Feature: Welsh Economic Review volume 25

This most recent volume contains six interesting and diverse papers. 

The first paper, by Holtham and Huggins, explores the factors which are associated with regional economic development and prosperity, using data on over 450 regional economies from around the world. One result in particular is highlighted – that education expenditures are strongly associated with regional success.  For regions with relatively low gross value-added and productivity, the most important factor was found to be expenditure on primary and secondary education, while for higher prosperity regions, spending on higher education was found to be more important.

The paper by Henley and Lang explores the rise in self-employment in Wales, and considers whether this is related to growth in the so called ‘gig-economy’. The authors recognise that the emergence of internet platform-based businesses, such as Uber and Deliveroo, have resulted in pressure on some to work on an insecure self-employed basis. However they conclude that the gig-economy is only one part of a more complex story, and that self-employed business owners continue to form the majority of the self-employed, both across the UK and in Wales.

The experiences of people who participated in training programmes supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) in Wales are investigated in the paper by Davies et al. The training programmes are considered to have possibly succeeded less well in supporting some of the most vulnerable groups within the labour market, such as relatively young participants, with low levels of educational attainment. However, generally the ESF programmes are considered to have helped address some of the essential skills issues within the Welsh economy. 

The paper by Henderson reports on the initial findings from an ongoing research project to examine the economic impacts associated with business adoption and use of superfast broadband and enabled digital technologies. The findings to date indicate that firms using superfast broadband and digital technologies reported greater labour productivity and innovation rates.

The scale and characteristics of tourism foreign direct investment (FDI) in Wales are examined in the paper by Xu. Tourism was estimated to account for around 3.4% of total direct Welsh GVA in 2013, with 86,500 full-time equivalent jobs estimated to be in tourism industries. UK and overseas-owned tourism businesses were found to supply just over half of all tourism services and products in Wales, with these tourism businesses also having levels of productivity compared with domestically-owned businesses.

The final article in this volume is by Daglish et al.  This paper examines election issues, political party performance and geography. The authors discuss three factors that were important in influencing voting behaviour, and in shaping the result of the 2015 general election: perceived relative importance of election issues, expected performance of parties on each election issue, and the trade-off between election issues. The authors suggest that the Liberal Democrats lost significant vote share because of voters’ perceptions of their performance on the contemporary election issues.

This volume is freely available online at https://wer.cardiffuniversitypress.org/14/volume/25/issue/0/

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Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 4 – Prof Lauren Miller Griffith

In the second of our two posts showcasing articles from issue 4 of Martial Arts Studies, Lauren Miller Griffith’s article “Virtually legitimate: using disembodied media to position oneself in an embodied community” examines how comments posted on YouTube training videos are providing encouragement for new practitioners of the Brazilian martial art of capoeira.

Read the whole article at: https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10185/

““Quebra, moça,” the master said to me as he shook me by the shoulders. Break, girl. I was too closed, too cold, and had the habitus of a ballerina rather than a capoeirista. Training in Brazil, I could see and feel how each of our bodies were being remade according to the demands of this martial art, which demands walking a careful line between using proper form and cultivating a unique personal aesthetic. I was in Brazil for academic research on how non-Brazilians gain legitimacy within local capoeira academies, and about half of the class comprised foreigners. For them, it wasn’t just face-to-face instruction that they deemed necessary for success in the genre, it was face-to-face instruction in the homeland of capoeira. But not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to do this. Although capoeira has become more common throughout the world, there are still places where aspiring students may not be able to find a teacher. And for some students who do live nearby an instructor, the potential embarrassment of trying something new in front of other people can be a barrier to participation. For both of these groups, the Internet can be a useful resource.

Because my teacher in Brazil repeatedly told us that doing capoeira properly required sentimento (feeling), which is something you can’t learn from books or videos, I expected to find that the comment sections of YouTube videos on capoeira would be full of exhortations to find a ‘real’ teacher or take a ‘real’ class. Instead, using textual analysis of comments that had been left on tutorial videos, I uncovered an interesting pattern. Aspiring or novice capoeiristas would express vulnerability regarding their ability to do a move or play capoeira at all. This was often met with a hostile or homophobic comment from someone else, who did not appear to be a capoeirista. When this happened, another commenter would identify him or herself as a community insider, diffuse the ‘trolling,’ and encourage the original poster by telling him/her that anyone can do capoeira if they work hard enough. Rather than being disparaged as an inferior learning tool, online resources are being used by some capoeiristas as a way of inviting newcomers and geographically isolated students into the embodied community.”

MAS

Feature: Martial Arts Studies no. 4 – Prof Douglas Wile

Occasionally on this blog, we’ll be showcasing some of the fascinating articles we publish, by providing summaries written for the general public.

Here’s the first of two posts relating to issue 4 of our journal Martial Arts Studies. Written by Professor Douglas Wile, the article “Fighting words: four new document finds reignite old debates in taijiquan history” describes how recent discoveries of historical documents relating to taijiquan (tai chi) could influence the long-standing academic and political debates concerning the origins of this Chinese martial art.

Read the whole article at: https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10184/

 

“For the millions of ordinary Chinese who stream into China’s parks and public squares every morning at sunrise, taijiquan [tai chi] is an essential health practice and social ritual. For Chinese intellectuals, the art is an iconic intangible cultural heritage and a flashpoint between traditionalists and modernists in the century-old culture war for the soul of China, that plays out in the midst of a national identity crisis. The key bone of contention is the origins of the art, with traditionalists tracing the creation to Zhang Sanfeng, a mythological Daoist immortal, and modernizers focusing on Chen Wangting, a seventeenth-century local militia leader in Chen Village, Henan Province. The latter version, first advanced by pioneering martial arts historian Tang Hao, has received official state endorsement. The two camps are divided over interpretation of a slim body of highly inconclusive evidence preserved in the style lineages of the Chen, Yang, Wu (Yuxiang), Wu (Jianquan), and Sun families.

The new document finds, consisting of form manuals, theoretical texts and genealogies, discovered by the Li family of Tang Village, the Wang family of Wangbao Village, the Liu family of Zhaobao Town, and the Wang family of Shanxi, would be the earliest versions of the “classics” by two centuries, shift the birthplace from the Wudang Temple or Chen Village to the Thousand Year Temple, and introduce a whole new cast of characters as creators. If authentic, the documents not only force a revision of history, but strengthen the hands of traditionalists, who take comfort in the Daoist connections, and support modernizers in the confirmation of a role for Chen Wangting. With various “birthplaces” vying for market share in the Chinese domestic, and increasingly globalized, martial arts marketplace, new documents are used to buttress claims of authenticity on the basis of antiquity and originality, while in academic circles, scholars use the new evidence to challenge party line orthodoxy and press demands for academic freedom.”

MAS