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Absent Fathers and Delinquent Sons among the African American Families

Garima Yadav

INTRODUCTION:

Father son dyad has been one of the important research areas when it comes to psychology and family relationships. This importance is a result of the overt emphasis being given on a family structure that constitutes of a mother and a father with their children. This is the model that is accepted as being the consensual model of a good family and anything different from it is considered an aberration which in the end in linked to some social problem arising primarily due to the lack of the model family structure, which carries out various important functions like socialization of the new born, with family being the first socialization agent, which in turn helps in development of the young ones into good socialized beings. In 1949 the American anthropologist George Peter Murdock published the results of a major survey of kinship and social organization in a worldwide sample of 250 societies. Murdock’s starting point was the family, and on the basis of his survey he argued that the nuclear family is universal, at least as an idealized form. this and many such researches marks the acceptance of nuclear family as the true model of family and this was conveyed through many mediums and channels which had an effective and quick access to the minds of the people

In this paper the emphasis is laid out on the link between ‘absent father and delinquent sons’. With an ideal family structure constituting of a father, who plays an important role of not just as a ‘bread winner’, ‘head of the family’ but as the role model for their children especially son who learns by emulating his father and this in turn help him in realizing what it is to be a male. Butler (2004) discusses how gender is performed without one being conscious of it, but says that it does not mean this performativity is “automatic or mechanical”. She argues that we have desires that do not originate from our personhood, but rather, from social norms.  What is important to be derived from this is that the gender roles that we develop and practice or perform have to be learnt and the learning first begins from the family which, as has been mentioned earlier, is the first socializing agent. Various psychological and sociological research has pointed out the importance of father as being the role model for the son, who learns what it is to be a male from him, many other researchers have devoted their attention onto what happens when this role model is absent, with some claiming the result of absent father as being the deviant son.

The absent father and delinquent son dyad is being analysed in a particular cultural setting that of African American families or the black families in USA. The choice of this setting is primarily due to the availability of ample researches being carried out on black families and researches exploring this link between absent father and delinquent sons. One more important reason for this choice is the popular image of black people being that of a deviant and most involved in the unlawful activities or this is the popular image being manufactured about the American society through various techniques one prominent being of the statistics and the quantitative modes of analysis which tries to draw and establish a link between deviant family i.e. the absence of father and a deviant son.

This paper has been divided into four parts. The first part deals with the theories on fatherhood. This part will primarily focus on the shifts that have been taken place in understanding the term ‘father’ and his role. Also, it deals with developmental psychology theory to chalk out the importance of father in child development.  The second part deals with the black families in United States of America, talking about the demographic composition of the black families in US. This part will focus on all the statistics that have been produced and used so far in various government agencies and social policies. Also, we will look into the famous Moynihan report briefly to understand the history of the social policies towards the black people and how the matriliny myth was created. This section will also focus on how there is a propensity, that is proved through statistics produced by federal agencies, among the black young men to be involved in crimes. In the third part we will try to draw linkages between the absent father and delinquent sons, as from the previous section it can be identified that two main things are prominent i.e. a high number of single female headed household which implies absence of male or father from the family and the high rate of involvement of black young people in crimes. This section will deal with the researches carried out concerning the dyad- absent father and delinquent sons, among the black people. In the last section, we will pull all the argument together to identify whether if this dyad is valid or not.

Theories on fatherhood

A famous anthropologist once said that fathers are a biological necessity but a social accident. Traditionally, fathers have always been depicted as a strong and strict person devoid of emotions and one who is not at all involved in child care. The main role that the father figure plays is that of the bread winner, that’s the expectation from them. Also, these ‘mythical fathers’ provided a strong but distant model for their children and moral and material support for their wives.

A variety of technological, economic and ideological changes in our society are redefining what it to be a father. A new cultural image of fatherhood has emerged that has pushed aside the earlier portrait of the uninvolved father. No longer a social accident, many fathers are active partners in parenting and a direct influence on their children’ development.

Fatherhood is a continually evolving ontological state, a site of competing discourses and desires that can never be fully and neatly shaped into a single ‘identity’ and that involves oscillation back and forth between various modes of subject position. The concept of ‘the father’ is typically gendered in western societies; it denotes maleness; the possession of s penis and testes in working order, the proven ability to produce viable sperm to impregnate a woman resulting in a child. ROSS D PARKE points out, the contemporary concept of the father is far more complex and less unified than its common-sense definition suggests. The concept of ‘the father’ or ‘fatherhood’ is multiple rather than unitary, changing according to the context even for the individual, as do concepts of ‘the mother’ or ‘motherhood’. DE KANTER notes that when speaking of “the father” there is a continual move between at least three different levels of meaning: the person of the father, that is, an individual’s embodied presence; the socio cultural position of the father and the more abstract symbol of the father. She further argues, the term ‘father’ may be used to describe the individual who provided the biological material, even if he is never known to his child (as in the case of sperm donor), to describe the person who lives in the same household as the child and is the mother’s partner but not biologically related to the child, and the man who is legally the father but does not live in the same household because of marital separation or divorce.

There is a general agreement, as has been mentioned above, in the social historical and social science literature that the expectations and norms around ‘good’ fatherhood have changed dramatically over the course of the twentieth century. PLECK identified four ‘phases’ of American fatherhood typologies: first, the father as ‘authoritarian moral and religious pedagogue’ (Eighteenth century to early nineteenth century); second, the father as ‘distant breadwinner’(early nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries); third, the father as ‘sex role model’(1940 to 1965); and fourth, the ‘new’ father, who is nurturing and interested in his young children as well as engaged in paid work (late 1960s to the present).

However, one thing to note about these understanding on emergence on new fatherhood is that they are located in a certain locale i.e. the western world and that too a specific class. Many scholars refute or disagree with the portrayal of this idea that the fatherhood has undergone a lot of change. Fathers earlier too were involved with the child care and were liberal enough to display their love and affection for their children. But these scholars also don’t deny that in the popular image the understanding of ‘fatherhood’ as undergone a tremendous change. Traditionally, the concept of the father has been that of provider and head of the family group. However, over the past century we’ve witnessed a change in the understanding of father and his role in the family wherein he is supposed to be more involved in child care and upbringing and also openly express and display his love and affection for children which was traditionally thought to be the role of a mother. This change in the conceptualization of fatherhood, sharply contrast the traditional concept of being a father. The author points out that the contradiction in two conceptualization of fatherhood poses problem for the one in the role of the father and as well as the family member. This confusion or problem is more prominently visible in the case of men who are ‘foreign born, sons of immigrants or members of low socio- economic classes.’ The reason postulated for such a problem is the deep seated understanding of role of a father in their mind; which bars them from being affectionate towards their children. Also, in order to come out over their feelings they tend to be harsher i.e. to not show their love, affection and care they become more harsh and strict.

Psychology has a long history of ignoring fathers. Fathers were not just forgotten by accident, they were ignored because it was assumed that they were less important than mothers in influencing the developing child. Psychologists have, by comparison, undertaken much less research on the nature and development of the paternal- infant relationship. In the 1940s and 1950s, however, there was a growing interest in the effects of ‘father absence’ stimulated by the disruption in family life occasioned by the Second World War. Children without fathers were portrayed as being ‘at risk’ of abnormal psychology, sex-role, intellectual and moral development, including lack of independence, passivity, eating and sleeping problem, decreased sociability. There was a particular concern for boys without fathers, who were seen as lacking a ‘positive role model’ after which they could model their own masculinity. Such boys, it was suggested, were vulnerable to ‘abnormal’ sexual development and liable to become homosexual or delinquent.

Psychological studies devoted to researching the father-child relationship have grown in America in 1970s in particular. With this the new image of father as more involved in child- care emerges. Developmental psychology research has generally concluded that the quality of early father- infant interaction is linked with later father- child attachments. There was an overt emphasis on the ‘sex role’ models of behaviour.

Many other prominent psychologists have talked about fatherhood and the role of father in the proper development of child in all aspects be it physical, cognitive or social.

Sigmund Freud has talked about fatherhood a lot. He says that Fatherhood is the cause and fulfillment of the father’s creative, protective, and organizing power in his child. As a physical and symbolic bond between generations, fatherhood implies the authority of the father over the child, expressed through the transmission of the name. The sons use this aspect of paternity in the construction of their own individual and social identities, and in their respect for the law. Father-hood is the basis of all thought. Discovering in his self-analysis, through his dreams, that fatherhood satisfied both his desire for immortality, through his children, as well as his ambivalence toward his own dead father. Sigmund Freud’s work The Interpretation of Dreams, established the desire of Oedipus to sleep with his mother and kill his father as universal.

Fatherhood is an organizing system indissociable from this Oedipus complex. It structures and restrains sexuality, through the father, who is simultaneously loved, protective, and feared. It condenses conflicts of ambivalence and the castration anxiety. Fatherhood induces repression and prompts progress: It is an inevitable and indestructible origin and obstacle that unites the scattered ego, while showing how to overcome ambivalence through identification with the father. Its dynamic potential is anchored in the father-mother-child triangle it structures, not in the person of the father who supports the paternal function.

Having murdered the violent and jealous primal father, the sons discover the symbolic paternity of the father in the work of mourning, made up of ambivalence, guilt, and idealization. Retrospective obedience and the renunciation of the father’s omnipotence are at the origin of the social contract and the law. For Freud fatherhood also occupies a central place in the subject’s genital organization through the father complex. Linked to death and sexuality, which it transcends, and serving as an atemporal and structuring reference point, it channels through its incarnated generating power the diphasic sexual development of the child-become-adolescent, opening him up to the effects of Nachträglichkeit, sublimation, and the wish to become a father in his turn. Fatherhood then, logically, enables the subject’s separation from the mother and authorizes relations of generation, dramatized as arising from a primal triangle, with differentiated parental images.

Erik Erikson(1950) coined the term  generativity to refer to an emergent process that accentuates parents’ personal growth in relation to their children’s well-being. As the primary psychological task of healthy adulthood, generative fathers have a genuine commitment to establishing and guiding the next generation. Erikson believed that in order to become fully human, a father must widen his commitment beyond the self and invest in caring deeply for others. Generative fathering includes any nurturing activity that contributes to the life of the next generation such as the development of more mature persons, products, ideas or works of art. The essence of generativity is contributing to and renewing the ongoing cycle of generations. Erikson believed that men can and want to become the kinds of fathers their children need them to be.

In this section we reviewed some of the theories on ‘father’ and ‘fatherhood’ from the sociological as well as the psychological perspective. We identified that how there is an emergence of new form of fatherhood and it definition. Also, we identified the importance allocated to the role of a father in psychological studies in the development of a child and especially that of a son.

The Black Family in America

The prevailing view of the black family in the United States for most of its history has been based on the dominant paradigm of white superiority and black inferiority. In the post-World War II era there was a strong consensus for the normative family, and Daniel P. Moynihan reflected this view when he labelled the black family “pathological” and “dysfunctional” because the black families studied did not fit the normative model. Numerous social policies followed the famous 1965 Moynihan Report with the goal of “fixing” and helping the black family, such as Head Start. In the years that followed, not only did statistics change to indicate even greater deterioration of the black family, but statistics on the white family began to match the patterns of the black families of the 1950s. Consequently, recent emphasis of social policy is more on economic factors than racial equality, and affirmative action policies are being challenged with some success. Conflicting views and interpretations abound regarding the structure of the black family, as do the solutions to remedy the ill-defined problems.

THE MOYNIHAN REPORT

The dominant paradigm of black inferiority pervades early myths and even scholarly studies. E. Franklin Frazier, the black historian on whom Moynihan’s 1965 report was based, was trained by white scholars at the University of Chicago, such as sociologist Robert Park. Park’s studies in the 1940s and 1950s were based on the deficit approach that “assume Blacks are culturally deprived and view differences found between white mainstream Americans and Black Americans as deficits.” They viewed blacks as a people in the process of assimilation into the mainstream of American society, like other immigrant groups, disregarding both their own racism and the institutionalized racial oppression in which blacks exist in America.

Frazier’s The Negro Family in the United States “supplied a model for the study of Blacks which emphasized family disorganization and dysfunction…,” describing the black family’s present condition of matriarchy, ineffective black males being marginal to the family, casual sex relations, and general dissolution of the black family to be caused by urbanization and the heritage of slavery. Frazier’s work was used for the basis of Moynihan’s conclusions that identified “Black “matriarchal” mothers as responsible for the “breakdown” and “pathology” of Black families (who, he claimed, were responsible for high rates of illegitimacy, delinquency, and unemployment).” Consequently, many of the programs and policies formed were focused on “improving the child-rearing practices of black mothers.”

In the period following the depression and the hardships of World War II, American policy makers dedicated their efforts to creating a society comprised of strong, happy nuclear families. The normative ideal family was seen as a two-parent nuclear family residing in the suburbs with a breadwinner father and homemaker mother. There was a strong consensus of what comprised the ideal family.

The poor black family did not fit the current ideology; therefore it was labelled “pathological” and “dysfunctional.” As a government publication, the Moynihan’s report constituted a level of authority that carried significant weight and lent credibility to the abundant social policies to “fix” the dysfunctional, pathological black family structure that threatened the ideal, normative family structure upon which the future success of American society was believed to depend. Experts blamed the victim. The black family structure, rather than social structure of the U.S., was blamed for its deprivation of the American Dream. Therefore, solution was to deal with the black family rather than segregation and discrimination.

Present situation of black people:

Overview (Demographics): In July 2008, 41 million people in the United States, or 13.5 percent of the civilian no institutionalized population, were Black. They are the second largest minority population, following the Hispanic/Latino population. In 2007, the majority of Blacks lived in the South (56 percent), while 34 percent of white population lived in the South. The ten states with the largest Black population in 2008 were New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, California,North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan. Louisiana is no longer in the top 10, as a result of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Combined, these 10 states represented 59% of the total Black population. Of the ten largest places in the United States with 100,000 or more population, Gary, Indiana has the largest proportion of Blacks, 83%, followed by Detroit (82%).

Educational Attainment: In 2007, as compared to Whites 25 years and over, a lower percentage of Blacks had earned at least a high school diploma (80 percent and 89 percent, respectively). More Black women than Black men had earned at least a bachelor’s degree (16 percent compared with 14 percent), while among non-Hispanic Whites, a higher proportion of men than women had earned at least a bachelor’s degree (25 percent and 24 percent, respectively), in 2006.

Economics: According to the 2007 Census Bureau report, the average African-American family median income was $33,916 in comparison to $54,920 for non-Hispanic White families. In 2007, the U.S. Census bureau reported that 24.5 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 8.2 percent of non-Hispanic Whites were living at the poverty level. In 2007, the unemployment rate for Blacks was twice that for non-Hispanic Whites (8 percent and 4 percent, respectively). This finding was consistent for both men (9 percent compared with 4 percent) and women (8 percent compared with 4 percent). 2005: employed blacks earned only 65% of the wages of whites, down from 82% in 1975. In 2005, the poverty rate among single-parent black families was 39.5% , while it was 9.9% among married-couple black families. Among white families, the comparable rates were 26.4% and 6%.

Age, Sex and Marital status distribution:

In 2002, 33 percent of all Blacks were under 18. Only 8 percent of Blacks were 65 and older, compared with 14 per- cent of non-Hispanic Whites

Marriage

Nearly half of black Americans have never married—the highest percentage for all racial groups. Only 30 percent of blacks are now married. Married couples make up nearly three-quarters of all U.S. families. Among black families that number falls to 44 percent.

The Children

Nearly 10 million black families lived in the United States in 2007. Twenty-one percent of these families were married couples with children. This is the lowest for all racial groups. As the U.S. average is 32.4 percent. But nearly one-third of these families were single mothers with children under 18. The U.S. average is 12.1 percent. Slightly less than 20 percent of black families were grandparents raising their grandchildren. The U.S. average is 10 percent.

No surprise then that slightly more than half of black kids live with only one parent and that’s overwhelmingly with their mother. A home headed by a single mom often equals an economically poor home.

DIVERSE INTERPRETATIONS OF BLACK FAMILY STRUCTURES

The prevailing views of black families in America experienced a significant shift during the 1960s. Prior to that period most scholars with credentials that had studied the black family limited their studies to lower class families and interpreted the results through the existing paradigm of black inferiority. The 1960s brought many changes to our country in a great many ways. The lives of black Americans did change, and so did the perception of the black family, both in the eyes of mainstream society, as seen in the media, and in the academic community. Many of the recent scholars studying black families are black themselves, though not all, but the present perspective of studying the black family reflects an attempt by most to put it in the context of its unique position in the American experience, including the racial inequalities of discrimination, and acknowledge the differences of black families as normal and functional rather than pathological and dysfunctional, as labelled by the Moynihan Report in 1965.

Recent studies have shown “Black families …examined from a culture-specific …perspective …are providing myth-destroying information. …Black families encourage the development of the skills, abilities, and behaviors necessary to survive as competent adults in a racially oppressive society. …In general, Black families are reported to be strong, functional, and flexible. …They provide a home environment that is culturally different from that of Euro-American families in a number of ways. …The environment of Black children is described as including not only the special stress of poverty or of discrimination but the ambiguity and marginality of living simultaneously in two worlds–the world of the Black community and the world of mainstream society, a phenomenon unique to Blacks.” (ROBERT STAPLES)

Many studies still view the poor black family and regard that as the definitive black family. These studies show female-headed households, absent black fathers, teen mothers, welfare dependency, and extended kin-networks, all of which have some truth. The most pervasive myth is that that picture holds true for most all black families. The “other” black America, the middle-class blacks who have “made it,” have largely been ignored in studies about black families until very recently; their assimilation into mainstream society has rendered them nearly invisible, both as an entity to be studied or acknowledged.

Contrasting views of the black family abound. Some are based on the presence or absence of racism and the still present assumption of black inferiority. Some are based on the view of the black family by many researchers as a monolithic institution, usually poor and urban, excluding consideration of other types of families. Some are based on the contrast of assimilationist versus Black Nationalist viewpoints. (R STAPLES)

Scholars have disagreed on the basis for cultural differences between black and white families, particularly whether the kinship based family is a product of African heritage, slavery, or poverty. The Moynihan Report labelled the black family as pathological because it differed from the nuclear family perceived so strongly as “normal” in the postwar years, but recent scholars see the black family as functional rather than dysfunctional, that is, not pathological (abnormal) in terms of African heritage and kinship networks. Where Frazier’s work said that slavery had destroyed African kinship family relations, Blassingame showed that black families did function in slave quarters and strong family ties persisted despite slave trade. Gutman’s work showed that slavery did not destroy black families, and the kinship model of the black family comes from African origins. Where earlier studies concluded that “matriarchal families were pathological and detrimental to the personality development of black children,” Genovese redefined female matriarchy as gender equality, a contrast to the male domination perceived as normal by whites. Yet whether black females were of equal status or dominating, slavery altered the gender status of black families. In Africa “the family was a strong communal institution stressing the dominance of males, the importance of children, and extended kinship networks.” But under slavery, “The slaveholders deprived the black man the role of provider… the economic function of slave women was often comparable to that of men. …always there was an external power greater than the slave husbands.”

More recent studies show that the cultural differences between black and white American families is based on their African heritage combined with the reality of racial oppression, past and present. The kinship family deals with poverty by providing “a strategy for meeting the physical emotional needs of black families [by using] a reciprocal network of sharing to counter the lack of economic resources.” Economic level corresponds significantly but not totally to the degree that black families reflect traditional African values and practices, particularly the kinship based family structure, versus the nuclear family viewed by mainstream (white) society as more normal. Whatever the reason for the differences, “the black family is a functional entity,” and not dysfunctional, as Moynihan labeled it. Although “…not all…agree on the degree to which African culture influences the culture of black Americans, they do concur that black Americans’ cultural orientation encourages family patterns that are instrumental in combating the oppressive racial conditions of American society.”

Overall, the reasons for conflicting findings between recent researchers on the black family as compared to earlier accounts include that they: (a) failed to recognize the existence of a black culture and the antecedent African experience and examine social roles in that context; (b) neglected to interview black fathers and observe father-child interactions for demographic differences; (c) observed and investigated black family life using the very poorest families as subjects and generalized the findings to all black families; and (d) used theoretical models limited to Western cultural life-styles.

 

Another area of controversy is that of the role of black fathers. The experience of black father both under slavery and in freedom was also different from that of white, middle-class men. Most scholars agree that the conditions of bondage made gender relations among slaves different from those of whites, but they disagree on exactly on how different. Although most slave children lived in stable two- parent households, the roles played by their parents were shaped by the harsh conditions of slavery. Recent scholarships dispel the myth of weak ties between slave fathers and their families and the corresponding stereotype of a prevalent slave ‘matriarchy’. As the historian PETER KOLCHIN points out, however, slave families were typically less male- dominated than nineteenth century free families. This was for at least two reasons: First, because slave unions had no legal status, slave fathers had no more property rights than did mothers. Slave fathers consequently lacked the authority over mothers of their children that the legal system bestowed on free men. Second, slave fathers were more likely than mothers to be separated from their children. Men were hired out, were sold off, and ran away more than women. When parents lived on separate plantations, fathers rather than mothers, typically travelled to visit their families on weekends. Accordingly, mother- headed households, while not the norm, were relatively common.

The impact of slavery on children undermined paternal authority as well. Children who saw their parents verbally or physically abused knew where ultimate power lay and soon learned to conform to the wishes of both their parents and their owners. These and other indignities prevented black men from adhering to white middle class conventions, but the constraint did not prevent them from feeling outraged at their inability to exercise fully the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. By all accounts, most black men believed that masculinity rested on a foundation of family duty and struggled against the subversion of their paternal authority. Fathers and mothers alike strove to afford their children a basic refuge from the horrors of slavery, providing them with love and attention, imparting family customs and religious values, and teaching them the caution needed to survive in a hostile white society.

In the years following slavery, the vast majority of black children continued to live in two- parents households. As blacks adapted to the vagaries of urban life, the family remained a vibrant institution, with parents rendering vital assistance to children. Cities, however, were especially hard on black fathers. The proportion of African American families headed by females in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries exceeded that of native born and immigrant whites. Persistent discrimination and under- or unemployment in Northern and Southern cities undermined the ability of black fathers to support their children. As a result, black fathers left their families more often than did whites.

Crime

According to the FBI crime reports 1999-2005, the average Black commits murder about 7.1 times more often than the average “White”. The average Black commits interracial murder about 13.8 times more often than the average “White”. The average Black kills a “White” 15.9 times more often than the reverse.  Weapons violations are committed by Blacks at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites; Blacks are caught receiving or buying stolen property at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites;  Blacks are involved in prostitution at almost 4 times the rate for Whites; Blacks are arrested for drug crimes at over 4 times the rate for Whites; Blacks are more than three times as likely as Whites to be caught at forgery, counterfeiting, and fraud, and almost three times as likely to be caught at embezzlement;  Blacks are more than 3 times as likely to be thieves as Whites; Blacks are more than 4 times as likely to commit assault as Whites;  Blacks are almost 4.5 times as likely to steal a motor vehicle;  Blacks are more than 5 times as likely to commit forcible rape as Whites; Blacks are over 8 times as likely to commit murder as Whites;  Blacks are more than 10 times as likely to commit robbery as Whites; Nearly 25% of all Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail or on probation – this does not include those wanted or awaiting trial; For all violent crimes considered together, Blacks are almost 5.5 times more likely to commit violent criminal acts than Whites.

According to the CDC(Centre for Disease Control)’s “The 2004 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report”, Blacks make up the largest group (48%) of “people living with Aids”; followed by Hispanics (17%), American Indian and Asian/Pacific islander (1% each).in 2005, over 68% of the american prison population was non-white .

According to Bureau of Justice around 28 % of black men will be sent to jail or prison in their lifetime and an estimated 12 % of all black males in their 20s are in prison. One in eight Black men in their 20s and 30s are behind bars, compared to 1 in 63 white men.

 

Research on black families:

There has been a wide range of research being carried out to understand and conceptualize the black family structure in America. In this section, we will review some of the research that pertains to the black fatherhood and how the absence of father is dealt with by the rest of the family member and how it has an impact on the development of children.

In black families, which are marked by absence of biological father from the household, there are two other kinds of fatherhood that appears on the scenario i.e Social father and Non resident father. Social father is a male relative or family associate who demonstrates parental behaviours and is like father to the child. @1 althoough research increasingly focuses on no reseident biological fathers, little attention has been given to the roel of other men in children’s lives. While examining the factors associated with social father presence and their influence on preschooler’s development. Findings indicate that the majority of children have a social father and that mother, child, and non resident biological father characteristics are  all related to social father presence. These associations differ depending on whether the social father is the mother’s romantic partner or a male’s relative. The social father’s influence on children’s development also depends on his relation to the child. Male relative social fathers are associated with higher levels of children’s school readiness, whereas mother’s romantic partner social fathers are associated with lower levels of emotional maturity. Also, importance of social fathers should be examined in the context of non resident biological fathers’ s involvement. If the non resident father is not involved in his child’s life actively then the social father’s role is more prominent.

Another study examined the interrelationship of non resident father visitation, parental conflict over this visitation, and the mother’s satisfaction with the father’s visitation. This studies shows that many children have a little contact with their Non Resident fathers and contact generally declines over time. It also shows that conflict may arise due to father’s contact with children but this also increase satisfaction in mothers.

 

Another study concludes that the non resident father may visit their children frequently, but the range of activities may be restricted and also the ties of affection may be weak. Research on two- parent families suggests that it is not the presence of father that is critical for children’s well being, but the extent to which fathers engage in authoritative parenting. The study concludes that only those non resident fathers who engage in authoritative parenting have the potential to contribute a great deal. This study also points out that to be a competent father, men must’ve a strong commitment to the role of parent, as well as appropriate parenting skills. Non resident fathers who are not highly motivated to enact the parental role or who lack the skills to be effective parents are unlikely to benefit their children, even under conditions of regular visitation.

Another study shows that how non resident fathering and stepfathering are becoming two increasingly common types of fathering experiences. Approximately half of all U.S. children will grow up apart from their biological fathers and almost one third of all children will live in a step family at some point in childhood. The study points out that better educated parent may be more likely to conform to social expectations of close ties between parents and children. And also, greater economic resources may allow fathers to incur the costs associated worth active participation with children. Studies of both non resident father and step father reports closer bonds to father for boys than girls. It also points out that black adolescents report being closer to their resident fathers than whites. Adolescents who lack close ties to either father exhibit the most externalizing and internalising problem and are more likely to have received failing grades in school. Good relationship with both fathers are associated with better outcomes but that ties to step fathers are somewhat more influential than ties to non resident fathers as step father and the child co –reside and share a good amount of time together.

Another study points out that the patterns of fathers influence vary by race and ethnic diversity, which in turn, are linked to socio economic status differences as well as family history characteristics. Children with non resident fathers are more likely to engage in health compromising behaviour such as drug and alcohol use, unprotected sex. and cigarette smoking; are less likely to graduate from high school and college; are more likely to experience teenage and/or non marital fertility; have lower levels of psychological well- being; have lower earnings; and are more likely to be idle and are more likely to experience marital instability in adulthood.  Fathers who are not able to stay and spend time with their children, leads to loss of social capital for the children. Social capital comes in two forms , and both are vital to child well- being. One form is inherent in father- child relations as fathers teach, nurture, monitor , and care for their children. In addition to the time that fathers spend with their children, the quality of the father child relationship is fundamental source of social capital that is especially important for children’s school attainment and avoidance of risk behaviours. A second form of social capital is inherent in the relationship between parents and other individuals and institutions in the community. These relationships provide access to information, assistance, opportunities and other resources in the community that foster the healthy development of youth. Thus, when children live apart from their fathers, they have less access to parental resources in the form of social capital; they lose time and attention from the father; and they have reduced access to the father’s resources in the community. Although many children experiences a decline in the quantity and quality of contact with their fathers after divorce, and although children born outside of marriage have even less contact with their non resident fathers, a significant number of non resident fathers still maintain contact with their children. The negative effects of divorce and non marital childbearing on children may be partly mitigated to the extent that non resident fathers provide social capital

Conclusion:

The picture that is emerging out of the above discussion and review of researches on the topic of absent fatherhood and its impact on children, chalks out several important points for our consideration.

It is quite clear from the statistics produced above through government sources that in black families there is high presence of single female headed households. And with that there is indeed high rate of involvement of black people especially men or young boys in criminal activities. What strike me throughout while working for this paper is that how the researchers have used these two statistics and tried to find linkage between them. And in this attempt the kind of researches that have been carried out, the selection of  their sample and its size, the mode of analysis primarily being quantitative ;all the research n their strategy somewhere points towards their hidden agenda to co relate these two statistically proven facts. In all these researches related to this area what is also important to note is that the understanding of a normal family, which is a white middle class nuclear family, can be read in between the lines of their conclusions and discussions.

There is considerable controversy concerning the ability of black Americans to maintain ‘normal’ marital and familial relationships. In this context there are a large number of studies underscoring the dysfunctionality of black families. Inherent in the functional versus dysfunctional dichotomy is an implicit assumption regarding normative families. The belief that a statistical model of the American family can be identified with which all families can be compared is mythical(ARTHUR )

The dysfunctional view comes out of the cultural homogeneity approach and is associated with the works of E.Franklin Frazier (1939)and Daniel P. Moynihan(1965). Their works culminated in the, as discussed earlier too, adoption of governmental social policies which view the black family as unstable, disorganized and unable to provide its members with the social and psychological support and development needed to assimilate fully into the American society. The opposite view, primarily a reaction to the above, advocates that the black family as a functional entity.

It is clear from the examination of the research literature on the black family, that the researchers have consistently offered evidence, information, theory and analyses which focussed on the so called problems inherent in black family systems.(WADE W NOBLES). Professor M .Jones(1976) of Atlanta university has noted that systematic scientific inquiry begins where common sense leaves off. In fact, common sense constitutes the base upon which scientific information is built. The social scientist’s role is to present the truth scientifically, that is, to extend or expand the common sense understanding of one’s people with scientific understanding.

This paper discusses four studies which suggest that black families do not constitute a monolithic pattern of familial relationships. The studies indicate that black families vary by social class as do white families. The studies included: Willie’s studies(1976),The TenHousten Study(1970), The Mack Study(1978 )and The Middleton and Putney Study(1960), are considered to be “classic” studies because they suggest how black family research should be conducted. Research must be sensitive to the variety found in black family life styles.

Also, historically black fathers have been either invisible in the study of child development and family life or characterised in negative terms such as deadbeat dads and absent fathers who are financially irresponsible and rarely involved in their children’s lives. According to the demographic data discussed earlier, there is an increase in household without the biological fathers or legal fathers. Some of the confusion about fathering in the African American community is due to lack of a clear definition of what a father is or is not. Traditional definitions of fatherhood underestimates the role of Black fathers and do not adequately capture the cultural nuances that surround the fathering role in the African American experience. Fluent and inclusive term is needed to capture the essence of the fathering role in African American social and family networks. Social fatherhood plays an important role in the African American families. As more inclusive term, social fatherhood encompasses biological fathers, but also extends to men who are not biological fathers who provide a significant degree of nurturance, moral and ethical guidance, companionship, emotional support and financial responsibility in the lives of children.

Apart from the issues dealt in the earlier sections, one important issue is the development or formation of masculinity among black men. The high involvement of black men in criminal activities is a marker of a different form of masculinity they develop and follow. The problems facing black males today are so serious and their consequences so grave that it is tempting to view these men primarily as victims. It has been argued (MASCULINITY READER) that there is contemporary ‘institutional decimation of black males’, which the author describes as the’ coordinated operation of various institutions in American society which systematically remove black males from the civilian population’. Recent research has shown that young black males are experiencing unprecedented setbacks in their struggles for economic and educational equality in the United States, a nation that holds equal opportunity as one of its founding principle. Black men are among the predominant victims of an entire range of socio economic, health and stress related problems. These problems include, but are not limited to, higher rates of heart disease, infant mortality, homicide, unemployment, suspension from school, imprisonment, morbidity and low life expectancy.

Black males have responded in various ways to this constricted structure of opportunity. What is of interest here is how black males’ relationships to dominant definitions of masculinity have figured into their responses to institutionalized racism. Many black males have accepted the definition, standards and norms of dominant social definitions of masculinity (being the bread winner, having strength and dominating women). However, American society has prevented black males from achieving many aspects of his masculinity by restricting their access to education, jobs and institutional power. In other words, the goals of hegemonic masculinity have been sold to black males, but access to the legitimate means to achieve those goals has been largely denied  to black males. As a consequence of these conditions and because of many frustrations resulting from a lack of opportunities in society, many black males have become obsessed with proving manliness to themselves and to others. Lacking legitimate institutional means, black males will often go to great lengths to prove their manhood in interpersonal spheres of life.

Institutional racism and a constricted structure of opportunity do not cause all black males to exhibit anti social behaviours, nor do these problems succeed in erasing black men’s expressions of creativity. One such creative response to institutional racism which bars the black males from pioneering the fields of politics, academics etc is the cool pose in sports world, which is accessible to black males in American society at ease. Cool pose is the expressive lifestyle behaviour that is there not only in sports but also in music and entertainment industry where the black people have carved out their own niche. This cool pose expressed by black males in sports may be interpreted as means of countering social oppression and racism and of expressing creativity. The demonstration of cool pose in sports enables  black males to accentuate or display themselves, obtain gratification, release pent- up aggression etc.

To conclude, it can be said that buried beneath the statistics is a world of complexity originating in the historic atrocity of slavery and linked to modern discrimination and its continuing effects. It would highly wrong to correlate the high number of absent black father household with the high rate of involvement in crime by the black males. There are several other factors that need to be studied by shunning these statistics and leaving the practice to link two statistical data to prove or disprove a dyad that of absent father and delinquent son. Indeed, father plays an important role in the development of a child , be it cognitive, social or emotional development. But the absence of father doesn’t imply that a male role figure is absent from the scene or that it means that the young boy won’t be able to achieve masculinity and won’t be ‘normal’ but always a delinquent. The boys learn from their social fathers, peer groups and society at large which creates and dismantles many agencies through which a child learns what It means to be masculine or male. The absent father delinquent son dyad would be better understood if we try to go beyond the race factor. And identify the lack of access to opportunities and resources leading to poverty as one of the prime reason of high rate of delinquency among black males.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Arlene S. Skolnick, Jerome H. Skolnick. Family in transition. United States of America: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

Barclay, Deborah Lupton and Lesley. Constructing Fatherhood. New Delhi: SAGE publications, 1997.

Bronstein, Phyllis. Fatherhood Today. United States of america: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1988.

Coleman, Norval D. Glenn and Marion Tolbert. Family relations . United states of America: THE DORSEY PRESS, 1988.

Frank J. Barrett, stephen M. whitehead. The Masculinities Reader. cambridge: Polity press, 2001.

Frank, Stephen M. Life with Father. Baltimore and London: the John Hopkins university Press, 1998.

—. Life with Father. London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Heard, Valarie King and Holly H. “Non resident father visitation, parental conflict and mother’s satisfaction.” Journal of Marriage and Family, May 1999: 385-396.

King, Valarie. “Non resident father’s contributions to adolescent well-being.” Journal of Marriage and Family, august, 2006: 537-557.

McAdoo, Harriette Pipes. Family ETHNICITY. London: SAGE publications, 1993.

O’Reilly, Andrea. Mothers and Sons. London: Routledge, 2001.

Park, Barbara J. Risman and Kyung. “Just th etwo of us: parent- child relationships in sIngle Parent homes.” Journal of Marriage and Family, november 1988: 1049-1062.

Parke, Ross D. Fatherhood. harvard: Harvard University press, 1996.

White, Michael E. Connor and Joseph L. Black Fathers: an invisible presence in America. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associate Inc., 2008.

Factors influence on Purchase Intention of Organic Food Products in Trincomalee District

Mr. K. Nirushan

Department of Management, Discipline of Marketing, Eastern University,

Sri Lanka


Abstract: This study considers Factors influence on Purchase Intention towards Organic Food Products in Trincomalee District. The data were collected from 247 customers with a structured questionnaire. After the data cleaning process only 238 questionnaires were considered for the study purpose and the data were evaluated with Univariate, Bivariate and Multivariate analyses to explore the levels of the variables, their relationship and their influences. Customers have shown high level of attitudes regards to organic food product. Health consciousness has more influence on purchase intention of organic food products. It is is useful to explain about 42% of purchase intention of organic food products. Pearson’s correlation shows that, Health consciousness has strong positive relationship (r = 0.721) with purchase intention of organic food products and Consumer Knowledge has medium positive relationship (r = 0.426) with purchase intention of organic food products. Environmental concern regarding to the consumption of organic food products has medium positive relationship (0.332) with purchase intention of organic food products.

Keywords: Organic, Health Consciousness, Organic Food Product, Natural Food

 

  1. Introduction

Our lifestyle has changed in this fast paced world as compared to few decades ago. Today, more and more people are caught up in an endless cycle of buying and throwing away, seeing consumption as a means of self-fulfillment. Consumption is the reason why anything is produced. Demand towards products is driven by convenience and habit which in returned is hard to change. Over the years majority consumers have realized that their purchasing behaviour has a direct impact on many ecological problems (Laroche, 1996).

The growth of organic agriculture is seen as part of the emerging marketing trends where consumers demand to know what benefits a food could deliver before making a purchasing decision, consumers tend to seek for “Natural aspect” of the Food products. On the other hand, the healthy issue is becoming one of the prior concerns of consumers in purchasing products, especially when it comes to food. This factor is appeared as the main driving force for consumers to purchase organic food (Yin et al., 2010). According to Jia et al. (2002) food is categorized as “organic” if the product does not contain artificial synthesized fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, growth regulators and poultry feed additives.

A variety of agricultural products can be produced organically, including produce, grains, meat, dairy, eggs, and processed food products. “Organic” does not mean “natural.” There is no legal definition as to what constitutes a “natural” food. However, the food industry uses the term “natural” to indicate that a food has been minimally processed and is preservative-free. Natural foods can include organic foods, but not all natural foods are organic. In recent decades, the global organic market has been expanding in accordance to the increase of its agricultural cultivation area.

According to Sheng et al. (2009), organic food industry has been rapidly growing in most of developed agricultural economies around the world with the total area of 30.5 million hectares.

In particular, Europe and North America are the two largest markets of organic food in which vast majority of organic products are consumed here. However, Asia is 8 considered as a potential market with the highest growth rate per annum, and China is the main contributor to this rapid growth (Sheng et al., 2009). On the research perspective, several studies about organic food have been made in different countries (Magnusson et al., 2001; Bo et al., 2012; Parichard, 2012). For instance, the research findings concluded that people in Ireland bought organic food at least once a week. Also other studies concluded that Western consumers were frequent buyers of organic food (Wandel and Bugge, 1997; Magnusson et al., 2001). In Asia, previous studies about organic food have been conducted in China, South Korea and Northern Thailand. In general, the results showed that people in these countries start to pay more attention and be more aware of the benefits of consuming organic food (Bo et al., 2012; Parichard, 2012; Suh et al., 2012). Regarding China, this country is considered as one of the most potential markets in terms of economic growth and population expansion.

Due to the improvement in living standards such as increase in income and healthy consciousness, Sri Lankan consumers start to focus more on food quality, and hence create the chance for the development of organic food market. Sri Lanka, after its pioneering move in introducing organically certified tea to the world market, expanded this product range to non-traditional agricultural products such as: Spices, Essential oils, Herbs, Herbal preparations, Desiccated coconut and other coconut-based products, Oil seeds, Pulses, Cashew, Rubber, Tropical fruit, Vegetables (Sri Lanka Export Development Board 2014). In overall, the market of organic food is considered as a potential emerging market in Sri Lanka. Therefore it’s very necessary to study the behavior pattern of the customer in terms of organic products.

  1. Literature review

Consumer Attitudes towards organic food products

Most recent researches reveal that consumer attitudes towards the organic products are changing in a positive ways. Their actual buying behavior is direct result of strong intent and attitudinal values towards the benefits of the organic products (S Priya, M Parameswari, 2016). Attitudes can be determine by so many factors Environmental concern, Health concern and life style, Product quality and subjective and personal norms (Mohamed Bilal Bashaa , Cordelia Masonb et al., 2015)

Health Consciousness

Studies have found that health is strongly connected to the notion of organic food and that it is the strongest purchasing motive when purchasing organic food. Health consciousness is defined as an attitude in which people is aware of the healthiness in their diet and lifestyle (Oxford Dictionaries, 2014). In regard to the context of organic food, Suh, Eves and Lumbers (2012) concluded that positive attitude towards organic food of consumers is originated from the belief that organic food is good for health, thereby they can consume without any fear and suspicion. Originally, this factor stems from the feeling of “freedom from chemicals” of consumers which was mentioned by Devcich, Pedersen and Petrie (2007). The study showed that heath worries refer to the preferences for food made from natural ingredients to synthetic and artificial additives. Similarly, Roddy, Cowan and Hutchinson (1996) stated that people who are more concerned about food safety hold positive attitude towards organic food.

Consumer Knowledge

Consumer knowledge determines high purchasing intention of organic food, according to Chryssochoidis, (2000); Padel and Foster, (2005). Knowledge of consumer is categorized as subjective knowledge, objective knowledge and prior experience (Brucks, 1985). Subjective knowledge refers to what the consumers perceive that they know. In other words, it is called as self- rated knowledge. It represents for the confidence of an individual about their knowledge. The low level of subjective knowledge results in the lack of confidence (Chryssochoidis, 2000; Padel and Foster, 2005). Objective knowledge is what the consumers actually know and finally prior experience is defined as what the consumers have experienced before (Brucks, 1985). Regarding the correlation between consumer knowledge and their purchasing intention, Stobbelaar et al. (2007) claimed that the more knowledge consumers have about organic food, the more positive it is in their purchasing intention. In

Consumer knowledge about organic food could be gained from different sources. Gracia and De Magistris (2007) demonstrated that information about organic food which is showed in the market can have a significant influence on subjective knowledge of consumers. Apparently, knowledge regarding organic food is impacted by public administration such as local governments, social media, social networks, notifications from ecological organizations and advertisements.

Environmental Concern

Many studies have found that environmental concern to be a factor in purchase intention of organic food products (Roddy et al., 1996;Wandel and Bugge, 1997; Squires et al., 2001;Soler et al., 2002). Organic consumers think that most of the conventional food products are producing by huge usage of chemicals and pesticides as being environmentally harmful, while organic foods are perceived as being environmentally friendly (Ott, 1990; Jolly,1991; Wilkins and Hillers, 1994). Though environmental concern would have favorable influence on consumer purchase intention, many studies have found that it is not a driving factor of organic food purchase. Rather, perceptions of good health, nutrients, and taste are more important in the purchase of organic food (Mitsostergios and Skiadas, 1994; Tregear et al., 1994; Shiffersteinand Ophuis, 1998; Zanoli and Naspetti, 2002;Magnusson et al., 2003)

  1. Conceptual Framework

From the literature survey following conceptual model was developed. This conceptual framework shows link between Consumers’ attitudes and Purchase intention of organic food products.


 

Figure 1: Conceptual Model

Health Consciousness
Consumer Knowledge
Environmental Concern
Purchase Intention
Consumer Attitudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Sources: Mohamed Bilal Bashaa , Cordelia Masonb et al., 2015)

 


  1. Methodology

This section specifies how this study has been conducted to examine the Factors influence on Purchase Intention towards Organic Food Products in Trincomalee District. Further, the methods of sample selection, data collected, data analyses and presentation, and data evaluation are organized in this section.

4.1 Research Design

Research design deals to plan and provide the path to do the study to obtain the validity of the findings (Mouton, 1996). According to the research design, the structured questionnaires were firstly issued to the respondents by visiting them and through the internet (Google Forms) thereafter questionnaires’ data were entered in databases and databases were consolidated into one database for analysis purpose. Descriptive analysis, correlation and regression analysis were employed to test level of influences. After analyses were preformed, findings were discussed. As result of the findings, conclusions were drawn.

4.2 Sampling Method

247 respondents were randomly selected for this study within 8 GN Division and cluster sampling method were applied to select the consumer to analyze the Factors influence on Purchase Intention towards Organic Food Products in Trincomalee District.

4.3 Data Collection

This study totally depends on primary data. The primary data were obtained through questionnaires from 247 customers and data cleaning were done to ensure the accuracy of the responses. After the data cleaning only 238 Questionnaires were considered for the study purpose. The questionnaire consists of two parts: personal information and research information.

Primary data were collected through closed ended statements in both questionnaires. Likert scale of 1-5 which ranges from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” were employed to identify the responses from customers.

 

4.4 Method of Data Analysis and Assessment

4.4.1 Univariate Analysis

This study evaluates individual characteristics of Dimensions and variables. Mean values and standard deviation are considered to assess the level of dimensions and variables with the following criteria.

Decision Criteria Decision Attribute
1.0 ≤ Xi ≤ 2.5 Low Level
2.5 < Xi ≤ 3.5 Moderate Level
3.5 < Xi ≤ 5.0 High Level


4.4.2 Bivariate Analysis

The Bivariate analysis is to explore the relationship between the two variables (Babbie, 2009). In this context, the correlation analysis is carried out to measure the strength of relationship between the variables. Correlation analysis measures the magnitude (the coefficient of correlation = r) of the association of variables. The value “r” lies between -1 and +1. Multiple regression was done to identify the most influence factor determines the purchase intention of organic food products

This study assesses the significance of relationship variables, if the respective p-value is less than the 0.05. However, irrespective of the significance level of the association between variables, the correlation becomes meaningful to an extent as indicated in following table as in Senthilnathan and Rukshani (2013).


 

Table 1: Decision Criteria for Bivariate Analysis
Range Decision Attributes
r = 0.5 to 1.0 Strong positive relationship
r = 0.3 to 0.49 Medium positive relationship
r = 0.1 to 0.29 Weak positive relationship
r = -0.1 to -0.29 Weak negative relationship
r = -0.3 to -0.49  Medium negative relationship
Note: Table 1 implies that no correlation between two variables, if the range of r is: -0.1 < r < +0.1.

 

r = -0.5 to -1.0

Strong negative relationship

 

 

 

  1. Findings

Overall Measures of Consumer Attitudes and its Dimensions

Description Dimensions Independent Variable
HC CK EC Consumer Attitudes
Mean 4.942 4.316 3.696 4.3178
Standard Deviation 0.476 0.453 0.486 0.408
Coefficient of Variance 0.108 0.105 0.115 0.095
Maximum 5.00 4.83 5.00 4.88
Minimum 2.40 2.33 2.67 2.64
Number of data 238 238 238 238

HC: Health Consciousness, CK: Consumer Knowledge, EC: Environmental concern

This Independent variable Consumer Attitudes includes three dimensions which are Health Consciousness, Consumer Knowledge, and Environmental concern. These dimensions show high level in the Consumer Attitudes towards organic food products. They have the mean values of 4.942, 4.316 and 3.696 respectively. In addition, most of the respondents have expressed the high opinion toward the dimension Health Consciousness (Mean = 4.942)

Among 238 Customer respondents, Health Consciousness was most significant (Mean = 4.942) to Consumer Attitudes towards organic food products rather than other dimensions. Next, Consumer Knowledge was most significant (Mean = 4.316) to Consumer Attitudes towards organic food products rather than Environmental concern dimension.

5.1 Impact of Consumer’s attitudes on Purchase intention of Organic Food Products

It analyses the influence of Consumer attitudes on Purchase intention of Organic Food Products. In order to figure out which are important determinants of Purchase intention of Organic Food Products, the multiple regression model was used.

Table 2: Consumer’s attitudes on Purchase intention of Organic Food Products
Independent Variables Regression Coefficients
Purchase intention
HEALTH_CONSCIOUSNESS 0.422**
CONSUMER_KNOWLEDGE 0.217**
ENVIRONMENTAL_CONCERN 0.027
Constant 1.600**
Adjusted R Square 0.482
F-Statistics 23.794

** Significant at the 0.05 level (p<0.05)

According to the table, 42.2% of variation in Purchase intention is explained by the variable, Health Consciousness. Likewise, 21.7% of variation in Purchase intention is explained by the variable, Consumer Knowledge. These two variables influences are significant at 5% significance level. The other variable, Environmental Concern explains 2.7% variation in Purchase intention respectively. Out of three determinant variables, Health Consciousness has more influence on Purchase intention of the customer towards organic food products in Trincomalee district.

While considering the overall impact of the model on Purchase intention of Organic Food Products, F-Statistics value 23.794 with 5% significance level reveals that the model is significant. Furthermore, Adjusted R Square statistic is 0.482 which implies that 48.2% of change in Purchase intention of Organic Food Products is explained by these three variables.

 


5.2 Correlation between Consumer health consciousness and Purchase intention

Table 3: Correlations between Health consciousness and Purchase intention
  HEALTH_CONSCIOUSNESS PURCHASE_INTENTION
HEALTH_CONSCIOUSNESS Pearson Correlation 1 .721**
Sig. (2-tailed)   .000
N 238 238
PURCHASE_INTENTION Pearson Correlation .721** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000  
N 238 238
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The table above shows a Pearson Correlation value of 0.721. The correlation lies between 0.5 and 1.0, thus confirming a strong positive significant relationship between Consumer health consciousness and Purchase intention. Correlation results between Consumer health consciousness and Purchase intention is significant at the 1% level (r = 0.671, p=0.00 < 0.01).

5.3 Relationship between Consumer Knowledge and Purchase intention

Table 4: Correlations between Consumer Knowledge and Purchase intention
  CONSUMER_KNOWLEDGE PURCHASE_INTENTION
CONSUMER_KNOWLEDGE Pearson Correlation 1 .426**
Sig. (2-tailed)   .000
N 238 238
PURCHASE_INTENTION Pearson Correlation .426** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000  
N 238 238
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

 

According to the test results, it is shown that the relationship which exists between the two variables is positive. The correlation lies between 0.3 and 0.49, thus confirming a medium positive relationship between Consumer Knowledge and Purchase intention towards organic food products. Correlation results between Consumer Knowledge and Purchase intention is significant at the 1% level (r = -0.349, p=0.00 < 0.01).


 

5.4 Relationship between Environmental Concern and Purchase intention

Table 5: Correlations between Environmental Concern and Purchase intention
  ENVIRONMENTAL_CONCERN PURCHASE_INTENTION
ENVIRONMENTAL_CONCERN Pearson Correlation 1 .332**
Sig. (2-tailed)   .000
N 238 238
PURCHASE_INTENTION Pearson Correlation .332** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000  
N 238 238
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The table above shows a Pearson Correlation value of 0.332 which lies between 0.3 and 0.49. Thus, confirming a medium positive relationship between the two variables. Correlation results between Environmental Concern and Purchase intention is significant at the 1% level        (r = 0.447, p=0.00 < 0.01).

  1. Conclusion and Recommendation

This study has been conducted to identify the factors influence on purchase intention of organic food products in Trincomalee district. This study concludes that Health consciousness, Consumer Knowledge on organic food products and Environmental concern regarding to the consumption of organic food products have positive relationship with the purchase intention of organic food products. Most of the consumer pay more attention on Health consciousness (Mean = 4.942) rather than other two variables. It reveals that respondents believe that organic food products can be a better choice for their healthy life than the conventional foods. Consumers have a sound knowledge on organic food even though health consciousness identified as a major determinant factor of purchasing intention of organic food (R = 0.422). Environmental concern doesn’t have much influence on purchasing intention of organic foods. But it has medium positive relationship with purchase intention of organic food products. It implies that there is a need to educate the consumer on environmental issues cause by consuming foods contains artificial synthesized fertilizers, pesticides.

Limitations of the Study

  • Selected samples are a number of 238 respondents within 8 GN division of Trincomalee District.. If any study considers biggest sample size about 500 or above, the findings of this study can be further confirmed.
  • Each statement is measured with Likert’s scale (1-5). However, the outcomes of this research study can be endorsed while using other scale beyond 5.
  • This study considers 3 dimensions of consumer attitudes towards organic food products and 5 indicators for purchase intention of organic food products, respectively. If a study considers more dimensions of variables, including the study dimensions, findings would be supported in detail.
  • Under the Bivariate analyses, this study considers correlation analyses only to explore the relationship between the study variables. If the analysis is extended to any other analysis, findings would be reemphasized and supported in detail.
  • This study has investigated in only organic food products. If any study considers more products with different geographical areas, the results of this study would be most possibly endorsed, consistently.

Implications for future research

This research study is conducted with the intention of identifying the Factors influence on Purchase Intention towards Organic Food Products in Trincomalee District. With the findings of this study as well, I recommend the below areas to be studied in the future

  • Price could be examine with the purchase intention of organic food products. .
  • It would be better to conduct the same research with a large sample size, and different areas, which would give more precise results
  • Further research should be carried out to find the factors which have an impact on the purchase intention organic food products such as situational factors, Advertisements

 

  1. References
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  • Aertsens, J., Verbeke, W., Mondelaers, K. and Van Huylenbroeck, G. (2009), “Personal determinants of organic food consumption: a review”, British Food Journal, Vol. 111 No. 10, pp. 1140-1167.
  • Ajzen, I., (1991), “The theory of planned behavior”, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 179-211.
  • Ajzen, I., (2001), “Nature and operation of attitudes”, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 52 No.1 , pp. 27-58.
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Objectification Theory: The Themes of Violence and Diverse Sexualities in Beloved and the Bluest Eye of Toni Morrison

DR J.P AGGARWAL & Ms. VINISHA SHARMA, 

 

ABSTRACT

The modern feminists such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigary and Irigary have expressed their opinions on the negative impact of objectification of the female body. It is unfortunate that in the traditional male dominated society the female body is closely objectified. Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) explored the detrimental effects of objectification on the mind and psyche of women. Toni Morrison is prominent Afro-American novelist who raised the cry of black women sexually oppressed and psychologically tormented by the whites. Her novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved (1987) deal with the aesthetics of sexuality and violence perpetrated on the black women. Morrison wrote her novels to depict the themes of sexual oppression of women and their marginalization. The plots of her novels depict the eternal struggle and conflicts of black women to survive in the white dominated society.  Morrison uses sexuality to show what is “wrong” with society; each of her novels depicts the anguish of the black women victimized by the whites. All her women characters, Sethe, Pecola and Denver are trapped in a situation leading them to dehumanization and degradation. No wonder, in her novels sexuality is a result of social and cultural construction.

KEY WORDS: Objectification, perpetrated, tormented, anxiety, postulated, perspective, revealed

Bartky in her essay Psychological Oppression (2006)  observes that  female body determines the identity of a woman in society. The whites never regarded black women as women but objects of sexual pleasures. They were masters and the black women were treated as slaves. The whites argued that the white man enjoys absolute rights to colonize the body of the black women. Women suffer from internal mental disorders because of objectification of female body. The female body is the basis for the distinction between the sexes. Interestingly, The biologists are of the opinion that “sexuality” refers to a person’s sexual activities and sexual feelings. Sigmund Freud also expressed his innovative ideas on the sexuality and the abuse of female body. Freud says in his book The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (1938) observes thus:

Freud also makes the point that people who are behaviorally abnormal are always sexually abnormal in his experience but that many people who are normal behaviorally otherwise are sexually abnormal also (562–563).

In the traditional debate between biological and sociologists, the female body has often been explored in terms of its anatomical, hormonal influences on personality, experience and behaviour. Feminists aver that gender differences are problematic in a society. Feminists maintain that the body conveys social meaning and how these meanings shape gendered experience. Women who suffer objectification encounter mental health risks, depression, alienation and sexual violence. The common thread running through the novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved is the experience of being treated as a body. Sexuality is considered to be as the crucial theme in Beloved. The fear of sexual abuse, rape has haunted each of the female characters in Morrison novels. In Beloved there are the traces of rape, sexuality and white’s domination. The black women are oppressed and tortured by white men who regard them as their personal property. They enjoy absolute liberty in exploiting and dehumanizing them to derive sadistic pleasures. The blacks are treated worse than animals.

Going through the history of Afro-American we tend to discover the horrifying, terrific and traumatic experience of African-American folks. The historical incidence has totally changed the form and lives of Afro-Americans. Blacks remained as the object of oppression, violence, and racism. All of them were subjected to different sort of injustice and discrimination. They experience the immorality of white race. Suppression of black race, giving them medication scars, wounds, abusing them and sexual oppression.., all these purpose shows that white had always thought blacks as their piece of property. They think that black people are in their hands and they would do anything with black people. Blacks were treated as chattels, animals, losing all their human rights and dignity. Moreover, the black ladies had no position, standing, status in society. Since the days of slavery, black women have been exploited, persecuted, and tortured physically and psychologically by white men. They lost their real self, certainty and womanhood. In the white dominated society the black women are just treated as the objects of sexual desires. No wonder, women always become the victims of men’s gaze and are sexually oppressed. Their whole self and identity is lost. They become so much depressed with atrocities that it causes a neurotic disorder in their mind. Fear and anxiety are engraining in their sensitive mind. In the novels of Toni Morrison the component of sex is profusely found within the women protagonists. Toni Morrison has realistically depicted the struggle and trauma experienced by African American women in The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved. Morrison got Nobel Prize for her serious feminism.  In 1993, upon receiving the Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison exclaims:

So I’ve just insisted – insisted! – upon being called a black woman

novelist, and I decided what that meant, because I have claimed it. I

have claimed what I know. As a black and a woman, I have had access

to a range of emotions and perceptions that were unavailable to people

who were neither (Archives 4).

Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye and Beloved to depict the themes of sexual oppression and traumatic experiences of the blacks in the white dominated society. The blacks lead a life of depression and experience disorientation of mind; their future is bleak and their children suffer different kinds of oppression and lack of love from their parents. The story of the three girls illustrates how children who live in an environment of subjugation and are forced to survive in the society.

Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye (1970) deals with the traumatic journey of Pecola. The plot of the novel is set in Lorain, Ohio. Claudia is a female child. Incest is sexual activity between family members or close relatives. This typically includes sexual activity between people blood relations. Cholly rapes his own daughter in a fit of frustration. He is so much disturbed that he fails to comprehend the nature of moral transgression. The episode of Pecola is heart rending revealing that the black women were used as objects of sexual pleasures. The Bluest Eye is the story of two sisters, and particularly of Pecola who thinks that if she only had blue eyes, people would be nice to her. Pecola is a twelve years old innocent black girl; she is a fragile and delicate child. Morrison has depicted her journey from innocence to her insanity in the most touching lyrical language. In many of her interviews, Morrison explains that she narrated the Pecola’s story keeping her dignity intact despite her rape.  Pecola’s rape is symbolical and be understood in broader perspective. The incestuous rape is nearly impossible for a reader to comprehend. While literary critics have postulated that the rape is the soul product of Cholly’s desolate past or an expression of his hatred of women. Pecola is depicted as a representative of black community suffering from poverty, fear and oppression. Pecola has often observed her parents fighting in a brutal manner. She hates the disorderly environment and longs to disappear. She feels lonely and depressed. Claudia narrates parts of The Bluest Eye from a child’s perspective and sometimes of an adult looking back. Like Pecola, she suffers from racist beauty standards, poverty and fear. Pecola is passive when she is abused but Claudia emerges as a fighter. When Claudua is given a white doll she does not want, she dissects and destroys it. When she finds a group of boys harassing Pecola, she attacks them. When she learns that Pecola is pregnant, she and her sister come with a plan to save Pecola’s baby from the community’s rejection. Morrison found a touching way to explore the damaging effect of notions of beauty in America. Claudia is the main narrator, her voice is touching; she is pure, innocent, and possessing beauty. It reinforces the reader’s awareness of the tainted gaze of racism in American society. Pecola lives in a world of fantasy and she believes that if she were blessed with bluest eyes the people would change their opinion about her. Pecola is a symbol of the black community’s self hatred and belief in its own ugliness. Barbara Christian comments in her “A Promise Song” that Pecola’s story does not follow “the usual mythic cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, from planting to harvest to planting. Hers will proceed from pathos to tragedy and finally madness” (140). In the first section “Autumn” Morrison tells the story of Pecola, Ferida’s failure to plant marigold is mentioned thus:

We had dropped seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust ,love and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth.Cholly Breedlove is dead, our innocence too (9).

Pecola’s tragedy and insanity are inevitable in the novel. the plot of the novel is loaded with illusions. Claudia provides the facts that the whole black community is in turmoil as she establishes the time, place and structure of the novel. There are so many hints given by Claudia suggesting the conflicts and confusions in the community. The readers are told that Mr. Henry “our roomer “has committed some unspeakable act. We are informed that “ old Dog Breedlove has burned up his house, gone upside his wife’s head, is now in the jail” (17) The Breedloves  are victims of a racist, class- conscious society; they suffer extreme poverty and deprivation. Morrison has highlighted the most insidious effects of racism on o are fear-the minds and sensibility of the blacks who are fear-ridden. Claudia explains that although “the poverty of Breedloves was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique” (17) Claudia observes thus:

The master has said,” You are ugly people”. They had looked at themselves and saw nothing to construct the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance..” (34).

In Morrison’s world women are oppressed due to gender politics. The plot of The Bluest Eye depicts the insidious and destructive story effects of low self-esteem, violence, drinking, poverty, abuse, incest and shame. Morrison’s Beloved is packed up with the pictures of female molestation, sexual assault and murder. The plot of the novel depicts the picture of slavery, rape, sexual assault and violence. Whipping, shootings and other physical abuse dominate the scenes Paul D. and Sethe describe from their lives as slaves. All these traumatic experiences are common for blacks. Morrison gives a factual story of Margaret Garner to deliver truths that even history fails to convey.Morrison reconstructs the complex psychological background that forced the woman to kill her own offspring. Andre Levy concedes that Morrison confronted the greatest challenge “because the institutionalized parameters of guilt and responsibility do not provide the vocabulary to ‘tell,’ legally or narratively, the anomalies of a slave mother’s infanticide” (Grewal 97).The novel presents very strong characters such as Baby Suggs, Paul D and Sethe find “definition of freedom, which becomes a practical tool to eliminate the suffering caused by repression” (Kella 142).

All the struggles of black women appear futile and absurd as they are confronted by the heartless patriarchal society and oppressive white culture. In Beloved, black women lose their identity, freedom, consciousness and self. Sethe undergoes through horrific sexual oppression. She was viciously exploited by whites especially by school teacher and his nephews. The memories of sexual abuse and rape haunted Sethe. The plot depicts the heartrending scene of milk stealing from the breasts of Sethe.  The school teacher acts as the master of slaves ordering the nephews to steal the milk from Sethe’s breasts. Sethe labels it as:  “They used cowhide on you?  And they took my milk. They beat you and you was pregnant. And they took my milk” (Beloved 20) Sethe had saved her milk in her breasts for her infant daughter. They all were aware of the fact that Sethe is pregnant even though they performed such an awful act of stealing milk. The two boys with their mossy teeth sucked the milk from Sethe’s breasts. One of the nephews beat Sethe and sucked the milk from her breasts while the other held her down. She dared to complaint about this inhuman act to Mrs Garner but the School Master again tortured her. The nephews physically tortured Sethe mercilessly and ducked her “with cowhide, making psychic scars, wounds on her back which looks like a chock cheery tree.” Sethe lost her consciousness and turned a neurotic. In desperation she killed her own daughter to save her sexual oppression from the whites. She doesn’t want her daughter to suffer the same as she suffered as a slave. She was physically assaulted many times. She was always haunted by the scenes of assaults, sexual abuses, and white’s domination. It was Sethe’s love for her daughter that motivated her in killing her own child by saying: “I took and put my babies where they be safe” (118). The ghost’s arrival marks a turning point in the protagonists’ lives: Sethe is given a chance to revise her past and reenact it, whereas Denver is challenged to responsibility for her family, which results in her subsequent transformation from being a girl to becoming a woman. The appearance of Beloved, however, is both therapeutic and destructive. Morrison’s depiction of Sethe presumes an understanding that the black female body has been treated as the “Other”, Sethe is viewed in terms of physical characteristics such as skin color, hair and facial features. For example, Schoolteacher tells his nephews to write down Sethe’s “human characteristics on the left; her animal ones on the right. And don’t forget to line them up” (193) Sethe gives vent to her inner trauma thus:

That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill, and maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t think it up. And though she and other lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own. The best thing she was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing the part of her that was clean (251).

Toni Morrison’s Beloved evaluates the inner self of the black women. The ghost was troubling everyone by creating different sorts of problems. The ghost was there to take revenge the injustices committed during their slavery. Nan tells that she and Sethe’s mother “were taken up by the crew” during their journey (Beloved 62). Sethe’s mother was mostly used for fulfilling of sexual desires of the crew. The mother of Sethe was so displeased and disgusted by the frightful experiences that she abandoned the child. Baby Suggs articulates her anguish thus:

…. Men and women were moved around like checkers….What [Baby Suggs] called the nastiness of life was the shock she received upon learning that nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children (27-28.

In Beloved Sethe discovers that she has a marginalized status. She was not valued as a woman owing to her black skin which signifies darkness and immortality. She wants Beloved to understand why she took this monstrous act. Sethe recollects her sweet home but white hegemony ruined her domestic happiness. Barnett argues that home is a predominant metaphor in Beloved for resolution of the tension between self identity and self-exile. The end of slavery for Morrison means the recovery of home. The School master destroyed all the slaves in sweet home plantation.  In her article, “figurations of rape and the supernatural in Beloved,” Pamela E. Barnett argues that “Morrison revises the standard slave narrative by insisting on the importance of sexual assault over other experiences of brutality” (Barnett 420). Paul D explains it as: “The box had done what sweet home had not, what working like an ass and living like a dog had not: drove him crazy so he would not lose his mind” (Beloved, 49). The traumatic experiences of rape were hidden under Paul D’s “tobacco tin” buried inside his chest. Sethe’s body narrates the history of slavery and her scarred body is depicted as a site of pleasure. Her body is activated when it is desired maternally or sexually. When Sethe’s body is touched attentively or lovingly, she speaks about her past rather than just remembering it silently. Sethe’s relationship with Paul D., “the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry” (17) re-establishes her body as a site of pleasure. Sethe narrates her horrifying experiences thus:

His body an arc of kindness, he held her breasts in the palm of his hands. He

rubbed his cheek on her back and learned that way her sorrow, the roots of it; its wide trunk and intricate branches (17)

Sethe’s infanticide is symbolical in the novel; in destroying her child, she also maims her own body and suffers physical and psychological agony.  Beloved becomes a ghost symbolic of the death of the millions of African slaves. She stands for every daughter and sister – and relation of every kind – that was lost because of slavery. The supernatural intensifies the tragedy of Sethe:

Shivering, Denver approached the house, regarding it, as she always did, as a person rather than a structure. A person that wept, sighed, trembled and fell into fits. Her steps and her gaze were the cautious ones of a child approaching a nervous, idle relative … . (29)

Sethe’s daughter Denver too is captive in her own home and had a fear of sexual violence always haunted her. Ella is a black woman sexually molested by her father and son. Ella cried out in anguish thus: “You couldn’t think up…” What them two done to me (119). Beloved cries out expressing her desire to unite with Sethe: “‘She is the one. She is the one I need. You can go but she is the one I have to have” (76).

To conclude, Morrison has depicted the traumatic experiences of the blacks in her novels The Bluest Eye and Beloved using the images of folk lore; historical myths and images of violence and hatred deeply rooted in the minds of the whites. Barbara Christian (1993), calls Beloved “not just a novel, but a prayer, a healing ritual for our country’s holocaust of slavery “(364)

 

Work Cited

Bjork, Patrick Bryce. The Novels of Toni Morrison: The Search for Self and Place Within the Community. New York: Peter Lang, 1992. Print.

Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. 1994. Print.

Bouson, J Brooks. Quiet as it’s Kept: Shame, Trauma, and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. Print.

Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, Gender and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.1989. Print.

Elizabeth Kella, Elizabeth. Beloved Communities: Solidarity and Difference in Fiction by  Gates, 2000. Print.

HenryLouis Jr & Appiah, KA.Toni Morrison, Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad Press Inc.1993. Print.

Grewal, Gurleen.  Circles of Pain, Lines of Struggle: The Novels of Toni Morrison, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998. Print.

Harris, Trudier. 1991. Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.1991. Print.

Heinze, Denise and Lewis, Catherine E. ‘Toni Morrison’. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 143: American Novelists Since World War II, Third Series. The Gale Group. Bruccoli Clark Layman.1944. Print.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.

—. The Bluest Eye, New York Penguin, 1969. Print.

Primlyn, A.Linda. “The Concept of blackness in Toni Morrison’s Beloved”.IRWLE (2012). Print

Identity Crisis in Sea of Poppies

Evanjalin Mary Stella

Research Scholar, The American College, Madurai

Abstract

The present study examines not only the individuals’ quest for representing themselves in various means but also how the characters in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies attempt to reconstruct their identity by hiding their names, bodies, caste and racial origins and ultimately restart their lives to fill new essence.

Keywords:

Identity ,  oppression, colonialism, rootlessness, self- invention

Identity construction is a prominent element in this novel but appears to be influenced by the ethico-political and socio-economic dynamics that constantly change characters’ roles and trajectories to reconstruct new identities in new milieu. Colonial upheaval interrupts the contours of the roles assumed by the persons in the social context. A superficial reading of the novel might give the impression that it is a historical novel set in the colonial period as it records the dramatic turn of events and destinies befalling the main protagonist and her interaction with a hodgepodge of other characters with whom she moves from land to river and climactically travel through sea. But the creation has a deeper level that Ghosh has effortlessly gone to sea depths by carefully peeling its social, economic and political layers and at a still deeper level, the metaphysical. The episodes which follow the main character, Deeti stress at one level, the struggle between capitalism and socialism; at another level, the narrative appears to be a clash for the hierarchical power. Deeti can also be seen to transform herself into a new identity allowing for meta-fictional reflection and an acceptance of destinies as indicated in her decision to marry Kalua who rescued her from sati.

Even then she did not feel herself to be living in the same sense as before: a curious feeling, of joy mixed with resignation, crept into her heart, for it was as if she really had died and been delivered betimes in rebirth, to her next life: she had shed the body of the old Deeti, with the burden of its karma; she had paid the price her stars had demanded of her, and was free now to create a new destiny as she willed, with whom she chose… (SOP 178).

It seems that Ghosh’s manner of constructing Deeti’s identity in his narrative is a two dimensional process. On the one hand, he combines and imaginatively interprets and interweaves the textual traces from the pages of Sir Gierson’s diary. Gierson mentions in this historical record about his encounter with the father of a female coolie in a village along the Ganges noting that the man “denied having any such relative, and probably she had gone wron

g and been disowned by him” (Bahadur). This diary provides only a little mention of this woman with a processing number, while Ghosh attempts to recreate and fill the blanks left by the archives with his imagination as a novelist and with impulses as an anthropologist.

On the other hand, in the process of narration, Deeti’s character is developed as a product of its origins and circumstances; is also a process of self-invention. Moreover, the two aspects are integrally related with regard to the recognition and construction of identity. According to Singh “Though Deeti assumes another name and caste thus erases her caste identity, she is distinctly recognizable for hereditary caste characteristics.” The meaning of her new name ‘Aditi’ suggests to a mythical Hindu goddess who releases from sin and to a person having a deep inner desire to use her abilities in leadership and to have personal independence. The leadership traits that Deeti possess can be associated to Bass’ transformational leader who creates significant change in the life of people. The followers of such a leader feel trust, admiration, loyalty and respect for the leader who offers an inspiring vision and give them an identity. Towards her fellow people on the ship, Deeti’s conduct is typical of a considerate and trustworthy leader. Soon she comes to be known as bhauji and for many she is a friend, protector and confidant. It happens naturally, as she takes responsibility and speaks for truth and justice. Even Deeti shoulders the responsibility of guarding the single women like Munia, Sarju and Heeru throughout their journey to Mauritius.

The central theme that runs through the novel is identity. Throughout it we learn how a person’s identity can be defined by different aspects, including appearance, family, relationships, men, oppression and liberation, motherhood, and age. The novel explores the devastating effects of colonialism on individual’s lives, and how it has consequences on the rest of their lives.

Work Cited

Ghosh, Amitav. Sea of  Poppies. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Auradkor, Sarika Pradiprao. Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Study. New Delhi: Creative

Books. 2007. Print.

Grewal, Inderpal. Gender in a Transnational World. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.

Print.

Jaishree, N. ‘Struggle, Displacement and the Quest for Identity in the Select Novels of

Amitav Ghosh.’ Diss. Bharathiar University, 2008. Print.

Kachru, Braj. B. “South Asian English: Toward an Identity in Diaspora.” South Asian English:

Structure, Use and Users. Ed. R.J. Baumgardner. Delhi: Oxford University

Press. 1996. Print.

Pennycook, Alastair. English and the Discourses of Colonialism. London: Routeledge,

  1. Print.

Weil, Simone. The Need for Roots. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

         

 

Corporate Branding: Utilising Colour and language on the Internet

Lee Qingwen Christopher

Working Paper

January 2017


Abstract:

In this 21st century, the concept of corporate branding holds much significance to organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. As organisations face multiple challenges and increasing expectations from their stakeholders, there is a growing realisation that a strong corporate brand requires contributions from both the organisation and its stakeholders for it to be sustainable. This paper facilitates a comprehensive review and understanding of the implications of corporate branding for brand management in a competitive market. Moreover, the paper integrates the abilities of both colour and language to develop a unique branding concept that adopts a three-step process model (AER) – attraction, engagement, retention that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically communicate their brand in a way that stakeholders are willing to identify with.

Keywords:  

Brand management, Brand strategy

Introduction

There has been much discussion over the significance of corporate branding for organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. An interconnected and integrated world brings multiple challenges and complexities to organisations seeking a competitive advantage. As such, organisations recognise the need to build a sustainable corporate brand in order to meet these challenges.

Today the concept of an organisation is such that it is no longer a static entity but rather a dynamic social co-construction negotiated by all its stakeholders.1-2 Jones3 argues that organisations’ need to establish their corporate brand to meet the increasing expectations of their stakeholders in order to maintain corporate legitimacy. As such, Taylor and Van Emery4 therefore argue that the corporate brand should not be considered a construct separate to communication but rather a result of communicative processes between all stakeholders.

The Corporate brand

Argenti and Druckenmiller5 argue that an organisation engages in corporate branding when it markets the organisation as a brand. However, while the original concept of the ‘brand’ can be traced back to the marketing approach adopted when selling a product, the corporate brand aims to differentiate the organisation from its competitors and has an added dimension of interacting with multiple stakeholders.6

In addition, unlike product branding which is focused solely on marketing the product, corporate branding is a process that involves building stakeholders’ emotional affinity with the brand,7 and in this way the organisation is able to create value for both its stakeholders and other businesses. Moreover, the corporate brand has the potential for greater strategic impact than product brands for it is based on a more credible brand identity, namely, the identity of who the organisation really is and what it is really about.8

The corporate brand has several implications for brand management at the organisational level.9 For example, a corporate brand shapes the image its stakeholders and other businesses have of the organisation and helps stakeholders identify with the brand. In other words, the corporate brand allows the organisation to relate to all its multiple stakeholders through inculcating a relationship between stakeholder and brand.10

The corporate brand and its stakeholders

Stakeholders are “groups without whose support the organisation would cease to exist”.11 Stakeholders need to be considered when organisations make strategic decisions. In addition, as stakeholders experience and relate to the corporate brand, they evaluate and draw informed conclusions about the corporate brand.12 In essence, the profitability of the organisation is dependent upon the organisation’s willingness and ability to recognise all its stakeholders as important contributors to the corporate brand.13

In this paper, consumers are not included as stakeholders. This is because this paper focuses on corporate branding for organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. Moreover this paper finds that product branding and its target audience is a construct separate to corporate branding. Therefore, stakeholders are defined as other businesses, as well as the organisation’s internal employees, who interact with the organisation.

Stakeholders are presented the corporate brand through their interaction with the organisation’s internal employees.14 As such, Harris and de Chernatony15 argue that the organisation’s employees are central to the process of building a brand. They explain that employee behaviour can either reinforce the values that are communicated by the organisation or undermine the credibility of the brand. The organisation’s core values influence the consistency and credibility in the building of the corporate brand.16

Gylling and Lindberg-Repo17 explain that because corporate brand communication has shifted from ‘what the brand has to offer’ to ‘the brand is who you are’, the organisation should ensure that its employees’ live the organisation’s core values and thus its brand. Stuart18 argues that it is essential for all employees of the organisation to speak the same language of the corporate brand in order to live the organisation’s brand. In other words, the employees must present the “corporate story” especially through the way they interact with stakeholders and other businesses.19

As the organisation’s internal employees interact with stakeholders, the more consistent the stakeholders’ brand experience is with the stated brand promise, the higher the competitive advantage the organisation has.20 Therefore as part of any organisation’s branding strategy, while the corporate brand should be representative of the organisation’s values and culture, more importantly, organisations’ should engage in internal branding as part of their branding strategy.

Significance of the corporate brand in the 21st century

The corporate brand reflects the organisation’s strategy21,12 and how the brand is communicated shapes the organisation’s reputation. Brands, according to Keller and Lehmann22 are one of the most valuable assets that organisations have. A brand “creates value and influence”.23 Furthermore, the organisation’s brand has the ability to “motivate members by imparting value”24 if the organisation is able to establish a sustainable corporate brand.

The concept of integrating sustainability in branding has taken on increased importance especially in today’s context. Porter and Kramer25 argue that sustainability is “an inescapable priority for business leaders in every country.” In addition, a report published by World Business Council for Sustainable Development26 explained that a brand can increase its value by integrating sustainability into its current organisational practices.

In an increasingly competitive commercial environment, the corporate brand becomes a valuable resource in helping organisations differentiate themselves from their competitors.27 Moreover, as stakeholders seek an emotional affinity with the brand, they often look to brand differentiation that is meaningful based on its sustainable practices.28

This paper aims to show why developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing a sustainable corporate brand. This paper proposes that organisations adopt a three-step process model (AER) of developing their brand communication strategies through the dimensions of attraction, engagement and retention. Moreover, relatively little research has focused on exploring how colour and language together, impact organisational branding strategy on the Internet. This paper develops a branding concept utilising both colour and language that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically design and communicate their brand values in a way that stakeholders are able and willing to identify with.

Corporate branding on the Internet

The Internet has effectively integrated all forms of communication technologies. Ross et al.29 argues that similar to the function of both the telephone and television, the Internet provides an avenue for individuals to conduct intimate conversations with friends and family, and has the ability to efficiently convey information to large groups of audiences, respectively. As such, the Internet has resulted in a fundamental shift as to how people communicate.

Today organisations recognise the capability of the Internet as a platform to communicate, how their brand operates as a collective entity as well as their values. More often than not, stakeholders are seeking a brand that shares the same values as them. Bartels et al.30 explains that a setting that allows for open communication such as the Internet will lead to greater willingness to identify with the brand.  Therefore, it is beneficial for organisations to develop a branding strategy on the Internet.

According to the Global Internet User Survey31, more than 98% of Internet users indicated that they view the Internet as essential when accessing knowledge and education and “nearly 75% of users strongly agreed that access to the Internet allows them to seek any information that interests them”. Therefore, developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing an organisation’s brand.

Insert Table 1 – Internet User Statistics, here

The Internet today has more than 3 billion consumers32 (see Table 1). Over the last ten years 2005-2015, there has been an increase of about 2150 million consumers. This works out to be a more than 200% increase in consumers’ online presence since 2005, making it rather imperative for organisations to target this demographic.

Attraction

When developing a branding strategy, organisations need to consider how the individual mentally represents the world, whether he or she thinks ‘in pictures’ or ‘in words’33. This is because it is important to consider how the brand is communicated, for the brand message can be positioned to either be visual or more informative in nature to meet the needs of the organisation’s stakeholders.

This paper proposes that organisations utilise colour as a strategy when building a brand that is attractive and sustainable. Colour affects individuals because of certain innate unlearned associations. This is because as we grow up, we learn to associate various colours with our environment. Colours attract our attention, especially those that are vibrant and distinct. Colours suggest different values, remind us of the things we see and identify us with our culture. At times, we use colour as a heuristic when making decisions34. In other words through colour, a brand can establish an effective visual presence that stakeholders are attracted to and can identify with.

The seven-second-colour theory as explained by Chang and Lin35 states that as individuals, we have the ability to recognise and memorise the colour and shape of any brand within seven seconds. In addition, Gatewood, Gowan and Lautenschlager36 found that with stimuli that was initially viewed as neutral or positive, repeated exposure to an object resulted in an increased in the positive evaluation of the object. This effect occurred even when subjects were not instructed to evaluate the objects to which they were exposed.

A major point of interest is that these findings indicate that mere exposure to information is central to an individual’s perception of image.37 In essence, these two studies showed the importance of utilising colour effectively to establish favourable stakeholder perception towards the brand during the crucial first seven seconds or when the individual first encounters the brand.

Engagement

Brand communication campaigns should utilise stakeholder involvement. Stakeholders are more likely to be engaged with the brand when they perceive a connection between the brand message and their self-concept.38 Moreover, stakeholders are more likely to remember the brand that engaged them the most.39 Volkswagen, through their advertisement helped individuals identify their values with the corporate brand. Volkswagen depicted a black sheep amongst other sheep in a flock to portray how an owner of a VW Golf should be an independent and self assured person just like the personified characteristics of the car. The personality of a black sheep in Italy is the symbol of independence and willingness to go one’s own way40. Therefore when developing a branding strategy, organisations should inspire stakeholder identification with the values espoused by the brand.

Another way to engage stakeholders is through the establishment of brand communities. Brand communities perform important functions on behalf of the brand such as the sharing of brand values and perpetuating the culture of the corporate brand.41 In addition, the low cost of interaction with stakeholders and other businesses in cyberspace42 allows organisations to establish their brand presence through the setting up of niche brand communities (eg. Muniz and O’Guinn43). These niche brand communities in turn create opportunities for the organisation’s stakeholders to share their brand related feelings and experiences with others.44 Therefore, it is imperative that organisation provides the necessary support to sustain these communities.

Chang and Lin45 in their study selected several international brand logos among the top 100 brands from ‘Interbrand’ that included Coca-Cola (Red in colour), Starbucks (Green in colour), IBM (Blue in colour) and Burberry (Black in colour). Participants were then asked, “What messages do brand colours convey from the corporate perspective?”  Interestingly participants were able to identify the brand’s identity and personality through its colour traits34.

Participants in Chang and Lin46 research considered the red of Coca-Cola to represent excitement and passion, while blue conveyed stability and reliability of IBM’s products. Also, Fraser and Banks47 found that the colour blue connotes intelligence, communication and trust. Connelly et al.48 noted that brands that used the colour green were perceived to be more ethical in their organisational practices. Some participants even noted that that red curve of the letter C of Coca-Cola represented energy. Perhaps it is also worth considering how a purely black and white brand design can be useful as a differentiation tool from other brands, especially in such a competitive market.

Language too, matters in branding. For example, Nike’s advertisement slogan “Just Do It” comes across as compelling us to do something, perhaps to buy their latest designer sports shoes or celebrity endorsed exercise attire. Why slogans such as this are important for corporate branding is because besides evoking emotions and creating a positive association with us, Nike, through their slogan attempts to create a meaning that resonates with the values of their stakeholders. Furthermore in the process of doing so, Nike gets their stakeholders involved in communicating their slogan and therefore their brand.

Eastman49 explained that he chose the name Kodak for his brand because the “K” had an “incisive sound” and as a result it could not be easily confused with other words or brand names. Therefore it is important for organisations to choose words that are unique to communicate the brand. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the words chosen are part of everyday lexicon so that the corporate brand is understandable and relatable.

Language can sometimes be utilised as a directive in brand communication campaigns. Alka-Seltzer in the early 1960s, marketed their discomfort and pain relief tablet with the slogan “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is”. What makes this slogan effective for corporate branding is that contained within its slogan is model behaviour to follow. Upon further analysis, we see how the individual is encouraged to use twice as much of the product. To their stakeholders, Alka-Seltzer presents itself as a corporate brand that is approachable and one they can seek out for assistance.

Language conveys brand attributes and has the ability to shape stakeholder perceptions and attitudes towards the brand. Using an example closer to home, SpeedPost is a courier service in Singapore. In addition, their services include international deliveries. “SpeedPost” conveys the impression that you will be engaging an efficient courier service.

Therefore as we have seen, language matters in branding. Every word used in crafting the brand communication campaign plays a role in shaping stakeholders impression of the corporate brand. This is because language used in such communication campaigns tends to be associated with the image of the brand. Therefore when developing a branding strategy, organisations should invest the effort to create experiences that engages their stakeholders and shapes their attitudes towards the corporate brand.

Retention

Organisations should use metaphors when developing a strategic corporate brand. Sackmann50 defined metaphors as mental pictures that are able to substitute a thousand words. Moreover O’Malley and Tynan51 argue that the language of branding is becoming more metaphoric in nature. In corporate branding, metaphors can be utilised as a personification metaphor where the “brand is person”52, whereby human characteristics are ascribed to a brand53.

Lakoff and Johnson54 suggested some examples of metaphors included “ She’s weighed down by responsibilities”, “Tomorrow is a big day” and “I see what you mean”. Lakoff and Johnson55 suggest a technique for structuring metaphors is to use a TARGET IS SOURCE format. Gibbs56 in explaining the mapping of the metaphor “Love is a Journey”, showed how this metaphor is created. The knowledge about journeys is mapped onto knowledge about love and, this correspondence allows us to reason about love using the knowledge we use to reason about journeys57.

Applying this metaphor-mapping concept to corporate branding, Microsoft, in their brand communication campaign included the question “Where do you want to go today?” This conveys a sense of potential achievement for both stakeholder and Microsoft when they embark on a metaphorical journey together. In other words through this metaphorical association of going somewhere, Microsoft conveys their corporate brand as relevant and accomplished. The New York Times described this global branding campaign as a “humanistic approach to demystifying technology”58.

Allstate Insurance serves as a good example of utilising both metaphors and colour to convey brand attributes. Allstate with their slogan “You’re in good hands” conveys a sense of support and concern towards stakeholders, which accentuates the positive aspect of the corporate brand. Moreover Allstate has successfully utilised the colour blue in the design of their logo that has the additional positive effect of, portraying themselves as competent and efficient59.

Therefore as we have seen, metaphors are relatable and relatively easy to interpret. In addition metaphors help stakeholders and other businesses to elaborate on the distinctive features of the organisation’s corporate logo that aids in their processing of brand attributes. Moreover metaphors help stakeholders to draw inferences that they might not have made should the mappings have been explicit60. Therefore when developing a sustainable corporate brand, organisations should consider utilising both colour and language to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Conclusion and management implications for corporate branding

This paper has brought to light the importance of utilising both colour and language as a branding strategy to establish a sustainable corporate brand. In addition, this paper has showed why developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing a sustainable corporate brand. Moreover, this paper presents a unique branding concept that adopts a three-step process model (AER) that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically communicate their brand in a way that stakeholders can identify with.

Insert Table 2 – Application of Colour to branding, here

Insert Table 3 – Application of Language to branding, here

Insert Figure 1 – Proposed process model (AER), here

In this 21st century, the concept of corporate branding is of much significance to organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. The role of the corporate brand has changed. As organisations seek a sustainable competitive advantage, the corporate brand can no longer “just stand there, they must stand for something”61. The corporate brand must reflect the value system espoused by the organisation. In today’s context, the organisation’s employees are representatives of the corporate brand to the organisation’s stakeholders and other businesses.

This necessitates going beyond employing a short-term strategy simply in pursuit of increased profitability for the organisation. Building a sustainable corporate brand necessitates a long-term commitment from the organisation and its employees, to their stakeholders. The organisation must align its core values with its human resource practices such that their employees will reflect the values and culture of the organisation that invites stakeholder identification. Moreover for a corporate branding strategy involving colour and language to be effective, the organisation’s employees must believe in the brand message being communicated and most importantly, they must live the brand. Therefore it is the hope of this paper that organisations will see the value of making the long-term investment into establishing a strong corporate brand.

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