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The Moral Marketplace by Doreen Soutar

As Kermit famously said, it’s not easy being green. And ironically, as ethical consumption gets more popular, it has also become more difficult to judge which products are ethical and which aren’t. In this article, we start by looking at the part emotion plays in purchasing decisions and the gradual demand for greater product morality. We assume that sellers – spookily enough – are highly interested in selling us stuff, and getting our money is what gets them out of bed in the morning.

We end up at the shocking conclusion that we will only get more ethical products if we give our cash to sellers that treat their produce as if it is worth something to them. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

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Catalysing Equitable Pay in the Private Sector: Equitable Pay as Procurement Criteria by Benjamine Irvine

In response to our Freedom of Information request Salford stated that although it did not currently specify in any tenders that the living wage of £7.45 an hour is required, ‘The City Mayor is currently developing an Employment Charter which will set minimum standards for people in work. This will include the Living Wage. The city council hopes the Charter will be agreed with a wide range of employers.’ The Council claimed to be in talks with a number of partners about their introduction of the Living Wage and was, ‘also carefully considering what extra procurement freedoms the new Social Value Act will give us as both an employer and commissioner of services in improving the terms and conditions of working people in Salford.’

In the launch of the City’s employment charter the City Mayor has expressed the intention to create ‘A Living Wage City’ where the full Living Wage is a minimum and is in talks with major contract partners to implement it, with the promise of more announcements to come. He states that the council’s responsibilities as a Living Wage Employer includes rejecting, ‘the commissioning of services which embed poor pay and poor conditions’, and expresses the intention, ‘to use the Employment Charter to lift local pay levels in our commissioned services and amongst our contractors in Salford.’ Read more

Intellectual Property: Fair Dealing and Public Interest

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. ‘Fair Use’ allows limited use of copyrighted material without the need to get permission from the copyright holders. It makes provision for the legal, unlicensed citation or inclusion of copyrighted materials in another author’s work.  There are numerous examples of fair use including criticism, review, commentary, search engines, parody, journalism, research, teaching, archiving and scholarship.

A significant statement on what constitutes fair dealing was given by Lord Dunning MR in the case of Hubbard v Vosper (1972). In 1971 the book ‘The Mind Benders’ was published.  It was written by Mr. Cyril Vosper, the first defendant, and published by Neville Spearman Ltd., the second defendants. It was very critical of the cult of Scientology.  On the same day the Church of Scientology of California went to the judge and obtained from them (ex parte) an interim injunction to restrain the publication of the book. Read more

Public Places Where We Meet And Share Are Third Places

What is the value of a pub ?  How important is a cafe ?  Why do we need libraries ?  Do we just wash clothes in laundrettes ?  These are some of the questions which I am interested in when I explore the concept of ‘third place’.  Pubs, cafes, libraries and laundrettes can all be ‘third places’ according to Prof Ray Oldenburg who coined the term.  He argues in detail of the importance of these social spaces which exist outside of our homes (first place) and workplaces (second place).  Third places are the spaces where we meet and share with other people… Read more

Local Third Places and Re-Imagining Economies as Sustainable

Professor Ray Oldenburg has spent many years analysing the social function of what he has coined ‘third places’. His books work to highlight the need for juncture places; places we meet and chew the cud with others in our community and network. Rather than the idea of social separate from economic, he recognises that the two lenses of seeing the world as being intimately bound and tied to each other.

The economic and the social cohabit the same landscape acting as a function of each other; this at least has been a reality, and is a necessary truth if we are to understand our world as a humanized place rather than as a machine of production. This perspective meets readily with Alfred Marshall’s statement ‘Political economy or economics is a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life’; this casts the study as something more human and rich than dry and merciless profiteering at any cost. Read more

The Corporation: Public Discussion on the Film

Over the last two film and curry nights at Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh, we have been watching the film The Corporation.  Originally it started as a book by Professor Joel Bakan, who teaches law at the University of British Columbia. He examines the social, economic, and political dimensions of law winning a number of awards for his scholarship and teaching as well as having worked on landmark legal cases and government policy.

The film has been nominated for over 26 international awards and won the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, the People’s Choice Awards Vancouver – Calgary – Toronto International Film Festivals; as well as winning the Joris Ivens Special Jury Award in Amsterdam International Film Festival. Read more

Podcast: Polly Jones of the World Development Movement Discusses TTIP

This is a podcast of Polly Jones talking about the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership at University of Manchester Policy Week 2014.  The World Development Movement changed it’s name to Global Justice Now, and are an organisation which fights for democratic social justice which works as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful to create a more just and equal world. They mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south. Read more

Podcast: International Waste Management; Crises and Opportunities by David Brown

Here David Brown, Waste Development David Officer for Derbyshire County Council, gives a talk about International waste management; the crises and opportunities which are presented to us.  In an age of neo-magical thinking, the culture which has developed is wasteful – that is, we imagine things both have no cost to the environment, and that our waste just magically disappears when it is out of sight.  This is the major crises of our time as we are discovering in quick and powerful terms that the planets resources (of which the ecosystems which keep us alive are included) are finite.

David talks about his work as an environmental officer and examines how waste is managed across the world helping us to understand the complexities and also dispel some of the myths. There are lots of different perspectives taken around the idea of recycling and preserving the environment, from the idea that it is expensive and wasteful in itself, to it is too late to do anything significant about the issues which have been created, and it is too complicated as a problem for us to deal with. Read more