Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is Urban Poverty More Challenging than Rural Poverty?

Urbanization has led to an increase in the urban share of the poor, which has caused the ratio of urban poverty to total poverty incidence to rise. It has been found that in many countries, including India; urban inequality has worsened since early 1990s and is continuing to the late 2000s.

An article in Environment and Urbanization ASIA reports, “As of 2008, half of the world’s population started living in urban areas. Further, the absolute number of new urban residents is an indicator of challenges faced by governments, urban planners and other stake-holders over the next 30 years. The urban population of the world is estimated to increase from 2.86 billion in 2000 to 4.98 billion by 2030. By contrast, the size of the world’s rural population is expected to grow from 3.19 billion in 2000 to only 3.29 billion in 2030. Another noteworthy aspect of this urban growth is that greater than 90 per cent of this growth is occurring in the developing countries, adding about 70 million new residents to their urban areas each year. Further, during the next 20 years, the urban population of the world’s poorest regions—South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa—is expected to double.”

Thus, the article clearly explicates that while in absolute terms, globally, the rural population will soon be less than the urban’ and it is obvious that growth in the urban population implies further increases in the number of urban poor, even if urban poverty rates remain constant.

Cities have become the best place to foster poverty and destitution at a scale and extent unseen before. Rural poverty is one thing, but urban poverty in India and other developing countries added a whole new breed of revolting aspects to it: diseases, violence, disintegration of communities and the social fabric. However, in Asia more generally, and India specifically, urban poverty and urban inequality have received less attention than what they deserve in terms of research and policy action. Not only more research needs to be done on urban poverty and inequality, but also policymakers need to come up with innovative ways to make urbanization benefit the urban poor as well as the non-poor.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

‘That is why it pains’—Women’s Mental Health Issues in Households of India

Mental health of women is often looked at from a bio-medical lens. Often issues resulting out of globalising economic and cultural forces are neglected. The concepts of mental illness, distress are not just determined by the structures present in society but are also mediated by the interaction between the structures and individuals.

An article in the journal of Psychology and Developing Societies moves away from the mental illness paradigm through which distress of women is usually understood. With the help of narratives, it seeks to explore the distress of women in the context of the community they live in and the gender roles they negotiate. It identifies the relationship between urban environment and mental health, and looks at the various socio-cultural, economic and political forces that influence the everyday lives of women in India.

The article explicates that the household, in more ways than one, is located at the centre of women’s lives, being both the object of and the locale for a large chunk of their daily activities. Historical, social, cultural and economic factors directly or indirectly influence a woman’s position in the household. Often a sharp distinction is made between the domestic and public sphere and since women are identified with the domestic, the larger macro forces are somehow delinked from their lives, and therefore, their lives are less important as compared to men whose lives symbolise the public sphere.
The article clearly points out that for a woman in the Indian context, household and society with so many social stigmas such as purdah, restrictions on mobility, stress on virginity before marriage, poor-economic status, reduced work opportunities, domestic violence, infidelity and deliberate humiliation; becomes a place of control and threat and this influences the well-being and emotional health of women. 

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Social Media- The latest buzzword in the world of marketing!

Social media is a dynamic part of the Internet world that has evolved significantly in the past couple of decades. Internet has given marketers new ways to promote their products and services and new ways of communicating with the consumers. Following such technological changes, WOM is getting renewed interest in academic arena and becoming a buzzword in the world of business. A significant proportion of consumers refer to reviews of products and services posted on social media before making their purchase decisions.
An article in the Management and Labour Studies presents findings on consumer decision-making variables and uses those to explain how social media WOM works and how Social Media can have a dramatic impact on any brand’s reputation.
In recent times, social media WOM in the form of opinions of friends posted on social networking sites or even the opinions of strangers posted on online forums play an important role during consumer information collection, processing and evaluation stages. And as the consumers are spending more and more time on Internet and social media, companies should also direct their marketing efforts to these new mediums.
Perceived risk, brand attitude and purchase intention are three of the most important constructs in the domain of consumer decision making and source credibility, product knowledge and involvement level are also the important correlates of WOM and consumer decision making. The article studies all of these and their inter-relationship from the perspective of the recipient consumer and explores how it will impact their decision making process.