Friday, March 30, 2007

New Book - Good: Ethics in Graphic Design

Lucienne Roberts
Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design
AVA Publishing, 2006, 174.974 ROB

Contributing to the library's support of all projects run by the RSA Programme Department, Good: an Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design explores the emerging concept of 'design for good', examining the way designers, as people, are constantly faced with decisions that shape the outcome of their work and thus the world at large.

Covering everything from the ethical decision a designer faces when choosing who to work for, to the ethics of who a product is designed for and the motivation behind the design itself, the book uses contributions from a number of professionals in design and related fields to answer the fundamental question 'What is good design?'

Working at the forefront of the 'design for good' concept, Design Directions is an RSA scheme working with student designers to promote engagement in social, cultural and ethical issues. Focusing on user-centred methodologies, Design Directions offers awards in a wide array of especially crafted design subjects, such as 'Design for Patient Safety', 'Designing Out Waste in Specific Environments', 'Furniture for Real Environments' and 'Natural Disaster Relief'.

The RSA is currently (and for a very limited time only) hosting exhibition called Designing Our Futures showcasing a selection of winning work from past RSA student design award schemes, at the Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art (RCA).

An exhibition of the 2005/06 Design Directions winners is available to view online.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Featured item - The Welfare State We're In

James Bartholomew
The Welfare State We're In
Politico's Publishing, 2004, 361.650 BAR

This week's thuRSdAy event saw a post-budget debate on public spending between two journalists of very different political persuasions.

James Bartholomew, who writes freelance for papers such as
The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail and is the author of the book The Welfare State We're In (available to borrow from the RSA Library), argued that the very nature of public sector institutions is highly inefficient, inherently over-administrated and unnecessarily bureaucratic. He suggested that this was unavoidable in such large and cumbersome organisations that are often largely unaccountable and in which employees have more incentive to maintain the status quo than to strive for efficiency and productivity.

Arguing the case for public spending was
RSA Fellow and regular contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman, Neil Lawson. Lawson, who is also the chair of the fast-growing pressure group Compass, argued that public institutions are important in the promotion of social values and community cohesion, are vital in safeguarding the rights of less advantaged sections of society, and in ensuring a level of equality within society. He also pointed towards the great costs of marketing and PR in the private sector to suggest that efficiency might be equally problematic within the that sector, and then provided the example of Sweden as a country with comparatively high levels of taxation and public spending but still manages to be economically prosperous and competitive.

Both panelists agreed that inefficiency is a considerable problem within current public institutions in Britain, but while Bartholomew's view is that the competitiveness of the market provides the best path forward, Lawson argued for a re-imagination of the way services are provided within the public sector. He highlighed the need for an approach that is less top-down and less regimented, and that would allow customers and those employees that actually provide the service on a daily basis greater scope for developing services that more effectively meet the public need.

Both in his book The Welfare State We're In and in his thuRSdAy argument James Bartholomew devotes considerable attention to the current situation within the state school system, estimating bureaucracy to a level that means there is the equivalent of one non-teaching administrator for every single class in the state school education system. He also suggesting that this leads to a significantly lower standard of general education for British students in comparison to other parts of Europe.

Improving and re-conceptualising British education is an area currently receiving significant attention from the RSA. Not only have we been successfully running our
Curriculum Network for several years, but we are also now embarking on a RSA Academy project.

City Academy initiative is perhaps one that combines some ideas from both James Bartholomew and Neil Lawson. On the one hand it allows private sector (or at least non-public sector) money into state schools with a view to improving education standards, on the other it allows individual academies the independence and autonomy to have a significant influence over both the running of the the school and the focus of the curriculum it runs.

The RSA certainly has big planes for the City Academy we are sponsoring in the town of Tipton in the West Midlands, as RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor explains in a
recent interview with The Independent newspaper.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Featured Book - States of Denial

Stanley Cohen
States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering
Polity Press, 2001, 121.5 COH

This week's post on RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor's new blog, 'The View from the 4th Floor of John Adam Street', praised the political events of the last week in which Gordon Brown and David Cameron went head-to-head, each attempting to win points and convince the British public that theirs was the party with the best ideas on confronting climate change.

However he also warned of the danger that the environment and climate change could start to be "seen as a political fad", and pointed to sociologist Stanley Cohen's book States of Denial as an exploration of our human ability to prevent ourselves from focusing on unpleasant events as a way to protect ourselves from the psychological burden of such information.

With some further thought, many of the major political and humanitarian issues confronting the world today tempt us into a similar process. The Zimbabwean Embassy in London it situated on The Strand, almost directly opposite the rear entrance of the RSA House. The regular protects against the Mugabe regime that have been taking place there have for a long time been a reminder to us of the need for international action against injustice in Zimbabwe. Perhaps the one positive to come from the assault on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is that it has prompted increased international pressure on the Mugabe regime, including from Great Britain.

In this context, by analysing the psychology of how we respond to terrible and tragic events, Stanley Cohen can provide great insight into the way we are prone to react, helping us overcome this tendency and alerting us to our wider social responsibility as well as the political responsibility of our governments to confront those issues that it might well be easier to shy away from.

States of Denial is available to borrow from the RSA Library.

Friday, March 09, 2007

RSA Library Update - March 2007

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of February 2007. Fellows are welcome to e-mail if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Robert B. Cialdini
Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion
Quill/ William Morrow, 1993, 153.852 CAL
Influence is an investigation into the six psychological principles that drive our powerful impulse to comply to the pressures of others. Practically focused, it discusses how to defend against manipulation.

200s– Religion

300s – Social Sciences

John Scott
Social Theory: Contemporary Debates
Edward Elgar, 1995, 301.01 SCO
Social Theory: Contemporary Debates explores the principle trends and lines of division within contemporary sociology, presenting arguments about the relative merits of the positions covered. It considers symbolic interactions, rational choice and exchange theories, conflict theories, and structuralism.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

John Scott (ed.)
Fifty Key Sociologists: the Formative Theorists
Routledge, 2007, 301.092 SCO
Covering the life, work, ideas and impact of some of the most significant thinkers in sociology, this book concentrates on the most significant figures in the field that were writing principally in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

John Scott (ed.)
Fifty Key Sociologists: the Contemporary Theorists
Routledge, 2007, 301.092 SCO
The second in the "Fifty Key Sociologists” series, this book concentrates on figures writing predominantly in the second half of the twentieth century, such as Zygmunt Bauman, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault and Claude Levi-Strauss. For each entry it includes full cross-referencing, a further reading section, biographical data, key works and ideas, and a critical assessment.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Rosemary Crompton (ed.), Fiona Devine (ed.) & Mike Savage (ed.) et al.
Renewing Class Analysis
Blackwell Publishers/ The Sociological Review, 2000, 305.5 CRO
This collection advances contemporary debates in class analysis by offering a range of new empirical research on emergent forms of social stratification and by re-thinking the intersection between economic change, social polarization, and the remaking of class relations.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Fiona Devine (ed.), Mike Savage (ed.), and John Scott (ed.) et al.
Rethinking Class: Culture, Identities & Lifestyle
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, 305.5 DEV
Advancing debates in class analysis Rethinking Class draws on current theoretical debates in sociology and considers the implications of the cultural turn for the study of class.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

John Scott
Stratification & Power: Structures of Class, Status and Command
Polity Press, 1996, 305.5 SCO
Stratification & Power presents a systematic discussion of the leading theoretical approaches to social stratification. It is both an accessible overview and a distinctive contribution to the analysis of class, status and power. John Scott argues that, among other things, Max Weber's conceptual framework-reconstructed and enlarged-provides the basis for integrating what have been considered up to now as divergent approaches to stratification studies.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

John Scott
The Upper Classes: Property and Privilege in Britain
The Macmillan Press, 1982, 305.5 SCO
In this book John Scott draws together the major sources of evidence on the upper classes in British social development, and locates this evidence in a class frame of reference.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Jose Lopez & John Scott
Social Structure
Open University Press, 2000, 306 LOP
Social Structure argues that analysing the conceptual frameworks in which different concepts of social structure are embedded can help to clarify their meanings and reshape debates. This book aims to show that competing conceptions of social structure can be seen as capturing significant and different aspects of the reality of social organization.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Lynsey Hanley
Estates: an Intimate History
Granta Books, 2007, 363.585 HAN
Britain's council estates have become a media shorthand for poverty, social mayhem, drugs, drink and violence - the social ills they were built to cure. This work focuses on how shifting trends in urban planning and changing government policies affected those so often left out of the argument over council estates.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences &Mathematics

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Robert I. Sutton
Weird Ideas that Work: 11 1/2 Ways to Promote, Manage and Sustain Innovation
Allen Lane, 2002, 658 SUT
Weird Ideas that Work begins by demystifying creativity at work and goes on to show how companies have managed and mismanaged the creative potential of their staff. The author's conclusions are drawn from studying dozens of successful companies and hundreds of case studies.

700s – The Arts

Maggie Smith (ed.)
The New Art
Rachmaninoff's, 2006, 709.05 SMI
A bold and exciting new book profiling some of the most significant work that could be described as 'new art'.

800s – Literature

900s – Geography & History


John Scott (ed.) & Gordon Marshall (ed.)
Oxford Dictionary of Sociology
Oxford University Press, 2005, 301.03 REF
This dictionary of sociology contains vital information at general interest level as well as catering for advanced students and teachers of sociology.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

RSA Library - Improved DVD Lending Service

Michael Winterbottom
The Road to Guantanamo
Cinema Club, 2006, DVD WIN

In order to expand the range of factual based DVDs that we can offer to fellows, the RSA Library has teamed up with a leading DVD rental service, to provide us with short term access to a wealth of new titles.

Each month the RSA Library will make a selection of different films available, such as the Berlin Film Festival award winning and critically acclaimed 'The Road to Guantanamo' which chronicles the terrifying first-hand account of three British Citizens who were held without charges for two years inside the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Read a Guardian review of The Road to Guantanamo.

The Library will also accept requests from Fellows for suitable titles, and will make all DVDs available on a one week loan. If you have a DVD request, please e-mail the Library.

The RSA Library is also happy to announce that from now on, all books withdrawn from our shelves will be donated to Oxfam and sold at their shop in Bloomsbury, London.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Featured Book - What Are Children For?

Laurie Taylor & Matthew Taylor
What Are Children For?
Short Books, 2003, 306.874 TAY

The ThuRSdAy event this week focused on the relationship between parents and children in today's society. Entitled Time to grow up: Have generation X parents failed their children? the event was chaired by Matthew Taylor, who was involved not only as the Chief Executive of the RSA, but also as the co-author of the book What Are Children For?

In an age where large numbers of adults are waiting longer and longer to enter into parenthood or deciding not to have children at all, and where the demands of work are encroaching ever further on family and social life, What Are Children For? delves into the psychology of parenthood and poses so difficult questions to parents everywhere. Written together with his father, broadcaster and journalist Laurie Taylor, the book is both a study of the current state of parenting, conducted by parents of different generations, as well as an intimate dialogue between a father and son seeking to resolve their very different attitudes to family life.

Listen to Laurie & Matthew Taylor's appearance on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

If you are interested in attending a future ThuRSdAy event, why not join the event mailing list.

If you would like to borrow the book What Are Children For?, please email the library.