Week 8 reflection

We have previously mentioned that our team has decided to treat our question as a debate. Therefore, two of us are going to be arguing for free speech, while the other two are arguing for political correctness. We plan on meeting tomorrow and have a debate style session to see which arguments are the strongest.

As I was searching for arguments that support freedom of speech, I came across four free speech theories: 1 ) Arguments concerned with the importance of discovering truth; 2) Free speech as an aspect of self-fulfillment; 3) The argument from citizen participation in a democracy; 4) Suspicion of government. These four arguments seem compelling, however,  the argument that I will be using in the presentation depends on how our debate goes tomorrow.

13/03/2019 summary+outline+Future plan

Today we talked about the structure of our presentation. Here are some points that we mentioned during the meeting with Conor as well as the discussion among members.

Research question: Is freedom of speech compatible with political correctness?

Research aim: To analyse the principles and values of both free speech and political correctness; to introduce the theme of uncertainty and interdisciplinary research.

Research outline:

1. Introduction

Starting with the concepts of both PC and free speech. Do these two terms have strict academic definitions? What are the origins of them? If there is no agreed definition, what kind of definition will be used in our discussion? (presented by word cloud at first)

2. Outline

Methods: debate style, comparative conceptual analysis across politics, philosophy and media (qualitative).

Materials: scholarly articles and media coverage

3. Debate

Free speech VS political correctness, two arguments from each side with examples and detailed philosophical justification. We will try our best to make sure every member will contribute to at least one argument with solid evidence.

4. Conclusion

Theoretically, PC and free speech seems not compatible because their values contrast to each other. In reality, these two coexist (although not in their purest form).

Reflections on uncertainty: who should define free speech and political correctness? How can examples from different cultures/countries cover all theoretical values? people conceive these two terms quite differently, depending on their cultural and ideological background and their politic position.

Important!! Please prepare all arguments and examples and have a draft ready before Sunday morning.

Sunday 11-13 we will have a mock debate in the library.

Tuesday we will meet at Conor’s office hour at liberal arts common room.

Next Friday we will have a mock presentation with slides.

The day before the formal presentation we will have another mock.

Minutes 13.03.2019


  • Further refined our question, still needs further adaptation, “How does the enforcement of masculinity affect our uncertainty of knowing male emotions/feelings?”
  • In this way we have targeted where uncertainty lies in our project

Identified a structure for our presentation, as it stands it is as follows:

Philosophical argument about what it means to come to know someone’s feelings- behaviouristic argument

How is masculinity defined? – done through an analysis of literature- this conflicts with how we come to know emotion

In what ways is this understanding of masculinity enforced? – done largely through an analysis of mainstream media

Uncertainty – Thus there arises an uncertainty of coming to know male emotions- reflected by statistics. Further mainstream culture has such a clear image of masculinity it ignores the uncertainties of what it is to be a man

We have hypothesised that the enforcement of Masculinity creates uncertainty that we may come to know men’s feelings. It seems that the enforcement of masculinity is limiting men from expressing their emotions.

Data on MMH- Mind’s project demonstrated that various focus groups highlighted the issues of masculinity for expressing their emotions

+Further data psychological data suggests this

However, psychological studies show it is actually very specific aspects of masculinity that are affecting MMH and limiting us from knowing men’s feelings: 1. Self-reliance 2. Power over women 3. Playboy type- these are demonstrated in media through male gaze for example

Gendered Health care, company policies and political policies, and various projects support this and suggest that certain aspects of masculinity can actually be used in a positive light to help men access mental health support and thus this demonstrates that not all aspects of masculinity have detrimental effects on men’s abilities to express their emotions and seek help.

Future considerations – Identify some questions that we want to carry forward beyond this project.




Ongoing tasks

Everyone- meet on Monday and bring together our research and start the presentation, sort out the photographs for the presentation

Áine- Summarise the behaviouristic argument – how we understand people’s emotions

  • Select relevant data and case studies
  • Write what studies have shown

Anuschka- International gendered health care policies, company policy and political policies, quantitative survey data

Augustin- Elaborate on masculinity and how it is defined in literature

Mina- Find the relevant examples from film

The Male Gaze of Hollywood Cinema: Objectifying Women & Empowering Men?

For our presentation, I am looking at how media (and film especially) represent male mental health. For this, I chose two extremes: mainstream Hollywood and films that are specifically on mental health.

For one aspect of our presentation, I am looking at how men are represented in Hollywood cinema, from their emotions to the power they are given on screen. This made me think of Laura Mulvey’s iconic 1999 text Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In this text through the use of Freud’s psychoanalysis, she explores the way women are filmed in the classic Hollywood cinema of the 50s, the Golden Age.

The male gaze is a concept that focuses on the objectification of women on screen, it suggests a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women. In the male gaze, the woman is visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire. Her feelings, thoughts and her own sexual drives are less important than her being “framed” by male desire. Although sometimes described as the ‘male gaze’, Mulvey’s concept is more accurately described as a heterosexual, masculine gaze. Therefore from a male perspective looking at the female object.

Mulvey exemplifies this with the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the River of No Return, particularly in the scene where she is singing with men surrounding her. In this scene, she is represented as both the object of pleasure as well as the object of entertainment. The scene starts with a close up of her legs and rests there for a while before showing us her face. This symbolises her purpose in this film: to be a sexual object of the male gaze.

So how does this relate to male mental health?

With these kinds of Hollywood films that objectify women, they also empower men and give them an on-screen power that does not allow them to show emotion or be ‘weak’. Men, according to Hollywood, have all the answers, they never crack or show weakness. I believe that just like reality shaping the media, the media has a big influence on men growing up thinking that that is how they should act. It makes them idolise these powerful male characters and believe that that is how masculinity should be.

A couple of films that have a strong male gaze:

  • Vertigo
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Bananas
  • American Hustle
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • River of No Return
  • Carrie
  • Most James Bond films


  1. Our motivations for the project
      • All
  2. Setting out our argument with key readings and theorists
      • All
  3. Explaining the focus on various modes of movement
      • Gina
      • NOTE: Explain 3 key modes and why we decided on these. Explain hypothesis with all 3. Why we didn’t do walking. Remember readings.
  4. Topophilia theory, an explanation of space/ place distinction
      • Constance
      • NOTE: Remember quotes and readings.
  5. Explanation of hypothesis. How do we test it?
      • Katie
      • NOTE: Breaking down what results we think we will get, according to our argument.
  6. Introduce focus groups and reasoning for the chosen method to test hypothesis. Focus on maps
      • Stephanie
  7. Discussion of 4 areas of enquiry that relate to each step in our argument
      • On London and mode of movement + zine / scanning images
          • Gina
      • On people and communities
          • Katie
      • On space/place and topophilia
          • Constance
      • On uncertainty
          • Steph
      • NOTE: Make sure to note opposing views on both sides, contrast is interesting and fruitful. Contrast with our hypothesis and readings is important. Note different definitions of uncertainty.
  8. Findings from the focus groups – Topophilia links to an uncertain conception of the city
      • All
      • Katie – make charts out of responses (let’s make sure our reactions to them are qualitative and go into detail!)
  9. Concluding our findings. What have we discovered? How would we further the project next? What is left undiscovered?
      • All


Plan, to be perfected



  1. Our motivations for the project
  2. Setting out our argument with key readings and theorists
  3. Explaining the focus on various modes of movement
  4. Topophilia theory, an explanation of space/ place distinction
  5. Explanation of hypothesis. How do we test it?
  6. Introduce focus groups and reasoning for the chosen method to test hypothesis. Focus on maps
  7. Discussion of 4 areas of enquiry that relate to each step in our argument
  8. Findings from the focus groups – Topophilia links to an uncertain conception of the city
  9. Concluding our findings. What have we discovered? How would we further the project next? What is left undiscovered?


Week 7 Progress

This week we began by narrowing down our hypothesis further, coming up with the argument: Individual employment uncertainties inherent to a late capitalist environment have prompted the rise of self-improvement and self-care movements that are being co-opted in service of corporate goals.  Then, we divided up parts of our question for further research to ensure we have substantial evidence for each aspect.  Nat looked into labour uncertainty, Niccolo researched cognitive capitalism and responsibilisation, Stefan looked into individual mindfulness/ self-tracking activities and I focused on corporate mindfulness and self-tracking programmes.

According to Jacobs and Blustein, mindfulness ‘can provide an effective means for workers dealing with uncertain employment conditions to cope with the anticipation stress […] in an increasingly ambiguous work environment’.  This uncertainty is explained by phenomena such as globalisation, industrial restructuring, technological development, and contract changes.  Sverske and Hellgren note the additional phenomena of downsizing (which also puts more work and pressure on those who are not fired) , the rise of part-time or temporary contracts, and even the relaxations of employment legislations.  Neo-liberalism has shaped practices both in companies and higher education, prioritising ‘workforce versatility’ that enables job mobility and the ability to learn new skills.  Thus, individuals are solely responsible for updating their skills and finding employment.

The potential of new technology to replace jobs and require fewer highly educated people to oversee industries creates a sense of ‘dispensable self’, meaning people find themselves lacking in ‘lasting value to others’ due to their disconnection from economic growth and those in power of the corporations.  Therefore, people rely more on short-term, intermittent jobs often with zero hour contracts in response to volatile economies, certainly fostering uncertainty.

In terms of individual self-tracking programmes, Lupton argues ‘self-tracking can help people feel more in control of their lives’, particularly for those who feel their social structures and ties have dissolved with the advent of more choices for conducting one’s life.  Additionally, ‘illness, emotional distress, lack of happiness or lack of achievement in the workplace become represented primarily as failures of individual self-control or efficiency, and therefore are requiring greater or more effective efforts, including perhaps increased intensity of self-tracking regimens’.  For example, Studentfare particularly addresses the stress brought on by the uncertainty in finding employment after university graduation through mindfulness.

Corporate Mindfulness companies often market their programmes as being particularly suited for employees undergoing stress and uncertainty as a result of downsizing or other workplace issues.  One top UK company claims their programmes teach participants to know ‘that the future is yours to create’, thus putting more pressure on the individual (who has experienced similar responsibilisation through education and the job market).  Mindfulness companies additionally tie their programmes to the idea of cognitive capitalism, by claiming they teach people to think more creatively and improve their ‘energy’ while they work; employees could therefore increase valuable yet difficult to quantify traits in an uncertain labour market.  However, corporations’ tendencies to monitor usually private aspects of employees’ lives as aspects of wellbeing initiatives (or otherwise) raise questions about privacy and the expendability of workers who do not perform well.  Ambiguity regarding how this data will affect individuals’ employment or advancement opportunities can create more uncertainty among employees.


Nat, Niccolo, Stefan and Caroline



Delivering Male



Delivering male is a really important collection of research which shall be vital for our project. This is Mind’s report on delivering effective practice in male mental health care.

The report worked with a number of focus groups and leading professionals and it provides a lot of useful statistics on gendered health care and shall be useful in demonstrating that certain aspects of masculinity may be used in order to help men expressing their emotions.

It emphasises that socialisation and public perceptions of men do have a negative impact upon Men’s ability to express their emotions and access health care services to get help. The following quotes are very useful to demonstrate this.

  • Men have been classed as workhorses and if you’re a sick workhorse the last thing you want to do is complain about it. (Dorset Mind)
  • Women are a bit more understanding, they speak to each other about these things. The guy won’t sit down and talk about how they’re feeling. (Nottingham group)
  • Men are brought up completely differently from girls. If you fall over and you’re a boy you’re told to get up, “it’s only a scratch, get on with it”…that’s gone all the way through my life, there can’t be anything wrong with me because I’m a bloke, I’m being a big baby. It’s very difficult. I get so angry because I was taught not to show any emotion and so I direct the anger at myself’. (Carrick Mind)

Further it included useful quotes from young participants from African-Caribbean backgrounds

  • It’s a survival of the fittest thing because the environment has certain standards and certain ways of living up to that. Everyone wants to get to a certain place. (African-Caribbean 18-25)
  • Keep it locked up – if you tell one guy and you think you can trust him, he’ll probably go and tell another mate and he’ll tell everyone. (Pakistani 18-25)

The report discusses findings from Untold who that “there are often significant tensions between conventional masculine behaviour and the idea of nurturing good mental health…some of the accepted cultural markers of masculinity – for example (and among others): the willingness to “soldier on” when under emotional stress; the consumption of large amounts of alcohol; the greater propensity to physical aggression; the greater tendency of boys to misbehave in school – are also potential symptoms of, or predisposing factors for, poor mental health. Many of these behaviours are so familiar that they seem indisputably “normal” even though it is easy to see that they are sometimes simultaneously damaging.”

The report provided a number of  useful case studies of projects which are using a gendered approach to dealing with  male mental health. These case studies demonstrate that certain aspects of masculinity may be used in productive manners to help men express their emotions and get help from health services.

MAC- Music and change- works with young men in their own environment and gives them a strong stake in the development and implementation of projects. Giving them a sense of pride in their projects whilst giving them access to one to one therapy sessions

Boxercise in cryodn –Targeting men’s desire to involve themselves in exercise to give them a sense of self-worth, to bond with other men, and have a space to talk about their emotions

The report stressed the importance of physical health activity schemes particularly getting men involved in group exercise and and in order to increase socialising amongst men

This research and these case studies will be vital for our argument.

Readings following the two focus groups (on the space /place dichotomy)

Following the two focus groups, I decided to continue my readings on the space/place dichotomy to have an even more precise knowledge on the subject. This will be even more useful as I think that it will constitute my part of the presentation (as most of my readings were on this subject this is the area within our topic that I feel l the most comfortable with). I will here summarize the two texts that I read.

Michael Goodchild, Linna Li. ‘Formalizing space and place’, Fonder les sciences du territoire, Nov 2011, pp.177-183. 

=>  Space, or the spatial perspective, is generally held to refer to the surface and near-surface of the Earth, as organized by coordinate systems such as latitude and longitude, and to concepts such as distance and direction that are measurable or computable within that space.

=> Defined in this way, space has strong connotations of science and its aims of rigor and replicability.

=> Place, on the other hand, is normally defined as a social construction.

=> A place is a named domain that can occur in human discourse (by contrast, references to latitude and longitude in human discourse are of course extremely rare).

=> Places may be persistent through time, or transient and related to specific events. They may be poorly defined, with indeterminate boundaries that make it difficult to determine whether a given spatial location is or is not within a named place.

=> While it lacks an exact English equivalent, the French term ‘territoire’ has elements of both space and place, as well as more abstract concepts such as landscape.

=> Recently => emergence of space as a common, integrating theme in the social sciences and humanities.

John Agnew, Chapter 23 ‘Space and Place’ in J. Agnew and D. Livingstone (University of California, Los Angeles) London: Sage. 2011

=> Space is regarded largely as a dimension within which matter is located or a grid within which substantive items are contained.

=> Place = geographic meaning as “a portion of space in which people dwell together” and “locality”

=> ALSO = place is a “rank” in a list (as “in the first place”), a temporal ordering (as in something “took place”), and a “position” in a social order (as in “knowing your place”)

=> In the simplest sense, place refers to either a location somewhere or to the occupation of that location => first sense is of having an address and the second is about living at that address

=> Particularly powerful has been the idea derived from late-nineteenth century social thought that, in social terms at least, place equates to a collectivist traditional community and that as modern national (and global) society has inevitably eclipsed community so has place lost its significance


On Friday 1st March and Tuesday 5th March, we organised and held two focus group sessions. Due to people’s schedules and availability, the number of participants was slightly different from our initial plan. Combined, we had nine participants, three of which used cycling as their main mode of transport, three of which used the tube and three of which used the bus which still enabled us to have an equal representation of perspectives from the three modes of movement we were interested in exploring. The two sessions were audio recorded for the purpose of being able to listen back to the responses for analysis. All participants provided verbal consent to being a part of this project.

During the focus group sessions we were able to build a rapport between the participants themselves as well as with our group members. We appointed Gina the role of leading the session by asking the questions throughout the session while Constance, Stephanie and I clarified questions and concepts, giving prompts when needed. The sessions had a relaxed, conversational-style manner atmosphere which I feel put the participants at ease and made them feel comfortable to discuss topics in-length with us. Throughout the sessions the participants answered our questions with thoughtful, in-depth responses of their experiences, thoughts and personal anecdotes which was all very interesting.

The drawing activity (we asked the participants to draw their perception of London, with no parameters – we wanted them to use their imagination and knowledge) which we conducted fairly early on in the sessions did a good job of breaking the ice between the groups, but also provided us with a range of visual responses to interpret later on.

Here is an example of one of the drawings from a participant who used the tube as her main mode of transport.

We are feeling motivated by the success of our focus group sessions to continue developing our project towards our final presentation! Our next step is to analyse the responses that we received from the focus group sessions to see how they expand, differ from and contribute to our project’s line of argument.