as argued by Botticini and
Eckstein (2005). However, these capitals per se are not sufficient to enable
Jews (or any other group) to be successful in education and in the labour
market without the intervention of other important factors, most notably
social networks, residential patterns, minimum or none majority-minority
group threat and competition which will be discussed below.
Segregation and Social Capital
There is a clear tendency amongst Jews, perhaps as with other immigrant
groups, to voluntarily live in segregated areas forming areas with high
Jewish density. For example, at present, Jews in the UK are one of the most
segregated religious groups (Peach, 2006). Their high residential
concentration in North London and in the North-West of Britain is
remarkably high. The same pattern can also be found in the US (Pagnini &
Morgan, 1990), which began with migration of Jews in large numbers from
126 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
Europe (Germany) in the second half of the nineteenth century to America
(Bernasconi, 2002). Although there is no research or analysis of how
segregation or social networks operate amongst Jews in the UK, an analysis
by Portes and Manning (2001) has suggested that segregation and networks
amongst Jews were key factors in their economic success. They have argued
that “Jewish enclave capitalism depended, for its emergence and
development, precisely on those resources made available by a solidaristic
ethnic community: protected access to labor and markets, informal source of
credit, and business information” (Portes & Manning, 2001, p. 572). The
discussion of the Jewish (and Japanese) enclaves has lead them to conclude
that there were three prerequisites needed for the emergence of an ethnic
enclave economy: the presence of a substantial number of immigrants with
business experience acquired in the sending country; the availability of
capital; and the availability of labor” (Portes & Manning, 2001, p. 574).
There is no reason to suspect that these very same processes are not at play
amongst Jews in the UK and therefore it can be argued that their residential
segregation and strong social ties (social capital) in conjunction with their
initial human and economic capital contributes to their success.
Previous studies on minority-majority (racial) inequality and
discrimination have also pointed out that some minorities are actually able to
minimise or offset the effect of discrimination practiced by dominantmajority groups against them by working within their ethnic economic
enclaves (Portes, 1987; Portes & Jensen, 1989) or turning to selfemployment (Abada, Hou & Lu, 2014; Constant & Zimmermann, 2004).
Both strategies (working within the ethnic enclave or turning to selfemployment) make workers less dependent on majority-group employers
and do not have to compete, not directly at least, with majority-workers,
which can significantly reduce the negative impact of discrimination or the
sense of threat amongst majority groups.
The Lack of Between-Group Competition
Previous studies have shown that racial disadvantage (possibly resulting
from discrimination) is a major factor accounting for the under-performance
of many minority groups in the British labour market, relative to their
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
educational qualifications and other resources. Racism by employers and
discriminatory practices creates these problems, mostly on the grounds of
inter-group physical (phenotype) and cultural differences (Khattab, 2009;
Khattab & Johnston, 2013; Meer & Modood, 2009; Modood, 2005).
Moreover, studies explaining the disadvantaged positions of BlackAmericans have associated the size and visibility of these groups within
local labour markets and the level of discrimination against them (Cohen &
Huffman, 2007; Huffman & Cohen, 2004).
However, ethnically (in terms of skin colour and visibility), Jews in the
UK see themselves and are seen by others (mainstream society) as belonging
to the white majority ethnic group. As such, they can access social and
economic opportunities similarly to the majority group. In fact, a recent
study examined the educational and occupational attainment of various
ethnic groups has pointed out that educationally and occupationally Jews do
better than Christian-Whites (Khattab, 2009). This in turn suggests that Jews
in the UK, unlike most of the other ethno-religious groups, do not face any
clear penalties in education or employment. Hence, it is reasonable to
hypothesise that Jews in the UK will be educationally and economically
more advantaged compared with the majority Christian-White British.
Additionally, since Jews have been a minority that has over the centuries
specialised in certain urban skilled occupations (Botticini & Eckstein, 2005;
Botticini & Eckstein, 2007), they are likely to be found within occupations
that require high qualifications and specialisation, where many highly
qualified Jews can also work as self-employed. This strategy is very often
used by migrants in order to reduce their dependence on majority employers
and by doing so they are able to minimise or offset the effect of
discrimination (Abada, Hou & Lu, 2014; Constant & Zimmermann, 2004).
According to Parker (2004), British Jewish groups choose selfemployment as a form of income generation because of the limited
opportunities they have faced in the labour market as well as their skills in
self-employment. However, levels of self-employment have decreased
among subsequent generations who have widened their opportunities in the
labour market. Historically, self-employment has always been a resourceful
phenomenon for British Jewish groups across time and place. The majority
of male immigrants to London who originally came to the East End of
128 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
London did so to find a better life through employment, while fewer
immigrants from Eastern Europe spent their time in religious study. The
majority entered the tailoring trade, a seasonal industry with casual
employment. The Jewish wife usually helped out in the tailoring workshop,
with small direct wages, and tried to balance her role as breadwinner with
her role of mother and homemaker (Kershen, 2001). In a study by Waterman
and Kosmin (1987) carried out in the 1980s, around a fifth of British Jewish
groups (21.9%) classified themselves as self-employed, which was around
double compared with the general population (10.8%), although it was also
felt that ‘[t]he Jewish community in the United Kingdom is in numerical
decline through a combination of forces such as low birth rate, ageing, outmarriage, assimilation and migration’ (ibid, 86).
The 2011 Census reported 260,000 Jews in the UK (ONS, 2012), where the
overwhelming majority of British Jewish groups lived in England (96.7%),
2.5% lived in Scotland and only 0.8% lived in Wales. About 60% of Jewish
people live in Greater London. The other 40% are dispersed in other urban
areas in the UK such as Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton and
Bournemouth (Graham et al., 2007). The Official National Statistics (2005)
showed that the Jewish population had a much older structure than the
general population in the UK. The median age was 44.3 years compared to
38.1 years for British groups as a whole. Although the size of the Jewish
population in Britain as a whole has increased, some studies have pointed
out that in terms of faith and belonging to the Jewish religion, there is a
tendency for some people to convert and move out of the faith, especially in
Scotland (Voas, 2006).
The vast majority of Jews in Britain are white, or at least they tend to
select the category of White in the census. While orthodox Jews are visible
within the public space due to their dress, most secular Jews or those who do
not necessarily adhere to Jewish dress code are invisible in the public space.
In other words, they are likely to be considered part of the dominant race or
majority ethnic group, and as such facilitating their access to social and
economic resources. Within particular organisations and institutions, they
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
are likely to be treated on an equal basis, unlike African-Caribbean other
ethnic minorities, as argued by Edwards (2008).
In terms of education, the 2001 UK Census indicated that more than half
of British Jewish groups (55.7%) aged 25-54 had higher level qualifications
compared with about a quarter (25.6%) of the general population in the same
age category. These figures demonstrate a strong relationship between age
and educational attainment levels since successive generations have
experienced various educational improvements. Since 1960, the Jewish
community began to focus on higher education levels because they believed
that the more parents became educated the greater the success of their own
children in the future. It was a belief that gaining higher educational levels
increased the competitive economic advantage of young British Jewish
groups and thereby their potential future earnings (Graham, Schmoll &
Waterman, 2007). British Jewish groups have consistently focused on the
educational attainments of subsequent generations (ONS, 2007).
Based on the 2001 Census, full-time employed British Jewish groups
accounted for 48.6% of all Jewish people aged 25 over compared to 61.6%
of the general population. The 2001 Census also showed that Jewish young
people aged 16-24 years were less likely to be economically active (45.1%)
than their counterparts from the general population in England and Wales
(65%). This is because young Jewish people were more likely to be in
education (89.2% were in schools, colleges and universities) compared to
76.2% of the population in England and Wales as a whole. More than twothirds of British Jewish groups (65.9%) aged 25 and above were
economically active compared to 66.8% of the general population (ONS,
The above description gives a sense of the remarkable success of this
minority group. In this study I utilise recent data obtained from the Labour
Force Survey (LFS) in order to systematically analyse the characteristics of
Jewish educational attainment and employment outcomes over a nine-year
period (2002-20010). In the next section I discuss the data and methods used
130 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
Methods and Data
To examine our questions and argument data obtained from the UK Labour
Force Survey has been utilised. In order to increase the sample of British
Jewish, April-June quarters over a period of nine years (2002-2010) were
pooled. The analysis was carried out on a final sample of 395,643 Christian
and Jewish men and women aged 19-65. The LFS provides a wide range of
information on each respondent, including qualifications, employment
patterns, earnings, ethnic and religious backgrounds, place of birth,
nationality and migration histories making it an excellent source of data for
this study. The possibility of pooling a number of surveys over a number of
years makes it viable to study relatively small groups using a sufficiently
large sample, as is carried out here. Other ethnic or religious groups other
than Jewish groups (compared to Christian groups) were excluded for
theoretical and analytical purposes, and in order to keep the comparisons
between Jewish groups and the majority group as distinct as possible. In
addition, although most of the other groups have been of research interest for
some time, the Jewish community in the UK, especially in comparison to
Christian groups, has been somewhat neglected. In what follows the
variables used in this study are described.
Dependent Variables
The dependent variable here are occupational class and earnings. In relation
to the occupational classes, a five-category version of the International
Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) is used. The original onedigit scale includes nine categories. For the sake of simplifying the final
model, and in order to avoid empty cells or cells with low counts, a fivecategory scale as shown in Table 1 below is utilised. Semi-skilled and
unskilled manual occupations are used as the reference group. This scheme
is preferred and not the NS-SEC class scheme as the interest is in examining
the influence of being self-employed on class allocation. Self-employment
has been taken into account in constructing the NS-SEC, especially in
relation to the petty bourgeoisie class, hence the use of the ISCO-88 scheme.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Table 1
The occupational categories used for the dependent variable in the study
Original scale (9 categories)
Re-coded scale (5 categories)
Legislators, senior officials and managers
Technicians and associate professionals
Managerial, professional and semiprofessional occupations
Low non-manual occupations
Service workers and shop and market sales
Service, shop and market sales workers
Skilled agricultural and fishery workers
Craft and related trades workers
Skilled manual occupations
Plant and machine operators and assemblers
Elementary occupations
Semi-skilled and unskilled manual
Regarding the earnings (pay) variable, it has been measured using the
‘gross hourly pay’ variable as it has been derived by the Office of National
Statistics. In the regression model I have used the natural logarithm
transformation to fit the normal distribution requirement (Oaxaca, 1973).
Due to potential auto-correlation of wages within specific occupations, a
mixed model (multilevel analysis) will be used with the two-digit
occupations (the two-digit British Standard Occupational Classification
SOC90/SOC2000) defined as the level-2 (Snijders & Bosker, 2002). All the
other individual variables will be used within the fixed effect part of the
Independent Variables
Religion: the variable has been coded into two categories: Christians
(reference group) and Jewish groups. This variable does not measure
religiosity or the extent to which respondents practice religion but only as a
132 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
category of a self-identified faith affiliation as measured in the LFS. In order
to avoid including other minority ethnic groups in the analysis, the Christian
and Jewish faith categories have included respondents who have identified
themselves as being white British when answering the question on ethnicity.
Age: used as a continuous variable.
Age squared: was introduced to control for the non-linear relationship
between age and earnings.
Marital status: coded into three categories; single, divorced or separated and
married or living with a partner. The latter group was used as the reference.
Sex: Gender is included in the final model as a dummy variable (1 indicates
men and 0 indicates women). The 0 category was used as the reference.
Year of survey: this variable has been used in order to control for the change
in variance within the dependent variable due to period effect.
Educational qualifications: These have been re-coded into five categories:
high tertiary (academic), low tertiary (post-secondary, but pre-university),
high secondary (A-Levels), low secondary and finally people with no
qualifications. The last category was used as the reference group.
Full-time employment: a dummy variable has been included in order to
control for variations within the mode of employment; full-time versus parttime.
Public sector: due the differences in wages between private and public
sectors, a dummy variable was introduced with private sectors as the
reference group.
Length of experience within current employer: this is a numeric variable
measuring the length of experience in years.
Generation: first generation was defined as those who arrived in Britain after
the age of six and were not born in the UK. Second generation refers to those
people who were born in the UK or arrived before the age of six.
Region: due to the London pay allowance, dummy variables for Inner
London and Outer London have been included in the model for pay with the
rest of the UK as a comparator.
Self-employment: This variable has been re-coded into two categories; those
who were self-employed (1) and those who were in any of the other
employment categories such as employees, unemployed and economically
inactive. Controlling for this variable turned out to be highly important.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Interaction terms: two sets of interaction terms have been defined, one for
religion by qualification and the other religion by self-employment. The first
interaction term reveals the importance of qualifications amongst Jewish
groups, and the second examines the influence of self-employment among
Jewish groups.
First, descriptive analysis is presented through which Figures 1-5 and Table
2 will be discussed, followed by the multivariate analysis in Tables 3-5,
where factors affecting the occupational class position and earnings of
Jewish and Christian groups in Britain are discussed.
Descriptive Analysis
Figure 1 below illustrates the enormous differences between UK Jewish and
Christian groups in terms of qualifications, particularly in relation to higher
qualifications (high tertiary). Jewish men and women are far more likely
than Christian men and women to hold academic degrees. Almost one out of
two Jewish men, and just over one out of three Jewish women holds a
university degree. However, less than one fifth of Christian men and women
can claim such an educational outcome.
It appears that the main gender differences amongst Jewish groups are in
relation to higher qualifications, whereas differences amongst Christians are
in relation to high and low secondary. Compared to Jewish women, Jewish
men are over-represented in higher qualifications, and comparable Christian
men are over-represented in the category of high secondary.
Figure 2 above presents the economic status of men and women within
both religions. The only noteworthy finding here is the proportion of selfemployment amongst Jewish men and women. It appears that, compared to
Christians, there is a clear tendency among Jewish men and women not to be
in employment but instead to be self-employed. Just under a third (29%) of
all Jewish men and over tenth (13%) of all Jewish women are self-employed.
Furthermore, there is clear tendency amongst Jewish men and women to
be concentrated in some economic sectors more than in others, as can be
seen in Table 2 below. For example, over a third of Jewish men (36%) and
134 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
about a quarter of Jewish women (23%) are in the banking and finance
sectors. The comparable percentages for Christian men and women are 16%
and 15% respectively.
Figure 1. Educational qualifications for Jewish and Christian men and women aged
19-65, UK LFS 2002-2010 (N=379,883) [%]
Figure 2. Economic status for Jewish and Christian men and women aged 19-65,
UK LFS 2002-2010 (N=395,643) [%]
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Table 2
Economic sector for Jewish and Christian men and women aged 19-65, UK LFS
2002-2010 (N=233,287) [%]
& finance
education, health
& other services
Figure 3. Proportion of self-employment by economic sector for Jews and
Christians aged 19-65, UK LFS 2002-2010 (N=233,287) [%]
Furthermore, Jewish men, more so than Christian men, are likely to
obtain jobs in education, health and the public administration sectors. Jewish
136 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
women are as likely as Christian women to obtain jobs in this sector. Finally,
it is worth highlighting the high concentrations of Christian men in the
manufacturing, construction, agriculture and fishing sectors (38%).
As shown earlier (in Figure 2 above), Jewish men tend to be selfemployed more than Christians. Figure 3 below shows that this tendency
runs across all the five economic sectors in this study, particularly in the
banking and finance sectors. Within each sector, the proportion of selfemployed Jewish groups is significantly greater than among Christians.
Turning to Figure 4 below, it demonstrates even greater differences
between Jewish and Christian groups. Jewish men and women are far more
advantaged than their Christian counterparts. It appears that almost four out
five Jewish men (81%) and about three out of five Jewish women (61%) are
employed within the managerial, professional and semi-professional
Figure 4. Occupational classification for Jewish and Christian men and women aged
19-65, UK LFS 2002-2010 (N=342,850) [%]
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Figure 5 presents the mean gross hourly pay for Jews and Christians. It
shows that on average, Jewish men have the highest gross hourly pay. Their
average pay was about 170% higher than the average pay among their
Christian counterparts throughout the period 2002 to 2010 (£22.89 and
£13.29 foe Jews and Christian respectively). A similar pattern was also
found among women, but the difference between Jewish women and
Christian women was slightly lower and stood at £3.37 per hour, which is
about 35% more for Jewish women throughout the period under study. In
fact, the average earning among Jewish women was similar to that among
Christian men (£13.25 and £13.17 among Christian men and Jewish women
The above data show that Jewish have a higher educational attainment,
better occupational attainment and higher earnings. The data also show that
Jews have different profile, especially in terms of self-employment and
concentration within some economic sectors more than in others. It is
possible that the higher educational attainment and their self-employment
within some economic sectors explain their occupational and pay advantage?
The next multivariate analysis helps answer this question.
Figure 5. The gross hourly pay Jewish and Christian men and women aged 19-65,
UK LFS 2002-2010 (N=78,999) [%]
138 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
Multivariate Analysis
Results of the multinomial logistic regression model contrasting the four
occupational categories with the category of semi-skilled and unskilled
occupations are shown in Table 3. The focus nevertheless is on the first
category of managerial, professional and semi-professional occupations.
Normatively, this is without doubt the most prestigious and the most
desirable category.
The coefficients reported in the table are odds-ratios. An odds-ratio of
one (1) indicates lack of influence of the factor in question. A coefficient
less than one illustrates a negative influence and a greater than one
coefficient indicates a positive impact.
The first important finding to highlight refers to the main effect of
religion, which is hugely significant, suggesting that Jewish groups are about
six times more likely to be in the managerial and professional category than
Christians. Because religion is part of an interaction term, the main effect of
religion refers to those having no qualification or is not self-employed. Men,
surprisingly, are less likely than women to be in the first category relative to
the reference category of semi-skilled and unskilled occupations. However,
looking at the category of service workers, shop and market sales workers, it
seems that men are about four and half times more likely to be in this
category than women, relative to the reference category.
Qualifications (amongst Christians, since it is part of an interaction term
with religion) operate in the expected direction. Compared to no
qualification, any other level of qualification, especially high tertiary,
qualifications increase the chances of being in any occupational category
relative to the last category. This influence is notably higher in relation to the
first category of managerial and professional occupations.
In turning to the impact of qualifications amongst the Jewish group
shown at the bottom part of Table 3, it seems that impact of qualification
operates in the same way as among the majority group, but with one minor
difference. Taking the interaction term into account, it seems that Jews with
higher education are 29 times more likely to be in the salariat class, whereas
Christians with higher education are about 144 times more likely to be in the
salariat relative to people with no qualifications. This difference between the
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Table 3
Multinomial regression (odds-ratios) for occupational class for Jewish and
Christian men and women aged 19-65, UK LFS 2002-2010 (the base group is semiskilled and unskilled workers)
2nd Generation
Marital status, Base:
Widowed or Separated
Religion, Base:
Gender, Base: women
Qualifications, Base:
No qualification
High tertiary
Low tertiary
High secondary
Low secondary
Employment status,
Base: employed,
unemployed & inactive
Self employed
Interaction of religion
by qualifications
Jews X High tertiary
Jews X Low tertiary
Jews X High secondary
Jews X Low secondary
Interaction of religion
by self employment
Jews X Self-Employed
Chi-square (df)
Cox and Snell
* P<0.05
** P<0.01
professional &
Low nonmanual
workers, shop
market sales
184,127.64 (96) P<0.001
140 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
groups in relation to the impact of qualifications might be associated with a
reduced value due to qualification inflation among Jews. The reduced value
of qualifications among Jews can be seen in the exceptionally low (lower
than 1) and statistically significant odds ratios for the interaction terms of
Jewish group X qualifications (respectively 0.20, 0.16, 0.27 and 0.42 for
each qualification in descending order). Since in general the impact of higher
qualification on obtaining salariat jobs is still very positive and significant,
this reduction in the value of qualification cannot be seen as a disadvantage,
at least not a structural disadvantage.
Furthermore, the reduced value of qualifications among Jewish groups is
balanced by the positive impact of self-employment. Self-employment
among Christians (the main effect) is negative for most of the occupational
categories, and especially for the category of managerial and professional
jobs (0.59). But the impact of self-employment amongst Jewish groups is
positive (1.70). That is, being a self-employed Jew increases the odds of
obtaining managerial or professional occupation. This suggests that Jewish
groups might be using self-employment as a path into the salariat class.
In order to scrutinise these results further, predicted probabilities for
obtaining a salariat job have been calculated using two regression models in
addition to the one presented earlier. The first controls only for the religious
background and the second controls for the other individual factors while
excluding the religious background. These different models allow the
revelation of any differences in the likelihood of obtaining a salariat job that
are associated with the religious background (religious penalty or advantage)
(Carmichael & Woods, 2000). These probabilities are presented in Table 4
for a typical person defined as someone aged 30 to 35 (male or female),
married, with academic degree and lives in inner London.
The results in Table 4 show a very large difference between the gross
probability (Model 1) and the net probability (Model 3) for both Jewish men
and women. The initial difference was about 27% and 18% in favour of a
typical Jewish man and woman respectively relative to Christian WhiteBritish typical person. This probability has been sharply dropped to only
2.4% among a Jewish typical person (men and women) suggesting that the
initial large difference we have seen is due to individual and human capital
differences between the groups.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Table 4.
Gross and net percentage differences of typical^ persons joining the salariat class
Ethno-religious background
Jewish white-British
Christian white British
Source: Labour Force Survey 2002-2010, authors’ calculations
Notes: * Ethno-religious background only ** Full model without Ethno-religious background *** Full
model with Ethno-religious background
^ Typical person is someone aged 30 to 35 (male or female), married, with academic degree and lives in
inner London
To examine earnings among the groups, 3 different models are discussed
in Table 5. The firs model examines the difference between Jews and the
majority group while controlling only for occupations as Level-2. The
results of this model show a significant difference between the groups, in
that the logged gross hourly pay among Jews is significantly higher than that
among Christians. In the second model all other individual factors except for
qualifications are included. The results show a sharp drop in the coefficient
that is associated with being a Jew from 0.117 to 0.066, but this coefficient
is still statistically significant. The third model shows that including
qualification has caused the coefficient of Jews to drop further down to only
0.04, a level at which the coefficient also loses its statistical significance
suggesting that individual differences and human capital explain the pay
difference between Jews and Christians.
142 Khattab – Have Brisish Jews Fully Assimilated?
Table 5.
Mixed (multilevel) linear model for logged gross hourly pay (N= 38,288)
Religion, base=Christian White-British
Jewish White-British
Age square
Marital status, base-married
Dependent Children Under 10
Region, base=other regions
Inner London
Outer London
Model 1
Model 2
Model 3
Public sector
Length of employment in months
Qualification, base=no qualification
High tertiary
Low tertiary
Secondary education
Year, base=2008-2010
Occupational control at level-2
Level-2 variance
Schwarz's Bayesian Criterion (BIC)
Discussion and Concluding Thoughts
The observations made in this paper are in line with the general view that
Jewish groups perform well in education and in the labour market. They are
hugely overrepresented in higher education and within managerial,
professional and semi-professional occupations, similarly to Jews in the US
(Burstein, 2007; Chiswick, 1983; Chiswick, 1985; Chiswick & Huang, 2008;
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Hartman & Hartman, 1996). Their investment in education on the one hand
and their concentration in economic sectors such as finance and banking on
the other gives support to the argument of Botticini and Eckstein (2007) on
how human capital is invested in order to guarantee a high level of economic
returns. Additionally, the findings of this study have shown that Jews in the
UK are significantly over-represented in the self-employment category
within each of the economic sectors that have been analysed here, most
notably in finance and banking. Note that historically a large proportion of
Jews specialised in the finance sector (e.g. moneylending), especially in
Middle Ages Europe (Botticini & Eckstein, 2005, p. 942).
Self-employment amongst minorities is often a strategy of survival,
especially during economic recessions (Abada, Hou & Lu, 2014; Constant &
Zimmermann, 2004), and through which these minorities and immigrants
can reduce the risk of unemployment. Other minorities tend to use selfemployment in order to avoid discrimination and increase their economic
returns on their qualifications by reducing their dependence on majority
employers (Portes & Manning, 2001). Our analysis here suggests that Jews
in the UK are not different in this regard. It seems that turning to selfemployment Jews in the UK secure higher economic returns within the
economic sectors within which they specialise. Moreover, it minimises the
risk of facing penalties (i.e. discrimination) on the grounds of their
Jewishness, given the fact that previously they experienced racialisation and
some hostility, especially in the early days of Jewish immigration from
Russia and Poland (Knepper, 2007).
To sum up, British Jews have higher educational achievements, which
have translated into occupational and earnings attainment as high as the
majority White-British providing an evidence of high assimilation within
the UK labour market as in politics and other areas. No doubt their success
in education and the labour market is also related to social networks and
strong social ties between families, firms and organisations. In the current
study we could not examine this hypothesis. Further research is needed in
order to examine the extent and ways through which social networks (social
capital) is been utilised amongst Jews in the UK.
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Nabil Khattab is Marie Curie IEF Research Fellow at School of
Sociology, Politics and International Studies in the University of
Contact Address: School of Sociology, Politics and International
Studies, University of Bristol, 11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8
1TU, United Kingdom. Email: [email protected]
Instructions for authors, subscriptions and further details:
Rural Depopulation in China: A Comparative Perspective
Xingan Li 1
1) Tallinn University Law School, Estonia
Date of publication: July 30 , 2015
Edition period: July 2015 – November 2015
To cite this article: Li, X. (2015). Rural Depopulation in China: A
Comparative Perspective. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of
Social Sciences, 4(2), 149-174. doi: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1503
To link this article:
The terms and conditions of use are related to the Open Journal System and
to Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 149-174
Rural Depopulation in China:
A Comparative Perspective
Xingan Li
Tallin University Law School
Modernization of Chinese society in recent three decades witnessed significant
retreat of primary industry and growth of secondary and tertiary industries. The
result of rapid urbanization has been accompanied with rapid rural depopulation,
context of which is currently labeled by intertwining of many correlation factors.
The purpose of this article is to give a general discourse of depopulation in China
from comparative perspective based on literature review, long term experience and
observation, and two times of fieldwork in June 2007 and June 2010. Rural
depopulation can be perceived as a social problem and as a reason of other social
problems, affecting sustainable socio-economic development. In turn, rural
depopulation and relevant policy-making are also interplaying, making the issue
more irreversible. The situation in countryside China is still in the track towards
deterioration and emergent action is required if such a process is to be interfered.
Keywords: depopulation, China, rural migration, urbanization, decision-making,
law and order
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1503
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 149-174
La Despoblación Rural en
China: Una Perspectiva
Xingan Li
Tallin University Law School
La modernización de la sociedad china de las últimas tres décadas ha presenciado un
retroceso significativo del primer sector así como un aumento del secundario y el
terciario. La acelerada urbanización ha ido acompañada de una rápida despoblación
rural, contexto que es actualmente caracterizado por un entrelazamiento de muchos
factores correlacionados. El propósito de este artículo es proporcionar un discurso
general de la despoblación en China des de una perspectiva comparada, en base a la
revisión bibliográfica, la experiencia y observación de muchos años, y dos
momentos de trabajo de campo, en junio de 2007 y en junio de 2010. La
despoblación rural puede percibirse como un problema social y como la causa de
otros problemas sociales, afectando el desarrollo socio-económico sostenible. A su
vez, la despoblación rural y el diseño de políticas relevantes también interactúan
haciendo de la situación aún más irreversible. El ámbito rural en China aún está en
vías de deterioro, por lo que requiere una acción urgente si se quiere intervenir en
dicho proceso.
Palabras clave: despoblación, China, migraciones rurales, urbanización, toma de
decisión, ley y orden
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1503
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
igration, whether at the international level or at the state level,
has been a focus of sociological research for centuries. While the
significance of the agricultural sector in economic development
is gradually losing (see Table 1, employment in primary industry), an
increasingly great proportion of rural population chooses to emigrate from
their native land towards urban areas or abroad. Urbanization has always
been accompanied by rural-urban migration. Both urban areas and rural
areas can benefit from hosting or donating migrants. Social problem can also
occur in both the urban destination communities and the rural donor
communities. At least three different attitudes towards the flow of human
resources have been taken by individuals or institutions that have interests:
being indifferent, for and against, each having sufficient reasons.
Table 1.
Development of Employment Structure in China during 1990-2010
Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China (2010).
Rural emigration has mostly been inquired in industrialized countries for
centuries, by discoursing in the name of depopulation. In developing
countries, such as China, rural labor population is also enduring consistent
decline in recent decades. However, the impact of emigration on donor
communities is an understudied subject (Fan, 2008, p. 117).
In recent years, the most unique tendency in these Chinese villages is that
the permanent residents are decreasing and aging. Because school age
children become fewer and fewer, some primary schools in these villages
have been closed or are projected to close. School age children have been
transferred to those schools still opening. Old people are left without any
cultural activities and entertainment. Cultural facility has not been
established yet. The health and caring services are not completely ready for
an ageing community. No new improvement has happened for the
agricultural production, and farmers cannot get increased income from the
152 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
land. Many young farmers choose to work permanently or temporarily in
towns and cities, with or without their families accompanying. Some
migrated unmarried young farmers even engaged in gang activities in towns
and cities and were sentenced to imprisonment. Such a situation was rare in
the long history of these villages before. Some official actions have been
taken to solve the problem, yet their effects are not evaluated (Yuan, 2009;
Liu & Liu, 2010; Wang et al., 2013; Xiang, 2013).
Even though the repercussions of rural-urban migration for socioeconomic development have been of long-standing interest to scholars, little
literature has explored the consequences of emigration on the rural
communities in the destination area of this study. Unique process of such
social transformation is freshly demonstrating in rural areas at present.
Chinese scholars call these phenomena “empty nest”, not only referring to
empty nest families, but also empty nest communities. Recalling that “empty
nest families” has traditionally been a research theme in the discipline of
psychology, research from the viewpoint of sociology has not been
emphatically highlighted. It is an issue that has not been paid much
The escalating significance of rural-urban migration leads to a great
number of people exposed to new social environments and new lifestyles.
An understanding of the reorganization of rural communities associated with
rural-urban migration has the potential to influence social policy and the
structuring of rural governance through an appreciation of the differential
social needs of rural areas relative to traditional communities. In sum, this is
a fresh social phenomena and a fresh sociological topic. This article will
analyze the phenomena of rural emigration which is typically observed in
economies in the premature phases of industrialization.
The world will witness the largest population movement in human
history. The unprecedented population movements have extremely critical
implications to the economic and social stability. The evaluations of the
existing policies and comparative analysis on different strategies within a
region can serve not only as an assessment of the existing policies but a
guideline for future policymaking. This article will be concentrated on the
process of migration in China and its medium and long-term impact on
migrants, their families, and rural communities, with significant endeavors
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
for comparing previous international-wide studies on the same phenomena
otherwise in other countries.
Besides literature review, the article was based on the author’s long term
empirical observation of countryside China, and two times of fieldwork in
Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, one in June 2007 and the other in June 2010. The
author was born, raised and educated there in his early years, and has still
had close connections with local people. Taking such conveniences, the
author experienced, observed, or acquired information about the process of
depopulation occurred there over years. Much of the writing in this article
utilized the author’s direct and indirect knowledge about his changing and
defaced homeland.
Following this introduction, the second part of the article will turn to
context of rural depopulation in China. The third part deals with
depopulation as a social problem. The fourth part is revolving around
correlation factors of depopulation. The fifth part looks at results of
depopulation. The sixth part examines policy-making and its effectiveness.
The last part will conclude the article.
Context of Rural Depopulation in China
The cataract of rural-urban labor migrants occurs in China as it has been
undergoing a multi-dimensional change since the introduction of state policy
of reform and opening up at the end of 1978. While towns and cities
acquired most of the inclined policy and investment, rural areas were
basically untouched by the public sector. Economic activities were
concentrated in urban areas, where there was not sufficient labor force. Thus
economic development provokes crucial structural transformations, such as
changes in the demographic structure and the social control system. The socalled surplus rural labor force seeks jobs in urban areas where there are
more employment opportunities and higher salary. The central factor of the
transformation is that demographic imbalances between rural and urban
areas rendered wide-ranging movement of labor force from rural areas to
secondary and tertiary industries in urban areas (Williamson, 1998).
The decomposition of traditional household registry (hukou) system
signifies the loosening of official control over rural-urban migration, which
154 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
results in tremendous changes in the labor market in China. Although there
is not an exact figure depicting the actual scale of such a human movement,
a latest official statistics estimated that approximately 131.81 million people
of rural origin working in urban areas of China in 2006 (National Bureau of
Statistics of People’s Republic of China, 2008). Table 2 shows some
fundamental aspects of such a process.
Table 2.
Totality and Constituents of Rural Labour Emigrants
Totality of rural labour emigrants
Constituents of sexes of labour
emigrants (%)
Constituents of ages of labour emigrants
Younger than 20 years
21-30 years
31-40 years
41-50 years
Older than 51 years
Constituents of educational background
of labour emigrants (%)
Primary school
Junior middle school
Senior middle school
Colleges and and higher
NorthCentral Western
Adapted according to National Bureau of Statistics of People’s Republic of China
(2008, Table 3).
Rural-urban migration has favorable and unfavorable consequences for
origin and target communities alike. The most perceived impacts on rural
origins are that rural migrants contribute to poverty reduction through
remittance but also leave their rural communities relatively disintegrated and
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
undeveloped. The migration of younger generation means loss of society’s
interest in maintaining and developing traditional cultural inheritance. The
psychological gap between older generation armed with old tradition and
younger generation facilitated with new social skills becomes larger and
larger. Therefore, for the cultural context in rural areas, the greatest
challenge is not change of the tradition; it is the disappearance of the
The most perceived impacts on urban targets are that new comers fulfill
the requirements of labor in the process of urbanization but also compete
with former urban residents in housing, employment, transport and welfare,
and causing other social problems. Urban cultural content was also changed
by the influence of large amount of rural labors, which learned to adapt to
the new social environment, urban culture, and discipline in new
employment. However, with the integration of new rural comers into urban
population, urban spiritual existence becomes stronger and stronger.
Many previous studies of migration have focused on urban areas, left the
rural donor communities generally neglected. This article endeavors to
investigate the impacts of rural labor population movement on rural donor
communities. Table 2 tells us that in China, young and more educated rural
population are moving out of their local rural areas, leaving the countryside
to old and more illiterate residents, particularly females. Low comparative
income out of the agriculture discourages people from farming, while
migration of part of the family members to the towns and cities does not
motivate them to invest in constructing their home. As the time passes, they
finally move away, or return when they get old, with their children educated
and employed in towns and cities. Therefore, urbanization brings about
prosperity to towns and cities, while depopulation leads the villages to
disappear. In fact, it was estimated that, about 20 Chinese administrative
villages are naturally disappearing due to migration, pitifully daily (National
Bureau of Statistics of People’s Republic of China, 2010).
Depopulation as a Social Problem and as a Reason of Other Social
Internationally, even though there is a trend of counterurbanization in some
156 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
developed countries (Hodge & Whitby, 1986; Kayondo, n.d.), which means
a movement of urban population to rural areas, causing an increase of rural
population, many countries, regions, in particular, rural communities in
developed (Varouhakis, 2000; Imanishi, 2003; Australian Government
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs, 2006; Council of Europe, 2004), transformation (Knappe, 1998;
Borodina & Borodina, 2007; Eberhardt, 1994) and developing countries
(Kayondo, n.d.; Fan, 2008) are suffering from emigration of labour
population, ranging from Western Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania to America
(Varouhakis, 2000; Imanishi, 2003; Australian Government Department of
Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006).
Particular attention has been paid to the processes of depopulation as well as
their range and intensity (Stasiak & Mirowski, 1990; Eberhardt, 1994).
Areas of specific environmental patterns, for example, mountainous areas
are particularly investigated (Knight, 1994).
Falling number of rural population and process of depopulation becomes
one of the biggest threats of low standards of living (Borodina & Borodina,
2007). Emigration may well lead to welfare losses (Mann, 2005).
The phenomena of rural depopulation have been an intense continuing
process (Council of Europe, 1980; Collantes & Pinilla, 2004). It has been
considered one of the pessimistic tendencies in social transformation,
together with worsening of living conditions for rural population, increasing
of mass poverty, growing unemployment, and sharp income differentiation
(Borodina & Borodina, 2007). Rural depopulation, land abandonment, and
loss of biodiversity usually proceed in a long run but are often irreversible
(Westhoek, van den Berg & Bakkes, 2006).
The issue of depopulation is primarily treated as economic opportunity
and prospects for economic regeneration (Varouhakis, 2000; Stockdale,
2006). Not all areas are able to partake in growth in the long term
(Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006). Jobs are in the cities and working in
an office is more attractive than doing agricultural jobs (Varouhakis, 2000).
The concentration of urban population and depopulation in rural areas has
resulted in ageing in depopulated areas and lack of social infrastructure
systems in urban areas (Imanishi, 2003; Mann, 2005). Because depopulation
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
is primarily driven by the out-migration of young and bright adults
(Stockdale, 2006), the process of depopulation shaped the characteristic
picture of the age structure of donor communities, dominated by the elderly
(Skowronek et al., 2005). Usually, the viability of small rural communities
becomes a major concern (Australian Government Department of Families,
Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006).
In China, depopulation of rural areas well means migration of younger
generation into urban areas, leaving older generation behind. A few young
people there caught the governance power, usually not by democracy nor by
knowledge, but by force and by fight. It is not rare that Chinese scholars
claimed that majority of the Chinese rural areas were currently controlled by
gangs themselves, or by powerful local figures with the help of paid gangs
(Yu, 2003). They controlled resources, investment, income, and
opportunities. Compared with desolation of arable land, old houses, poverty
of old population, and lack of education and healthcare facility, control by
gangs was more than destructive.
Even worse, those gangs or those who employ gangs were themselves
members of the Chinese Communist Party, which is generally more
powerful and prestigious but is taken as protective umbrella. Gang
governance is not only destroying cultural tradition, but is also extinguishing
conscience. This reminds the historical scene of 1940s when many of the
rural Chinese areas were under control of local bandits. This also reminds
the chaotic situation in some war-tossed countries in today’s world. Their
forms of gangs, bandits, or warlords are different, but their contents are
similar: causing a lack of democracy, a lack of sense of security, and
residents’ wait for migration or disappearance.
Correlation Factors of Depopulation
In international literature, correlation factors of rural emigration can always
be socio-economic (Gawryszewski & Potrykowska, 1988; Anderlik, 2004).
Usually, rural emigration has been considered driven by decrease in
agricultural employment, lack of employment opportunity outside
agriculture, and more economic opportunity in urban areas (Drudy &
Wallace, 1971; Douglass, 1971; Varouhakis, 2000; Knappe, 1998; Rao,
158 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
2007). This is often termed push and pull effects: push effects caused by
surplus in the agricultural employment, and pull effects created by attraction
of urban employment (World Bank, 2006). Some viewpoints directly link the
two aspects together, arguing that urbanization draws population from the
villages to the point of impeding their social reproduction and inducing their
absolute depopulation (Knight, 1994).
With the reform of agriculture in China, the traditional mode of labourintensive agriculture changes gradually. Production of grain crops that are
more difficult to plant and harvest is substituted by production of
commercial crops that are easy to plant and harvest. Commercial crops have
lower demand for fertility of land, quality and quantity of labour, and even
irrigation. Resulting from changes of market, emigration of surplus labour
force becomes evident in rural communities. Rural population declines as a
result of emigration (Williams & Griffin, 1978). Thus the influence of the
farming system on depopulation processes has been examined (Mann, 2005;
MacDonald et al., 2000). Some conclusions suggest that a depressed farm
economy, the agricultural adjustments, structural change, break-down of
traiditional economic model, or the neglected rural economy and service
sector led to rural depopulation (Drudy, 1978; Daniels & Lapping, 1987;
MTT Agrifood Research Finland, 2002; Collantes & Pinilla, 2004; Rao,
2007). Furthermore, easing restrictions on farm land ownership will
contribute to rural depopulation and the demise of rural communities
(Docksteader, 2002). The shortage of opportunities of on-farm employment
caused by land-use transformation is the biggest impact (Rural Affairs
Coordinator, Sector Performance Policy, New Zealand Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry, n.d.). A high percentage of people are employed
outside agriculture (Pak & Brecko, 1998). Particularly, the young labour
population migrate for lack of employment (Protsenko, n.d.). The lack of
economic development provides few wage employment in rural areas, which
are lacking in investment and infrastructure. This in turn discourages labour
population to live in villages with low productivity and low incomes
(Kayondo, n.d.). In specific cases, no more young people left could emigrate
(Vartiainen, 1989). Decreasing population is also linked to lowering
household size, in particular, to a reduction in numbers of children and
young adults (Spencer, 1997).
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
There are several factors driving rural depopulation. These include: (a)
technological improvements in agricultural production and transport, (b)
economies of scale and scope in agriculture, (c) decreasing returns to
agriculture, and (d) the fact that most agricultural products are inferior goods
(Australian Government Department of Families, Husing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs. Communities, 2006).
Another aspect of the emigration is the attractive wage in urban
employment (Imanishi, 2003; Kayondo, n.d.; Varouhakis, 2000).
Depopulation has been due largely to the emigration of young people, rather
than whole families (Knight, 1994). Young people emigrate from rural areas
to seek employment in the urban areas where economic activities are
concentrated and income level is higher (Imanishi, 2003). Young people,
who are hope of rural communities, are in the center of the issue, but they
will always move (Stockdale, 2006). As a result, a depopulated region will
be hard to repopulate (Westhoek et al., 2004). In China, the income gap
between urban and rural residents developed since 1978 as first decreased in
early 1980s, but increased through the last two decades upto three times (see
Table 3). It is natural that rural residents seek employment in urban areas.
Table 3
Statistics of Urban and Rural Residents in China during 1978-2011 (Unit: China
RMB Yuan)
income of urban income of rural
Disposable income of
urban residents as
times of rural
160 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
Table 4
Statistics of Urban and Rural Residents in China during 1978-2011 (Unit:
China RMB Yuan)
income of urban income of rural
Disposable income of
urban residents as
times of rural
Source: China Ministry of Civil Affairs (2012).
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
However, employment is not the only reason for rural residents to
migrate. In China, rural area suffered more from weakening of social control
and comparative reduction of welfare. On one hand, during the past three
decades, infrastructure in most Chinese cities enjoyed repeated construction:
construction, demolition, re-construction, re-demolition, re-re-construction.
The waste of tax-payers’ money has been a huge amount, unprecedented in
human history. Comparatively, in rural areas, investment in infrastructure
constituted only a small and pity part. The rare examples are motorways,
schools in big townships, to name some. Motorways do not have substantial
affect on improvement of people’s income and living standard. Schools in
big townships helped to enhance the primary education for some children,
but it also means to worsen the situation of other children by being
concentrated in schools at a farther distance from their residence, school
nearby were demolished or discarded. So in general, a correct approach did
not eve exist in dealiing with the countryside.
On the other hand, corruption in rural areas was a factor that was
neglected until today. Much of the investment in countryside might be
subsequentially embezzled by officials at different layers. “Xiaoguan Jutan”
(small official, but arch corrupt; low-level official, but embezzling hundreds
of millions of Chinese RBM Yuan) is a popular term prevailing in recent
years. By using this term, the authority now began to recognize that lowlevel managers in governements or enterprises could commit economic
crimes as serious as central leaders. The reason why rural infrastructure has
not been improved, to some extent, was due to embezzlement and
misappropriation. Without transparency and democratic decision-making,
officials could easily take the money that meant for the poorest villagers for
their own private use. If this is the case for building a house for a poor
family, such money might be used to build a villa for the official’s parents,
for example.
In particular cases, mountainous areas and small villages are becoming
depopulated very quickly (Knight, 1994; Stasiak, 1992). The most likely
explanation is that smaller communities can hardly support their own
services (Tyrchniewicz & Ragone, 1995). In one specific case, the arid
interfluvial areas have suffered depopulation but the irrigated valleys have
enjoyed population growth (Gwynne &Prtiz, 1997). The Chinese cases of
162 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
disappearing villages are also extreme phenomena of depopulation, thought
to be irreversible.
Results and Affects of Depopulation
The socioeconomic consequences has been a perpetual toipc revolving
around the issue of emigration (Gawryszewski & Potrykowska, 1988;
Anderlik, 2004). Traditionally, studies and research attribute many urban
social problems to immigrants, who impose pressure on employment,
housing, traffic, social infrastructure, sanitaiton, health and medical
provisions, criminal prevention, and education in the urban areas (for
example, Kayondo, n.d.; Lee et al., 2004; Imanishi 2003).
It is generally acknowledged that the migration is beneficial to the
individual out-migrant (Stockdale, 2006). Migrants have the opportunities to
be employed in secure and responsible positions, and paid more than they
could be in the donor community (Stockdale, 2004). Even many rural
migrants originating from the least-educated sector, are able to secure lowstatus and low-paid jobs at their destinations (Kasimis et al., 2003). Because
of the relative decline of agricultural sector’s importance, income sources
from off-farm employment complement or substitute income from
agricultural production (Glauben et al., 2006).
A number of studies have provided empirical support to the positive
impact of remittance on production despite its negative impact on labor
availability at farm level (Miluka et al., 2007). Labor emigration benefits
local economy in a variety of ways. First, emigrant labors acquire more
opportunities for employment. Second, some returning farm labors make
investments or startup enterprises in their hometown by using their
accumulated capital and human resources, so that the local economic
development as well as the pace of poverty alleviation is promoted. Third,
the rural emigrant labors directly stimulate the change of farmer’s income
structure and income growth in rural areas. Fourth, the labor emigration
promotes the human capital (Sheng, 2007). Migrant labourers who have
expanded their experiences and increased their human capital through their
migration can become a positive force in the local socio-economic
development of sending areas (Huang & Zhan, 2005). Through their hard
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
work, high savings, low consumption and by reducing the pressure on the
land, these tens of millions of rural labourers have helped their family
members who had stayed behind by sending a large amount of remittance
(Zhao, 1999; Huang & Zhan, 2005). Labour migration has multi-facet,
positive and significant influences on agricultural development and
agricultural production (Sheng, 2007). Nevertheless, some studies worry that
these constructive impacts may be countervailed by potentially unfavourable
affects on individual households or local communities, for example
diminished household labour supply, weakened human capital and
diminished labour efforts by members left behind (Miluka et al., 2007).
At national level, rapidly depopulation may induce “ageing recessions”,
accompanied by falling demand, collapsing asset values, shrinking corporate
profits, deteriorating household and financial institution balance sheets,
weakening currencies, and soaring budget pressures (Hewitt, 2002). The
donor communities possibly suffer from landscape abandonment, an ageing
of the local population, and a decline in rural services and facilities
(Stockdale, 2006), particularly transport (Drudy & Wallace, 1971; Imanishi,
2003). Low population density usually entails great negative implications for
rural development as a whole (Muilu & Rusanen, 2003; Stockdale, 2004;
Stockdale, 2006; Anderlik, 2004; Mann, 2005; Kayondo, n.d.), causing
manpower lack and the wage increase, which subsequently reduces the
competitiveness of agricultural sector (Lee et al., 2004; Kayondo, n.d.).
During period of significant depopulation and the successive ageing of the
rural society, the decline of farming output and the abandonment of farmland
may occur (Kashiwagi, 2004; Imanishi, 2003; Kayondo, n.d.). Anderlik
(2004) identified three critical problems for depopulating areas, besides
unhealthy demographic age structures, there have been also a “brain drain”
phenomenon and declining commercial activity. As far as new economic
activities are concerned, it was found that rural depopulated areas have
insufficient infrastructure of e-business (Uesuqi, 2004). Therefore, the World
Bank concludes that regardless of considerable rural-urban migration, rural
poverty will not be alleviated in near future (World Bank, 2007).
Other studies indicate that rural emigration can have impacts on rural
financial institutions (Anderlik, 2004), school rolls (Rural Affairs
Coordinator, Sector Performance Policy, New Zealand Ministry of
164 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
Agriculture and Forestry, n.d.), everyday facilities such as stores (Imanishi,
2003), and public transport systems (Imanishi, 2003). Migration very likely
affects the welfare of future generations. For instance, a typical phenomenon
in China is that many children of migrants are left behind in home villages,
while those who are brought to cities have limited access to local schools
and other public facilities. The lack of parental care of migrant children in
China can potentially lead to the under-investment in their education,
nutrition and health. This in turn has important implications for the income
mobility and poverty of future generations.
The construction and operation of rural grass-root regime is confronted
with challenge from out-migration of native elites. Well-educated students,
successful entrepreneurs, and experienced craftspersons usually migrate to
cities and towns, and even other rural areas with better environment.
Depopulated rural society may become unable to reproduce itself, and
increasingly depend on the state intervention in welfare, employment and
even marriage brokerage (Knight, 1994).
The emigration of a huge proportion of population also has deep
implications on stability of marriage and family life, criminal prevention,
operation of educational facilities, etc.
In depopulated areas, tragic circular reactions have always been
identified. For example, in Anderlik (2004), a circular reaction was
identified: low population density is insufficient to maintain their critical
infrastructure, such as government agencies, roads, schools, and hospitals,
while declining infrastructure makes these areas less attractive to live and
conduct business and the costs per capita to provide needed services
increase. As a result, current residents will leave, environment will worsen,
and economy will decline. In Imanish (2003), another circular reaction was
identified: scattered facilities over large areas necessitate high levels of car
ownership, high levels of car ownership drop the demand of public transport,
reduction in transport services makes the distance from residence to stations
and bus stops far, or the frequency of services low, this in turn makes it
difficult for people to utilise public transport, and finally, cars are necessary
for maintaining everyday lives.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Policy-making and its Effects
The impact of changing policies on such trends has frequently been
addressed (Drudy & Wallace, 1971; Gawryszewski & Potrykowska, 1988;
Imanishi, 2003; Kayondo, n.d.; Irving, 1996; Docksteader, 2002; Worldbank,
2006; Tyrchniewicz & Ragone, 1995; Friends of the Earth Europe, n.d.;
Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006; Rao, 2007; Commins, 1978;
Madureira, 2004; Knight, 1994; Imanishi, 2003). The state may play a part
in decelerating population movement, or meliorating its negative impact
(Knight, 1994). The practical experience is that the transition from
depopulation to repopulation may improve public services, the economy, the
quality of community life and planning policies and the environment (Bolton
& Chalkley, 1990).
Constructive public policies have been taken to reverse demographic
behaviours (World Bank, 2006). Besides others, it has been pointed out that
the extreme population concentrations shall be economically unnecessary
(Commins, 1978). Furthermore, rural regions need public policies that will
allow improved mobility while preserve the essence of local communities
(Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006).
Successful measures in certain context, such as (Kayondo, n.d.), specific
benefits are provided for farmers to keep them to carry out on-farm work In
EU, mountain areas have been given specific compensation for disadvantage
(McDonald et al., 2000).
However, many schemes fail to alleviate the problems of rural
depopulation in Japan (Irving, 1996; Knight, 1994). These policies are only
partly effective, while the problem of harmonization between urban and
rural areas is left unsolved (Rao, 2007). Docksteader (2002) presents that
restrictions placed on farm land ownership has no mitigating effect on rural
depopulation and the declining number of farmers. Similarly, governmental
protection on smaller communities becomes increasingly difficult under the
circumstances where the policy and the economic forces are unbalanced
(Tyrchniewicz & Ragone, 1995). In another case, no general evidence for a
positive affect of marketing campaigns on in-migration (Niedomysl, 2007).
166 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
Many suggestions have been posed against depopulation through raising
of citizen civil awareness and education (Tyrchniewicz & Ragone, 1995),
organic agriculture and other environmentally friendly farming systems
(Friends of the Earth Europe, n.d.), balancing planning between the city and
the countryside, reinforce regional macro-leading, quicken relevant
legislations, and promote the independence of the rural regions (Rao, 2007),
land consolidation (Miranda et al., 2006), improving farm productivity
through easier mechanization and reduced transport costs (Miranda et al.,
2006), promoting rural municipalities to attract new residents: An evaluation
of the effects (Niedomysl, 2007), and drawing experiences from other
countries (Kashiwagi, 2004). Transformation of economic structure and
improvement of communitiy functions become increasingly important for
rural development (Pak & Brecko, 1998).
Unfortunately, in China, preferential policies are always delayed in
introduction. For example, construction of infrastructure in rural areas,
particularly, medical care, education, and cultrual and sports facilities, have
far been lagging behind those in towns and cities. On the contrary, rural
education has been ruined resolutely through forcibly implementing failing
policies, such as merger of primary schools. Before, there were always
schools in big villages. But according to such policies, average distance
between pupils’ home and schools are usually beyond walking distance.
Pupils have to live in the school during weekdays. However, accomodation
and foods, with expenses beyond their families’ ability to pay, are in inferior
quality. Children’s health and welfare cannot be guaranteed. Due to various
reasons, families with school-year children prefer to move to towns and
cities, where they can easily get temporary employment with a salary easily
more than possible income from cultivating crops and farming poultry and
livestock. In a word, current policies does not privide sufficient support for
residents in rural area to continue their work and family life. Rural areas are
losing sufficient attractiveness for further development by local people.
Presumbly, it is part of the results of the failure of policies.
Rural depopulation is a common process occurring during the modernization
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
of many countries. The changed faces of rural areas can never be reversed to
their original image before. The irreversible development is erasing the longlasting rural memory that was accumulated in history. Of course, such
development has its both merits and drawbacks. Depopulation became a fact
before the world, around which the same thing has happened and is still
China is repeating such a process at a larger scale due to its traditional
dependence on agriculture in at least last two thousand years. Presently,
modernization of Chinese society witnessed significant retreat of agriculture
in rural areas and growth of industry and services in urban areas.
Agricultural resources became insignificant in many families’ economic life,
and in turn their investment on agricultural activities is gradually
diminishing. Hence the majority of rural labor migrated to big cities, as if the
only economic life existing only in urban area. The reasons why rural
residents are moving to urban areas cannot be identified as only economic.
But economic pursuance is the most powerful driving force for such a large
scale of population flow.
Some other factors also contributed substantially, such as unequal
allocation of resources and income. In fact, backward, biased and weak rural
policies contributed to the resolute desolation of the rural area. Missing of
positive state intervention leads to lack of investment, lack of construction,
lack of education facilities, lack of cultural and entertainment facilities, even
lack of sense of security, made rural areas uninhabitable. For example, many
schools were simply forcibly closed without any further investment and
renovation. Other schools were reserved but only sparsely distributed.
Students from their seven years of age have to travel several kilometers
everyday to and from schools. Many of them were discouraged by the fact
that the employment expectation of university students was dim. Many
teenagers ended up with discontinuation of schooling. Others have to move
to towns and cities to study. But household register system imposed other
limits on their migration, and their study in other places was not officially
guaranteed. Finally, the rural areas and people there were left in chaotic
ideological ruins and such a vicious cycle had found no end.
Therefore, the most relevant and most possible reason of depopulation in
rural China might be the unbalanced scale of policies. The issues of rural
168 Li – Rural Depopulation in China
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Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks. The Case
#YaMeCansé and the Conflict of Ayotnizapa, México 2014
Luís César Torres-Nabel 1
1) Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, México
Date of publication: July 30 , 2015
Edition period: July 2015 – November 2015
To cite this article: Torres-Nabel, L.C. (2015). Social Networks and
Cognitive Frameworks. The Case #YaMeCansé and the Conflict of
Ayotnizapa, México 2014. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of
Social Sciences, 4(2), 175-193. doi: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1570
To link this article:
The terms and conditions of use are related to the Open Journal System and
to Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 175-193
Social Networks and Cognitive
Frameworks. The Case
#YaMeCansé and the Conflict
of Ayotnizapa, México 2014
Luís César Torres-Nabel
Universidad Pedagógica Nacional
This paper analyzes the cognitive frameworks underlying political behavior on
social networks. To this end the phenomenon occurred in the Mexican tweetosphere
after the conflict of 43 student teachers missing in southern Mexico, namely the case
of the hashtag #YaMeCansé, the longest (35 days) in the history of the social
networks in Mexico. The analysis results account for a socio-cognitive
predisposition users to increase this type of trends that arise every day in social
network applications.
Keywords: social networks, cognitive frameworks, Twitter, collective action,
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1570
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 175-193
Redes Sociales y Marcos
Cognitivos. El Caso
#YaMeCansé y el Conflicto de
Ayotnizapa, México 2014
Luís César Torres-Nabel
Universidad Pedagógica Nacional
El artículo analiza los marcos cognitivos que subyacen al comportamiento político
en las redes sociales. Para tal efecto se estudia el fenómeno ocurrido en la twitósfera
mexicana tras el conflicto de 43 estudiantes normalistas desaparecidos en el sur de
México, a saber el caso del hashtag #YaMeCansé, mismo que es el más extenso (35
días) en la historia de las redes sociales en México. Los resultados del análisis dan
cuenta de una predisposición socio-cognitiva en los usuarios para incrementar este
tipo de tendencias que se suscitan cotidianamente en las aplicaciones de red social.
Palabras clave: redes sociales, marcos cognitivos, Twitter, acción colectiva,
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1570
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
l artículo plantea el análisis de los “marcos cognitivos” que
constituyen el mecanismo que explica el comportamiento de los
activistas políticos y de la sociedad en general ante acontecimientos
que movilizan las emociones de los mismos y que los llevan de la
observación a la acción.
El análisis se circunscribe a lo ocurrido en entornos virtuales,
principalmente en la construcción de tendencias en las principales
plataformas de red social que operan en internet, en específico en twitter
Se analiza el caso derivado del hashtag (Ht) #YaMeCansé cuya
popularidad se mantuvo durante por más de un mes en los trending topics
(Tt) de la comunidad de twitter en México. Dicho Ht surge como protesta
en contra de las autoridades mexicanas por la desaparición de 43 estudiantes
universitarios de la Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa en el estado de
Guerrero, en septiembre de 2014.
Tras el análisis se producen algunas hipótesis del orden teórico acerca de
los mecanismos que operan en la movilización ciudadana mediante las redes
sociales de internet, que parece estar muy lejos de ser autónoma y racional,
apostando entonces por entender que las emociones juegan un papel
preponderante en el comportamiento político de los internautas.
De los Marcos Cognitivos en lo Político
Los “marcos cognitivos” son estructuras predispuestas y condicionadas
evolutivamente en la especie humana para producir cohesión social, y
excluir creencias y juicios contrarios a los que establece el status quo de una
Estos marcos cognitivos, para su evolución y diseminación social, tienen
que estar nutridos y hospedados en al menos dos sujetos que posibiliten su
implantación y adherencia en las mentes de otros.
El mecanismo que opera en la activación de los marcos cognitivos se da
cuando vivimos una experiencia y cuando vemos a otro viendo esa
narración, entonces se moviliza una parte de la estructura neuronal del
cerebro, a saber las “neuronas espejo”.
Según Castells (2010) mediante el mecanismo de las neuronas espejo se
representa la acción de otros sujetos y se activan los procesos de imitación y
178 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
empatía que permiten comprender los estados emocionales de otros
individuos. Las neuronas espejo activan patrones neuronales que asocian
imágenes, frases ó sonidos con emociones tales como el miedo y la euforia,
mismas que ayudan a construir las respuestas, facilitan la transición de la
observación a la acción y de esta al proceso de abstracción, la cual a su vez
introduce la expresión simbólica, origen de la comunicación mediante
lenguaje (Damasio, 2005).
En la misma línea este lenguaje mediador activa las respuestas a los
diversos estímulos externos emanados de la narración del otro, dichas
respuestas se conocen como conductas. Según Reynolds (1973) “las
características de la conducta están determinados por las condiciones del
contexto, por los eventos que preceden o acompañan a la conducta, por los
Eventos Socialmente Competentes (ESC). Por su parte, los patrones de
conductas que se configuran a partir de su ocurrencia histórica de denomina
A su vez, en relación con lo político este se refiere a una atribución
individuo-social basada en el antagonismo que existe intrínsecamente en
las relaciones humanas. Este se manifiesta como la diversidad en las
relacione sociales que pueden estar orientadas al orden o al conflicto y que a
su vez coexisten en los intercambios continuos que hay en toda sociedad
(Canneti, 1960; Mouffe, 1993); el intercambio es un acto cotidiano sobre
cualquier cosa, tales como el intercambio físico-biológico (gases, desechos,
fluidos, bacterias, virus) económico (dinero, mercancías, trabajo)
psicológico-comunicacional (gestos, gritos, palabras, sonidos, imágenes,
símbolos, ideas, ofensas, halagos, emociones) normativo (reglas, leyes,
derechos, obligaciones, sanciones), etc.
En síntesis el comportamiento político está configurado por intercambios
cotidianos basados en el orden y el conflicto. Ahora bien, el comportamiento
político está condicionado por dos sistemas emocionales: a) el sistema de
predisposiciones que induce al entusiasmo y organiza el comportamiento
para conseguir los objetivos del sujeto entusiasta en un entorno dado y b) el
sistema de vigilancia cuando se experimenta miedo o ansiedad por la
presencia de ESC (Castells, 2010).
El primero de ellos implica la voluntad de elección, interés o intención
del individuo es el juicio inicial del que parte el individuo para la acción
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
colectiva. Este juicio está construido por los marcos cognitivos las neuronas
espejo (conceptos explicados líneas arriba) del individuo pre-programados
a partir del contexto y su historia individual, tanto interior como exterior. A
su vez esta historia se basa en distorsiones de información, fallas de origen
(las cuales se remontan a la historia inicial de la especie humana) en el
aparato cognitivo, también denominados “sesgos cognitivos” juicios
inexactos, interpretaciones ilógicas al recordar su historia, emociones, así
como los resultados que ha obtenido en su participación previa en acciones
colectivas (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974).
El segundo sistema de condicionamiento del comportamiento político
implica mecanismos biológico-evolutivos muy primitivos que han estado en
el comportamiento humanos desde su aparición en la tierra. Dichos
mecanismos implican la agresión, el ataque preventivo en colectivos que se
contagian mutuamente de dichas conductas como respuesta emociones tan
básicas en cualquier ser vivo como el miedo.
Al final pareciera que es relativamente fácil provocar emociones en
cualquier ser humano sin embargo ¿por qué ciertos Eventos Socialmente
Competentes activan estos sistemas emocionales y otros no? ¿cuál es la
variable que produce que estas emociones se contagien en cascada y en
grandes grupos y otros ESC no lo logren?
Entre los estudiosos de los fenómenos sociales hay una teoría que
justamente menciona que no todo agravio social produce movilizaciones,
independientemente de que este implique una buena fuente de emociones
fuertes como el miedo o la ira. Al respecto dicen estos teóricos (McAdam et
al, 1999) que la acción colectiva implica costos y recursos y que una buena
parte del motor de esta viene de grupos externos no necesariamente
ofendidos pero si interesados en utilizar este agravio para sus fines.
De tal manera que una de las claves para contestar a las preguntas
planteadas es saber los recursos con los que cuentan los sujetos agraviados
tanto al interior pero sobretodo al exterior de su grupo, en ese sentido la
clave puede estar en el análisis de las redes sociales como mecanismo
evolutivo y social de cualquier grupo humano para satisfacer sus necesidades
de intercambio.
A continuación se presenta un mapa conceptual (Figura 1) a manera de
síntesis visual de lo expuesto hasta ahora.
180 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Figura 1. Mapa conceptual: Marcos cognitivos, política y redes sociales
Sobre las Estructuras Sociales de Red
La interdependencia de los actores en un determinado grupo humano, genera
necesariamente una estructura relacional o red, según la cual los individuos
pueden diferenciarse por su adscripción a grupos o por sus papeles
socialmente diferentes (Merton, 1949) En ese sentido una red es un conducto
para la propagación de información o el ejercicio de la influencia, y el lugar
de un individuo en el patrón general de relaciones determina la información
a la que tiene acceso o, en consecuencia, quien se halla en posición de
influir (Watts, 2006).
Por su parte una red social es un entramado de relaciones (vínculos)
directas entre sujetos que actúa como mecanismo para intercambiar bienes y
servicios, para imponer obligaciones y otorgar los derechos correspondientes
a sus miembros (también llamados nodos) (Boissevain & Mitchell, 1973).
Las redes se basan en el intercambio y difusión de información, así como de
las respuestas humanas a todo ello. A partir de estas se tejen las claves de la
innovación constante, pero también de la cooperación y la competencia
(McNeill & McNeill, 2010).
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Por su parte una estructura enuncia las relaciones sintáctico-semánticas
de un sistema. El campo de la estructura corresponde a los procesos de
transición de información. Solo hay transmisión de información si hay
regularidades en la misma, hay tendencias de organización. La
determinación de la estructura es el procedimiento para comprender las
regularidades de una serie informacional de aconteceres (Verón, 1995).
Según Giddens (1995) una estructura consiste en algún diseño de
relaciones sociales o de fenómenos sociales, una intersección de presencia y
de ausencia. Estructura denota entonces las propiedades por las que se
vuelve posible que las prácticas sociales discerniblemente similares existen a
lo largo de segmentos variables de tiempo y de espacio y que presten a estos
una forma sistémica. Es un orden virtual de relaciones transformativas que
denotan reglas y recursos y que implican: formas de dominación y poder,
reglas que implican procedimientos metódicos. Estructura: reglas y recursos,
o conjuntos de relaciones de transformación que se organizan como
propiedades de sistemas sociales.
Existen diferentes tipos de estructuras como reglas de codificación
inmanentes a los sistemas de relaciones sociales: a) estructuras vividas, bajo
la forma de normas que determinan la conducta de los individuos, como el
intercambio matrimonial; b) estructuras actuadas, como las reglas de
sistemas de comportamiento ritual, donde las significaciones se despliegan
en secuencias temporales e conducta simbólica; c) estructuras concebidas,
los sistemas de significación contenidos en “textos” o mensajes circulantes
en la sociedad y objetivamente diferenciales de la conducta (Lévi-Strauss,
En suma las estructuras de red son la configuración más utilizada por los
grupos humanos para abrirse paso frete a otros grupos, pero también de los
individuos a interactuar como puentes entre diferentes colectivos. En ese
sentido la clave que ensambla los elementos neuro-político-sociales con las
redes es el sentido de las mismas a la hora de programar determinada acción
colectiva, recurriendo a recursos, alianzas y conflictos para obtener
determinados resultados, entre ellos el salir avante de un agravio. Al
respecto cabría preguntarse ¿si existe una predisposición de ciertos
fenómenos sociales o como mencionábamos líneas arriba de Eventos
Socialmente Competentes para configurar alianzas políticas?
182 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Sobre la Predisposición de las Tendencias en las Redes Sociales
La exposición reiterada de un sujeto a una situación de aprendizaje,
determina la formación en el organismo de una “predisposición” (Verón,
1995). La predisposición hacia cierto tipo de conductas colectivas, que
devienen en el tejido de las redes sociales se basan en el mecanismo del
temor a la desaprobación más que en el altruismo, así como en el miedo al
castigo por enunciar opiniones desviadas a la tendencia (Elster, 2010).
La predisposición de los actores de una red social a intercambiar
información y a diseminarla está programada por los actores que poseen
ventajas informativas que les provee su trabajo o sus relaciones. Por tanto,
las redes poseen usuarios que actúan como programadores los cuales tienen
la capacidad de construir redes y de programar/reprogramar las mismas a
partir de los objetivos que les asignen. Los programadores tienen la
capacidad de conectar diferentes redes y asegurar su cooperación
compartiendo objetivos y combinando recursos (Castells, 2010) .
El poder es la capacidad relacional que permite a un actor social influir
de forma asimétrica en las decisiones de otros actores sociales de modo que
se favorezcan la voluntad, los intereses y los valores del actor que tiene
poder (Castells, 2010).
En la misma línea podemos incluir el concepto de influencia como punto
nodal entre la predisposición y el poder, entendiendo a esta como la
capacidad que tiene cualquier individuo de echar a andar sus recursos (dada
su posición en la red social) para intercambiar favores, información, acceso,
etc. y con esto hacerse de más recursos para tal o cual fin y/o salir avante de
algún agravio contra su persona o colectivo.
En este sentido, y con los elementos hasta aquí mencionados podemos
establecer un análisis de Eventos Socialmente Competentes muy concretos
para determinar si existe predisposición en su ejecución y devenir ó son
meros sucesos al azar que surgen del continuo intercambio social, en síntesis
si es posible encontrar patrones y tendencias en estos ESC.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
De la Predisposición a la Insurrección Tendenciosa: El Caso #YaMeCansé
y el Conflicto de Ayotzinapa en México, 2014
El contexto
La noche del 7 de septiembre de 2014 el Procurador General de la República
en México Jesús Murillo Karam terminaba una extensa conferencia de
prensa donde detalló el secuestro, ejecución y calcinación de 43 jóvenes
estudiantes de la Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa por parte de la
delincuencia organizada, hechos transcurridos entre el 26 y 27 de septiembre
de 2014 en el estado de Guerrero, México. La frase final del procurador
mexicano fue “ya me cansé” mencionada a uno de sus asistentes y como
excusa para terminar la conferencia de prensa; minutos más tarde aparecía el
Ht #YaMeCansé en las tendencias nacionales y posteriormente globales de
la red social twitter.
La etiqueta #YaMeCansé ha sido la tendencia más extensa en la historia
de las redes sociales en México con 35 días en los Tt del país y con un total
de 3´446,966 menciones (Figura 2.). De esos 35 días, el Ht lideró las
tendencias en Tw durante 27 días, para a partir del 3 de diciembre comenzar
a descender y finalmente desaparecer por acción directa de la empresa
Twitter, Inc., al parecer por considéralo no genuino en cuanto a su
derivación de opinión pública lo que creció a partir del uso de “bots”
programados para inflar la tendencia, cuestión que fue detectada por los
programadores de Tw que rápidamente quitaron el Ht de los Tt.
Por su parte la inmensa cantidad de usuarios que si habían hecho crecer la
tendencia desde el 7 de noviembre y que además habían hecho de esta su
grito de lucha contra el Estado, crearon una gran cantidad de Ht emulando el
#YaMeCansé (#YaMeCansé2 …YaMeCansé100. Figura 1) sustituyendo
uno a uno de acuerdo a como crecían y se diluían en la opinión de los
184 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Figura 2. Histórico tendencia #YaMeCansé, conflicto Ayotzinapa, México
El análisis
El Ht #YaMeCansé alcanzó los 3´446,966 menciones en twitter durante 35
días. A partir de este número de menciones se calcula que hay por lo menos
19,696 usuarios detrás del mismo. De ese universo se extrajeron los 27
usuarios más importantes a partir de los siguientes aspectos: a) no. retuits en
sus participaciones más importantes, b) no. de usuarios considerados como
influyentes por la página de de tendencias en twitter TOPSY, c) no. de
seguidores; todo esto de los tuits generados en los 27 días en que el HT fue
tendencia genuina (Tabla 1).
Posteriormente se procedió a calcular la influencia de estos 27 usuarios
a partir de la formula desarrollada por Torres-Nabel (2015a) de dividir el
no. de retuiteadores influyentes entre el número de seguidores totales a su
vez multiplicado por el número de retuits del mensaje original, y finalmente
divididos entre el rango mínimo de seguidores de un actor para considerarse
influyente: 1000. En este análisis encontramos que solo 7 (25%) de los 27
usuarios más retuiteados tiene algún grado de influencia en la red general
del hashtag y que de esos 7 actores uno es el que lleva la capacidad de
influencia mayor con el 100% de los usuarios que participaron en la red de
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
la etiqueta #YaMeCansé. Lo que quiere decir que los 19, 696 involucrados
en la tendencia retuitearon en promedio 4 veces (3.97) el mensaje original
emitido por el actor estadounidense RobSchneider (Tabla 1).
Tabla 1.
Actores con mayor influencia en el Ht #YaMeCansé (N=27: 07.nov. – 03.dic. 2014)
Tipo de actor
Figura pública
Figura pública
Figura pública
Figura pública
Figura pública
Figura pública
186 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Tipo de actor
MARCHAPARRO Figura pública
Fuente: elaboración propia
Otros hallazgos apuntan sobre la influencia que parecen tener actores
populares de las redes sociales en las ciberprotestas, que contraria a la idea
de que en las redes sociales la horizontalidad reina entre los actores, existen
usuarios dada su posición y recursos dentro y fuera de la red poseen ventajas
sobre los otros y programan el incremento de ciertas tenencias de opinión.
En el gráfico 1 encontramos que el 74% de los usuarios influyentes en el
Tt #YaMeCansé son actores famosos, periodistas 45% y figuras públicas
principalmente de la farándula 29%.
El gráfico 2 expone el comparativo entre la cantidad de retuits que
reciben los diferentes tipos de autores, y donde los tuiteros independientes
parecen estar en casi total nulidad en los procesos internos de la red general
de la tendencia analizada #YaMeCansé.
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Gráfico 1.
Proporción de los actores importantes en el HT #YaMeCansé
Fuente: elaboración propia
Gráfico 2.
Comparativo de número de retuits entre los actores importantes en el HT #YaMeCansé
Fuente: elaboración propia
188 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Finalmente en un análisis temporal sobre la influencia de los tipos de
actores de la tendencia del #YaMeCansé encontramos (gráfico 3) que en la
mayor cresta (alcanzando los 800 mil retuits) de la tendencia ocurrida hacia
el 20 de noviembre (festejo de la Revolución Mexicana) los usuarios más
influyentes son las figuras públicas, de donde entresacamos al mencionado
actor estadounidense RobSchneider y la popular actriz y cantante mexicana
Gráfico 3.
Histórico de retuits del #YaMeCansé. (7.nov-12.dic/2014)
Fuente: elaboración propia
La discusión
Los resultados del análisis del Ht #YaMeCansé parecen seguir confirmando
la hipótesis que plantea Castells (2010) en torno a que en las redes sociales
hay actores que programan la tendencia de la opinión, y que a su vez
enmarcan los temas importantes entre los usuarios. Así mismo en sendos
análisis (Torres-Nabel, 2014, 2015a, 2015b) se comprueba que la opinión
pública en las redes sociales de México la opinión de los miembros de la
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
farándula y de los periodistas sigue teniendo la mayor influencia entre los
usuarios mexicanos que parecen elegir la reproducción de las opiniones a
producir las propias.
En ese sentido la explicación científico-social parece acercarse a buscar
en planos más profundos en la conducta de los usuarios de las redes sociales,
a saber en los marcos que rigen su conducta y percepción.
Líneas arriba se mencionaba que los marcos cognitivos pueden ser
entendidos como estructuras predispuestas y condicionadas para producir
cohesión social y excluir creencias y juicios contrarios a los que establece el
status quo de un determinado grupo. En ese sentido estos marcos producen
también adherencia a tendencias previamente programadas por actores
influyentes y populares.
La duda entonces es saber que elementos sirven como “anclajes” que son
utilizados por los programadores para desencadenar el interés inicial del
usuario común y posteriormente hacerlo que se adhiera a la tendencia.
Una de las primeras hipótesis es la del mecanismo de las neuronas
espejo que representa la acción de otros sujetos y activa los procesos de
imitación y empatía que permiten comprender los estados emocionales de
otros individuos. Las neuronas espejo activan patrones neuronales que
asocian imágenes, frases ó sonidos con emociones tales como el miedo y la
euforia, mismas que ayudan a construir las respuestas, facilitan la transición
de la observación a la acción y de esta al proceso de abstracción, a su vez la
abstracción introduce la expresión simbólica, origen de la comunicación
mediante lenguaje (Castells, 2010).
En ese sentido cabría preguntarse si en ciertos fenómenos como el de los
estudiantes normalistas de Ayotzinapa no implicaba per se un detonante
infalible para que una buena parte de la opinión pública se adhiriera
primeramente al estado emocional de agravio para después provocar una
conducta de repliegue sobre la percepción de conciencia tribal de ser
pertenecientes al mismo grupo social, parientes de pueblo o tribu como lo
describía hace varias décadas Max Weber (1922).
En dado caso, podemos introducir la hipótesis del acontecimiento
prediseñado como estrategia para movilizar adeptos ideológicos, pero
también para enfocar grupos subversivos y actores sociales interesados en
transacciones muy especificas. Huelga decir que a nueve meses de los
190 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
acontecimientos no hay evidencias suficientes para comprobar ninguna de
las dos aristas de dicha hipótesis.
En suma, parece ser que los procesos suscitados en las redes sociales
parecen estar mediados por el orden de lo psicosocial, donde diversos sesgos
cognitivos constituyan los marcos mediante los cuales los usuarios regulan
su conducta y eligen sus batallas virtuales. Pero también programados por
actores políticos muy definidos con ganancias muy específicas.
Conclusión. El Estudio de las Redes Sociales: Dos Nuevas Rutas de
Investigación a Futuro
El devenir de los estudios sobre la conducta política de los usuarios en
aplicaciones de red social e Internet parece orientarse a dos líneas amplias de
investigación: a) el análisis de grandes cantidades de datos con el fin de
identificar patrones denominado como análisis de big data; b) el análisis de
diversos mecanismos cognitivos que parecen operar en la conducta de los
usuarios y en la inter-conducta de los mismos.
Al respecto del análisis de big data ya hay suficientes elementos para
comenzar a buscar patrones en comportamientos políticos cíclicos como los
procesos electorales, tal y como lo ha estado haciendo en recientes fechas
(2014-2015) la empresa Google poniendo al publico análisis sobre una gran
cantidad de datos que surgen de las campañas, a tal caso que por ejemplo en
las elecciones intermedias en México ya predecían ganadores días antes de
las campañas, que al final resultaron efectivos. En la misma línea existen
análisis iniciales sobre las posibilidades de hallazgos y explicaciones sobre
el comportamiento electoral a partir de las tendencias en redes sociales
usando herramientas de análisis de red social como TOPSY.
En el camino de las neurociencias y el comportamiento político, el
panorama es mucho más complejo pero igualmente esperanzador para
darnos explicaciones sobre determinados patrones de comportamiento regido
por las emociones y más por estos sistemas emocionales que predisponen a
los individuos a responder de una forma casi programada. Al respecto es
importante dar seguimiento a diversos estudios al respecto las metáforas de
la vida cotidiana que permiten estructurar nuestro lenguaje (Lakoff, 2007) y
las redes neuronales que operan como marcos reguladores de nuestra
conducta política (Damasio, 2005).
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Al final parece inevitable que estos dos campos se unan analizando
grandes cantidades de datos sociales pero también neuro-cognitivos para
ampliar el espectro del sentido de los patrones políticos. En ese punto el gran
laboratorio que son las aplicaciones de red social y en general la gran
cantidad de aplicaciones digitales que cubre la vida social en estos días,
pueden darnos mapas más precisos de cómo operamos socialmente y cómo
podemos incluso cambiar para el beneficio de la humanidad, o por el
contrario saber con claridad por quien y como estamos siendo conducidos.
Un compilado amplio de notas periodísticas la respecto del conflicto de Ayotzinapa puede
Una hipótesis de las causas de suprimir la etiqueta #YaMeCansé:
A partir del calculo que los usuarios emiten en promedio 5 mensajes diarios (Torres-Nabel,
2009) (hay quien pone 200 pero hay quienes ponen uno por semana ó por mes).
Boissevain, J., & Mitchell, J.C. (Eds.) (1973). Networks analysis: studies in
a human interaction. Mounton: The Hague
Canetti, E. (1960). Masa y poder. Madrid: Alianza-Muchnik
Castells, M. (2010). Comunicación y Poder. Madrid: Alianza Editorial
Damasio, A. (2005). En busca de Spinoza, neurobiología de la emoción y
los sentimientos. Barcelona: Debate
Elster, J. (2010). La explicación del comportamiento social. Más tuercas y
tornillos para las ciencias sociales. Barcelona: Gedisa
Giddens, A. (1995). La Constitución de la sociedad. Bases para la teoría de
la estructuración. Argentina, Buenos Aires: Amorrortu
Lakoff, G. (2007). No pienses en un elefante: lenguaje y debate político.
Madrid: Editorial complutense
192 Torres-Nabel – Social Networks and Cognitive Frameworks
Lévi-Satrauss, C. (1979). Antropología estructural. México: Siglo XXI
McAdam D., McCarthy J., & Zald, M. (1999). Movimientos sociales:
perspectivas comparadas. Madrid: Itsmo
McNeill, J., & McNeill, W. (2010). Las redes humanas. Una historia global
del Mundo. Barcelona: Crítica
Merton, R. (1949). Teoría y estructura sociales. México: Fondo de Cultura
Mouffe, Ch. (1993). El retorno de lo político. Comunidad, ciudadanía y
pluralismo, democracia radical. Barcelona: Paidós
Reynolds, G. (1973). Compendio de condicionamiento operante. México:
Ed. Ciencia de la Conducta
Torres-Nabel, L. C. (2009). Ciberprotestas y consecuencias políticas:
reflexiones sobre el caso de Internet Necesario en México. Razón y
Torres-Nabel, L.C. (2014). El poder de las redes sociales: la “mano
invisible” del framing noticioso. El caso de #LadyProfeco. Icono 14.
Revista de Comunicación y Tecnologías Emergentes, 12(2), 318-337.
doi: 10.7195/ri14.v12i2.625
Torres-Nabel, L.C. (2015a). Redes sociales, popularidad e influencia social.
El caso de la ciberprotesta contra la Ley de Telecomunicaciones en
México, 2014. Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación, 6(1), 177-185.
doi: 10.14198/MEDCOM2015.6.1.10
Torres-Nabel, L.C. (2015b). ¿Quién programa las redes sociales en internet?
El caso de twitter en el movimiento #YoSoy132 en México. Revista
Internacional de Sociología, 73(2). Doi: 10.3989/2013.05.29
Tversky, A., & Kahneman D. (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty:
Heuristics and Biases. Science, New Series, 185(4157), 1124-1131
Verón, E. (1995). Conducta, estructura y comunicación. Escritos teóricos
1959-1973. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu
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era del acceso. Barcelona: Paidós.
Weber, M. (1922). Economía y Sociedad. Madrid: Fondo de Cultura
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2)
Luís César Torres-Nabel es Profesor Titular de la Universidad
Pedagógica Nacional
Contact Address: Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Unidad
Guadalajara. Av. Plan de San Luis 1696 Col Chapultepec Country C.
P. 44620 Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. Email: [email protected]
Instructions for authors, subscriptions and further details:
The Impact of New Technologies on Leisure Activities in
Developed and Emerging Economies
Lynne Ciochetto1
1) Massey University, New Zealand
Date of publication: July 30 , 2015
Edition period: July 2015 - November 2015
To cite this article: Ciochetto, L. (2015). The Impact of New Technologies
on Leisure Activities in Developed and Emerging Economies. International
and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2), 194-214. doi:
To link this article:
The terms and conditions of use are related to the Open Journal System and
to Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 March 2015 pp. 194-214
The Impact of New
Technologies on Leisure
Activities in Developed and
Emerging Economies
Lynne Ciochetto
Massey University
This paper is a cross-cultural exploration of the impact of the widespread adoption
of digital technologies on contemporary leisure activities. In the last two decades
there has been an exponential increase in worldwide computer use, followed by a
similar expansion in mobile phone usage. There are a number of factors caused this
increase: technological advances in functionality, the migration of computer use
from work to the home environment, increased accessibility of data through the
increased capacity of search engines and the rapid growth in popularity of social
media websites after 2004. The exponential growth of mobile phone use followed a
similar but more rapid trajectory and the user base expanded in emerging economies
when 3G mobile phone technologies provided internet access. There has been a
major shift in the way people communicate particularly the exponential increase in
the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Skype and
Baibu. Sites such as iTunes and YouTube have changed the way music and video
are accessed, listened to and used. Changing patterns of technology use have had a
major impact on the way people conduct their lives and have impacted significantly
on leisure activities in both developed and emerging economies: the types of
activities and the way those activities are pursued in both at home and when people
Keywords: leisure, mobile technologies, social media
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1565
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 March 2015 pp. 194-214
El Impacto de las Nuevas
Tecnologías en el Ocio en las
Economías Desarrolladas y
Lynne Ciochetto
Massey University
Recurriendo al Foro Social Mundial como un estudio de caso ejemplar, este artículo
muestra como la emergencia de una forma de visión cosmopolita (transversalismo)
se puede explicar en términos de experiencias de los activistas, a partir de la
complejidad y las contradicciones en sus redes. El artículo cuestiona la idea que la
transnacionalización de las redes de solidaridad y las interconexiones pueden
estimular de forma sencilla el aumento del cosmopolitismo entre los activistas de la
justicia global. Las experiencias de los activistas de disonancias entre sus ideales, la
complejidad de las relaciones de poder y las incertidumbres estructurales en sus
redes de justicia global puede proporcionarles una base de pensamiento y
deliberación auto-reflexiva, y de esta manera estimular las agendas a adaptar las
diferencias. El respaldo a las medidas de adaptación que aparecen al manejarse con
tales disonancias cognitivo-prácticas aparece como un nuevo modo de
cosmopolitismo, acuñado aquí como ‘transversalismo’. El artículo propone un
nuevo marco conceptual y un modelo analítico para investigar la complejidad de
este proceso de forma más inclusiva y sistemática.
Palabras clave: ocio, tecnologías móbiles, medios sociales
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014-3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1565
196 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
rior to the industrial revolution the pursuit of leisure activities was
the prerogative of the elite and wealthy. The contemporary concept
of leisure as ‘time spent not working’ is a product of social and
economic changes in the 19th century associated with the industrial
revolution in Europe and North America (Roberts, 2006, p.32). The
combination of political emancipation and the expansion of the franchise,
the reduction of both the working day and the length of the working week,
along with rising standards of living, enabled greater numbers of people to
engage in other activities, including leisure activities. The way leisure is
defined is highly ‘context-dependent’, especially in Western industrialized
societies where leisure is influenced by the wider economy, the way work is
organized, the political system and the decline of community in the 20 th
century (Roberts, 2006, p.2). There was a further expansion of this leisure
time, accompanied by rising standards of living, in the second half of the
20th century.
What people did with leisure time was influenced by technological
changes in the media and the entertainment sectors. During the 19th century
the mechanization of print expanded the production of newspapers, books
and magazines. A rise in literacy levels meant reading in the home increased.
In the 20th century there was an evolution in new forms of media–cinema,
radio and television and a merging of some aspects of those media. The
expansion of cinema at the turn of the century was part of the transition to
increasingly visual forms of communication. In the 1920s radio became
more widespread, and in the next decade sound and image merged in films.
The introduction of radio increased the amount of entertainment available in
the home in the 1920s, a trend that intensified with the rapid uptake of
television in the 1960s. During the 1990s the migration of the computer from
work to personal use also had an impact on leisure. A decade later mobile
phones and tablets made media more available for personal use. In
contemporary emerging societies a rapid social transition, similar to that
which occurred in Western industrialized societies in the 19th and 20th
centuries, took place from the 1970s. Today, with the globalization of the
media and technology, it is possible for these groups to leapfrog stages of
technological development and engage with the latest media technologies
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
available. These technological changes are completely revolutionizing how
people spend their leisure time in all societies.
Because leisure has social and economic implications, it became an
important area of research in the 20th century, and of interest to governments.
Leisure is an important economic activity. In Britain leisure accounted for
between 25% and 38% of consumer spending and is an important form of
employment (Roberts, 2006, p. 5-6). The OECD report measuring leisure
has identified three key criteria for defining leisure: time, activities and
states of mind. The economic determinants of leisure focus on ‘residual time
not spent in paid work’. Leisure is also defined in terms of the allocation of
time in the adult life cycle, and time-use studies are used to document
activities when people are in work and away from work (2009, p.20).
Trends in all OECD countries from 1970-2005 indicated that, contrary to
general perceptions, time spent working was not increasing except for
certain groups (OECD, 2009, p.22). The greatest reduction in work hours in
recent decades occurred in the 1970s (Roberts, 2006, pp.46–47). Average
hours in paid work in OECD countries were 1595 hours a year, though
averages differed considerably between countries. The reduction in work
hours has not translated into an increase in leisure hours (OECD, 2009, p.
25). The OECD study used four criteria for defining time: 1. leisure (using
the ‘narrow’ definition –low levels’ of personal care– 45% of time) (OECD,
2009, p. 27) 2. paid work 3. unpaid work 4. personal care (including sleep)
and 5. ‘other’. Gender, age, social class, race/ethnicity and employment
status are all important influences on the time available for leisure and how
people engage with technology in their leisure. Older age groups have more
leisure time once taking care of young children ceases, and in almost all
countries men have more leisure time than women, whether using a ‘broad’
definition (factors in a high level of personal care) or the narrow definition
(OECD, 2009, p. 27). Employed married women with dependent children
have the least time for leisure. Those with lower incomes may have to work
longer hours or have more than one job which may decrease leisure time
(Freysinger & Kelly, 2000, p. 154).
198 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
Roberts (2006, p.40), citing Gershuny’s survey (2000) of 35 time budget
studies in 20 countries, concluded that convergence in leisure activities was
taking place between countries, classes and gender. Roberts also included
age groups. Hours of work do vary from country to country, even between
economically advanced countries. The UK 2000 Time Use Survey found
that leisure activities took up 22% of people’s time–which translates into
five hours and 17 minutes a day–and of that figure watching television
accounted for 10% and social life and entertainment for 6%, sport was 1%,
hobbies and games 1% and ‘other’ 4% (Roberts, 2006, p.11). The OECD
data for 2006 revealed that in the UK 23.4% of the day (five hours 14
minutes) was leisure time, while in the US that number was 21.7% (five
hours five minutes) (2009).
According to Roberts, since the 1970s leisure has become more
commoditized (2006, p. 49). The pace of spending on leisure activities has
increased dramatically since the 1970s in Britain (citing the Family
Expenditure Survey Great Britain 1974-2000/1 and 2002/3 and the General
Household Survey 2006, Table 1.5, 2006, p.17). Out-of-home eating and
drinking dominated leisure spending in 2002/3, followed by tourism and
media (2006, p.18). Increasingly, what we do with our leisure time is defined
by ‘buying, possessing and displaying’ purchased products (Freysinger &
Kelly, 2000, p. 278), and this clearly applies to expenditure on new
technologies. Though use of media may not dominate leisure spending it is
increasingly coming to dominate use of leisure time.
User Profiles: Technology
The nature of technological changes has also influenced what people do with
that technology, often in unanticipated ways. People tend to spend most of
their leisure time at home, and use of mass media came to dominate leisure
activities with the advent of television which first brought moving images
into the home in the 1950s. For the next decades families watched television
together. Watching television has been the most common form of leisure
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
activity since the 1960s. British people have watched over 20 hours of
television per week since the 1970s (Roberts, 2006, p. 18). The introduction
of satellite communications, the expansion of satellite television and an
increase in the number of channels in 1990s began to fracture television
audiences. As multiple niche audiences evolved, the number of household
television sets increased. Unfortunately the OECD data is not useful in
identifying specific technology use in leisure time, as television and radio
are grouped together, while ‘other’ activities include computer games,
recreational internet use, telephone conversations as well as activities like
walking pets and doing arts and crafts (OECD, 2009, p. 35).
According to Neilsen, fragmentation of the media in recent years has
happened across all formats. The explosion of platforms and formats has
provided more content than ever before but the idea of television viewing
has been reconfigured as video programming, defined as ‘any type of
content, such as TV, cable shows, professional video or user-generated
content, that is watched on your TV, PC, mobile phone, tablet or e-reader’.
The Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Survey found 55% of 30,000
respondents worldwide saying that video programming was an important
part of their lives (Nielsen, 2015).
At the same period that satellite communications changed the television
sector there was an increase in the use of computers for leisure activities.
The expansion of computer use, as well as the migration of computers from
work to the home was based on decades of research and development. The
silicon chip was invented by by Jack Kirby in 1959, and by the 1970s led to
the development of the personal computer. Satellite communication
networks had already made computers an essential part of the business and
financial sectors when computers began a migration from the workplace to
education and entertainment. The first personal use of computers in the
1980s was the playing of offline games. These early games required quite a
high level of technical knowledge and were relatively clumsy and difficult to
use. The first wave of personal users tended to be young males. Email
communication and information searching attracted a wider audience of
200 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
personal users in the next decade. A number of changes in the 1990s
widened the appeal of computers by increasing the range of capabilities.
Information searching improved when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer
and popularized the World Wide Web in 1996. In 1999 Google expanded
search capacities and Napster enabled database access. Sharing music via the
internet became possible and music piracy went global. As 99% of music
exchanged this way is not paid for, the music industry was changed forever.
Control was wrenched from traditional owners of the media (British
Broadcasting Company, 2010). In 2004 the social networking site Facebook
was set up and by 2010 it had logged its 500 millionth active user. A quarter
of the people with an active account had logged into the site in the in the
previous 30 days (Fletcher, 2010). The first video was posted in 2005 on
YouTube, and its user base has also expanded exponentially. Trends in
online activities have also evolved including ‘blogging’, the setting up of
personal web posts. This trend became ‘mainstream’ when major media
organizations started establishing blogs. An estimated 60–80% of blogs
started by people were abandoned within a month (Worldwatch, 2009, p.
Further modifications such as wireless accessibility and the introduction
of the laptop meant that computers could be more portable. The introduction
of the iPad computer tablet in 2010–a cheaper, more basic computer with
internet access–was instantly a great success and changed the computer user
profile again. By 2012 tablets were being used as playmate, teacher and
child minder (Nielsen, 2012), in much the same way television was used
after it became widespread in the 1960s.
Mobile phones
In the same decade that computer usage increased–the 1990s–the mobile
phone became a common accessory. Phone prices went down as competition
increased and production levels went up. The GfK Roper Report,
‘Worldwide Study 2006’, which surveyed only the top 75% of income
earners in countries, found 71% of participants used a mobile phone (Salles,
2006). Uptake of mobile phones has been very rapid in emerging economies.
The percentage of mobile phone ownership can easily rise over 100% when
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
people have multiple SIM cards or multiple phones. Brazilians have recently
embraced the mobile phone, and uptake has been rapid. In 2007 ownership
levels were at 133 million phones, over 70% of the population (Meirelles,
2009), and three years later numbers had reached 202.9 million, 99.7% of
the population (CIA, 2012a). Levels of mobile phone ownership are even
higher in Russia, reaching 238 million (164% of the population) in 2010
(CIA, 2012e), an increase from 5.1% in 2001). By 2010 numbers of mobile
phones in India had reached 752 million–64% of the population (CIA,
2012c). Within 10 years of mobile phones being introduced into China in
1987, China had the most mobile phone users in the world. In 2010 there
were 859 million mobile phones (64% ownership) (CIA, 2012b). In the same
year US ownership was 279 million (90%) (CIA, 2012g) and UK ownership
was 80.8 million (128%) (CIA, 2012f). As mobile phones do not have
internet access, in many countries mobile phone ownership was supplanted
by smartphones when they became available.
The most significant innovation in mobile phone technology was the launch
of the ‘smartphone’ in 2006, offering texting, talking plus ‘advanced data’,
which led to a media convergence with the internet, television, email, voice
and text all delivered in one device. The internet was no longer tied to
computers. The smartphone, because it is much cheaper than a computer and
transportable, will enable millions of people to leapfrog landline and
computer technologies and access the internet with wireless handheld
devices. One of the attractions of smartphones for young people is the
‘anywhere anytime access’. Smartphone uptake has been rapid. The 24.1
million sold in China from January to June 2010 exceeded sales for all of
2009 (WARC, 2010c). The smartphone has tended to intensify patterns that
were established with computer use earlier in the decade. Smartphone
ownership levels are, however, still much smaller than those of mobile
202 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
User profiles
With each change in technology and with the introduction of each new
media device different user profiles are generated. User profiles tend to vary
with age and gender, and different age groups show preferences for certain
products and services and those profiles evolve over time. Different societies
exhibit different cultural preferences, and in all societies men and women
have different patterns of using technology in their leisure time.
Computer User Profiles
In the 1990s the number of internet users was still a small percentage of the
total population in most countries and email communication was one of the
first popular activities for personal computer users. Before 1995 British
computer ownership levels were higher than the United States; then the
United States overtook Britain. Ownership levels were about 25% in 1995
(Schmitt & Wadsworth, 2002). Not until the late 1990s in the UK did the
number of homes with computers begin to rise steeply, and by 2004 over
50% were connected to the web (Roberts, 2006, pp. 38-39). By then two
thirds of young people were experienced internet users (Russell & Drew,
2001, and Russell & Stafford, 2002 cited in Roberts, 2006, pp.38–39).
According to the TGI 1999/2000 survey, the rate of usage in Britain, France,
Germany and Spain averaged 14.4% with Britain having the highest level of
users at 23% and the others varying between 7.6% and 14.4%. By 2001
levels in these four countries had reached 19.5% (Ware & de Montigny,
2001). At the end of the decade, in 2009, internet user numbers had reached
51.4 million (83%) in the UK (CIA, 2012f) and 245 million (80%) in the US
(CIA, 2012fg).
Computer uptake in key emerging economies has been uneven and
ownership levels began expanding in the last decade, a few years after
expansion in industrialized countries. In Latin America, user levels in a
1999/2000 survey were 12.5%, increasing to 19.6% by 2001. Five percent of
the users in Latin America were men (Ware & de Montigny, 2001). In Brazil
personal computer ownership grew to 76 million (38%) in 2009 (CIA,
2012a). In Russia internet users expanded to 40.8 million (29%) in 2009
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
(CIA, 2012e), the same level as in China in 2009 389 million – or 29% (CIA
2012b). In India by 2009 the number of internet users was 61 million, 5.5%
of the population (CIA, 2012c).
A recent study of children’s use of the internet–for leisure or learning–in the
OECD countries found the key influences to be family, cultural values and
socio-economic status. One of the important social changes that occurred in
the 1990s in these countries was the growth of a ‘wired generation’ of
children (also known as ‘digital natives’) who had computers at school and
in their homes, and who grew up with the internet, mobile phones and video
games. In 21 of the 30 OECD countries over 86% of children over 15 used a
computer at home, and in five countries the level was over 95%. It was easy
for children to use computers for play or entertainment as the internet
complemented and extended activities they were already engaged with
Since then children have been engaging with computers from a very early
age. A decade ago computer use by children aged six months to six years in
the United States was increasing (Calvert, Ridout, Woolard, Barr & Strouse,
2004 cited in OECD, 2008). On average children start learning to use
computers on their parent’s laps, sometimes as young as two and a half
years, but had moved to independent use within a year. There is a strong
trend towards universal use amongst OECD teenagers. There is also
evidence of a gender gap in the use of technology. Boys use computers and
the internet more than girls; they have wider computer experience and spend
more time online. Girls seem to use computers for communicating, word
processing, text messaging, email and blogging more than boys (Lenhart,
2007, OECD, 2007 cited in OECD, 2008).
Research into the effects of new technology on children builds on
existing research into effects of television on children. There is evidence of
positive benefits for the development of cognitive skills, but the effects on
other aspects like critical thinking and creativity have not been researched.
Time spent on digital technologies adds to time devoted to other media and
reduces time interacting with families and friends, but there is an increase in
204 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
virtual communication, less supervised by adults. There is no conclusive
evidence through longitudinal studies of effects on educational performance
(OECD, 2008). One of the major effects of increasing use of technologies
for leisure is the displacement of other activities, especially the physical
activities of young people and children.
Smartphone Uptake
Smartphone ownership has rapidly increased in recent years. In December
2010 media research company Nielsen published a report on mobile phone
behavior in 10 countries. In Europe 47% of mobile phone users aged 15-24 –
henceforth ‘youth’–owned a smartphone (as a percentage of mobile phone
owners), and the group over 25 averaged 31% ownership. In the USA the
overall average was 28% and the youth average was 33%. In all the
countries surveyed smartphone ownership by males exceeded that of
females, except in the United States where 55% of owners aged 15-24 were
female. In the US overall, 55% of users were male (Nielsen, 2010). By 2012
most young adults in the United States had a smartphone, according to the
New York Times (cited in Nielsen, 2012). A 2011 UK survey by Ofcom–the
independent regulator and competition authority for the communications
industry–found that by 2011 27% of adults in the UK and 47% of teenagers
owned a smartphone and that most of those smartphones had been purchased
in the last year (2011).
User Activities
Mobile Phones: Texting and Talking (MSM)
Texting and making calls remain the main uses of mobile phones, even on
smartphones. Women tend to use messaging more in most markets except
India. In the UK and US women use messaging 10% more than men do. In
the US, where plans were much cheaper, at first texting (TMS) was less
popular than making calls, but this trend has changed in recent years. The
same Nielsen study found in the late 2000s that mobile phones and texting
had become an obsession with young people. Their main conclusion was
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
that this generation of young people around the world is more immersed in
mobile technology than any previous generation, though the same would
have been said about computers a decade earlier. Nielsen’s analysis of
American mobile phone usage data in April-June 2010 also found that US
teens’ main reason for getting a mobile phone had changed between 2008
and 2010, from safety to texting. American teenagers aged 13-17 years were
the highest users of mobile phones, averaging 3339 sent and received
messages in a month, more than six every hour they are awake–and this was
an 8% increase from the year before. Teen girls sent and received more
messages than boys, 4050 compared to 2539 messages per month. Young
adults (18-24) sent 1630 texts per month, less than three an hour. Though
teens preferred texting to phoning, they still averaged 646 minutes talking on
the phone per month. The level of phone call use peaks at age 24. The over
55 group is the only sector that talks less than 646 minutes, the average for
teens (2010).
Online activity: Computers and Smartphones
As marketers are keen to make use of new technology to target consumers, a
new market research field has emerged–MROC–market research into online
communities. More data has recently become available about behavior and
patterns of use. Patterns of behavior online and on mobile phones vary
among different cultures and among age groups in those cultures. Older age
groups are seen as a key demographic because they often have more time
and disposable income. Data on patterns of technology use often blur the
distinctions between cellphones and smartphones. In the GfK Roper Report
Worldwide Study 2006, texting, emailing and web browsing were all
increasing rapidly (Salles, 2006). One of the most noticeable trends in the
last decade has been people’s simultaneous use of multiple media. The
introduction of computers and the web has not reduced exposure to other
media, and in fact increases overall time spent with media (National Centre
for Educational Statistics, 2004 cited in OECD, 2008). Multiple
simultaneous uses of media raises questions about levels of engagement with
any one form of media. Daily time spent online has increased in most
societies in the last decade, and part of that growth is due to the increasing
206 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
use of smartphones to access the internet. A British study by Ofcom found
(though it is too soon to know if these patterns are temporary or permanent),
that patterns of behaviour of smartphone users differ from patterns of earlier
mobile phone users. In Britain 37% of smartphone users admitted they were
‘almost addicted’ to their phones and used them at restaurants, while eating
and in the bedroom and bathroom. Users are also making more calls and
sending more messages. There appeared to be a trend that smartphone use
among young people meant they were watching less television (23%) and
reading fewer books (5%) (2011).
Internet Searching and Games
Computer games were some of the first attractions of computers in leisure
time and are especially popular in Asian countries. China is one of the
leading nations in the emerging world in technology uptake. Research in
China by Analysys International found access to the internet by smartphone
growing rapidly: 205 million people at the end of 2009 logged onto the web
with wireless handsets, rising to 214 million in the first half of 2010. A CTR
survey of 1000 mobile internet users in 10 cities found that the major reason
for use was the demand for ‘anytime anywhere’ content (WARC, 2010c).
The most popular uses of the internet in China in 2013 were instant
messaging and searching (GO-Globe, 2013).
Smartphone Activities
The highest percentage of young people (15-24) in the world who use
‘advanced data’ (beyond text and voice) were in China (70%) and the US
(83%). Average adult usage was 47% in China and 51% in the US (Nielsen,
2010). The behavior of users of mobile phones has evolved rapidly since
smartphones came on the market. One of the unforeseen parallel
developments that accompanied the smartphone was the exponential growth
of applications that could be downloaded to add specific functionality, for
both computers and smartphones. There are currently around 400,000
applications (apps) available from Apple, 37% of them free. An international
study by Oracle Communications of 3000 mobile phone users
(acknowledged as slightly skewed towards younger men), found 69% used a
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
smartphone, and 47% of the people using smartphones used more mobile
data services than they did a year ago. Key activities were that they were
used as MP3 players, GPS navigation and as replacements for digital
cameras. Seventy-five percent of those aged 19-34 (Gen Y) had downloaded
free apps versus 41% of those 47-65 (baby boomers). Sixteen percent of
interviewees had a tablet and 41% planned to get one soon. Sixty-eight
percent said the apps they most liked to use on phones were games, while
other preferences were: social networking 67%, music 64%, banking 55%
and video 51% (WARC, 2011).
Social Networking
The immense popularity and uptake of social networking since it first
appeared in 2004 has been a major surprise to the sector. Also not predicted
was that Facebook would outdo its competitors in Western markets. The
profile of these Facebook users has also evolved rapidly. By 2010 28% of
Facebook users were over 34, and this group was the fastest growing
(Fletcher, 2010). The use of social networks in older age groups in the
United States has almost doubled in 2011 to 42% (over 47% in the agegroup 50-64 and 26% in the over 64 age-group), according to PEW Internet
(cited by Willems, 2012). This group is searching for products and
information that fits a functional need rather than emotional needs, while the
younger age group, 16-24 years, is mainly interested in social interaction
with their peers. They also have shorter attention spans (segmented
attention) so they like cool new tools and working on multiple tasks
(Willems, 2012).
E-commerce and E-banking
E-commerce has expanded as people become more familiar and comfortable
with using technology. Patterns of online shopping vary considerably
between countries, and e-commerce is more common in high-income
countries where credit card ownership is more widespread and among young
adults and the older age groups who have credit cards. The mass uptake of
smartphones is predicted to change consumer behaviour as more people shop
208 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
online (WARC, 2010d). The growth in advertising on mobile phones has
accompanied the expansion of the numbers of smartphone users, as it did
with expansion of computer ownership. Security of data continues to be an
issue for some groups.
There are marked differences in e-commerce uptake between emerging
economies, for example India and China. Only a small number of Indian
internet users shop online (WARC, 2009) while a third of those interviewed
for a McKinsey survey of the Chinese internet population had purchased
products online. The groups in China quickest to show interest in purchasing
or who actually purchased products tended to be younger, better educated
and wealthier. One of the main uses of the internet was to check out products
before purchasing (WARC, 2010b). The percentage of the population who
use credit cards is low in China (estimated at two million on, 2012), though according to WARC the rate
of e-commerce purchasing is 28% in China, the highest of the BRICs
(WARC, 2010a). Credit card users in India were estimated at 18.3 million in
2009-10, a minute percentage of the total population of 1.1 billion
(Phalghunan, 2010). Customers in both India and China are concerned about
security and fraud, which is cited as a key reason e-commerce was a
relatively small sector in China (Nanjing Marketing Group, 2012).
Electronic banking has been expanding in high-income countries as
people became more confident about the security of their data. In emerging
economies electronic banking is still fairly small scale. Thirty-two percent of
internet users in India used internet banking according to IAMAI (Internet
World Stats, 2012).
Smartphones phones have also offered e-banking opportunities to people
in countries where infrastructure is poor and there are no landlines. In
Kenya, where the population is estimated to be 41 million in July 2012, there
were 24.9 million mobile phones in 2010 (CIA, 2012d). As banking services
are poor or non-existent in many areas of Kenya, the ability to access
services such as mobile banking is a very important. In Kenya these banking
is done by mobile phones, not smartphones. Mobile banking is especially
beneficial to migrant workers who want to send money home to their
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
One of the areas of computer use that tends to be ‘under the radar’, but
obviously an important for leisure activity–and work time, is using the
internet to access pornography. An estimated 42.7% of internet users viewed
pornography in 2006 and there were 68 million daily pornography search
engine requests, 25% of the total requests. Forty million American internet
users frequently visit pornography websites. In the United States in 2006
internet porn sales ($2.84 billion) were worth less than video sales and
rentals, which were valued at $3.62 billion (Ropelato, 2006).
Most expenditure on leisure occurs away from the home. Out-of-home
eating and drinking dominated leisure spending in Britain 2002-3, followed
by tourism and media (Roberts, 2006, p.18). Leisure activities have become
more polarized as inequality in society increases and trends in growing
inequality and growing affluence for certain sectors are reflected in the way
people travel. Travel in the form of a holiday is usually people’s largest
leisure expenditure. Approximately 60% of the British population has at
least one holiday a year away from home (Roberts, 2006, p.19). As the better
off became more affluent they began taking more holidays and travelled
further. As travel prices became more competitive in the 1990s people also
travelled more.
Innovations in technology have also changed the way people travel at
every stage of the process. People are using computers and smartphones to
research and access leisure information and to plan their travel. In the UK
research has shown that the internet plays a greater role in planning than
booking. Booking a full holiday on a mobile device is still too complicated
(TravelSupermarket Travel Trends Tracker, cited by TravelMole, February
2012 in NewMedia Trend Watch UK, 2012). Technology is used at most
stages of the travel process as the sector becomes increasingly accessible to
those working outside the travel sector. The internet is used to search for
airline tickets, last minute bookings, bargains, insurance, and hotel
accommodation and to find information about destinations. Once at
210 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
destinations GPS maps can be used to navigate round cities. Airports are
beginning to provide information in the form of apps for airport maps.
Ticket confirmations and reminders are sent to cellphones and computers.
Effects of Changing Patterns of Leisure
In the last two decades patterns of leisure activities have changed
dramatically with the expansion of the use of computers, mobile phones and
smartphones. While time spent using technology has increased,
communication may have increased, but there has been a decline in
interpersonal interaction. In some countries this decline in personal
interaction has created new social problems including increased social
isolation and ‘internet addiction’. In Korea– one of the ‘most wired’ nations–
clinics have been established to deal with the growth of internet addiction.
Numbers reached more than a million in 2007, but after the government
established counseling programmes the number declined to 938,000 in 2009
(Sang-Hun, 2010). In countries where children and young people are
spending more time using technology there is a decline in physical activity
that is contributing, along with changes in diet, to a rise in child obesity,
especially in industrialized countries. For adults the fact that technology now
enables 24-hour availability means the boundaries between work and leisure
or personal time are being eroded.
The migration of computer technology to personal use in the home in the last
two decades has had a major impact on what people do in their leisure time.
The expansion of the internet and the increasing leisure options available–
games, www, searching, social networking and e-commerce –first impacted
on people’s leisure, modifying former patterns of behavior rather than
introducing completely new tasks. The other complementary technology was
the mobile phone which stimulated an expansion in interpersonal
communication, much the way email did in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Texting has become almost an obsession among young people. With the
advent of the smartphone, services previously accessed by computer could
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
now be accessed anywhere at anytime. The multiple technological options
available means technology has migrated into most aspects of daily life. As
technology use is sedentary, other types of activities, especially physical
activities, have been displaced especially among the young. Among older
users there has been an erosion of the differentiation between work and
leisure. Technological changes and convergences are still occurring, so it is
too soon to say whether patterns of leisure will evolve and change further, or
whether current behavior patterns are here to stay. Will there be a reaction
and rejection to this invasion of technology in daily life, and a rejection in
favour of simpler pleasures? However, the popularity of social networking
reinforces the fact that interpersonal communication remains people’s main
source of pleasure and enrichment in daily life.
British Broadcasting Company (BBC). (2010). The Virtual Revolution.
Retrieved from:
CIA (2012a). World Factbook Brazil. Retrieved from:
CIA (2012b). World Factbook China. Retrieved from:
CIA (2012c). World Factbook India. Retrieved from:
CIA (2012d). World Factbook Kenya. Retrieved from:
CIA (2012e). World Factbook Russia. Retrieved from:
CIA (2012f). World Factbook United Kingdom. Retrieved from:
212 Ciochetto – New Technologies and Leisure
CIA (2012g). World Factbook USA, updated CIA. Retrieved from:
Fletcher, D. (2010, May 31). Facebook. Time Magazine, 16–22
Freysinger, V., & Kelly, J. (2000). 21st Century Leisure: Current Issues.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon
GO-Globe. (2013). Internet usage in China: Statistics and trends. Retrieved
Internet World Stats (2012). China: Internet usage statistics and
telecommunications market report. Retrieved from:
Meirelles, H. (2009). A giant awakens in Brazil. Foreign Affairs, 88(1)
Nanjing Marketing Group (2012). CNNIC’s 23rd report on internet
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Neilsen (2015). Screenwars: the battle for eye space in a TV-everywhere
world. Retrieved from:
New Media Trend Watch UK (2012). Online travel market. Retrieved from:
Nielsen (2010). Mobile youth around the world. Retrieved from:
Nielsen (2012). American families see tablets as playmate, teacher and
babysitter. Retrieved from:
O’Leary, N. (2008, February 4). The rise of the BRIC. Adweek, 49(4), 32-65
OECD (2008). New Millennium Learners: a project in progress. Optimising
learning: implications of learning sciences research. Retrieved from:
OECD (2009). Society at a Glance 2009: Evolving Social trends in OECD
countries. Retrieved from:
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Ofcom (2012). A nation addicted to smartphones. Retrieved from:
Phalghunan, P. (2010). Unwanted plastic? Money Outlook. Retrieved from:
Roberts, K. (2006). Leisure in Contemporary Society. 2nd ed. Wallingford:
Ropelato, J. (2006). Internet pornography statistics, 2012. Best Internet
Filter and Software Review. Retrieved from:
Salles, J-C. (2006). How to turn Latin American trends into market
opportunities. Retrieved from:
San-Hun, C. (2010). South Korea expands aid for internet addiction. The
New York Times. Retrieved from:
Schmitt, J., & Wadsworth, J. (2002). Give PC’s a Chance: Personal
Computer Ownership and the Digital Divide in the United States and
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School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from:
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WARC (2010a). Next billion web users based in new markets. Retrieved
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WARC (2011). New global mobile habits develop. Retrieved from:
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Worldwatch (2009). Blogging lies, damned lies and statistics. Retrieved
Lynne Ciochetto is Associate Professor in the School of Design,
College of Creative Arts, Massey University
Contact Address: Massey University. College of Creative Arts. PO
Box 756, Wellington, 6140, New Zealand. Email:
[email protected]
Instructions for authors, subscriptions and further details:
Precariado. Una Carta de Derechos
José Taberner Guasp1
1) Universidad de Córdoba. España
Date of publication: July 30 , 2015
Edition period: July 2015 - November 2015
To cite this article: Taberner, J. (2015). Precariado. Una Carta de
Derechos [Review of the book]. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of
Social Sciences, 4(2), 215-217. doi: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1644
To link this article:
The terms and conditions of use are related to the Open Journal System and
to Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
RIMCIS – International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social
Sciences Vol. 4 No.2 July 2015 pp. 215-217
Standing, G. (2014). Precariado. Una Carta de Derechos. Barcelona: Ed.
Capitán Swing. ISBN: 978-849428791
Grande fue el interés que suscitó el anterior estudio de Standing (2011), The
Precariat. The New Dangerous Class. Tanto por constituirse en referencia
para debatir hipótesis acerca de cambios recientes en la estructura social,
como por lanzar una llamada a la acción para reconducirlos.
En aquella primera obra (2011) nos presenta al precariado como una
clase en formación, que califica –no muy convincentemente- de peligrosa.
En esta segunda (2014), rápidamente traducida al castellano, reafirma su
crecimiento numérico como clase en sí; y subraya mucho más cómo se
constituye progresivamente en clase para sí, con conciencia de condición
colectiva necesitada de organización. De ahí su incipiente peligrosidad para
el sistema, que esta vez justifica mejor.
Dos tercios del libro recogen, en veintinueve artículos, el desarrollo de su
carta al precariado para abolirse como clase, para transformar la sociedad;
para crear las condiciones de una vida y un trabajo dignos, o –como dice
Standing- de una “buena sociedad”, sin precariedades indignas.
Las relaciones de producción y de distribución de esta nueva clase en sí
se caracterizan por el acceso incierto al trabajo, a la vivienda, a los servicios
y recursos públicos; por la carencia de siete seguridades por las que la clase
obrera luchó, reivindicadas por la OIT. La inestabilidad errática y el sueldo
bajo, aun mediando sobrecualificación, se constituyen en norma. La
identidad profesional se desvanece.
En relación con el Estado el precario o precaria se va convirtiendo en
denizen, en residente, al irse vaciando de contenido sus derechos sociales y
2015 Hipatia Press
ISSN: 2014 - 3680
DOI: 10.17583/rimcis.2015.1644
216 Taberner – Precariado. Una Carta de Derechos [Book Review]
menguando de iure y de facto los derechos cívicos. Esta es una de las tesis
centrales del texto.
Otra de las tesis es que en esta economía de mercado global sería inútil
frenar la inestabilidad laboral en cualquier país por separado y que las
condiciones laborales industriales forjadas en grandes fábricas y oficinas ya
no volverán. Pero hay futuro para el precariado si éste -superado el periodo
de reconocimiento de sí mismo- se alía con otras clases: profitécnicos
concienciados, clase obrera residual y salariado inferior, reinventando una
nueva carta de derechos. Siempre que sean capaces de objetivarla
socialmente frente a la ubicua plutocracia, la facción dominante de la clase
alta. Si esa transformación no se produce, seguirán predominando las cuatro
“a”: anomie, anxiety, alienation y anger.
Cinco principios regulativos de justicia social, de la seguridad básica
como derecho universal, propone Standing en su Carta: Una norma o cambio
es socialmente justo sólo si mejora la seguridad de los grupos más inseguros.
No discriminar negativamente en derechos sociales a ninguna minoría.
Derecho al trabajo digno, no a cualquier trabajo, ni sólo al remunerado
mercantilmente. Las seguridades son derechos comunes, no mero objeto de
asistencialidad o caridad. El principio de sostenibilidad ecológica preside
también esta carta para la reorganización económica y social justa.
Tres luchas afronta ahora el precariado para avanzar en derechos. La del
reconocimiento de sí sin avergonzarse, lucha por la representación (“no nos
representan” clamaba el 15M), y por último la lucha por la redistribución de
recursos: seguridad, tiempo, espacio, educación, bienes y servicios
Esto último requiere según Standing, bajo los mencionados principios,
redefinir el trabajo como actividad productiva y reproductiva, regular la
flexibilidad del trabajo impuesta por el nuevo modo de desarrollo global
informacional, reconstruir las comunidades e identidades ocupacionales y la
política de inmigración de forma no clasista, así como promover la libertad y
la reinserción en el tejido asociativo disuelto por el individualismo.
Eliminar los mecanismos sociales que atrapan en la pobreza, revitalizar
los bienes y servicios comunes -incluyendo fondos de capital común-,
recuperar la democracia deliberativa frente a la dictadura del capital
International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1)
financiero global son algunos de los pormenores que se desarrollan en esta
Para todo ello se sitúa como condición el avance hacia una renta básica
universal; el propio Standing la promueve desde la Basic Income Earth
Network, cofundada por él.
Buen análisis y bien planificada llamada a la transformación social,
merecedores de atención. Se echa de menos que Standing no plantee siquiera
abordar la cuestión de la incapacidad del modo de producción capitalista
para afrontar un nuevo modo de desarrollo socialmente equitativo,
ecológicamente sostenible.
Standing, G. (2011), The Precariat. The New Dangerous Class. London:
Bloomsbury Academic
Standing, G. (2014). Precariado. Una Carta de Derechos. Barcelona: Ed.
Capitán Swing
José Taberner Guasp, Universidad de Córdoba
[email protected]

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