7 poster

8 poster ACE


Moving houses… I know from my own experience it’s hard to find something, to deal with the viewings and what do you even look for? Well, I’ve moved houses a lot in this city. And now I’m willing to share the information… And time… with anyone who needs a place.

Coming to town? Switching flats? Getting a friend over? Or you’re a busy student? 🙂 there’s something good for everyone and I can help you find it.

Contact me for more!

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5 real issues in Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most discussed and researched issues these days. I have read plenty articles on the topic, most of them giving tips to retailers, to managers, to assistants… but none of them was rightfully applicable in reality. All the articles seem to be written in the ideal marketplace, rather than in the crude world in which retailers have to operate. I have three+ years of experience as a customer assistant and as a supervisor, all for three different companies; therefore, I am now filling the gap and trying to explain the reality of shop assistants to managers and area managers, but not excluding the upper management of any given company.

1. Health and safety

This should rank above anything else. I know that the customers come first, but I am saying that they don’t. If your company lacks basic health and safety procedures, then you could find yourself in an always changing team. It has to be understood that health and safety is not just wet floors, signs, and clutter free shops. Health and safety is the treatment of people as well because we are living in times where mental health and personal well-being are highly important. I know that all companies have policies about mistreatment, bullying, etc., but what I know for a fact is that those are just policies. The reality is that how you treat people is a personality trait, thus employers have to actually be careful who they take on board, especially for management positions. Why? Because the team may easily end up with a manager that is by far nice to others but can fake smiles to customers. Considering that, when interviewed, we are only asked about going above and beyond for customers and being a good team player through examples, but never assessed on body language, tone, and hints if the stories are actually true, thus a quite high number of shops end up having an unfortunate management and, therefore, a rather weak team of staff. The rule that ’they don’t have to like you, but do what you say’ is a terrible saying from area managers to shop managers. They have to like you so that they do what you say. Having a team that is treated well, given the legal breaks, understood as human beings rather than entities who should fill the shelves, clean, and smile to customers no matter what makes it an actual happy store. The biggest issue is not being underpaid. The biggest issue is that while being underpaid, staff are expected to go above and beyond in unfortunate conditions such as never told something is done right, never taken in consideration that, like everyone, customer assistants can have a genuinely bad day, and most importantly, never listened to. I will come back to being listened to in the last paragraph. Heath and safety should not only cover the shop and customers. Health and safety must cover the team as well. Otherwise, exactly what is happening, employees tend to either resign after short periods or continue the work without any interest and care and letting this be seen by customers who, then, leave less nice reviews and may feel less and less welcomed to the store. Because regardless how nice or not nice a customer may be, they are still human beings who can perfectly understand that the shop assistant is a human being as well. It is only the companies that lack this understanding.

Health and safety is not just policies. Health and safety should not affect only procedures for the store and customers. Health and safety must apply to the staff as well.

2. Heavy lifting policies

Being hired in retail is a synonym for being a hard working person. Mostly at a physical level: the carrying, heavy lifting, arranging shelves and products, etc. No one who applies for a retail job ever thinks that it’s going to be easy peasy. But there is a massive difference between the real workload and what companies expect of staff. The idea that a person can handle anything is wrong, and the physical condition part of the employment questionnaire should be taken seriously. There are many customer assistants who have health issues because of the company that they work for. Back, joints, and feet pain are only some, and these are not to joke about. Companies throw the policies about correct lifting in the discussion, but the reality is that, literally, no one has time for those. Retail is fast pace and customer assistants have to deliver perfect service and usually handle massive heavy deliveries in almost no time. Moreover, the conditions in which the deliveries come may very well not permit a correct handling like the policies show. The correct timing of work is what companies prefer to skip. If less is more, then retail companies are failing. No customer assistant expects the job to be easy, but no customer assistant should have to sacrifice part of their health. These issues exist because of two reasons: management and upper management have zero experience as customer assistants and/or they never listen to their staff. They claim they do, but the reality is that one can have a deeper conversation with the walls rather than with a company’s management.

Heavy lifting is a real issue and policies for manual handling are never followed. Being correctly timed for your tasks would ensure healthy handling and a fair treatment towards the staff.

3. Rudeness

We all know that there are two types of customers: human and.. less human. The less human customers are those who think that they deserve everything, shop for leisure rather than need, and never actually smile. They are those who come back for refunds without the receipt and argue with the till operator. They are those who pick up items and leave them everywhere rather than at the till. Those who leave the shop messy without any remorse. Rude customers should never be treated nice. Why? Because everyone around them sees the behaviour. A fine person will never look down on someone who doesn’t smile to a shouting person. Human customers usually stand up for the staff member who has to endure some argument. And at the end of the day, a company that respects itself should respect fairness, and that is not the synonym of rudeness. Respect is a two-way street and allowing customers to misbehave in your store means not respecting yourself. ”The customer is always right” is something said by someone who never worked in retail or ever lived in any given society. No company truly believes that. If the customer would actually always be right, till operators will refund anything, at any given time, in any given conditions. Do they? No. Why? Because the customer has to prove that they are right (i.e. have the receipt). So then why allow misbehaviour? Because that does not affect profit margins, that only affects your staff. And do you mind about your staff? I’ll let you answer that. I am not suggesting mistreating customers or mirroring their rudeness, but I am advocating for a balance between fake smiles and crying in the staff room. There has to be a limit of allowed rudeness, and that should be shouting, used language, and touching in any sense (even a tap on the shoulder. Why? Because of the idea of personal space).

No one is always right. If companies would care about their staff, then there should be active policies on allowed levels of rudeness from customers.

4. Noise levels

This is actually more important than you would think. A noisy store is stressing for the customers that brows and check prices, those who line up for tills, and for the staff that usually spends more than 8 hours on the premises. Without any apology, I will argue that misbehaving babies and children should be not allowed in stores. Not only because running may cause some accident – I will get back to this, but because the noise levels create an unwelcoming, stressing, and ugly atmosphere. Babies may be cute and children fun, but not in retail. Why? Retail is a leisure activity for most of the individuals, thus requires a rather relaxing atmosphere. I don’t lack compassion for parents. Personally, I get it, it is hard to calm down a baby. But on the other hand, it is not really my or anyone else’s duty to. Considering that, I am not proposing banning parents with babies and children, I am saying that staff should be allowed to suggest that the parent may leave the premises for a second while the baby calms down. If the situation gives children, that is different. I said I will further explain and I am now. Running children and children who take items off shelves and put them someplace else are basically rude customers. The issue with the running is that if an accident happens, i.e. they fall, they break something, etc., by policy, it is the company’s fault. Let me tell you that it is the parents’ fault because children should behave, they have to be taught how to behave. And if they lack this, or parents don’t even try to regulate their behaviour, then these children are, in one word, spoiled. And the problem here is not only that they would hurt themselves and the company would pay a lot etc., strictly from a customer service point of view, why do other customers have to endure the misbehaviour? Quite a lot of times in the past three years I have been asked if I can suggest to a mother to leave the store because her baby was extremely loud and she was not trying to calm it down but was making noises back at it. I said I could not do that. But it did prove to me that I am right saying that not everyone wants high noise levels while shopping. I am not trying to insult or try to preach how people should raise their children here. I am saying that a store is not a playground. Nor a nursery. Nor a home. It is a public place. The same actions should be and are taken for drunk customers or those who are physically aggressive. Unfortunately, not for customers who are only verbally aggressive.

Retail is not a nursery or a playground. Staff and other customers have no obligation to bare high noise levels. If no trial to diminish the discomfort is made, customer assistants should have a say.

5. Being listened to

I am not expecting the workplace to be your therapist and I am not talking about that kind of listening anyway. But what management seems to forget is that someone follows the rules that they set. And if they do not communicate with those who actually work, the result is an unhappy, struggling team. As I was mentioning health and safety and the heavy lifting, there is no such thing as feedbacking in companies. No kind of meeting Pr online platform where the staff says something and management considers it and thinks over because, in the end, it is the staff that is affected. There is a genuine lack of interest in how smooth the shops work. Things like timing for tasks and rational action are the top two that a staff member will know better than management. By rational action I mean different policies in each business that are illogical, useless, and more time-consuming than positive towards customer experience. Each store and company will ask for different illogical actions. Obviously, there is a limit here too, that of rational feedbacking and bringing evidence.

Customer assistants do the work, thus they can assess the reality and logic of requirements. Employing a feedbacking system to listen to the staff would be a cost-free action that would further benefit the company.

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“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing … it’s OK.”

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Advertising portfolio

I am launching a new album on Flickr in which I uploaded and will upload all my advertising materials!

I’m looking forward to growing it and improve with each work.

Advertising Portfolio, Flickr

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My new way of procrastinating is reading retail companies reviews on websites like indeed, glossador, etc. Now all fun and games but I’m genuinely wondering if the upper management of the reviewed firms actually go through them as well. I mean, seriously, there are quite some useful reviews and that way maybe they’d find the truth about how people feel while working for them. And then if they’d read maybe they’d do something to improve and so people wouldn’t resign so fast or they would actually smile to customers.

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“We have entered an age of fear. Insecurity is once again an active ingredient of political life in Western democracies. Insecurity born of terrorism, but also, and more insidiously, fear of the uncontrollable speed of change, fear of the loss of employment, fear of losing ground to others in an increasingly unequal distribution of resources, fear of losing control of the circumstances and routines of our daily life. And, perhaps above all, fear that it is not just we who can no longer shape our lives but that those in authority have also lost control, to forces beyond their reach” – Judt, T. quoted in Cuperus, 2011, taken off Cantle, T, 2011.


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Commodified selves and religions

Ever wondered what happened to our spiritual sense? Well, the Aberdeen University course of Religion and Culture (SO4058) does make you think about it quite a bit. I’m choosing not to change too much for this work because any strong alteration might alter the meaning and core idea within the explanation. The problem is whether religion became an item on supermarkets shelves. Meaning, do we genuinely consume religion? Did we somehow brand religion and refer to it as we do to Nike, Apple, or Vodafone? Do we choose to believe in some part of a religion because it matches with our values? But what about the people who shape their values on those of the religion they partake to? In a sense, we are now looking at a perfectly arranged chaos, that is our society, thus the following chapters will attempt to show one paradox of religion today.


To begin with, because there is a fairly clear-cut between the social significance of religion, religion as such, the amount of people who take religion seriously, and how seriously everyone takes it (Bruce, 2002: 3), because religion is a sensitive subject and understood in various ways by various people/societies, an attempt to define it for this essay is required. Durkheim (2001: 25) calls it a system of ideas and practices. He argues (2001) that “the Gods also need man; without their offerings and sacrifices, they would die”. Therefore, religion “is the determination of human life by the feeling of a bond uniting the human mind to the mysterious mind…” (Reville, 1881: 34) and it aims to express not what is exceptional, but what is constant and regular (Durkheim, 2001: 30). Thus, religion is an indefinite (supernatural, mysterious, etc.) defining the lives of billions of people. Religion promoted the idea that someone/something is watching and eventually caring for you, but also requires people to behave in an exact standard. It is scheduling people’s lives by giving a course of doctrines and indoctrination of rituals. It also opens a door for misunderstandings when the different beliefs come in contact with each other and this can go to an extent of killing ‘in the name of God’. For example, in Hinduism there is no prohibition on killing, saying that “may be inevitable and necessary” (W. Menski, 2007: 5).

This essay does not intend to reveal the truth of religions, nor their exact history, as there might not even be one. But it is relevant to mention and motivate why this work is written from the perspective that religion is internally sourced (human-made). If we assume that religion is man-made, religious indoctrinations would be sourced within humanity, which only suggests a phenomenon of self-teaching. Although, if the negatives (the wars, the sacrifices at any level, the indoctrination and ignorance, etc.) are taken into consideration, morality is easily questioned. Therefore, religion as man-made is a sensitive topic and as much morality as is taught (to be human/humane), various arguments and violent acts happened because of the same teachings – the issue is the difference in practice and understanding/misunderstanding. If a one and only religion would govern the world, then it could be argued that there is a holy truth, but the multitude of beliefs and differences in ‘requirements’ highly suggests that societies themselves created these systems. If we assume that religion would not be man-made, then it means it is God-made/Gods-made, etc. How would so many Gods (the different religions and mystical ‘beings’) create a single world and if they did, why don’t we all believe in the same multitude, why do we split beliefs so much?

All in all, the following chapters intend to explain what the world we live in looks like, how ourselves as individuals evolved by the affect of consumerism and what is left from the traditional way of religious practices and beliefs.


Cultural hybridisation

 Harvey (1989: 240-154) argues that in postmodern societies, space was understood as concrete locations: for most individuals the risk because of war at that time was too high, thus people preferred to remain in their fixed locations. Moreover, until the 1850s, the movement of both goods and people was extremely slow, unreliable, and highly expensive, but with the afterwards rapid development of vessels (super-freighters), the exchange became affordable from all perspectives. Therefore, one could argue, globalisation was starting to show right after the mid-twentieth century. A modern nation-state system can also be dated around the 17th Century. That began the political aspect of globalisation. This is highly relevant because it lays the path for consumerism, for a world of trades of any kind (goods, services, and people). But taking a closer look at the societies today, it can be fairly argued that the world is by far homogenous or ruled by a singular standard. The world today is rather a hybridisation of businesses, politics, economies, and culture. The phenomenon that takes place is glocalisation. Roland Robertson (1997) claims that “[glocalisation] means the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalising and particularising tendencies”. This raised an interdependence between countries and challenges multiculturalism. Moreover, it spreads rationalisation, that is the process of organising life by instrumental considerations, is what Weber in quoting Schiller calls “the disenchantment of the world” (Bruce, 1996: 181).

Another factor into glocalisation is that communities lost structure through the ease of movement and thus mobility created the “anonymous world of the city” (Bruce, 1996: 182). The concept of Diasporas shall be introduced here as well, “[People] constitute a diaspora if they … come to share a common fate with their own people, wherever they happen to be” (Cohen and Kennedy, 2007: 55), referring to a group of people that ‘come together’ based on their nation, no matter where they moved in the world. This is, by Bauman’s three-steps of modern migration, the current and full flow of gathering, which raises issues within the ‘unbreakable’ bond between identity and nationality, the individual and his/her physical proximity and cultural identity (2011: 35-6). Although Sachs (1992: 102) claims that “[a] global monoculture spreads like an oil slick over the entire planet’”, these groups do not live self-sourcing, they integrate within the welcoming society and slowly become a part of it. “For the first time”, Bauman argues (2011: 36), “the ‘art of living together’ has become an everyday problem”. Thus, Rowe and Schelling’s hybridisation definition is accurate and includes the core of the phenomena: “the ways in which forms become separated from existing practices and recombine with new forms in new practices” (1991: 231).

This century is hosting a world of glocalised, hybrid cultures where individuals are free to choose the traditions they follow by either keeping their nationalities or adopting or mixing them. Because of the given freedom through laws and separations between the churches and states, the same liberty of hybridisation exists within religious beliefs.

The New Age for a hybrid world

 More and more people declare themselves Christian but, if asked, have beliefs such as the horoscope or Feng-shui. This gives a connection with the pick’n’mix approach within a spiritual supermarket (Lyon, 2000: 74). Consumerism (religious or otherwise) has become a cognitive and moral focus through systematic management (Lyon, 2000: 79). The constant interaction between individuals of different backgrounds (political views, religious beliefs, behaviour standard) combined with the mass consumption phenomenon that occurs and strengthens on a daily basis, makes possible the creation of hybrid societies. It creates new forms of behaviour standards, much more complex political perspectives and acts (a decision no longer affects that one country), and last but not least complex religious beliefs. Specifically, both the aforementioned anonymous city and rationalisation gave way to the emergence of new religion (Bruce, 1996: 182).

The individuals of today constantly “try on” new experiences (clothes, items, services, beliefs), trying to construct their selves distinct from others, yet seeking approval from the relevant lifestyle and symbolic membership (Lyon, 2000: 79). And that is what new religious movements are designed for. To ‘make us happy’, to support us in fulfilling our human potential, “a sense of well-being has become the end, rather than a by-product of striving after some superior communal end” (Rieff, 1973: 224). A lot of people claim some conventional religious position, but most of them add to it different other elements. For some people, it may be only an entertaining an idea, while for some it can escalate to a new sense of belief in a personalised religion (Bruce, 1996: 201). Therefore, as supposed earlier, beliefs today can be ‘picked up from a supermarket’. The New Age Beliefs and Practices are an important supply for this ‘supermarket’. Fewer and fewer people adopt traditional religions, i.e. fully Christian dogma, therefore most individuals, as argued, make use of the multitude of information and chose to believe what better suits them.

The New Age became popular within the 1980s. It is focused on ‘self-discovery’, ‘spiritual growth’, and ‘enlightenment’, the latter having the meaning of ‘reaching light’ and not the scientific beginning. Its roots are in Buddhism and Hinduism which have recently been Westernised; new agers vocabulary include ‘God’ and ‘Universe’, but ‘cosmic consciousness’ and ‘cosmic mind’ mostly, because when they state ‘God’ they refer to ‘Force’, ‘Energy’, and do not use the biblical sense. The new age exists via media such as newspapers, magazines, CDs (cassettes), and ‘lectures’. Considering, spirituality abandoned the idea of a main Holy Book (such as The Bible, The Koran, or others) and spreads itself around various sources. New-age-spirituality.com (2015) quotes “New Age Spirituality steps in to fulfil the need of something … that the material world alone cannot offer”, but it is sociologically interesting how it survives through beliefs in mostly the supernatural in an era of scientific research and proof. It has become popular in the West even if its roots are in eastern religions because, as the western popularity reached modernity, it commenced to search for ‘ultimate answers about life’. Because the material world looked discouraging after two world wars and the atomic bomb, people looked for faith in the spiritual realm. Moreover, due to the same reason and because the church was rigid, individuals looked for freedom, freedom which was given through the idea that the soul lives more lives, that the spirit is what matters, that there are a thousand possibilities, and no one can be wrong. But this is not the sole ‘attraction’ for the pick’n’mix practitioners, simple living with people of different cultures, thus different beliefs have an impact on an individual’s behaviour. Becoming co-workers of friends with people of various background, individuals come in contact with different perspectives on the world as well and involuntarily think about and perhaps adopt some points of view.

In this times of the 21st Century, it is impossible to argue that ‘doing something’ would be wrong, the society adopted the New Age’s idea of ‘I have my truth you have yours and we can both be right’, but that has a limit when put under analysis. Being so eager to express themselves in such a high consumerist society with so many options, it can be argued that people adopt false pretences and practices.

 The self

 Aforementioned interactions and attention to how one behaves within a multicultural place make people put a great emphasis on symbolism. Symbolism is all that our consumerist culture is reduced to. What car, is it cheap or expensive, is it sports car or family built? What smartphones one owns? Why that brand of smartphones? The clothes that people wear tell part of their personality as we dress to express (and impress, but impress by expressing ourselves most of the times), etc. All that our society interacts with is a symbol of and for something. It is highly relevant to mention that these symbols are tools to show what an individual is supposed to be within a specific environment. This need and requirement of expression are why symbols in the 21st Century are the core of existence. Brands are creating their identity which then the consumer adopts by purchasing into it. When one wears a brand or drives specific cars, some values are shown, those of the brand. Buying into Volvo (advertised as the safest car) gives a sense of responsibility, a precautious individual. Buying into Innocent (UK juice company) shows health-oriented thinking, an individual who values the natural, fair-trade and the organic production.

Trying so hard to choose the ‘right’ value to express in a certain situation, or being asked to show a certain value in a situation, people become the actors of their own life. Symbols are shaping societies and actions rather than individuals making symbols out of and for a specific action. People constantly check in and out of situations, verifying their behaviour and regulating their actual way of being in order to satisfy the community they are in. This is the complexity of selves and made up minds which will be explained in the following paragraph. The connection between this constructed self and religion as a commodity in the 21st Century are intense.

Individuals have, as Goffman (1959) argued, multiple selves on the stage of the society and within his/her own existence. He talks about a backstage of lives, where individuals are considering, building, and analysing themselves, and different social situations (stages) where they act themselves. Moreover, the social circumstances and reactions help the backstage process of analysis and construction of one’s self, what today marketers call reference groups (e.g. rockers refer to rockers’ groups). The individual is a “shadowy chooser” (Douglas, 1977: 63) who runs through situations and ‘tries on’ self-presentations from a variety of complex roles. Individuals commonly know they cannot just decide what to be (Douglas, 1977: 65), but that they have to be in constant check with the reactions they receive and re-choose themselves on a constant basis. People have to accommodate their selves to multiple realities where they have to act different roles.

Following with the consumerist society, it becomes easier and easier to play different roles as there are many more tools available, but in the same time, within this globalised hybrid world, the roles become more and more complex as well. The multiplicity of one’s self has become unavoidable and socially required (e.g. business behaviour, family behaviour, types of friendships behaviour, etc.), with more and more rules for actions and rules of thinking. Issues such as racism, sexism, discrimination, etc. are heavily fought against and deeply asked of people to think in specific ways towards them. Opinions, to some extent, are ready-made and sent to individuals to adopt. The self in the 21st Century is complex, continuously tempered with, and never fully accomplished. Today there is a need for multiple plays and constant checking to what is newly asked in terms of behaviour. The ‘easy’ existence in one form is long passed. Societies today are made by multiple various selves that are built up, used, changed, and abandoned (‘make-over’ is a state where someone drastically changes in behaviour and thinking and ‘becomes a new person’).

One could argue there is a spread of plastic selves for the exact reason that individuals are taking on so many roles and are adapting them so fast that they (the individuals) get lost between multiple personalities (no reference to the disorder). Even if one claims that his/her true self is, for example, with their close family, say, husband/wife, it can be argued that it is still a play, a deeper and longer living role, yes, but a role. These plastic selves do not mean ‘fake’ in the sense of untrue or not believed in, they mean, just as dolls, movable and changeable commodities. This play of selves is active at an emotional and spiritual level as well. One cannot argue contrary to the fact that one’s self is emotive and of spirit, thus an easy transfer to another spiritual realm is quite fast. That said, religion is emotive (subjective, sensitive, emotional) and of spirit as well, shaping and being shaped by one’s personality. Yet we did establish that the personality of one’s self is unrealistic, as there are multiple versions of one’s self.

A short conclusion to all that is mentioned in the last chapters is quite required. The idea at this point through the work is that religion is man-made (the perspective of the essay) and individuals have multiple selves (roles) which implies multiple ways of thinking, thus religion itself is adaptable to the multiple selves, which is showed and helped out by the New Age Movements.

 Commodified selves and religions

To some extent, because of the extreme practices of consumerism, people are taught to buy, sell, express themselves via possessions, any that would be, and through other people, that is friends, partners, and groups. Aforementioned are the reasons and outcomes concerning gadgets representing ourselves and clothes showing ‘who one is’, which, if taken as seem through societies, do result into the fact that the selves themselves are commodities, changeable when needed or wished. The relevance of all to religion should have now taken shape.

Individuals create themselves to fit into different boxes that they are supposed to or want to fit, and while the level of freedom is lifted, religion has indeed become a voluntary box. It became one reference group, a choice coming from identification with the beliefs. Individuals are free to roam around the Religious Supermarket and walk away with any item. That is, just as with the self, a commodity.

Because of its commodification, religion became more than beliefs and practices. It offers a gate for political advantage. Although set in stone that the state and religious entities are separated, interferences are still happening, mostly in Eastern Europe. Not necessarily direct political parties that take part in religious-related events, but by the declaration of belief, thus gaining the trust of religious voters. In Romania, for example, this is a certainty, as that society is more religious than others. Statistically, Romania seems secular and the rise of atheism is extremely high, but the surveys do not reach everyone, not older people who live in the country-side by the rules there were decades ago (traditional doctrine-like lives, the Church still being the centre of the village, the pastor the most ‘respected’ person, schools near the church, etc. Therefore, politically, it is highly important to relate to these traditionalist living villages, the pope is who advises people on politics, etc. Adding that most Eastern European countries have high rates of corruption, the equation simplifies. In countries like UK, Germany, France, or Switzerland, religion is far from political spheres, therefore a conclusion such as religion in the traditional sense is still alive would not satisfy due to the rapport. Nonetheless, there are various sayings, as a clarification on these matters cannot be easily made, not in a short informational essay, concerning the rise in terrorism-related to religious matters. These, some would argue, are politically fired and only clothed into religious movements for ‘protection’. As far stretched as it seems, arguments have been made and conspiracy theories are flooding the world, but no actual conclusion has been made, thus the idea of religion as a simple clothing item for politics stays just that, an idea. But again, an interference between the ‘sacred’ of Durkheim and politics today does exist in some settings.


The commodification of religion, then, is still left under a question mark, yes, religion is a choice and it can be self-constructed. The self is a commodity, then what can something made by a commodity be? I would argue, religion is an item waiting on shelves in the hope someone may ‘buy’ it, but in the same time, the traditional settings of religion happen to still exist (South Africa, India, Japan and China, Eastern Europe). ‘The self’ in discussion in the previous paragraphs is a commodity under the same circumstances, namely developed countries. In undeveloped or underdeveloped countries, the self, paradoxically, is still a commodity, but because individuals do not give it that much attention as their primary activity is to survive, then it can be claimed that the self, there, is traditional and understood as ‘given’, ‘pre-set’, ‘unchangeable’ etc. Therefore, religion itself would be commodified in the West and slightly evolved but traditional in the Eastern World.

This issue of commodification is highly philosophical; this essay cannot come up with a clear-cut conclusion. As any other philosophical matter, there is actually no conclusion. There are ideas, weaker or stronger arguments, but the core of these writings are debates left open for the understanding of each individual. Thus, I find it fit to leave my understanding as the final point. Religion is an internal process and what is shown of it (events, sacred buildings, clothes, public practices, etc) is a commodity. Like the self, the backstage and the various shown roles; the backstage is as close to being ‘deeply real’, while the roles are checked over and over again, changed, adapted, etc. Religion, the internal belief, not matter if is a mix taken off the supermarket of religions or the traditional Catholic, Orthodox, Buddhist, etc, is close to ‘deeply real’, while the public practices are a commodity, as they suppose individuals adopting the role of being religious.



 Bauman, Z. (2011) Culture in a Liquid Modernity, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

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  11. Reville, A. (1881) Prolegomenes a l’histoire des religions (Critical introduction to the history of religions), Paris, France: Fischbacher.
  12. Rieff, P. (1973) The Triumph of the Therapeutic, London, UK: Harmondsworth Penguin Publishing.
  13. Rowe W., and Schelling, V. (1991) Memory and Modernity: popular culture in Latin America. London, UK: Verso.
  14. Robertson, R. (1997) ‘Comments on the Global Triad and Glocalisation’ in Globalisation and Indigenous Cultures, Tokyo: Institute for Japanese Cultures and Classics, Kokugakuin University.
  15. Sachs, W. (1992) ‘One Wold’ The Development Dictionary, London, UK: Zed Books. p. 102-115.



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Motivation is something people usually have, but sometime you lose it on the way and they say that ‘to make you reach for your aim, all you need is a push’ … Almost perfect, but whoever pushes you better makes sure you’re at the edge of a cliff.

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I’m 22 y/o and I failed at life.

I’m 22 y/o and I’ve already missed my chance at a life of success and actual well-being. This is not going to be an article with references and smart-sayings, this is going to be the reason for itself – the reason why it’s not going to be ‘academically approved’.

I’m 22 and lost the chance to life a while ago, but I realized it a couple of days ago and my first reaction was ‘but I’m young’. And it hit me: I’m not young. I’m too old already to have a successful life. This century destroys us, gives us depression and anxiety, phobia of ourselves. We’re living in a world which only promotes the geniuses who make a successful life until they are like 30 with titles like “he/she started at 16 to…” and I’m like wow… I’m not undermining their work and all, but they are a handful of people while the rest of us is left in the unknown, is left swimming in a pool of depression- and anxiety-pills because we’d never be good enough for this world… when we’re actually the good ones. Geniuses are the rare thing.

When did we stop thinking that being 25 is still young and we still have a life in front of ourselves? When did we stop realizing that we cannot be mature enough before what, 27? Since when did we stop knowing that you’re at your best in your 30s?! …. We didn’t? Then why do we feel like there’s nothing out there for us? Why do we always have to check with someone if we do something? Since when cannot we decide on our own? Why? Because we need support in failure. That is true, but how can we massively fail at 20 y/o? There’s no such thing as failing at 20, it’s trying and not managing, but he- ho, there’s so many years ahead, it’s not an actual failure – yet we all feel like the world’s against us. And the world is against us. That’s what’s sad –

They all say, man, the world’s not against you, it’s not like anyone does something to you. Well no, no one actually does something to you – but everyone as a whole does! As a whole, guys, the society is so fucked up that we require so much experience from a 25 y/o that he/she’s never gonna have – like yeah, I want you to be like 35 but 30 years of experience, please. This used to be a joke, sarcasm, something –  it’s not, it’s reality and it actually hurts. You wake up like “yeah, man I’m in uni and I will do something with my life” – then you realize that wherever you want to go (postgrad job, master, etc.), they all need stuff that you couldn’t have achieved: good grades are achievable. But then: internships, whatever jobs, I wouldn’t know what societies and all that… How is that for fair? Because it’s not like some internship or any job and any society, na-ah, they have to be like massive, top-ranking whatever, which guess-fucking-what: require experience already! You’re 23 trying to actually start a life and what you can actually do is grab a chair, a rope, and get a room.

The point is that everyone needs prof that you’re worthy of their environment, degree, whatever, but no one really wants to stand as proof. Like “hey, yeah, I know I’m good, I want to be good, but no one really lets me prove myself so what the fuck am I going to do?”. Well I’m telling you what: you get a job in retail, go up to management, and suck it up, because you weren’t a 16 y/o genius. That is exactly what you do unless you have some friends in some positions and they’d help you with documents that would stand as ‘proof of being worthy’ even if you maybe aren’t.

Seriously, it cannot be just me who feels it. And if it is, someone wake me up to the reality because this is not fun.

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How to encounter the yada yada about how useless sociologists are – the two parts of sociology and how to reason. Numbers. It’s the numbers, … people.

It’s serious issue for us sociologists and sociologists to be that we encounter such figures yelling their science-based degrees at us. This sort of people are unavoidable and they always go yada yada on the more or less same lines: “Oi, what you study there is like trying to understand what is just straight-forward in the world and you do something that you call research but then you say you cannot really reproduce the same outcome because you’re unreliable, and then you call yourselves social scientists – yada yada – there’s not even the smallest bit of science in your sociology – yada yada – you’re worth nothing”. Maybe they don’t really undermine the work so much as in my example, but we all know someone who thinks we’re useless human beings pretending to do some science of the people and managing to know nothing reliable for the future to come. And they are right to some extent. I do believe that, when it comes to parts of sociology, we end up studying a lot to only become almost useless human beings. I do now feel the rage in most of you reading. Bear with the explanation to come.

Sociology itself can be a lot but not useless, by the very fact that sociology shows you how the world works and it also explains it to you. What these people say is that why would anyone try to explain what’s reality when everyone sees? Firstly, not everyone sees it. Your reality is different than other (societies vs. societies) and then how well do you actually globally know the cultures? Then again, here comes the Google fan who goes about, obviously, searching online. I’m particularly fascinated by these geniuses who think they can go Google everything and understand the lives of other just too well from a simple click and read – and they can Google it, but how did the data go to Google to store it, well, guess Google’s AI just made it up, eh? But then again, I understand their point. The fact that some of them go rude on sociologists is another thing, but not all do – some are genuine believers of the fact that doing sociological research is like researching fish in an aquarium – intentionally didn’t say sea or ocean.

So it goes, we feel offended anyway and we try to explain to them that sociological research is of very much use and we try to show cast some political research so that they will understand it’s important. And they still say that “well it did work this time, what about the next?”, and we cannot really lie so we’re trying to nicely defend ourselves while admitting that indeed we won’t have the exact same outcome, not only because people will change, but there are various factors around the world like economy in a country might affect voting in another country and so on, because there is a huge network of influence etc.; and while they believe everything we say, they will end up saying the same yada-yada about how we’re useless because they won’t understand what explaining the social world means and that explaining it results in predicting it. Scientists, for the record, explain the social world better than sociologists – that is my opinion based on actual results. Scientists do those nature-related tests like maths goes some way, physics goes some way, chemistry is straight forward it either burns the whole town down or it works, etc., it’s practically out there for them in a way in which they only have to throw their hand in the world, grab whatever’s there, test, and there you have it. Then they go mixing their findings and they-know-what they find. It’s not easy, but it’s there in some form or another. Social sciences, though, do indeed shove their hand in the world and pick up something and test, but meanwhile the world changes a bit, so they have to think well while they get their hand out and look at what they grabbed, they have to take into account what sort of changes happen and then only test the reality they have with the hypothetical change and find out what is happening. So social scientists have a blurry start even before they actually start the testing. They did, social scientists, find a way to trick the confusion, and they called it qualitative research. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the word ‘quality’ itself.

Qualitative research is funny to look at because they never gave itself a definition, they could only say what it isn’t. Why? Because it’s a lot of things around a human being entering a society and spying on them – well, researching them, but sometimes the fellows don’t know they are being researched. Yes, it is legal. So in 2014 Denzin and Lincoln said that “It [qualitative research] has no theory or paradigm that is distinctly its own, nor does it have a distinct set of methods or practices that are entirely its own”. This qualitative research is highly entertaining because it’s about acting. Ethnographic research functions somewhat like this: a man/woman wants to know what happens in the closed circle of society ‘x’, then they inform themselves about it, then they try to penetrate it. The fun part is the way they go in it: do they announce that they are going to research that environment, do they just spy the environment (from the inside)? Both are legal and both work, the latter even better because it shuts any possibility that someone will play their role somehow specifically in order to ‘help’ the results of our researcher’s study. The debate whether or not to claim your research is huge and has nothing to do with the article here. If you want to look into it, it’s called overt/covert research and there are characters who say it’s immoral to research people without their knowledge of it and the other way round – the interesting bit is that even if you penetrate a circle and announce you are a researcher, the circle is active and changes so at some point during research someone will surely not know who you are, why you are there, etc. But again, this is another story.

Ethnography is all sorts of fun: researcher gets to talk to their subjects a lot (oh, and they are not called ‘subjects’ really, because they are our fella human beings, not rats in a lab – but no, they are subjects), researcher gets to feel his/her subjects’ lives, the interaction goes above and beyond the hypothesis of research. I am not trying to undermine qualitative researchers’ work, but what they have is a fact and an explanation for the fact – one single fact, no overall conclusion like “if the environment is x then the subjects do y, but if the environment is z then well, let’s get in there and find out!”. That’s it – that’s where they cannot go further. And that’s why our counterpart full-time scientists that annoy us with their repetitive results are right! Indeed, my fella sociologists and sociologists to be, qualitative research is vague, is straight forward in conclusions, and only brings the obvious above the water. Yes, results are deep and data is rich, indeed. Quick explanation: if the researcher announces his/her presence as it is, then the behaviour of subjects will change and the researcher cannot know the exact difference. If the researcher doesn’t announce his/her presence not only is it slightly ethically incorrect, but he/she will not have the opportunity to ask some questions which as a researcher you can, but just as someone there would feel more or less ridiculous (such as personal data or some personal background on someone, etc). Thus, the researcher using ethnography cannot grip the whole story no matter how much he/she tries.

Moreover, ethnographic data cannot be reproduced. It is straight-forward why and as I am addressing these arguments to both science-based individuals and to sociologists both parties know what I mean. You cannot reproduce instability, and qualitative research is highly unstable – even if one would research the same (sub-)society twice he/she won’t have the same results because, first of all, people change, situations change, rituals (habits, routines)  don’t, but then qualitative research wants to get a grip of the feeling of being part of a (sub-)society, not only the process of its existence because that process can be found by studying laws and unwritten laws of some community. Therefore my argument ends, this is why I do believe that social research can be useless to some extent.

But to some extent only. Studying social science you also have a quantitative research method which does have something to do with the word ‘quantity’, because everything is based on numbers – isn’t that reassuring? This is the science in sociology. Quantitative research, as put by Alan Bryman, is described as entailing the collection of numerical data, a deductive view of the relationship between theory and research, an objectivist conception of social reality. Quantitative research is pretty tight to Durkheim’s idea of social facts, as Prof. Bernadette Hayes would also admit. Durkheim says that the society is a fact, not a continuously changing chaos (obviously he uses more elevate terms, but that would be the idea). Now, Durkheim is almost right, but as I also tend to trust psychologists, I would define society as a long-term chaotic exchange of psychological traits between individuals, where the psychological traits are influenced by sociological facts, and the sociological facts are constructed by the psychological traits. I should now make some sense of it. Durkheim on social fact: “manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they can exercise control over him”, that is factors influencing the individuals without their will and happening external to any psychological trait. The chaotic exchange means that individuals’ personalities change and are influenced by reference groups – but this happens in no predicted way, as we cannot penetrate each individual’s mind (yet), can we? Psychological traits are features of personalities e.g. introvert, shy, talkative, inclined to black humour, optimist, etc. These traits are influenced by social factors because, counting psychology, humans are influenced by surroundings – as easy as that, they change their mentality in order to fit the environment, may they want or not, it subconsciously happens. But these social facts don’t just exist out of the blue, they had to come in place somehow and we all know how many debates there are on how the world appeared and I am completely rejecting to start another one, but the social facts are functions of the society which cannot exist with the actual society, can they, and the society was born because of individuals gathering, thus Durkheim’s social facts are the product of individuals’ psychological traits and ways of thinking. You have today social facts which go about regardless of my or your existence, but they weren’t independent of the population at the beginning, because the population gave birth to them – at least that’s my theory based on psychology. You cannot have a group without individuals, can you? Then again, the society is indeed a chaos, but very well planned chaos, and it even makes sense to claim that – beauty of sociology, making sense of nonsense. That it actually is, quite frankly, the very best easy definition of this field of study.

Back on track, then. Let’s take Durkheim as a non-questionable entity and give his social facts full credit (he did a pretty good job to convince us he’s right, didn’t he?). Then we have all the other sociologists who try to have theories about, basically, how the social facts work, right? Well then. These social facts are caged in theories. Marx believes that revolution is the answer and that for him is a social fact, no matter what, the lower classes revolts to the upper class, and the cycle goes. Society itself (individuals, groups) are chaotically changing. Then what must be done is testing if these not-Durkheimian social facts actually exist. Then what quantitative research does is gets a theory, thinks at which (sub-)society it relates to, and tests it. The researcher samples the society (number of subjects of the society, if possible the whole), then addresses various very deeply thought questionnaires, or engages with the subjects in such way to probe the theory. For example, if Pavlov worked with humans, he could sample 4000 human beings (or whatever big number you think of) and conduct the same experiment he conducted on the dog. The results would be the same, by the way, because there is research done on humans as well, but more ethically – they did not cage the individuals. That would be quantitative research. The results would be (all numbers made up!) 70% of the individuals salivate when hearing the bell, but the results variation is +-10%, which proves theory right (basically the answer is between 60 and 80% of people, because you have a standard deviation to your variation around the mean). You have a number of random people from a (sub-)society and then you eliminate subjectivity and then you have the same conditions for everyone, so you can relate an experiment to the next if you want. Then you have all the mathematically proven correct equations which give away society’s trend of acting in the situation of study. The idea is that you do statistics for the test. And you have these numbers telling you how many people do what, how accurate your numbers are and, most importantly, because you have numbers, you can keep track through years and then you do some more statistics and you can finally predict how will your (sub-)society act next time some situation arises, and you can have so many empirical indicators (variables) as you want, thus being able to give accurate answers and explanations for how and why do people do something and whether they will do the same thing sooner or later considering, yes, the changes that may apply to some variables, but those changes can themselves be predicted by adding some other variables. It is reliable and most importantly it can predict the next thing to come. And that’s why sociology isn’t useless.

I know that this article is more about how sociology is useless rather than useful in terms of number of words let’s say, but that is exactly the proof: you don’t need yada yada in sociology. The science backing up sociology is straight forward and in how many words can one explain that using statistics in the right way is very clear? I know that there’s lies, big lies, and statistics – but that’s an expression applicable to journalists – and so goes the circle of hate: scientists dislike social scientists, social scientists dislike journalists (distorting stories), journalists eventually dislike photographers (distorting stories or even not distorting them!), photographers might dislike uhmmmm the guys who voice-record, ….  Etc. Point is there’s always someone or a sub-group who will undermine the work that you do! The important thing is that you shall deeply know what you do and you shall also be able to explain why you do it.

Well, I do my job because I love it and if you chose the job you love you’ll never work a day in your life (Confucius) , but I also know how to explain why I love it – there’s no such thing as I love it just because I do, there’s empirical evidence to sustain your love for something. But this is another story.


Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Aron, R. (1967). Main Currents in Sociological Thoughts 2. p. 21-108. Great Britain: Penguin Social Sciences.

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