Fathers Taking a More Active Role in Parenting

What is a father? defines a father as “A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child; a man who raises a child; a male parent of an animal.”[1]  However, this definition doesn’t represent how the image of the ideal father has changed over the last one-hundred years inside the American society.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the ideal father was depicted as the hard-working, breadwinner who didn’t take time nor have time to partake in “women’s” work.  As Brandth and Kvande note, “Traditionally, power, authority, and status were associated with the paternal role, especially with the father as patriarch.  Being a father has also been associated with such masculine qualities as virility and potency and in the golden age of the nuclear family fatherhood meant being a good provider which again was strongly associated with masculine honor.  Thus a real man was a good provider for his wife and children.  Being a good father rested on income generating work which meant activities away from home” (1998:299).  The culture embedded within American society at that time both separated and placed men and women onto opposite ends of the power and/or gender divide.  “According to biosocial theory, there are both biological and social origins for traditional gender roles and gender typed characteristics. Gender roles refer to behaviors or occupations in which a particular gender is expected to engage. Performing these gender roles fosters expectations that women and men should have certain personality characteristics that are gender-typed and that correspond to the gender roles. For example, men have been expected to be the financial provider of their families; this gender role is associated with being dominant and assertive. In contrast, women are expected to be the caregiver of children, a gender role associated with being nurturing and affectionate” (Fisher and Anderson, 2012:17).  With this acting as the foundation of American society, both the dominate institutions and the fathers during that time were in for a culture shift during the 1920s which in turn lead to a cultural revolution in fatherhood and the image of fatherhood during the 1970s.

The culture behind fatherhood took a dramatic shift in 1922 with the help of the Saturday Even Post and the cultural shifting comic strips, which depicted fathers caring for children without the help of their mothers/wives.  The idea of what constituted a good father had come under scrutiny during this time.  From the 1930s up until the 1950s, fathers had began to change their values and/or norms to match those of the broader society and the media (cartoon strips) of the time.  However by the 1950s, the culture and the image behind the “new” father and his role in fatherhood underwent retrogression.  During that time, “American television shows in the Fifties were often written about as if they were consistently traditional in format and content. A close look at the shows, however, reveals subtle patterns of change. Shows that debuted in the early Fifties were certainly traditional, but those that debuted in the late Fifties were even more traditional. Thus, using television as an indicator, the culture of fatherhood after World War II was not only more traditional than the culture of fatherhood prior to World War II, but the culture of fatherhood in the late post-war era was more traditional than the culture of fatherhood in the early post-war era. The traditionalization of fatherhood, in other words, intensified during the Fifties” (LaRossa 2012:46).  As a response to these sudden changes, many fathers in the 1950s continued to be nurtures instead of just financial providers yet they did these acts within the privacy of their own homes.  Many fathers did not seem to want to retrogress like the ever-changing times, yet they did not want to be viewed as outsiders and “different” by the dominate institutions as well as their peers.  The re-emergence of the “old” cultural image of the father had once again found its place in society.

Over a twenty year time period, men had to suppress their nurturing ability in public spaces for the fear of cultural backlash.  Fortunately, the women’s movement, the sexual revolution, and the civil rights movement during the 1960s lead to a re-emergence of the “new” father image again.  “The 1970s marked a paradigmatic shift in the culture of fatherhood.  The percentage of mothers in the labor force, the decline in birth rates, and the fervent advocacy of gender equality in the 1970s (brought on by the feminist movement) had prompted the traditionally minded Saturday Evening Post cartoonists to reduce their satirical attacks on nurturing fathers.  A new, improved version of fatherhood had come on the scene.  Figures also suggest that traditional gender roles were more likely to be endorsed in the 1950s and 1960s and that the concept of the “New Father” (i.e., the more involved father) was strongest in the 1970s” (LaRossa, Jaret, Gadgil, and Wynn 2000:376).  During the 1970s, more women became empowered, went to college, and, at times, abandoned the forced “homemaker” role for equal chances in life.  As women became more educated and in turn more employable, many men found that the culture and the society of the 1980s no longer revolved around men working and women doing the housework due to the fact that these gendered roles had crossed boundaries and now there was no such thing as “women’s” work anymore.    “Between 1986 and 1988 approximately 489,000 men were reported to be stay-at-home dads to children up to the age of 14.  That number has steadily increased; in 1998, the number of stay-at-home dads with children under the age of 18 was reported to be 1,273,000.  This increase has been paralleled by a concomitant increase in media coverage of stay-at-home dads since 1990, with a particular large increase in coverage between 1997 and 2000” (Vavrus 2002:355).  This ever-expanding media coverage help to foster an “18% increase from 1994–2001 in the number of fathers who stay at home with their children which jumped to a 65% increase in stay at-home fathers from 2004 to 2007.   Also in 2005, there were an estimated 2.9 million children in married-couple homes in the United States who were cared for by their fathers.  The 2006 census further estimates that 159,000 men who have remained out of the labor force for more than one year to take primary responsibility of their children” (Rochlen, Suizzo, McKelley, and Scaringi 2008:16).  With the help of the media, fathers who have been displaced out of the workforce and placed more into the role of being an active parent note that they have “a stronger bond with their children than they could have had while working full-time, they recognize the importance of the “volume of time” spent with their children, and they also have more general discussions about “valuing” children and family more as a result of the experience. The unifying theme that underlies these discussions is the recognition that the daily care of children is important and valuable” (Chesley, 2011:656).

The role of fathers taking a more active role in parenting has undergone dramatic shifts over the last one-hundred years.  Traditionally, fatherhood represented a job whose main function was to provide financial support for his family.  Up until the 1920s, this was the cultural norm.  However, when the general society and the cultural changes around work and equality took place during the 1980s, men found themselves transitioning from a paid labor job to both a rewarding and an active fatherhood role.  With the cultural shift of fathers taking a more active role in parenting during the 1980s, many “new” fathers have values which are opposite of the values that their fathers employed in the past or at the same time, the values that men in the earlier part of the 20th century had.   When it comes to values, Becker asserts that “Values are concepts people use to make choices, to decide courses of actions, to explain and justify behaviors, to judge and to be judged.  Values are modes of organizing conduct and emotionally invested principles that guide human action” (2005:3).  The great thing about values is that they can change and adapt to situations, especially those which are based on experience.  For example, many “new” fathers who had a father that embraced the “old” financial provider only role noted that “they are striving to find out what it means to be a good father.  They lack role models; their own fathers were not much involved in family-and care work.  As their fathers emphasized work at the cost of time spent with their children, they were very distant fathers, and as such, they do not work very well as figures of identification for their children.  Mainly their fathers served as a negative model which they have no desire to emulate.  They don’t want their children to have the kind of father they had themselves” (Brandth and Kvande, 1998:300).  Experience has helped create, change, and mold a “new” set of values into the image of fatherhood.  As the culture began to change, so did the overall American society.  These two components go hand-and-hand because as society changes, cultural and different cultural objects often change to mirror the actions of society as a whole.  As Griswold notes, “Human beings create cultures through the externalization/objectification/internalization process, thereby constructing the worlds in which we operate.  The assumption behind the idea of culture as reflection is a simple one: Culture mirrors social reality.  Therefore, the meaning of a particular cultural object lies in the social structures and social patterns it reflects” (2012:23).  The cultural object(s) behind fathers and parenting have shifted from the views which were held in the early 1920s and now they’re constantly evolving and changing to adjust with an ever-changing society.  For example, during the 1980s, the culture behind fatherhood took a dramatic change in the broader American society with the introduction of Mr. Mom.  During the early part of the 1980s, “Television news stories depicted the issues that stay-at-home dads face using quite similar themes that, taken together, copulsively reassert the competence and manliness of Mr. Moms, and reveal a clear and explicit tendency to validate men as primary parents, or, in the words of one stay-at-home dad, to show that “dads can be moms, too”.  The “Mr. Mom” identity in television embodies the integration of a number of different contemporary cultural trends in the United States occuring the last 3 decades or so: a steady increase of married mothers in the labor force alongside a smaller, yet steadily decrease of married fathers in the labor force; changes in social acceptance of the gender appropriateness of particular occupations and practices; and changes in families roles’ articulations to consumerism- roles the media, and television in particular, have much at stake in constructing.  The Mr. Mom identity embodies significant societal shifts vis-à-vis gender and domesticity occuring during the 1990s, and is picked up widely in television news for its commercial as well as cultural value” (Vavrus 2002:355).

With the emergence and acceptance of men doing “women’s” work, the cultural shift in parenting and work related opportunities further strengthened the new norm(s) around fathers being compassionate nurtures.  This cultural shift also helped to change the image of the modern father as well as the modern mother over the last few decades.  To illustrate in today’s society, “Women now make up about 47% of the labor force and most married heterosexual couples are dual-career couples with about 38% of women earning as much as or more than their husbands.  Also as more women entered the workforce, the number of stay-at-home dads, who no longer look for work, increased from 76,000 in 1994 to more than 140,000 in 2008” (Fischer and Anderson 2012:16).  To further illustrate, Chesley asserts that “Men in at-home father families tend to have less education both relative to their wives and to men in other arrangements. Furthermore, the majority of at-home fathers report staying home because they cannot find work or are ill/disabled. In contrast, most at-home mothers report “taking care of home/family” as their reason for staying home. However, the proportion of at-home fathers reporting that they are home to take care of family has increased, with less than 1 percent of at-home fathers providing this reason in the 1970s and 19 percent reporting this reason in the 2000s” (2011:645).  When it comes to being a stay-at-home dad, more men have embraced this phenomenon over the last seventeen years compared to all of the years prior to 1995.  Work was once viewed as a man’s way of providing for his family while at the same time escaping the hassles of everyday family life.  In the early 20th century, if a man didn’t work, he wasn’t viewed as being a good man/husband at all.  However, with the cultural shift in employment and fatherhood, the image of the “new” father is one that represents a man as more than just a father who provides financial support for his family; whereas, he’s a person who cooks, cleans, cares, loves, and provides support (not just financial) for his family which is the new norm for a strong, masculine man.

As LaRossa contends, “The culture of fatherhood, as it is being defined here, includes the norms, values, beliefs and expressive symbols pertaining to fatherhood. The culture of fatherhood, in this sense, is not meant to denote everything having to do with fatherhood, but is limited to the webs of meaning and interpretive practices (i.e. symbolic interactions) pertaining to fatherhood. Essentially, it consists of the norms that men are expected to follow when they become fathers or are about to become fathers; the attitudes and sentiments that people have toward fathers; the knowledge, valid or not, of what fathers have done in the past and what they are doing, and are capable of doing, in the present and future” (LaRossa 2012:39)  When it comes to fatherhood and where we are now, I can say that the cultural shift that took place during the early 1980s was a turn in the right direction for children’s empowerment.  Children look up to their parents.  As Combs-Orne and Renkert assert, “Children value emotional connections to their fathers and both common sense and developmental research indicate that fathers can play central roles in their children’s growth and development” (2009:395).  If one parent is absent in a child’s life during the most important developmental times, research has show that these children are more likely to use drugs, commit crimes later in life, have emotional problems later in life, and, most importantly, they are likely to commit the same acts to their own children later in life.  “The most important aspect of a good father, is thus to have close contact with the child- which contrast earlier images of the father.  The kind of father they would like to be, is a good care person for their children.  Such an idea has many of the same elements as the ideal mother: closeness, care, and contact.  This indicates that the father images are constructed by combining traditional masculine and feminine elements in a new way” (Brandth and Kvande, 1998:300).  I believe that being an absent father problematic all-in-itself.  I grew up in a neighborhood, which was its own subculture segregated from the “prosperity” of the dominate society, where being an absentee father was just as common as a baby needing a diaper change.  My fatherless friends used to always question themselves on why weren’t they good enough/why didn’t their father want to be with them.  As these same children grew older, developmental problems arose which often lead to constant fighting in our “society”.  By the time my friends made it to high school, they had no real love for a woman because they were never taught that men can love and be sensitive to other people’s feelings.

This trend in fathers taking a more active role in parenting is not just happing in the upper class or the lower class, in blacks or whites, and it’s not just limited to people in the United States and/or Europe.  This trend is taking place all over the globe.  For example, if one examined the society and the cultural practices that true indigenous societies still employ today, it would be noted that fathers, who are often referred to as high leaders, teach their children, especially their sons, the cultural practices that their tribe has used for centuries to survive in their respective environments.  In these societies, everything is about knowledge, connectedness, and teaching.  After the Industrial Revolution, the broader American society shifted away from these practices which are often referred to as “hunting and gathering” practices to more capitalistic practices like mothers having as many kids as possible to raise workers to improve the society and, for the father, work, work, work!  During this time, our society seemed to revolve around producing workers.  A father’s role was to be a provider up until his children were able to work in the factories (child labor at the time).  Once these children were able to work, the father would teach and train them in his craft and the process continued.  This process continued all the way up until the initial cultural shift in fatherhood during the 1920s.

This positive cultural shift of fathers taking a more active role in parenting has made its mark and is here to stay for several reasons.  One of the most important reasons is partially due to the fact that women in our current society outweigh men in educational attainment which has spilled over into the workforce.  This is a positive effect just due to the fact that the American workforce has been unequally, segregated to women when compared to men over the last 100 years.  As Chelsey asserts, “The data indicates that at-home fathers come to value their increased involvement in children’s care in ways that reduce gender differences in parenting and that have the potential to translate into institutional change, particularly when they reenter the labor force. Furthermore, at-home father arrangements generally appear to provide increased support for women’s employment and promote changes in women’s work behavior that may reduce inequities that stem from traditionally gendered divisions in work/family responsibilities” (2011:642).  This trend has lead the United States government to offer support (money) in 32 states that have programs (National Fatherhood Initiative) which encourage and educate fathers on how to take a more supportive role in raising their children.  Also, when it comes to fatherhood and defining both who and what constitutes an active, supportive father, their has been a increase in same sex couples, most notable males, who want to adopt and raise a child with the same love, affection, and care as a heterosexual couple.  This “new” father and the shifted ideal image of the father has created a society where children are no longer just property that a parent holds until they’re ready to transition to the paid labor sections of the broader society.  Fatherhood has shifted and now it seems to symbolize a meaning of support (not just financial), patience, devoted time, strength, and love.  As society has shown, “Children value fathers who spend time with them; it seems important for children to have access to their fathers and a sense that their fathers have a personal investment in them. What seems to matter is that fathers place children in a special place in their minds and hearts—a highly symbolic dimension to father-child relationships—indicating that the father is connected psychologically, if not present physically” (Combs-Orne and Renkert 2009: 402).

Work Cited Page

Becker, W. (2005). America’s Crisis of Values. 1-16

Brandth, B., Kvande, E. (1998).  Masculinity and Childcare: The Reconstruction of Fathering. The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review. 293-313

Chelsey, N. (2011). Stay-at-Home Fathers and Breadwinning Mothers: Gender, Couple, Dynamics, and Social Change. Gender & Society 25: 642-664

Combs-Orne, T., Renkert, L. (2009). Fathers and Their Infants: Caregiving and Affection in the Modern Family. Human Behavior in the Social Environment 19: 394-418

Fischer, J., Anderson, V. (2012). Gender Role Attitudes and Characteristics of Stay-at-Home    and Employed Fathers. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 13(1): 16-31

Griswold, W. (2012). Cultures and Societies in a Changing World (4th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

LaRossa, R., Jaret, C., Gadgil, M., Wynn, G. R. (2000).  The Changing Culture of Fatherhood in Comic Strips Families: A Six Decade Analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family 62(2): 375-387

LaRossa, R. (2012). The Historical Study of Fatherhood: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations.  In Fatherhood in Late Maturity: Cultural Images, Social Practices, Structural Frames, edited by Mechtild Oechsle, Ursula Muller, and Sabine Hess. 37-58

Rochlen, A. B., Suizzo, M., McKelley, R., Scaringi, V. (2008).  “I’m Just Providing for My Family”: A Qualitative Study of Stay-At-Home Fathers. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 9(4): 193-206

Vavrus, M. (2002). Domesticating Patriarchy: Hegemonic Masculinity and Television’s “Mr. Mom”. Critical Studies in Media Communication 19(3): 352-275




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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Sociology of Culture


Labor Studies Paper

Supply, demand, and free entry and exit into the open market is the basis of what economist call mainstream economics.  Mainstream economics can be viewed as neither being discriminatory nor sexist under the assumption that competitive market economies, which are profit motivated, provide a natural antidote to employer discrimination.  On the other hand, political economy is, “The theory or study of the role of public policy in influencing the economic and social welfare of a political unit.” (Webster, 2011)  In American society, “Skin colors and facial features commonly used to define race are selected precisely because, when arranged hierarchically, they resemble the country’s class-and-status hierarchy.  Thus, whites are on top of the socioeconomic pecking order as they are on top of the racial one, while variously shaded non-whites are below them in socioeconomic position (class) and prestige (status).  The darkest people are for the most part t the bottom of the class-status hierarchy.” (Gans, 2005, p. 109)  Because of this, all races, classes, and/or genders other than those of white European decent are typically subjected to racism, classism, and/or sexism in American society.  “In this racist typology, some ethnic differences- differences in language, culture, and social practices- were interpreted as racial and hence natural in origin.  The different social and economic practices societies of color were viewed by whites in the nineteenth century as “savage,” in need of the “civilizing” influence of white domination.” (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 17)  This type of underling discrimination can be observed from the standpoint of several groups both throughout American history and units 1 thru 10.  For example, Ronald T. Takaki (1993) noted: “The Irish came here in greater numbers than most immigrant groups.  Their history has been tied to America’s past from the very beginning and the Irish were the first group that the English called “savages.”  They were also what historian Lawrence J. McCaffrey called “the pioneers of the American urban ghetto.”  The Irish came at about the same time as the Chinese, but they had a distinct advantage: The Naturalization Law of 1970 had reserved citizenship for “whites” only.  Their compatible complexion allowed them to assimilate by blending into American society.” (p. 53)    

To begin, women of color hold the lowest class, race and gender in American society/economic hierarchy.  “One-third of all Blacks were poor in 1992.  A full 18 percent of Black women were living on less than half of the poverty-line income, compared to 15 percent of Black men, 5 percent white women, and 4 percent white men.  Further, Blacks are far less likely to escape poverty than are whites.  Black poverty tends to be concentrated among female heads of household, particularly those with children, and inner-city ghettos.” (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 190)  Throughout American history, this trend has often forced African American women as a group to live, work, socialize and raise children, at many times with no help, along the outer margin of the American political economy.  On the contrary, their counterparts, white women, often share or dominate the center if for no other reason than just being white.  “A minority of the dominated race is allowed some upward mobility and ranks economically above whites.  At the same time, however, all whites have some people of color below them.  For example, there are upper-class Black, Chicana, and Puerto Rican women who are more economically privilege than poor white women: however, there are always people of color who are less economically privileged than the poorest white women.” (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 19)  Just because upward mobility may be present in society, it doesn’t mean that it will be equally or legally enforced.  “With the creative variability of all illegality, some bank use the racial information disclosed on fair housing forms to engage in precisely the discrimination the law seeks to prevent.  The banks response was driven by demographic data that shows that any time black people move into a neighborhood, whites are overwhelmingly likely to move out.  In droves.  In panic.  In concert.” (Martinez, 1998, p. 94)  With this type of racial profiling, how would an individual on the lower end of both the racial and economical hierarchy ever break through the glass ceiling?   Amott and Matthaei (1996) stated: “In 1995, a bipartisan Federal Glass ceiling Commission released a comprehensive study of the obstacles to promotion.  According to the report, white women and people of color do not receive mentoring and support from their white male colleagues, and face a number of stereotypes in the workplace.  Blacks, Chicanas/os, and U.S. Puerto Ricans continue to be segregated into ghettos with inferior schooling and few employment opportunities other than the corner McDonald’s, the local hospital or convalescent home, or the underground economy.  For most men and women of color, the metaphor that best describes their place in the labor market is not a glass ceiling; rather, it is a “sticky floor,” symbolizing their inability to rise above low-wage secondary-sector jobs.” (p. 347)  “African-American poor still face the most formidable obstacles to upward mobility.  Close to a majority of working-age African-American men are jobless or out of the labor force.  Many women, including single mothers, no work in the low-wage economy, but they must do without most of the support systems that help middle-class working mothers.  Both federal and state governments have been punitive, even in recent Democratic administrations, and the Republicans have cut back nearly every antipoverty program they cannot abolish.” (Gans, 2005, p. 113)

“White women and people of color are more likely to be the “first fired” during an economic downturn.  Furthermore, in severe downturns, as people have lost their jobs, they have searched for work further down the occupational hierarchy, pushing out those beneath them.  That is, white men have displaced men of color, and white women have displaced women of color.” (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 321) When this happens, the entire economy begins to reverse on itself and there becomes a shortage of rental vouchers/subsidies, food stamps, and/or T.A.N.F (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) which still does not equally support everyone if any in the struggling economy.  The economic policy institute noted, “The shrinkage of social support is not only affecting the very poor, however.  Job benefits in the form of health insurance, pensions and so forth for all workers have declined.  Following job loss, less than half of U.S. workers are currently eligible for unemployment insurance.” (Collins, 2000, p. 66) “But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.” (Roosevelt, 1932)  “Unemployment rates also varied substantially across groups, and were highest for those racial-ethnic groups on the bottom of the income hierarchy.  Amott and Matthaei (1996) stated: “Unemployment rates for Chicanas/os, African Americans, American Indians, and Puerto Ricans all ranged from two to over four times higher than those for Asian and white men and women.  Among American Indians, African Americans, Chicanas/os, and the U.S. Puerto Ricans, incomes per person (the total income earned by the group divided by the number in the group) were less than three-fifths those of European Americans.” (p. 349)  There has always been injustice, inequality, and discrimination in both the American workforce and public polices which continuously foster racism and wealth gaps in both the overall mainstream economy and the American political economy.  “In 1986, the super-rich (the richest one-half of one percent of the households) owned 35 percent of the total wealth in our country, over 70 times the share they would have had if wealth were equally distributed.  The richest tenth of all households owned 72 percent of all wealth, over seven times their fair share.  This extreme concentration of wealth conveys a concentration of leisure and power over others into the hands of a small number of households, a concentration which is perpetuated through the generations by inheritance laws and customs.  At the other end of the hierarchy, in 1986, the poorest 90 percent of households owned only 28 percent of total wealth, and had to send at least one household member out to work for the household’s survival.”  (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 23)  If American society were truly ran like a competitive firm in a perfectly competitive market, these type of wealth differences wouldn’t be so vast and large.  “On the poverty scale, African American and Native Americans have always been at the bottom, with Latinos nearby.  In 1995 the U.S. Census found that Latinos have the highest poverty rate, 24 percent.  Segregation may have been legally abolished in the 1960’s, but now the United States is rapidly moving toward resegregation as a result of whites moving to the suburbs.  This leaves people of color-especially Blacks and Latinos-with inner cities that lack an adequate tax base and thus have inadequate schools.” (Martinez, 1998, p. 89)  “Poverty in the United States is systematic.  It is a direct result of economic and political policies that deprive people of jobs, adequate wages, or legitimate support.  It is neither natural nor inevitable: there is enough wealth in our nation to eliminate poverty if we chose to redistribute wealth or income.” (Mantsios, 1998, P. 389)

In purely competitive markets, one in which the American mainstream economic system is centered around, monopolies and oligopolies don’t exist.  On the contrary, Teresa Amott and Julie Matthaei noted, “Protective services was monopolized by white men for decades.  In 1900, white men accounted for only 72 percent of the labor force, but made up 97 percent of all policemen, firemen, and watchmen.” (p. 329)  To further illustrate, in the 1990’s: “Upper-tier primary jobs- varied greatly by group, from a high 45 percent of all Chinese American men to a low of only 17 percent of Chicanas and African American men.  The shares of women in upper-tier primary jobs were the highest- over 30 percent- among Japanese American, Chinese Americans, and European Americans.  These shares exceeded those of both male and female American Indians, U.S. Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Chicanas/os, and Filipinas/os.  White men still help the majority of these elite jobs (61 percent): added to white women’s 31 percent share, this created a near monopoly for whites, who help 92 percent of the total.” (Amott and Matthaei, 1996, p. 343)   All races with the exception to African Americans, U.S. Puerto Ricans, Chicanas/os, and Filipinas/os have received some form of blanching, in terms of social status rather than physical appearance, throughout American history.  “As the cultural and other differences of the original European immigrants disappeared, their descendants became known as white ethnics.  When enough of these descendants became visibly middle class, their skin was seen as fully white.  The biological skin color of the second and third generations had not changed, but it was socially blanched or whitened.  In fact, they are already sometimes thought of as honorary whites, and later in the 21 century they may well turn into a new set of white ethnics.” (Gans, 2005, p. 111)

To conclude, the main focal point in mainstream economics is that in a free market system, an individual’s personal pursuit of profits and upward mobility will have an “invisible hand” effect which in turn will open doors, new opportunities and allow other citizen to prosper along the way.  However, the rewards of one’s personal profits don’t necessarily have to spill over to the rest of the economy.  “In a 1987 speech, Gary S. Backer, a University of Chicago economist who would later win a Nobel Prize, summed up the research by saying that mobility in the United States was so high that very little advantage was passed down from one generation to the next.  In fact, researchers seemed to agree that the grandchildren of privilege and of poverty would be on nearly equal footing.  The new studies of mobility, which methodically track people’s earnings over decades, have found far less movement.  The economic advantage once believed to last only two to three generations is now believed to last closer to five.  Mobility happens, just not as rapidly as was once thought….” (Scott and Leonhardt, 2005, 118)  History is like a revolving door; it constantly repeats itself!  Woodrow Wilson (1913) noted, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”  This statement continues to hold validity even today due to the current debt crisis which was brought on by providing too much supply and two political parties not receiving what they demanded.  John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy (1957), the 35th president of the United States, once stated, “A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten.”  Based not only on what I’ve seen but also from the views/idea of many radical economists, American Society seems to be based on false perceptions and political rhetoric.  To illustrate Zachary A. Goldfarb (2011), a staff writer for The Washing Post, directly noted: “While the U.S. government’s 14.3 trillion debt is an eye-popping figure, the country has plenty of resources.  Consider the government’s debt.  Almost half of the government’s debt- 6 trillion- is money it owes itself, for instance to the Federal Reserve or social security.  Another #3.9 trillion is owed to U.S. investors, investment funds and companies.  The country as a whole owes the rest of the world a far modest $2.5 trillion on the balance of the trillions that Americans have invested abroad.”  The current debt crisis, forced on the one’s who hold the highest rank/status in society, has caused widespread panic in the financial sector, the private sector, the public sector and within all other groups/sectors regardless of race, class, and/or gender.  Like Franklin D. Roosevelt (1944) stated, “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”


Works Cited Page

Amott, T., Matthaei, J. (1996).  Race, Gender, and Work:

A Multicultural History of Women in the United States.

Boston, MA:  South End Press

Collins, P. H. (2000).  Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and Empowerment

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 61-86).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


Gans, H. J. (2005).  Race as Class.

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 108-115).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


Goldfarb, Z. A. (2011, July 31).  We’re rich, so why are in debt trouble all of a sudden?

The Washington Post.  Retrieved from


Mantsios, G. (1998).  Making Class Invisible

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 386-394).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


Martinez, E. (1998).  Seeing More than Black and White..

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 87-95).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


Scott, J., Leonhardt, D. (2005).  Shadowy Lines that Still Divide.

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 153-159).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


Takaki, R. (1993).  A Different Mirror.

In Margaret Andersen & Patricia Collins (7th Ed.), Race, Class & Gender (pp. 49-59).

Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth


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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Labor Studies


Unity Gardens Internship Sample Blogs


When it comes to sustainability, The Natural Steps defines it as, “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  At times, sustainability may seem to be a broad term to those who don’t understand the “true” meaning behind the definition; however, if an individual examined the four principles which underline sustainability

  1. Reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the systematic accumulation of materials from the earth’s crust.
  2. Reduce and eliminate our contribution to the systematic accumulation of substances produced by society.
  3. Reduce and eliminate our contribution to the ongoing physical degradation of nature.
  4. Reduce and eliminate our contribution to conditions that systematically undermine people’s ability to meet their basic needs.


We     Are Growing

More     than

Vegetables     Here

they would understand what it is like to an intern working with Unity Garden Inc..  Unity Gardens started a vision and a dream out of the back of Sara Stewart’s  car and today it has sprouted and given life to over 30 gardens in the South Bend area.  This summer will best the best experience for educating and empowering a new found sense of “earthly pride” for me because I’m a city boy who knows nothing about gardening.  In a normal day, I don’t usually utilize the land and the resources around me to make the world a better place for me, my children, and my children’s children.  I’ve been interning for a week now and I’ve learned the most important concept about life which to me is, “What you take from the earth, you must replenish by giving something else to the Earth.”  Since I started at Unity Gardens, we have picked food, yet we’ve planted more than we’ve picked.  Instead of using pesticides to keep the weeds down, we use recycled grass clipping from mowed lawns to eliminate this problem, and, most importantly, we have worked with citizens in the community, work release inmates, and other community organizations and business in providing both education and hands on experience in gardening world. Sustainability starts will education and empowerment and working/interning with Unity Gardens will allow me to do both of these in my own life and in the life of the other volunteers and garden leaders that we work with daily.  Give back, educate, love the world, and, most importantly, Carpe Diem.



When I first considered doing an internship, I knew that I wanted to intern somewhere that would teach/instill something new inside of me, while at the same time, working with an organization that would utilize all of my talents for their best interest.  Sara is open about how business works, how to go out and raise awareness as well as money, and, most importantly, how to bring people, the planet, and profits all in line together.  Because Sara offers all of this without even trying, I knew that the knowledge and the skills that I’ve gained from my marketing and psychology classes would help spread the Unity Garden message to other members in the community who would listen to me.  For the past week, I’ve had my hands in many of the activities that keep Unity Gardens up and running.  I like to consider myself a people person; however, I don’t like to ask, pressure, and/or beg for money, but to my surprise, this week was a little different.  On my very first day of interning, Sara asked me what was one job/activity that I was uncomfortable doing because in this “give-in-take” relationship; she would take what I had to offer and give me experience where I needed it most.  Due to the fact that Unity Gardens is a non-profit, they get donations from the government, a.k.a. NAP Credits, but they have duties that they must fulfill in order to continue receiving these funds.  Initially, I knew nothing about NAP Credits so this is how Sara explained them to me èè

  • First apply for the credit (Sara applied for $60,000 in 2011)
  • If approved, the government gives you half (Sara receive $30,000 which goes toward business expenses)
  • From August to June 1st, you must raise the rest of the money (fundraising).
  • If you don’t raise your funds in time you have to sit out for TWO YEARS!!!
  • The best thing about the program is that those who donate money to Unity Gardens get HALF of the amount back when they file their taxes.  NOT a tax deduction but it actually goes with your refund or it can be applied to your tax bill if you owe the government.

When it comes to sustainability, condition 1 states that, as a society, we must reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the systematic accumulation of materials from the earth’s crust.  I believe that I am contributing to this condition for these two reasons:

  1. When it came to fundraising, I made the majority of my first contacts via the telephone because I didn’t want to waste excess gas while polluting the environment even further just riding around to hear No’s or Yes’s.  When it did come to driving, I drove to the McKinley Town and Country Shopping Center in Mishawaka, parked my car, and walked business to business because my energy cost are renewable and sustainable; unlike the petroleum that my car uses.
  2. For those who don’t know, I live in Elkhart and I intern in South Bend Monday thru Thursday.  I’m not a fan of “actual” summer school classes, but I felt that if I had to drive out there everyday, I should maximize my time effort and energy.  As a result, I became a true summer school student.  I intern from 9:30am to 12:30pm, I go to my Fine Arts class from 1pm to 2:30pm, and from 6pm to 10pm I work with a cleaning company in Elkhart, IN.  Fun, Fun, FunèWork, Work, Work è Tired, Rest, Tiredèè == a BEAUTIFUL FUFILLED LIFE.  Carpe Diem.



When it comes to sustainability, condition 2 states that, as a society, we must reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the systematic accumulation of substances produced by society.  When I read this system condition, I automatically think Unity Gardens.  But Why?  Cardboard è Grass Clippings è Mulch è No, No, No Pesticides.  What do these actually mean?  True Sustainable Gardening!  When I first walked onto the huge Pick-for-Free at LaSalle Square, I was wondering how/why green plants (at that time they all looked like plants/flowers to me) were growing around what seemed to be dead grass.  Being a city boy, I had a lot to learn about how to run/grow a successful garden, and for those who don’t know, here’s how it goes

  1. First you decide whether you will plant directly in the ground or will you construct a raised bed in which you will grow your garden.  Whichever option you choose, the following steps for a pesticide free sustainable garden will follow in the same order.
  2. Now you have to get some cardboard.  Buy why might you ask?  Several reasons!  First, the cardboard keeps the weeds down, which means less manual labor in the end.  Second, the cardboard breaks back down into the environment which feeds both the soil and the worms that eat and live inside of the soil.  Now that you have the education on what the cardboard does, let’s use it.  You must wet the cardboard with water to start the process.  The water helps the cardboard break down as well as it helps nourish the roots that are growing from your plants.
  3. If you have a raised bed, you will place dirt (topsoil) onto the cardboard and fill the beds to the top which is based on how deep you constructed the beds.  If you not using a raised bed, cut an X into the cardboard where you want plants to go, use a little garden shovel to dig some of the dirt out, and then place your plants into the dirt.
  4. Now you take grass clipping from your yard, your neighbors yard, or wherever you can get them for as cheep as possible and place them around your plants.  You want to place a nice thick layer down because it keeps the ground and your plants from drying out and dying as fast because it cools the land around your plants.
  5. Now you want to mulch around your raised beds or in the lanes around the plants that you have placed directly into the ground.  The mulch helps with aesthetic beauty, it keeps the weeds down, and the mulch also breaks down into the land.  Because of this, if you have a garden that isn’t inside of a raised bed, when you go to plant the next year, you just turn the mulch over into the land and it acts like nourishment for the land for the next couple of years until it breaks all the way down.

Like Mrs. Reagan had her Just Say No to drugs Campaign, sustainable farmers must say no to pesticides.  Pesticides kill bugs, harm/ pollute your final product, and they degrade the land which IS NOT sustainable.  This internship has been a positive experience because before I came here; I knew nothing about farm style gardening, urban gardening, or even herb gardening in your kitchen, but now I can take my knowledge with me to educate and empower others on what it means to be truly sustainable.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about sustainability in terms of four conditions; however, sustainability and sustainable living has other parts that must be evaluated.  In the Tools for the Transition to Sustainability, Donella Meadows believe that in order for the sustainability revolution to take over, people must possess the following tools:

  1. Visioning- means imagining at first generally and then with increasing specificity, what you really want.  That is, what you really want, not what someone has taught you to want, and not what you have learned to be willing to settle for.
  2. Networking- whatever the form, they are made up of people who share a common interest in some aspect of life, who stay in touch and pass around data and tools and ideas and encouragement, who like and respect and support each other.  It reminds people that they are not alone.
  3. Truth Telling- Lies distort the information stream.  A system cannot function well if its information systems are corrupted by lies.
  4. Learning- means the willingness to go slowly, to try things out, and to collect information about the effects of actions, including information that the action is not working.
  5. Loving- humanity cannot triumph in the adventure of reducing the human footprint to a sustainable level if that adventure is not undertaken in a spirit of global partnership.  Humanity must learn to love the idea of leaving future generations a living planet.

I’ve talked about how Unity Gardens is helping the city and the residents in South Bend based on the followings of the Natural Step, yet, at Unity Gardens, they’ve gone above and beyond that because Sara and her organization follow these tools as well.  Before I started my internship, I talked to Sara and she told me about her vision of how/what she wanted to do at LaSalle Square (the Garden to Market Education area and the Peace Bees Project).  Not only did she describe what she wanted to do but she also made a physical map of how she wanted everything to look.  This internship has been a perfect give-and-take relationship because both Sara and I have been able to network with people whom we’ve never worked with before.  Being that I am about to graduate next semester, I need to network and meet with as many business people as I can.  For me, networking, learning, and visioning are all traits that I could use extra strength in when it comes to the business world.  I’m so grateful that Sara has taken a city boy like me under her wing, given me direction, insight, and previously unknown knowledge which has helped to create an even more rounded individual than I was when I first met her in April of 2012.  Because Sara has educated and empowered me, I feel that it is my job to get her vision and/or message out to the masses of people who aren’t on the Unity Garden bandwagon.   As Donella Meadows asserts, “Vision without action is useless.  But action without vision is directionless and feeble.  Vision is absolutely necessary to guide and motivate”.




This has been a great experience this year.  I worked with an organization that changed the dynamic of South Bend from the back of a car.  The Unity Gardens message has spread from the mind of a visionary, and saint to an entire city that wants to create a more sustainable Michiana.  Her little garden idea to help feed the homeless and poverty stricken in South Bend has grew a life of its own which has given root to over 40 gardens throughout the city.  In terms of sustainability, I believe that getting her message across has been such a success because she practices while she preaches the steps in building a sustainable business which are:

  • Build Awareness and Understanding- she’s been in newspapers, TV, radio, and, most importantly, word of mouth.
  • Collaborates- She doesn’t do this all alone.  She has Mitch at the big garden, garden leaders and volunteers at over 40 gardens, cork release inmates, the City of South Bend, Martin’s Greenhouses, big Business sponsors, small business sponsors, and she also has Reggie.
  • Create a Plan- she created it, she’s sticking to it, but, most importantly, she adapts when the situation needs it.
  • Get involved- Unity gardens is an actual hands-on garden, with real people, and no machines to do the work.  As Sara would say, “It’s a labor of Love!”

I haven’t been the only person interning this summer, yet I do think that my internship, with Unity Gardens, was the only one that was truly sustainable in terms of reducing our contribution to all four conditions.  At Unity Gardens, we met the conditions by reducing and eliminating our contribution to:

  1. the systematic accumulation of materials from the earth’s crust.  At Unity Gardens we car-pool when we do plant pick ups.
  2. the systematic accumulation of substances produced by society.  At Unity Gardens we use things that bio-degrade. (cardboard, mulch, grass clipping, no pesticides)
  3. the ongoing physical degradation of nature.  At Unity Gardens we plant what is most requested, has the best plant-to-yield ratio, and, most importantly, what will feed the most in the fastest amount of time without degrading all of the nutrients inside of the soil.
  4. that systematically undermine people’s ability to meet their basic needs.  At Unity Gardens we don’t undermine people’s ability to meet their needs; we offer assistance with these needs.

I’ve taken so much education from Sara and Unity Gardens this summer that I feel obligated to giver her something in return.  The best thing that I think I can give her and the organization besides my time would be what I’ve learned from others along the way.  Tour De Unity was a success this year because everyone who participated woke up that day, they made it to and from the ride safely, and, to my knowledge, everyone woke up the next day which is a beautiful blessing!!  However, I would tell Sara that Father’s Day and/or Father’s Day weekend isn’t a good weekend to have an activity.  Other than that, I’ve loved every bit of my internship.  Sara, if you reading this, keep up the work, stay honest, informative, open, loving, and caring; and, if you do this, the SKY is the Limit and Unity Gardens will makes it way out of the South Bend Sky and it will spill over to the whole Indiana Skyè Illinois Skyè Ohio Skyè and as Buzz Light-year would say “Sara it we are going to infinity and beyond!”




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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Internship


Nintendo and Their Financial Woes (Marketing Researc

Nintendo Company History and Background

Nintendo has a history that spans over 120 years.  Nintendo was founded as Marufunku Company in 1889 to sell Japanese game cards. It undertook the Nintendo name in 1959, as the Nintendo Playing Card Company. The company became a public company in the 1950’s, and took its current name, the Nintendo Company, in 1969. By the end of the 1970’s Nintendo entered the new video game field by a license agreement to make Magnavox’s pong technology. From there the company moved to arcade games, and then established the American subsidiary Nintendo of America in 1980. The company’s first commercial video game hit was Donkey Kong, followed by Super Mario Bros. The company’s next successful item was the Famicom, a technologically advanced home video game system. In Japan, the system sold 15.2 million consoles and 183 million game cartridges. It successfully launched in the United States in 1986, under the name Nintendo Entertainment System. In order to protect its intellectual property and copyright, Nintendo established strict licensing policies for all of its software developers. Licenses are required to have approval of every game they designed, have to buy the blank cartridges from Nintendo and also had to agree not to make games for any of Nintendo’s competition. (Hoovers)

In order to keep up with the growing game market, Nintendo began developing new items to stay ahead of the competition. Their next creation was the Game Boy in 1989 followed by the Super Nintendo console in 1991. The next big release for Nintendo happened in 1996, with the release of the N64 game system. Around this time Nintendo also teamed up with Microsoft and Nomura Research Institute on creating a satellite based internet system for Japan.  Two years later, Nintendo released Pokémon as well as The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. (Hoovers)

In 2001, after Nintendo bought a 3% stake in the convenience store chain Lawson’s in 2000, it launched its long-awaited GameCube console system. In the release of the GameCube, Nintendo priced the console at $100 less than its closest competitors, gaining market share. Also in 2001, the company released an updated handheld system called the Game Boy Advance. In 2003 saw Nintendo begin to take a new direction as a company. They began to cut royalty rates that were charged to developers in order to offer a wider range of video game titles. It also bought a 3% stake in Bandai, a game developer and toy maker. In 2006 Nintendo launched its massive hit the Wii. The latest changes came in 2009, where the company ended their quality assurance program, and finally earlier this year, 2012, Nintendo ended up posting its first ever operating loss since becoming a public company. It has since launched the Wii U, on November 18, 2012. (Hoovers)

Nintendo Mission Statement:

“At Nintendo we are proud to be working for the leading company in our industry. We are strongly committed to producing and marketing the best products and support services available. We believe it is essential not only to provide products of the highest quality, but to treat every customer with attention, consideration and respect. By listening closely to our customers, we constantly improve our products and services.” (Nintendo Co., Ltd.)


SWOT Analysis



  •   During their time producing video games, Nintendo   has been one of the strongest brands in the industry.
  •   Nintendo   introduced the Wii as a more affordable, unique, social, and physically   active game console games which could be played by anyone compared to their   rivals who continued to implement cutting-edge technology to deliver better   HD graphics for sophisticated games as well as traditional gamers. (Hovers)
  •   Wii   outsold the X-Box 360 and the PlayStation 3 every month since its launch in   2006 until its decline in late 2010. (Hovers)
  •   The Super Mario franchise is the most popular   children’s game, with little to no violence, or other mature themes.
  •   The Motion Sense technology is very popular   amongst elderly people, while including even younger children with simple   intuitive controls.
  •   Nintendo has a global geographic presence.  Nintendo operates in Europe, American, and   Japan.  Nintendo derived around 39.3%   of its revenues from the US; 16.6% from Japan and 44.2% from other   countries.  Furthermore, Nintendo has a   diversified product revenue base. For instance, the company’ s handheld   hardware products accounted to 29.4% of the total revenues in   FY2011.Likewise, home console hardware (23.9%), home console software   (21.8%), handheld software (16.5%) and other products (8.3%). (Marketline)
  •   Declining   Hardware Sales–   In 2010, the Wii fell to number 3 from   number 1 that year due to the fact that U.S. sales in the first 10 months   were down 24% from the same period a year earlier.  On the other hand, the sale of Wii’s   competitor’s consoles had risen- 34 percent for X-Box 360 and 14 percent for   PlayStation 3. (Fritz)
  •   Lack of Online   Presence–   “Nintendo offers the ability to play some titles online but online players   must become friends with other Wii owner through a personalized friend code   system which is sent through e-mail, instant messaging, or a phone call–any   non-Wii form of communication).  The   process involves a potential friend sending you their own Wii’s friend   code, and then the recipient must enter it into their Wii. After that, the   process has to happen in the same way just reversed before each person will   be able to send messages to each other via the Wii’s Message Channel. This   process must be completed for every Wii game that an individual wants to play   online due to the fact that each title has its own separate friend code,   above and beyond the system’s main code.” (CNET)
  •   Sales of 3DS   hardware less than expected– Nintendo botched the 2011 launch of   the 3DS when production problems caused a delayed release of sequels to   popular games which may have tempted more shoppers to try their hands at   playing games in 3-D.  The 3DS was   released in the U.S. and Europe in March of 2011, but, by July, Nintendo   slashed the 3DS prices by as much as 40 percent to spur new sales. (Bloomberg   Businessweek)
  •   High   dependency on a few titles- Nintendo is highly dependent on   popular gaming titles for most of its revenues and their library of games is   significantly less compared to its peers.    The Nintendo Wii only offers a library of approximately 1,220 Wii games   compared to Playstation’s 2,418 titles. (Marketline)
  •   No HD capabilities- The system   uses a more powerful version of the Nintendo GameCube’s processor (480p   capabilities which can’t be obtained with Wii’s included composite AV cables)   which doesn’t have nearly as much polygon-pushing power as the Xbox 360 or   the PlayStation 3 (both had 1080p capabilities).  The Wii also lacks advanced surround sound,   instead sticking with the GameCube’s Dolby Pro-Logic II matrixed surround   (based on a stereo signal, not native 5.1). (CNET)



  •   Nintendo has   the attention of many non gamers–   Before games on Facebook and Smartphone’s became common, it was Nintendo that   first began to aggressively court consumers outside the traditional gamer   market. (Hoovers)
  •   Integrating   tablets into their console controllers to combine the home tablet gamers, as   well as the traditional gamers.    The new Wii U will put the company   on a more level playing field with the Xbox and PlayStation with competitive   features such as HDMI connectivity, improved graphics power, and support for   full high definition video.  Its CPU is   made by IBM and the graphics processor is from AMD.  In an attempt to continue distinguishing   itself from its competitors, the Wii U will also feature an unconventional,   6.2-inch touchscreen rechargeable controller that has motion-sensitivity and   a number of features not seen before on a standard controller (a camera,   microphone, stereo speakers, and a stylus).     The system offers features a controller that resembles an  Xbox 360 controller with the hopes of   converting hard-core X-boxers to Wii U users (Hoovers)
  •   With a more functional dual analog stick, four   front button, four shoulder button controller design, the Wii U has the   opportunity to present other genres, including the current best-selling genre   First Person Shooters. FPS games require hire sensitivity and functionality,   more than the Wii remote could provide. Nintendo can now attract this large   market.


  •   Rising   popularity of online gaming- “In 2009, the company Rovio released   Angry Birds. Within a year, 50 million people had downloaded the app,   spurring developers to create more engaging portable games.  Since 2009, Angry Birds has been downloaded   500 million times compared to 262 million Super Mario game sales since 1985.  In January of 2102, 64 percent of   smartphone owners download games via their smartphone, and 37 percent of   iPhone owners say they play daily via their tablet.” (Alexander)
  •   Lack of Third   Party Support-There   are fewer and fewer great games coming  to Nintendo’s platforms, which gives   consumers less reason to purchase them.    Another problem is the fact that the majority of their exclusive   titles have originated almost solely from Nintendo’s internal development teams.
  •   Exchange rate   losses-   Nintendo receives payment in a specific countries currency but it measures   and publishes its financial statements in relation to the Japanese Yen   (JPY).  In the fiscal year 2011,   approximately 83% of Nintendo’s total revenue was outside of Japan. In that   year, the company’s net sales were 1,014,345 million JPY ($11,867.8 million)   in FY2011 which is a 29.3% decrease compared to fiscal year 2010. The   contributing factors for the decline were the appreciation of the yen and the   price reduction of the Nintendo DS series hardware. Also, Nintendo witnessed   foreign exchange losses of JPY 49,429 million ($578.3 million) in FY2011.   (Marketline)


PESTEL+C Analysis


Political Recently   bills have been proposed that would censor the software and internet   industry, in an earnest effort to combat piracy and copyright infringement.   With the recent elections, supporters of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)   and the follow up ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) have moved into   new positions, offering new opportunities for these debates to arise. In   addition a lead supporter of SOPA, Howard Berman (D-Calif.), is up for   consideration for the Secretary of State position. (Collier)
Environmental Digitial   distribution of games on the Nintendo e-Shop, reducing environmental impact   through plastics and other materials used in manufacturing
Social With   the breakout success of the Wii’s motion sensor controller, the

Demographics   playing games has broadened, with the young and old now playing more. Videogames   are becoming more accepted in our society, viewed less as toys and more as   entertainment. The Entertainment Software Association states, “The average   game player is 30 years old and has been playing games for 12 years …   Forty-seven percent of all game players are women… women over the age of 18   represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30   percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent). (Theesa)

Consoles   are for more than just video games, often including DVD/Blu-Ray players,   video streaming, and even the potential for exercise and physical   rehabilitation. (ESA)

Technological The   entire video game industry is based on technology. New technology in cell   phones, tablets, televisions, computers, and the internet are all large   factors. Video games also sometimes include additional technology, such as   GPS integration, Near Field Communication, cameras, and touch screens. These   have all created new ways to play games, often mixing into the world around   you.

Consoles   have a longer product life cycle than computers. While computers are   constantly outdated, recent video game consoles have lasted about six years   before reaching the decline stage in its life cycle. There is consistent   software technological developments made during that time that give   increasingly better performance.

The   internet is very important in gaming, connecting players from all over the   world at any time. The success of many games and consoles depends on the   level of internet connectivity.(ESA)

Economic The   strong yen in recent years has resulted in losses when converting currency   from U.S. to Japan, the two of the largest video game markets.   The company was forced to take a 52.4   billion yen ($690.5 million) foreign exchange loss, due to unfavorable   exchange rates between with the dollar and euro. (Nintendo Consolidated Info)

There   is developer concern over the success of the used game market, that they are   not being compensated for their high production costs. Piracy is another   problem they face. As such digital distribution is becoming more popular,   though physical sales still represent a much larger portion.

The   disposable income of the consumers in the video game industry has an effect   on their buying behavior. For example, people who fall under a low income range may not afford to buy a video game of a   high price. Nintendo’s low manufacturing cost was   also one of the reasons for it to sell its games at a nominal price,   therefore increase its sales. (Sarkhandia)

Legal Stop   Online Piracy Act (SOPA) works to combat copyright infringement and piracy   online for all forms of media. This includes pictures, music, videos, games,   and any other copyrighted material. It has international implication and   quite broad in its reach. Those against SOPA worry much of the internet would   be censored and limited under this new broad act, and the rights of   consumers. A majority, though not all, of the video game industry was in   support of SOPA, looking to fight the piracy that had affected sales in   recent years. Though defeated, new forms of SOPA are being drafted worldwide,   and the debate rages on.

Following   the revision of the Corporation Tax Act, Nintendo and its domestic   consolidated subsidiaries have computed depreciation by the method on the   basis of the revised Corporation Tax Act over property, plant and equipment   acquired on or after April 1, 2012 since the three-month period ended June   30, 2012. (Nintendo Consolidated info)

Competition Nintendo’s   primary competition is Sony and Microsoft, with their PlayStation and X-Box   consoles. Sony also has a handheld PlayStation Vita, to rival Nintendo’s   handhelds. Though these are the competitors in the console market, the video   game industry is seeing an increase in new competitors. The tablet and cell   phone market represents a fast growing population of mobile gamers. These   gamers often play on the mobile devices they already own in the comfort of   their homes and living rooms. Lead competitors in this market include Apple,   Samsung, and HTC. Sony and Microsoft have an advantage in that they have   other divisions devoted tablets and cell phones, which allows them to   integrate their gaming divisions fluidly. Sony has the PlayStation Suite   available on some of their phone models, while Microsoft’s Windows phones include   Xbox Live connectivity. Another significant market is internet gaming,   including the myriad of Facebook games. They are all competing for often the   same gaming sales as the console competitors, except on devices already owned   by consumers.

Wii,   had a longer way to fall than its competition. After its late 2006 launch,   the Wii dominated both hardware and software sales charts. It did so   primarily by attracting consumers that hadn’t been a big part of the   videogame market previously. But around 2009, those consumers started   shifting over to mobile phone and Facebook games in a big way, leaving   Nintendo nowhere to go but down from its historical highs. This transition   has also caused a lengthy dip in sales for the portable system segment, which   Nintendo has traditionally dominated. (Orland and Technica)


Management Problem:

Nintendo corporation is suffering from its first ever operational lose for the fiscal year that ended in March, 2011. The company announced that they had net sales of $12.35 billion, which is down 29.3% compared year-over-year. Nintendo also stated that the company’s net income fell over 66% to only $946,110. Another hit for the company was that hardware and software sales also were down compared to year-over-year comparisons. During the three month period (April-June 2012), Nintendo sales for the Wii were down to only 710,000 compared to 1.6 million the previous year. The company did announce that sales for the Wii have hit 96 million since its launch, more than the Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64 combined. (Haselton)







Total Sales and Market Share for Each Year – 7th Generation

Units in Millions (VG Charts Data)


Another hit for Nintendo is the that sales fell nearly 24% compared to last year, while Rivals Sony and Microsoft both reported an increase in sales. Sony’s PlayStation 3 reported an increase in sales around 14% while Microsoft reported that Xbox 360 sales were up nearly 34%. Another hit was that Nintendo has lost an incredible amount of Market Share. Three years ago, the company firmly head the #1 in the market accounting for close to half the market sales (45.7%), while today it was fallen to last place, accounting for only 21.3% of the market sales. (Reisinger)

Nintendo entered the sixth generation video game market with under-developed motion sensation technology compared to the full motions-free camera technology that Microsoft developed to broaden the Xbox 360’s audience beyond its typical gamer use. (Pham)  “Yusuf Mehdi, the CMO of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division, announced on Tuesday that more than 67 million Xbox360’s have been sold since the console launched in 2005, and it has generated more than $56 billion in sales. The motion sensing input accessory, Kinect, has sold more than 19 million units and the company’s Xbox Live service now boast 40 million members. Xbox users are spending more time on the system and are averaging 84 hours of usage each month. Mehdi also revealed that Microsoft holds a 47% market share of the current-generation console market, however he did note that sales, while continuing to increase year-over-year, are slowing down.” (Graziano)

Marketing Problem(s):

1.)    Nintendo Wii doesn’t support features (HD gaming, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback) like the competitors seventh-generation consoles.

“The system uses a more powerful version of the Nintendo GameCube’s processor, and it doesn’t have nearly as much polygon-pushing power as the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3. While Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles support high-definition outputs of up to 1080p, the Wii can hit only the GameCube’s ceiling of 480p, and even that mode can’t be used with the Wii’s included composite AV cables. (Most if not all of the Wii’s games will, however, be optimized for wide-screen TVs.) The Wii also lacks advanced surround sound, instead sticking with the GameCube’s Dolby Pro-Logic II matrixed surround (based on a stereo signal, not native 5.1). In other words, if you’re looking for state-of-the-art eye candy, you’re going to want to opt for the PS3 or the Xbox 360–either of which will take a significantly larger chunk of your bank account.” (CNET)

2.)    Nintendo must develop new consoles and games to compete with the ever growing smart phone game market. 

Gaming has moved rapidly in the direction of shorter, simpler games played via social networks and mobile devices. “Mobile gaming has more users and is growing more rapidly than any other gaming platform in the US.  In 2010, Smartphone gamers represented just under half (45.8%) of all mobile gamers; by the end of 2012, they will represent three-quarters of all mobile gamers. Nearly half (49%) of mobile owners will use mobile games by 2013. By 2016, eMarketer estimates that over half (53%) of the general population will be mobile gamers. The growth of social gaming is slowing, down to 10% growth in 2012 (a significant drop from growth rates of 27% in 2010 and 31% in 2011), but is still stronger than the rate of increase for social network users.” (McNaughton)

Research Objectives:

1.)    What type of game consoles do consumers want?

The Wii has great games for couples, families, and hardcore gamers alike, with a slight emphasis on couples and families and a smaller number of hardcore titles. The 360 is definitely more of a system for adults. There are definitely family games to be found on the system, but nowhere near the amount that can be found on the Wii.  Both systems have great system-exclusive games. The Xbox 360 has both the Halo and Gears of War series and the Wii is home to classic franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid.  Microsoft’s Xbox Live is the best online service for any modern console. With integrated voice communications, friend lists, Netflix compatibility, the Xbox Live Marketplace, and a host of other features, it’s the clear winner here. The downside to Live, of course, is the fact that you have to pay for it. At roughly 50 bucks a year, that’s one less game you’ll be buying, but I’ve always found the service well worth the price.  Getting online with the Wii is a complicated process requiring friend codes and lacking in voice chat for most games. Nintendo’s family focus requires it to take drastic steps in order to ensure that no gamers are inadvertently exposed to objectionable material, an approach that many gamers find limits their online enjoyment. The upsides to the Wii’s limited online features are that they’re absolutely free.  For beginners and those who find the overly-complicated button layouts of modern controllers confusing, the intuitive nature of the Wii’s controls can be a godsend. For hardcore gamers who prefer the flexibility modern controller’s offer, they can be incredibly frustrating.  The Nintendo Wii doesn’t play movies at all. No DVDs, no HD-DVDs, no Blu Rays. The Wii plays games, period. (Sell and Hartman)

2.)    Do consumers prefer to games using a standard game console, handheld device, or games able to be played on a smartphone?

Mobile phone sales have skyrocketed in the past decade due to significant advances in technology and new innovation trends in the market.  Web devices have begun to reshape every aspect of our society.  There are more than 6 billion mobile subscribers worldwide which accounts for 87% of the world’s population.  Over 300,000 apps have been developed in the past 3 years.  Apps have been downloaded 10.9 billion times. (Daniells) 64% of apps used are for mobile gaming.  According to a new infographic by, more than $12 billion was generated by mobile gaming in 2011 with 34% of the top grossing apps in the app store. (Taylor)

From 2009 to 2011, sales figures for digital games grew from 20 to 31%. This included mobile apps and social network gaming. Based on figures from the infographic, in 38% of U.S. households games are played on Smartphones, and in 26% on wireless devices. While these numbers might not seem too impressive at first, Smartphone gaming is expected to grow over the next few years. So far this year, 2012, over 100 million mobile phone users played games on their phones. According to the infographic, there’s a trend towards that amount almost doubling by 2016.No wonder, as playing games on your phone or online is usually less expensive than buying a traditional videogame. Board, trivia and card games are played most often on mobile phones, leading by 47% compared to other game types. (Yull)

3.)    What new technology can be added to video game consoles?

Many people always want the newest and best technology when it comes to purchasing any electronics. In order to be competitive in the marketplace, Nintendo needs to be sure to keep up with the recent technological developments, as well as listening to what the consumer is asking for in new devices. The next generation Wii, the Wii U, is going to have a lot more third party support. The graphics in the device, DirectX11, will be on par of those in the Xbox and PlayStation. The Wii U controller will also feature a large 6.2 inch touch screen, as well as a Wii U pro controller that will appeal to hardcore gamers. This controller as well as the Wii U game system will be compatible with the older generation Wii games as well as the Wii Fit balance board and remotes. The controller will also function as a TV remote control, so you can easily flip back and forth between game playing, and the Wiiverse social media service all while being able to watch a television show at the same time. (Ferretti)

4.)    Does HD gaming matter when purchasing a video game console?

The newest faze when it comes to gameplay is the ability to have it be in HD. Currently, the first generation Nintendo Wii lacks this. The device does not have HD graphics, which makes it seem obsolete technology wise compared to its competition which now offer HD graphics. Many professional and hard-core gamers want the best when it comes to technology, and the lack of HD graphics makes them likely to stay away from purchasing the Wii.(Reisinger)

Also, another issue comes when it comes to attracting the best games to be playable on your console. Most game developers first reach out to Sony and Microsoft to launch their games on, as they know that the system can support their technology and graphics requirement. These often shy away from Nintendo due to lack of technology and fear that the game won’t be able to be played to its full potential on the Wii device. (Fritz)

5.)    How much does the level of online play affect game console sales?

When it comes to online game play, the award for the best can be awarded to Microsoft’s Xbox live. Xbox live features a number of key features, including Netflix Compatibility, Xbox Live Market Place, integrated voice communications, friend lists, as well as a number of other key features. These features do come with a cost, live costs around $50 per year to subscribe to, a downside especially with a struggling economy and many on tight budgets. Nintendo Corporation struggles in this arena. While it does offer the ability to go online, it is often complicated for most users to do so. It requires friend codes that you must obtain from each individual you wish to connect with, and these must be obtained outside of the Wii network. Once connected to each other, you can now send messages via the “Message Channel” on the device. The Wii also lacks the voice chat that is extremely popular with Xbox Live. The one positive of Nintendo’s online game program is that is offers quite a bit of protection for younger gamers, something that parents will enjoy, and a key feature of Nintendo’s focus on the family in general. (Sell and Hartman)

Outside Database

Database website has a plethora of research resources, across a variety of categories, not limited to business and finance. This database includes a full business analysis for Nintendo, including a detailed SWOT profile, information on crucial employees, and a number of financial reports. From May 2011 this analysis is relatively recent, with some of the future plans happening now. Nintendo is a large company, spanning many nations and continents, so a report compiling so much detailed information together in a comprehensive manner would be very helpful. The data has been gathered by GlobalData, a worldwide consulting/research firm. (GlobalData)

Collection Method

Our secondary data yielded some initial problems to the iceberg, yet it didn’t provide everything that we needed.  We knew that we would have to include questions that addressed how long surveyors played video games, how many hours they spend playing video games, what systems they own, the amount of money they spend on playing video games, what are their main reasons for playing video games, and most importantly, what features do they feel are most important when considering what type of device to play video game on.  In order to answer these questions, we created a survey, which contained 22 questions, and conducted our research using convenience samples.  We decided that we would sample at least 50 people, and, in the end, N=60.  We wanted to maximize the number of game players who took the survey so 30 were completed at I.U.S.B, 10 were completed at Old Navy, Wal-Mart’s electronics section, and GameStop on Black Friday, 2012.

Hypothesis Testing

Q1: Do consumers play significantly more games on Smart Phones or Game Consoles?

Intuition: I feel that consumers play significantly more games on smart phones today than they do on console games. This is due to personal experience that most people I know never discuss any console games that they play, but they always discuss games that can be played on smart phones/tablets. Also, you see a lot more Angry Bird items out on the market, which is a smart phone game, compared to Mario Kart memorabilia, which is an extremely popular console game. Also, the majority of the population owns a smart phone or tablet, while less own a game console.


Ho: The mean overall time a spent playing a game on smart phones is equal to time spent on console games.

Ha: The mean overall time spent playing a game on smart phones is significantly greater than the time spent playing a game on consoles.






One-Sample   Statistics




Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q7b) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Smartphone





(Q7c) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Game Console






The results of our survey show that there were 54 respondents who answered each question. There was a mean overall time spent playing games on a smart phone is 4.37, while the mean time spent playing video games on a console was 4.89.


It appears that my intuition was not correct, as it we look at the mean value for each question; it shows that people spend a greater amount of time playing video games on a console device rather than a smart phone device. This means that we can reject the null hypothesis,

Follow-Up: With the rise of mobile gaming, we would like to know if people find console games and mobile games similar when it comes to playing video games.

Q2: Do people find console gaming similar to mobile device gaming?

Intuition: I believe that the majority of people will not find mobile device gaming similar to console gaming. This is because the two are very different from the research we have done. Most smart phone games are very simple compared to their console gaming counterparts.


Ho: Console gaming is similar to mobile phone gaming

Ha: Mobile phone gaming is significantly different from console gaming.


One-Sample   Statistics




Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q11) Is mobile gaming service similar to console gaming? (yes   or no)







A total of 54 respondents gave a mean response of .06 on if console gaming was similar to smart phone gaming. This means that the majority of people find the two different, as the number is extremely close to 0, which was our code for them not being similar.

Q3:Do hard core and casual gamers prefer the Wii more than mobile and rare gamers.

Intuition:  Nintendo continues to pursue its basic strategy of “Gaming Population Expansion” by offering compelling products that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age, gender or gaming experience. (Nintendo Consolidated Financials)  Just three years ago, Nintendo Co.’s video-game device was nearly impossible to find, as hard-core gamers clamored for it along with novices, including families with young children and grandparents drawn to its easy-to-use wand. (Fritz)  With this, we believe that hard core gamers and casual gamers will prefer to play the Wii more than mobile gamers and rare gamers.

Ho:  On average, hard core and casual gamers are equal in their preference in playing the Wii when compared to mobile and rare gamers.

Ha: On average, hard core and rare gamers will prefer to play the Wii significantly more than mobile and rare gamers will prefer to play the Wii.


Levene’s   Test for Equality of Variances

t-test   for Equality of Means





Sig.   (2-tailed)

Mean   Difference

Std.   Error Difference

95%   Confidence Interval of the Difference



(Q5c) How important is your preference for playing video games   on: Wii Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    














Group   Statistics

  (Q10) Do you consider yourself a Hard-core gamer, a casual   gamer, a mobile gamer (cell phone) or rare gamer (less than 2 days a week)?   (please select one)



Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q5c) How important is your preference for playing video games   on: Wii >= 3





< 3






There are 38 people who consider themselves hard core and/or casual gamers with a mean of 2.39 in their preference for playing video games on the Wii and there are 16 people who consider themselves mobile and/or rare gamers with a mean of 3.44 in their preference for playing video games on the Wii

Since the Levene’s test for the equality of the variance in the preference for playing games on the Wii is not significant (p= .370 > .05), we can assume that the two variances are equal.  Hence, we report the upper row of results for the independent sample t-test.

The independent sample t-test (testing if the mean amount of hard core/casual gamers and mobile/rare gamers are equal in their preference for playing video games on the Wii) is significant (p= .008 < .05).  However we must reject both hypotheses.

Conclusion: This goes against our intuition because our results were opposite of what we predicted.  Mobile and rare gamers seem to prefer the Wii more with a mean of 3.44 which is almost right between important and very important in selecting the Wii.  Oppositely, Hard core and casual gamers seem to prefer the Wii less with a mean of 2.39 which is more on the end of the Wii being slightly important in their choice for playing video games.  Perhaps hard-core and casual gamers ran to the Wii initially, but over time they seemed to prefer playing games on the other platforms.

Follow-Up:   We would like to see if there is a significant relationship between an individual’s interest in HD gaming capabilities, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback, online capabilities or ease of online connectivity, and adequate storage space for consoles and an individual’s preference in playing games on the Wii.  If these are positive predictors, we may be able to conclude that Nintendo is losing business to the two segments that it’s trying to reach because their system lacks the extra features that Microsoft and Sony offer.

Q4: Does the importance of HD gaming capabilities, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback, online capabilities or ease of online connectivity, cost of purchasing the game unit, and ease of playing with kids or grandparents affect how consumers select the device to play video games on.

Intuition:  “Nintendo has sold a huge number of consoles, but that doesn’t mean much if the software isn’t there to support it, and for Nintendo, the software just hasn’t been there—not like on the PS3 and 360.  For the casual gamer, inevitably that fascination with the hardware had to end.  Casual gamers bought the Wii for the novelty of the system, while core gamers buy games they are excited about–which continues to provide a steady stream of income for the manufacturers as those gamers pick up new titles. And that’s not even counting lucrative micro-transactions and paid downloads.  Nintendo also made a mistake in not cultivating its online community. When you turn on an Xbox 360 or PS3 you see links for trailers and news about upcoming releases.  Nintendo dropped the ball here, and the casual fans just lost interest because they had nothing to keep them engrossed.” (Digital Trends Staff)  Due to the fact that the Nintendo Wii lacks where these systems excel and as a result those systems are outselling Nintendo currently, we predict that there will be a positive relationship between the importance of HD gaming capabilities, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback, online capabilities or ease of online connectivity, and adequate storage space for consoles when it comes to playing video games on the Nintendo Wii.

Ho: There is no significant relationship between these features and an individual’s preference in playing games on the Nintendo Wii.

Ha:  An individual’s interest in HD gaming capabilities, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback, online capabilities or ease of online connectivity, and adequate storage space for consoles will significantly affect the preference in playing games on the Wii.




Sum of   Squares


Mean   Square



1 Regression













a. Dependent Variable: (Q5c) How important is your preference   for playing video games on: Wii
b. Predictors: (Constant), (Q9e) NOT considering a specific   game,  How important in the selection   of a platform to play games on is: Adequate storage space for consoles, (Q9c)   NOT considering a specific game,  How   important in the selection of a platform to play games on is: Online   capabilities or ease of online connectivity, (Q9d) NOT considering a specific   game,  How important in the selection   of a platform to play games on is: DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback capabilities,   (Q9a) NOT considering a specific game,    How important in the selection of a platform to play games on is: HD   gaming capability





Unstandardized   Coefficients

Standardized   Coefficients




Std.   Error


1 (Constant)






(Q9a) NOT considering a specific game,  How important in the selection of a   platform to play games on is: HD gaming capability






(Q9d) NOT considering a specific game,  How important in the selection of a   platform to play games on is: DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback capabilities






(Q9c) NOT considering a specific game,  How important in the selection of a   platform to play games on is: Online capabilities or ease of online   connectivity






(Q9e) NOT considering a specific game,  How important in the selection of a   platform to play games on is: Adequate storage space for consoles






a. Dependent Variable: (Q5c) How important is your preference   for playing video games on: Wii





Model   Summary



R Square

Adjusted   R Square

Std.   Error of the Estimate






a. Predictors: (Constant), (Q9e) NOT considering a specific   game,  How important in the selection   of a platform to play games on is: Adequate storage space for consoles, (Q9c)   NOT considering a specific game,  How important   in the selection of a platform to play games on is: Online capabilities or   ease of online connectivity, (Q9d) NOT considering a specific game,  How important in the selection of a   platform to play games on is: DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback capabilities, (Q9a) NOT   considering a specific game,  How   important in the selection of a platform to play games on is: HD gaming   capability

Conclusion: There is no significance on the Analysis of Variance (p=0.342).  This goes against our original intuition that HD gaming capabilities, DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback, online capabilities or ease of online connectivity, and adequate storage space for consoles will significantly affect the preference in playing games on the Wii. As a result we must reject our Ha and accept our Ho that there is no significant relationship between these features and an individual’s preference in playing games on the Nintendo Wii. These game players don’t seem to care to about all of these extra features that hard-core gamers prefer when they choose what platform to play their video games on.  As a result, for core Wii players, these features seem as extra options that they can go without.

Follow-up: This could be very important because it seems that Nintendo targeted infrequent and/or the casual gaming market.  Most people inside of this market are under 16 years of age or they are older than the age of 30.  As a result, we need to test whether older people play more games on consoles than younger people.

Q5 Do older people (OP), above 30, play more on their consoles than younger people(YP)? Do younger people play more on their Smartphone than older people? 

Intuition: According to the ESRB website the average gamer is 34 years old. (ESRB). The people above 30 may play more often on their consoles since they often have the funds to buy the consoles and games. However, the average age of mobile gamers is 25-34 years old. (Nanigans) As a result, we believe that younger people may play more often on their smartphones since more of the games are free and they have fewer funds to buy the expensive consoles and games.

H1}     Ho = OP and YP spend equal amounts of time playing consoles.

Ha = OP spend significantly more time playing on their consoles than YP.

H2}     Ho= OP and YP spend equal amounts of time playing on smartphones.

Ha= YP spend significantly more time playing on their smartphones than OP.


Group   Statistics

  (Q22) What is your age?



Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q7b) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Smartphone >= 3





< 3





(Q7c) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Game Console >= 3





< 3









Independent   Samples Test


Levene’s   Test for Equality of Variances

t-test   for Equality of Means





Sig.   (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std.   Error Difference

95%   Confidence Interval of the Difference



(Q7b) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Smartphone Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    








(Q7c) How many hours do you spend playing video games each week   on: Game Console Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    










H1) there are 27 people over the age of 30 that spend a mean time of 5.74 on consoles, while 27 people under the age of 30 spend a mean of 4.04 on consoles.

Step 1) Since the Levene’s test for the equality of the variances of the time spent on consoles by OP and YP is NOT significant (p = .13 > .05), we can assume the two variances are equal. As such, we report the upper row of results for the independent samples t-test.

Step 2) The independent samples t-test testing that OP and YP spend equal amounts of time on consoles is NOT significant (p = .07 > .05), so we cannot reject the null hypothesis that the time spent is equal.

Conclusion: This goes against our intuition that people above 30 play games on their consoles more often than people under 30. This could be because the older people often have families and responsibilities to consider so they may not play as much as they like, while younger people have fewer responsibilities and can focus more on personal gratification by playing games.  Hence the mean time spent on consoles between the two groups is roughly equal, between 1 and 4 hours a week.

H2) The are 27 people over the age of 30 that play a mean of 3.203 on smartphones, and 27 people under the age of 30 play an average of 5.26 on their smartphones.

Step 1) Since the Levene’s Test for the equality of the variances of the amount of time OP and YP spend on smartphones is NOT significant (p = .849 > .05), we can assume that the two variances are equal, so we report the upper row of results.

Step 2) The independent samples t-test testing that OP and YP spend equal amounts of time on Smartphone IS significant (p = .042 < .05), so we reject the null hypothesis that the time spent is equal. This suggests the two means are significantly different.

Conclusion: We conclude the amount of hours spent playing on smartphones by YP is significantly more than the hours spent by OP. This goes with our intuition and research. Looking at the mean amount of hours spent by YP and OP playing on smartphones, we conclude the average amount of time spent is between 3.48 and 5.26, or between 1.5 hours and 3.5 hours a week.

Follow-up: Younger people and older people play roughly the same amount of time on consoles, but younger people play more on smartphones. To get the younger people to play more on their consoles, Nintendo should consider offering lower priced, downloadable games. The ease of accessibility through downloads, as well as the cheaper price may bring some of these mobile gamers of all ages to the consoles.

Q6: Do older people (OP) above 30 spend more money on the Wii than younger people (YP)?

Intuition: The Nintendo Wii is a family friendly console, with games that appeal to a variety of ages, with more family friendly games than the competitors. People above 30 often have families and children they share their console with, and so they may spend their dollars on a console everyone can play. Younger people may focus more on personal satisfaction, and tend to spend less on the family friendly system.

Ho = OP and YP spend the same amount of money on the Nintendo Wii.

Ha = OP spend significantly more on the Nintendo Wii than YP.





Group   Statistics

  (Q22) What is your age?



Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q8c) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: Wii >= 3





< 3






Independent   Samples Test


Levene’s   Test for Equality of Variances

t-test   for Equality of Means





Sig.   (2-tailed)

Mean   Difference

Std. Error   Difference

95%   Confidence Interval of the Difference



(Q8c) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: Wii Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    









There are 27 people above the age of 30 who spend on the Wii a mean of 3.15, and there are 27 people under the age of 30 who spend a mean of 1.81 on the Wii.

Step 1) Since the Levene’s test for the equality of the variances of the money spent on the Wii by OP and YP is significant (p = .000 < .05), we cannot assume the two variances are equal, so we report the bottom row of results for the independent samples t-test.

Step 2) The independent samples t-test test if that mean amount spent on Wii by OP and YP is equal is significant (p = .03 < .05), so we reject the null hypothesis that the two amounts are equal. This infers that the two means are significantly different.

Conclusion: This goes with our intuition that people above 30 spend on average spend more on the Nintendo Wii than people under 30. The older people may be more concerned with getting more value for their purchase and a system for the whole family does that better than one primarily aimed toward them. Since younger people do not have to consider as many factors, they may spend more on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 which have a better selection of games aimed toward their interests. Older people spend between $20 and $50, while younger people spend between $0 and $20.

Follow up: The younger people may choose to spend their dollars on the PS3 and 360 instead, more so than the older people.

Q7: Do people under 30 (YP) spend more on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 than people over 30 (OP)?

Intuition: Following up on previous test, testing if younger gamers spend more on these systems that are targeted at them, than the older people who may focus on the family elements of the Wii.

H1}     Ho = OP and YP spend the same amount of money on the PlayStation 3.

Ha = YP spend significantly more money on the PlayStation 3.

H2}     Ho = OP and YP spend the same amount of money on the Xbox 360.

Ha = YP spend significantly more money on the Xbox 360.





Independent   Samples Test


Levene’s   Test for Equality of Variances

t-test   for Equality of Means





Sig.   (2-tailed)

Mean   Difference

Std.   Error Difference

95%   Confidence Interval of the Difference



(Q8d) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: X-Box 360 Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    








(Q8e) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: Playstation 3 Equal variances assumed










Equal variances not assumed    














Group   Statistics

  (Q22) What is your age?



Std.   Deviation

Std.   Error Mean

(Q8d) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: X-Box 360 >= 3





< 3





(Q8e) How much money have you spent on purchasing video games   and downloadable video game content for: Playstation 3 >= 3





< 3







H1) There are 27 people under the age of 30 who spend a mean of 2.07 dollars on the PlayStation 3, and 27 people over 30 that spend on average 2.81 dollars on the PlayStation 3.

Step 1) Since the Levene’s test for the equality of the variances of the amount of money spent on the PS3 by OP and YP is significant (p = .042 < .05), we cannot assume the two variances are equal, and must report the bottom row of results for the independent sample t-test.

Step 2) The independent samples t-test testing if the mean amount of money spent on the PS3 by OP and YP is equal is NOT significant (p = .310 > .05). This means we cannot reject the null hypothesis that the two means are equal.

Conclusion:  This goes against our intuition that younger people spend more on the PS3 than older people. This could mean the older people surveyed do not have families and don’t need family games.

H2) There are 27 people under 30 who spend a mean of 3.26 dollars on the Xbox 360, and 27 people above 30 who spend a mean of 3.78 on the Xbox 360.

Step 1) Since the Levene’s test for the equality of the variances of the amount spent on the 360 by YP and OP is NOT significant (p = .511 > .05), we can assume the two variances are equal and report the upper row of results for the independent t-test.

Step 2) The independent samples t-test testing if the mean amount  of money spent on the 360 by OP and YP is equal is NOT significant (p = .479 > .05). This means we cannot reject the null hypothesis that the two means are equal.

Conclusion: These results go against our intuition that YP spend more on the 360 and PS3 than OP. This could be because the 360 and PS3 both have a selection of family games, although smaller than the Wii, while also having a wide variety of mature games. As a result, OP may buy the PS3 or 360 for the family. This is further supported when considering that these systems have further functionality than the Wii, and are a better value for family entertainment. It could also indicate the people surveyed as a whole are less likely to have a family and less concerned with family friendly games.

The Four P’s



Pricing is complicated for videogame consoles. Due to amount of new technology that goes into a new console, the manufacture cost is very high. These days’ companies often price their consoles below cost to make it more consumers friendly. The losses are then recuperated by software and peripheral sales.  At launch the Wii U costs $300 for the base unit, and $350 for the deluxe version. Historically, this is a relatively high price tag for a console, especially one from Nintendo, who released the Wii for $250 in 2006. This price helped vault their system above competition. The Xbox 360 launched at $300-$400, while the PlayStation 3 launched at $500-$600. At the time these were also very expensive, and prices were lowered slightly a year later.  Before these consoles were released, the common price for a new console was $200, going back to the Atari in 1977. When adjusted for inflation, however, many of these prices skyrocket toward the $400 range, many surpassing that even. The Xbox 360’s adjusted price is $351, while the PlayStation 3 is $570. With others adjusted for current value, we see the Wii U’s price tag is much more consumer priced than others have been in the past. An advantage for recent consoles is their inclusion of other functions. While the consoles of past only played games, today’s consoles can play DVD’s and Blu-Ray, stream TV and movies, and also connect people through the internet. This high functionality supports the high prices, making them a worthwhile investment for some consumers. (Matthews)


In order to be competitive in the ever changing gaming market, Nintendo needs to branch out from its comfort shell, and long standing traditions. There are a number of different improvements and changes that Nintendo can make. These include branching into the mobile gaming market, working with popular gaming companies to be included in the release of new titles.

The biggest improvement and change that Nintendo can make in order to increase its profit and popularity, as well as help gain back its market share, is to enter the mobile cell phone gaming market. The majority of the population who own smart phones, or in some cases tablets, play games on them. They appeal to the majority of the population due to the ease of play, and the low cost. To many, it is much more appealing to pick up your phone or tablet while in between commercials, study breaks, waiting for classes or appointments, or even just to relax than setting up game play on a console. The games are easy to play for a few minutes at a time, and are also very inexpensive. There are quite a few free games on the app marketplace, that support themselves with ads, but the games that cost money are generally anywhere from $3-$5, which is the area where Nintendo should attempt to enter. They should develop new games for the devices, as well as transfer current popular devices onto the smart phone market. This may require some changes to the games.

Another area of improvement in the product Nintendo can make is to work with the large game companies behind popular releases such as Madden NFL, Call of Duty, Gears of War and others, so that when the game is first released to the public, it is offered for the Wii U. This will make the Wii U more attractive to gamers, as they will have a wider selection of titles, as well as the ability to have the titles as soon as they are released, instead of having to wait around. This may make them more likely to purchase the Wii U and accessories.



In our opinion, Nintendo should continue its current distribution and selling strategy. We should continue consoles at chain big-box retail locations (Wal-Mart, Best-Buy, Target), as well as online sales through retailers such as Nintendo should also continue selling units at video game stores (Game Stop etc.). We also feel it would be in Nintendo’s best interest to expand where it sells its video game software. Gap Inc.’s chain Old Navy recently began selling video games for the Holiday season, including Nintendo titles, and we believe Nintendo should expand this concept to other popular chains. Another area for Nintendo to expand on is selling its video games for download online.


In 1985, Nintendo released Duck Hunt as a second game option of the first Mario Brothers Game in the United States.  27 years later, Nintendo released the Wii U.  To commemorate the 27th anniversary, we are running the Duck Hunt Scavenger Hunt Promotional Giveaway.  Every day in the first three weeks of December, Nintendo will be giving away a limited release (105 total games) of Duck hunt for the Wii U to the first 5 winners of the virtual scavenger hunt.  The scavenger hunt will started out at our website,, every day at 8am.  People can play via the computer, laptop, or on their Smartphone.  The game will consist of 5 random Nintendo questions and 5 Nintendo video game questions.  Everyone who answers all 10 questions correctly will be given a password to enter at  Once at, players will have to play an online version of Mario where they have one life and only one chance to complete a level from one of the Mario Games (39 different Mario games have been released since 1985).  Once an individual has completed the level, they will be redirected to a page that asks for their basic demographic.  After that, they will be given a special number that they have to take to the GameStop that closet to their home.  Once they are there, they will take a picture with our cardboard Mario, posing with their game and a special limited release Duck Hunt Gun for the game.

The level will change daily but contestants can try as many times as they want to enter the contest until all 5 games have been given away for that day.  This promotion will act as our way of creating excitement, while at the same time, offering awareness and getting more internet and mobile phone user aware of our brand, products offered, and, most importantly, players get to try out simple versions of the games that we offer over the internet for three weeks.

Final Concluding Ideas

Although Microsoft and Sony also make both hardware and software, Nintendo views its software and hardware as an integrated offering, so it doesn’t make versions of its games for other mobile devices such as Smartphone’s or tablets. Aside from the improvements to hardware that the Wii U will offer, Nintendo will also look to improve its social network capabilities and features and expand its digital business with add-on content and increased digital distribution of its software.  (Hovers) In conclusion of our report, we advise that Nintendo should follow the above recommendations included in the price, promotion, place and product area. While in some cases our data may not match the recommendations, it must be understood that a small sample of 60 from a small geographical area of South Bend, does not does not give a very clear picture of the majority of the population. Our recommendations are based on not only the data collected, but the research we conducted. A lot of the research that is collected is done by seasoned professionals, covering a large sample. The majority of the research points to an ever growing smart phone game market, with console sales staying steady, but losing ground in comparison.

Works Cited Page

Alexander, S. (5-2012). The Pocket Console; How Smartphone’s will become the only device a hard-core gamer needs. Popular Science Magazine, Retrieved from

Bloomberg Businessweek (Feb6-Feb 12, 2012) Nintendo needs a hit in a hurry. Retrieved from

CNET Review. (8-13-2006). Nintendo Wii review. Retrieved from

Collier, K. (11-13-2012). Obama Considering Prominent SOPA Supporter for Cabinet. The Daily Dot. Retrieved from

Daniells, K. (7-9-2012). Inforgraphics: 2012 Mobil Growth statistics. Digital Buzz Blog. Retrieved from

D’Angelo, W. (12-10-2012). 2012 Year on Year Sales and Market Share to December 1st.  Retrieved from

Digital Trends Staff. (5-18-2012). Did the Wii’s causal gaming focus hurt or help Nintendo? Digital Trends. Retrieved from

Entertainment Software Rating Board. (2012) How much do you know about video games? Retrieved from

Ferretti, M. (9-14-2012). Nintendo’s new Wii U comes to gamers November 18 along with TVii. Retrieved from

Fritz, B. (11-30-2012). Once-hot Nintendo Wii now struggling for sales. Retrieved from

GlobalData. (5-2011). Nintendo Co., Ltd (7974) Financial and Strategic SWOT Analysis Review. Research and Markets. Retrieved from

Graziano, D. (05-31-2012). Microsoft sells over 67 million Xbox 360s, 19 million Kinects. Retrieved from

Haselton, T. (4-25-2011). Nintendo Wii 2 conformed amid Wii sales slump. Retrieved from

Hoover’s Company Records – In-depth Records. (11-27-2012). Nintendo Co., Ltd. 11-1 Kamitoba Hokotate-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8501 Japan (8-31-2012).  Nintendo Co., Ltd. SWOT Analysis. Retrieved from

Matthews, M. (9-13-2012). Sizing up Wii U’s price tag against history. Retrieved from

McNaughton, M. (6-12-2012).  Mobil gaming to rise 26%, Social gaming up 10% in 2012.  The Realtime Report.  Retrieved from

Nanigans. (8-14-2012). Mobil Gaming Report: Payers, Players, Revenue and where Facebook fits. Retrieved from

Nintendo Co, Ltd. (7-25-2012). Consolidated Financial Highlights. Retrieved from

Nintendo Co., Ltd. Nintendo of America’s Corporate Mission and Philosophy. Retrieved from

Orland, K., Technica, A. (4-16-2012). Weak Wii Is the Largest Factor in Game Sales Plunge, Say Analysts. Retrieved from

Pham, A. (6-1-2009). E3: Microsoft shows off gesture control technology for Xbox 360. Retrieved from

Reisinger, D. (7-25-2012). Nintendo on downward spiral as Wii sales fall off a cliff. Retrieved from

Reisinger, D. (1-3-2012). Wii U to turn around console sales for Nintendo this year? Retrieved from

Sapieha, C. (10-31-2011). What’s wrong with Nintendo. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Sarkhandia. (4-19-2009). The Nintendo Wii: A Case Study. Retrieved from

Sell, B., Hartman, M. (6-8-2011). Nintendo Wii versus Xbox 360: Which system is right for me? Altered Gamer. Retrieved from

Taylor, H. (4-18-2012). The rise of the billion dollar mobile gaming market: infographics.  Retrieved from

Theesa. (2012). Industry Facts. Retrieved from

Yull, S. (7-30-2012). The Videogames Industry is Changing: Mobile Gaming Expected to Rise. Retrieved from











Charts From: Gamasutra








Video Game Survey

1. Have you ever played video games? (yes or no)  _______

2. Do you currently play video games, not including going to an arcade to play games? _______

3. If you answered no to either question, why don’t you play video games? If you answered yes to both questions skip this question.

  1. cost
  2. not interested
  3. not enough time
  4. lack of skill
  5. not allowed (parents, teachers, etc.)
  6. other_____________________________________________________

If your answer to # 1 or # 2 was “No”, answer please skip to question # 17

4. How long have you been playing video games?

  1. 6 months to 1 year
  2. 1 year to 2 years
  3. 2-5 years
  4. 5-10 years
  5. 10 or more years

5. Please scale the following in order from 1 to 5 (1 being the least important and 5 being the most important), in your preference for playing video games. (over the internet via computer browser, mobile gaming (such as off of a smart-phone), on a Nintendo Wii, X-Box 360, or PlayStation 3).







Internet (PC Based)





6.  Please select the following devices that you currently own. (select all that apply)

  1. Nintendo Wii
  2. Xbox Kinect
  3. PlayStation Move
  4. None

7. On average, about how many hours do you spend playing video games each week on each of these devices?



Game Console

PC Game


8.  Over the last year, roughly how much money have you spent on purchasing video games and downloadable video game content for each of the following devices?







$121- $150


Over $200

Internet (PC Based)






9. Do NOT consider a specific game.  Use the scale below to indicate how important each of the following is in the selection of a platform to play games on (scale 1 -5 for each); 1 being the least important and 5 being the most important).







  1.   HD gaming capability
  1.   The number of games available
  1.   Online capabilities or ease of online connectivity
  1.   DVD/CD/Blu-Ray playback capabilities
  1.   Adequate storage space for consoles
  1.   External Hard drive capabilities for consoles
  1.   Cost of playing/purchasing game titles
  1.   Motion free capability
  1.   Ease of playing with kids or grandparents
  1.   Appearance of Console
  1.   Playing game on mobile phone
  1.   cost of purchasing a game unit


10. Do you consider yourself a Hard-core gamer, a casual gamer, a mobile gamer (cell phone) or rare gamer (less than 2 days a week)? (please select one)     _____________________________

11. Is mobile gaming service similar to console gaming? (yes or no)  ______________________

12. Which is more important for video game playing, a small screen or big screen?  __________

13. What is your dream video game screen size?

  1. 4inch-9inch
  2. 19inch-27inch
  3. 32inch-40inch
  4. 42inch-55inch
  5. 56 inch and over

14. Where do you enjoy playing video games?

  1. While waiting to meet someone
  2. In your bedroom
  3. On the couch
  4. Before/after class
  5. On breaks
  6. Home
  7. Evening and Weekends

15. On a 1 -5 scale, what is/are your MAIN reason(s) for playing video games? (1 being the least important and 5 being the most important).







To waste time          
To let off some “steam”          
To follow a story line          
To socialize with other people          
To immerse myself into another world          
To challenge my mind          
To compete with other people or computers          
For pure enjoyment          
For achievements          
To gain power          


16. What are your Top 3 (in order) genres, or video game categories, that you enjoy to play? (Please choose from the list on the bottom of this questionnaire).




17. Using a scale of 1=very inactive, 2=somewhat inactive, 3=somewhat active and 4=very active, how physically active do you consider yourself?     _______________________

18. Using a scale of 1=very inactive, 2=somewhat inactive, 3=somewhat active and 4=very active, how socially active do you consider yourself?     __________________________

19. What is your ethnic background?


A.        African American

B.        Caucasian

C.        Hispanic

D.        Asian

E.         Other


20.  Gender:   ____ Male       ____ Female

21.  Classification:


A.        High School Grad

B.        Undergraduate

C.        Bachelor’s Degree

D.        Graduate Student

E.         Master’s Degree/PH.D


22.  Age:


A.        18-20

B.        21-24

C.        25-29

D.        30-35

E.         36-40

F.         41 and older


Video Game Genres (Question 15)



First-person shooter


Massively Multiplayer Online Games





Space/ Flying


Strategy type War games

Real-time strategy

Real-time tactical God games

Economic simulation games

City-building games




Maze/ Puzzle




Survival horror

Vehicular combat



1 Comment

Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Marketing Research


Do Sex, Age, and Homeownership Affect How Often People Interact with Their Neighbors?


This article analyzes the extent to if and how sex, age, and homeownership affect how often people interact with their neighbors within the Neighbor4Neighbor (N4N) boundaries in an Elkhart, Indiana neighborhood.  In this study, surveyors went door-to-door administering a “Quality of Life” survey to the residents inside the neighborhood.  The sample contained 120 different residential participants, which lived inside the neighborhood, and were at least 18 years of age.  The survey was designed to test and compare the residents level of social cohesion to the other residents level of social disorganization.  In order to compare these two characteristics, the final results were calculated using a bivariate means comparison analysis.  The results in this study conclude that men engage with their neighbors more than women, younger cohort socialize with their neighbors more than older cohorts, and, like many other past studies have shown, homeownership increases social cohesion inside neighborhood boundaries.      


Throughout the world, individuals acquire friends, ties with other individuals, and/or neighbors from the early days of childhood all the way to the end of the line in a retirement home.  Social interaction is just as important as the human heart due to the fact that they both drive humans as a species.  Social interaction is the center of gravity for adolescents, teens, and adults worldwide.  As one ages and makes their way out of college into the workforce, your social interactions within the workforce grow but those outside of the workforce often dwindle. After years of work and sacrifices, which are often made for family and homeownership, workforce interactions often dwindle.  At that time, interactions with neighbors who are like you or around you begin to foster more than ever.  Oh (2004:66) assess that “Homeownership is a major indicator of economic well-being at the household level because a home is an investment and a significant financial asset to most homeowners.  Furthermore, such economic interest in home equity leads to neighborhood attachment among homeowners who share an important economic fate with their neighbors.”  It has been noted in several sociological studies that the elderly tend to live longer and have happier lives when neighborhood interactions take place.  Nattavudh Powdthavee (2007:9) asserts that “The older cohort (aged over 30), on the other hand, tend to spend more time talking to their neighbors than the younger cohort (20 and under).”  For this research paper, I plan on examining and answering if to what extent does sex, age, and home ownership affect neighborhood interaction levels.” 

Literature Review

There is substantial evidence that suggest that social relationships promote happiness for individuals in society.  Many studies have found the level of reported life satisfaction to be high among those who are married, women, white, the well-educated, the self employed, the retired, and those occupied with home duties (Powdthavee 2007; Rohe and Stewart 1996).  A positive sense of worth is key to acquiring and fostering strong community ties.  Those who lack these characteristics are often viewed as having what sociologist refer to as social disorganization.  Guest, Cover, and Ross (2006:365) define social disorganization as “a condition of few social key ties, high community anomie, little empathy toward others, and weak social control.”  As a result, less neighborhood ties create more social disorganization (Bellair 1997).  There is substantial evidence that people with strong social ties tend to report on average higher levels of happiness and satisfaction than others (Powdthavee 2007; Guest, Cover, and Ross 2006).  The work that I present in this study will help shed additional light on how sex, age, and homeownership act as functions that eliminate social disorganization and create strong, positive community ties.  Basing on previous findings, I propose that different sexes (male/female) have unequal neighborhood ties.  I made this prediction because Nattavudh Powdthavee (2007:9) notes that “Among adults of working age, 43% of men and 50%, of women say that they meet up with their friends on a daily basis.  The figure is slightly smaller when it comes to socialization with neighbors; 33% and 39% for men and women, respectively.  Interactions with friends and relatives take place more often among the young.  The older cohort (aged over 30), on the other hand tend to spend more time talking to their neighbors than younger cohorts (30 and under).”  

Neighbors getting together and socializing with one another plays an important role in establishing effective social controls (Bellair 1997).  When it comes to socialization and satisfaction, Nattavudh Powdthavee (2007:6) notes that “When it comes to life satisfaction there is a pronounced U-shape in age, minimizing at around early 40s.”  Based on these findings, I propose that as an individual’s age increases, the more neighborhood ties they acquire.  I believe that this is the case because individuals with rich networks of active social relationships, that do not include people living in the same household, tend to be happier with their lives (Powdthavee 2007; Oh 2005).  Social disorganization often creates unequal neighborhood ties because residents, who rent, are often less involved in neighborhood activities than those residents who own their home (Rohe and Stewart 1996).  

Oh (2004:65) concludes that “Homeownership is positively associated with two neighborhood attachment measures: neighborhood satisfaction and neighborhood sentiment.”  Neighborhood satisfaction is often more valued by those residents who have children and own their own homes.  “Homeowners will come in contact with other homeowners who will further add to an individual’s knowledge base.  The net result may be a snowball influence in which the overall context leads to more information than would be available on the basis of simply knowing the individual types of persons in the area” (Guest, Cover, and Ross 2006:375-76).  Based on these findings, I propose that homeownership increases an individual’s neighborhood ties.  I made this prediction because Guest, Cover, and Ross (2006:365) assert that “Homeowners build strong ties to protect a major form of their wealth.  Knowing and interacting with neighbors is a rational means of protecting one’s investment in home and/or children.  For those owning homes, knowing about neighbors may be crucial to certainty that their properties will be protected when they are away.”  Rohe and Stewart (1996) also suggest that knowing about your neighbors may be as crucial to protecting one’s investment as actually interacting with them.  “People who know one another often work out interpersonal agreements for achieving desired goals.  They are made possible by the fact that the people involved are personally acquainted.  Persons who remain strangers will be systematically less likely to be willing to participate in such mutual agreements” (Bellair 1997:681).  These mutual agreements act as a bridge that further strengthens community ties which also helps community residents protect their financial investment inside of the community.    

Methods/Data Collection

This “Quality of Life” survey involved data collection that took place in February and March of 2012.   This project was commissioned by The City of Elkhart and was conducted by Indiana University South Bend student researchers who worked in pairs as they went door-to-door asking one adult resident whom they encountered, from each home, to participate.  This survey was conducted for the N4N (Neighbor4Neighbor) Homeowners Association which is located in Elkhart, Indiana.  The surveyors had specific N4N boundaries to research and they consisted of North Vine Street on the East (West side of the street only), Cedar Street on the North (both sides of the street), West Boulevard North on the West (East side of the street only), and Strong Avenue on the South (both sides of the street).  When conducting the survey, no homes were skipped, every door was knocked on, and if a home was abandoned and/or vacant, it was recorded as such.  This initial visit yielded one of six possible results: 1. Completed survey; 2. Refusal to participate; 3. Request that we come back later, at a better time, or when an adult resident was home; 4. No answer; or 5. Did not speak English. 6. Home was vacant. While surveying, if no one was home, or the resident asked the surveyors to come back at another time, the surveyors would make a note of this, move on to the next residence, and then return that day or revisit at a later date, often multiple times if necessary.  Residents, who fell within the N4N boundaries and were at least 18 years old, were asked to participate in short 10 to 15 minute survey which was administered by the paired up surveyors.

133 of the 345 homes that were visited had residents that were not home, or they did not answer the door during subsequent visits.  To ensure consistency and accuracy, the survey was only administered to people who speak English because only 4 of the 20 surveyors spoke fluent Spanish.  There was only one resident who did not speak English.  In total, the surveyors visited 345 homes and they completed 120 surveys.  Of those surveys that were not completed: 55 residents refused participation, 133 were not home or never answered the door, 27 of them continuously asked us to come back later, and 7 homes appeared vacant. If we compare the number of completions with the number of refusals, the completion rate is 55.8 percent (120/215).  These type of surveys are not designed to reached or even set out to survey every member of the neighborhood.  Whereas, the overall goal is to survey a sizeable and representativesubset of the neighborhood. The N4N sample represented a sizeableportion of that neighborhood in which 34.8 percent of households were represented in the survey, by our estimation (120/345).

Of those residents who did agree to participate, 40.8% were male and 59.2% were female (49 males & 71 females).  The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 94 years old, yet 25% of the respondents were 74 years or older.  The majority of participants were homeowners, with 91.7% owning their homes compared to the 8.3% that did not own their homes (110 owned & 10 rented). (see Table A1)

For this study, I wanted to show how my independent variables, which are ‘sex’, ‘age’, and ‘homeownership’, affect the extent to how often these residents interact with their neighbors which was my dependant varible. For my nominal independent ‘sex’ variable, I used the survey question: Gender (mark down but don’t ask): (1) Male, (2) Female.  For my second ordinal independent ‘age’ variable, I used the survey question: In what year were you born?  The respondents gave the year in which they were born, instead of their numerical age.  Their ages ranged from 18 to 94 years of age.  Because this time fame was too broad, I decided to recode this variable.  I grouped the age categories into 10 year increments starting at 30 years of age so that each decade could be examined as individual ages increased.  For my third nominal independent ‘homeownership’ variable, I used the survey question: Do you or your family own or rent your home?

I switched the number categories when it came to my ordinal dependent variable because they seemed counter intuitive to how number scales actually work.  The survey associated the number 1 with often, 2 with sometimes, 3 with rarely, 4 with never, 5 with don’t know and 6 with refused.  These categories seemed opposite of a normal scale where the lower the number the less it’s accepted or approved.  I decided to switch the numbers around and I also grouped the never(s), don’t know(s), and refused together because all three categories are saying that the respondent doesn’t engage with their neighbors.  The new categories were relabeled so that 4 became often, 3 was sometimes, 2, was rarely, and 1 was never (with the don’t know(s) and refused clumped in).  For the actual dependent variable, I combined 5 questions that each had a possible 7 answers per question.  I decided to combine these questions because it would be easier to find a more accurate representation of how many people, how often, and, more importantly, do males or females participate in those activities with their neighbors.  I used the survey questions:

  1. 1.      How often do you visit in each other’s’ homes or on the street?
  2. 2.      How often do you help each other with chores or errands?
  3. 3.      How often do you borrow or loan household items (such as food or tools)?
  4. 4.      How often do you discuss things going on in your neighborhood?
  5. 5.      How often do you discuss personal matters?                                                                                                          Would you say (1) Often, (2) Sometimes, (3) Rarely, (4) Never, (5) Don’t Know (don’t ask), or Refused (don’t ask)


In the end all 35 answers categories were combined to create one question which was: How many neighbors do you know by name?  This combined question allows for a better interpretation of how often males and/or females engage with their neighbors.  Using these independent and dependent variables, I proposed three different hypotheses.  My first hypothesis was that women are more likely then men to engage with their neighbors (see Table B1). My second hypothesis was that homeowners will engage with their neighbors more than non-homeowners (see Table B2), and my third hypothesis was that older individuals will engage with their neighbors more than younger individuals (see Table B3).




Table. A1.  Demographics and Univariate Frequency Distributions

Variable Variable   Category Valid%
      Male 40.8
      Female 59.2
      Own 91.7
      Rent 8.3
  18-30 years 15.0
  31-41 years 20.8
  42-52 years 19.2
  53-63 years 20.0

Number of Neighbors

Know by Name

74 years or older


0-35   known

36-70   known

71-105 known

106-140 known









There were more female participants than male participants in this study.  Out of the 120 respondents in this survey, 71 (59.2%) were female and 49 (40.8%) were males.  The mode for these two groups favored females because there were 22 more females than males.  110 (91.7%) of the participants owned their homes, compared to the 10 (8.3%) participants who rented.  The mode for these two groups favored homeowners because there were 100 more people who owned their homes in the N4N boundaries.  The respondents ranged in age from 18 to 94 years old.  The first category contained 18 respondents (15.0%), the second contained 25 respondents (20.8%), the third contained 23 respondents (19.2%), the fourth contained 24 respondents (20.0%), and the fifth category contained 30 respondents (25.0%).  The mode favored the fifth age group which consisted of the 74 years or older participants because most respondents fell into this range.  Out of the 120 respondents that were surveyed, 39 respondents (32.5%) knew 0 to 35 of their neighbors, 41 respondents (34.2%) knew 36 to 70 of their neighbors, 36 respondents (30.0%) knew 71 to 105 of their neighbors, and only 4 respondents (3.3%) knew 106 to 140 of their neighbors.  Using a bivariate means comparison analysis, I compared each of my independent variables against my dependant variable to analyze and calculate if and how each of these variables were related.

Hypothesis 1:Women are more likely then men to engage with their neighbors. (see Table B1)

For my first hypothesis concerning gender and neighbors know by name, the bivariate analysis did not support my initial hypothesis.  The means comparison results suggest that men are more likely than women to engage with their neighbors.  When comparing women to men, it is important to note that the men had a higher mean of 55.6 compared to the women’s 50.8.  As a result, my hypothesis was not supported because men engaged more than women.

Table B1: Means Comparison Between the Number of Neighbors Known by Name and the Respondents Sex


Respondent’s   sex



Std.   Deviation
















Hypothesis 2: Homeowners will engage with their neighbors more than non-homeowners. (see Table B2)

My results concerning the connection between homeownership and neighbors known by name was considerably different. For my second hypothesis, the bivariate analysis does support that homeowners engage with their neighbors more than non-homeowners.  When comparing the 110 homeowners to the 10 non-homeowners, those who owned their home on average had a mean of 55 compared to 28 for those who did not own their home.  Thus my hypothesis was supported by these results.

Table B2: Means Comparison Between the Number of Neighbors Known by Name and Do You or Your Family Own or Rent This Home

Do you or your family own or rent this home?



Std.   Deviation















Hypothesis 3: Older individuals will engage with their neighbors more than younger individuals.  (see Table B3)

For my third hypothesis which compared gender and neighbors know by name, the bivariate analysis did not support my initial hypothesis. The means comparison results suggest that individuals, who are 42 years of age or older, do not engage with their neighbors more than individuals who are 41 and under.  When comparing age ranges, it is important to note that out of the 120 respondents, most respondents were between the ages 31-41.  This group had the highest number of respondents known by name with a mean of 59.04.  The next closet age group was those respondents whose age ranged from 74-94, but it is important to note that that age range is 20 years compared to the other groups that had a 10 year range.  Every other age group had fewer participants who engaged with their neighbors and significantly lower means than respondents who were between the ages of 31-41 years old.  As a consequence, my hypothesis was refuted.


Table B3: Means Comparison Between the Number of Neighbors Known by Name and the Year the Respondent was Born


year   born recode



Std.   Deviation

18-30   year olds




31-41   years old




42-52   years old




53-63   years old




74-94   years old










This paper explored the age old question: Do sex, age, and homeownership affect how often people interact with their neighbors?  Out of the three bivariate means comparison analysis test that I ran, only one of my original hypothesizes were confirmed.  I originally questioned whether or not residents’ investments in the neighborhood affected their perceptions of their neighborhood and, overall, my findings do support this connection.  When it comes to a financial investment, homeownership increases neighboring because homeowners are more likely to have and/or know other neighbors more than those who are non-homeowners.  The results in this study also conclude that men engage with their neighbors more than women, younger cohort socialize with their neighbors more than older cohorts, and, like many other past studies have shown, homeownership increases social cohesion inside neighborhood boundaries.  Oh (2004:65) writes “in the case of neighboring, social cohesion/trust among community residents is a symbol of neighborhood attachment because it arises from shared norms and values among local neighbors.”  When comparing these shared values and norms, it is important to note that males do socialize, engage with, and know more neighbors than their female counterparts.  This fact may have only been present in this small geographic neighborhood which contains 345 houses; however, these findings do show that men are just as easy to socialize with as women.  This is important because evidence has shown that people with strong social ties tend to report on average higher levels of happiness and satisfaction than others (Powdthavee 2007; Rohe and Stewart 1996).  Before conducting my research, I believed that age didn’t have an effect on the level of neighborhood interaction because both young and old individuals find a sense of comfort in others who are likeminded, have the same values, live in proximity to each other, and close in terms of age.  This study showed that age is just a number and it doesn’t really affect social cohesion inside neighborhood boundaries.  This was a solid, straightforward research project, but, this same research is not without its own limitations.  For one thing, the findings from this small Elkhart, Indiana neighborhood can’t be generalized to a larger population.  More importantly, because I examined the characteristic of homeowners compared to those who were non-homeowners, it must be noted that non-homeowners were not equally represented in the sample.  If I were to replicate this study, I would choose a more diverse neighborhood in terms of homeownership.  The age range categories were as close to equal representation as possible.  If one examined the current state of the American economy, __% of the population is between 74 and 90 years of age.  In many survey structured studies, men are often underrepresented; however in our study, the level of participating men was high with 49 participants compared to the women’s 71 participants.  This research helped to shed awareness on social cohesion and social disorganization in a small Elkhart neighborhood.  I encourage all researchers to replicate this initial study just to see if this small sample is close to being as representative as a larger sample would be.  This initial research sheds light into the room, but the door must be all the way open, so that we can get a full picture of how the larger population is affected when it comes to sex, age, and homeownership in the context of  neighborhood interactions.



Bellar, Paul E. 1997. “Social Interaction and Community Crime: Examining the Importance of Neighbor Networks.” Criminology 35(4): 677-704.

Guest, Avery M., Jane K. Cover, Ross L. Matsueda, Charis E. Kubrin 2006. “Neighborhood Context and Neighboring Ties.” City & Community 4: 363-385.

Oh, Joong-Hwan 2004. “Race/Ethnicity, Homeownership, and Neighborhood Attachment.” Race and Society 7: 63-77


Powdthavee, Nattavudh2008. “Putting a Price Tag on Friends, Relatives, and Neighbours: Using Surveys of Life Satisfaction to Value Social Relationships.” Journal of Socio-Economics 4: 1459-1480.

Rohe, William M. and Leslie S. Stewart. 1996. “Homeownership and Neighborhood

Stability.” Housing Policy Debate 7(1): 37-75.






Oppressed, Segregated, and Isolated

What is oppression?  [1]Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines oppression as, “An unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power “and/or” a sense of being weighted down in body or mind.”  Strong vs. weak, being free vs. being property (slave), and/or white vs. black are just a snippet on the much longer strand of oppression that covers and, at times, silences the world.  Both societies and cultures throughout the world are often segregated into groups based on the perceived characteristics of the stronger groups in power.  Wiley notes that, “The politics of identity is the struggle over the qualities attributed, socially and institutionally, to individuals and groupings of individuals.  Some may argue that these qualities are the essence of human nature, at least for the groupings to whom they are assigned” (1994:131).  At times, society as a whole can be viewed as an inhumane battleground due to the fact that binary groups are often pitted against one another and forced to fight like two pitbulls contained in a wooden cage.  Life is often presented as an ongoing struggle between the haves and the have-nots.  History has shown that at the end of the fight, the big dog (strong-we) will always overpower and silence the small dog (weak-we).  As Lemert asserts, “This is self-evident.  As a result, in the United States the strong-we claim to universality rested on the weak foundational necessity that the “other slaves,” the darker ones, not ever be able to assert their own “we” position”(1994:107).  History shapes how opponents on each end of the spectrum internalize their individual self-worth in terms of “Self” and “identity”.  Those who have/had privilege, which are referred to as the strong-we, are encompassed with the “Self” thought/concept, yet their opposition, the weak-we, are enriched with the “identity” thought/concept.  To truly enjoy the perks and benefits that are associated with the “Self” concept, one’s history and physical traits must resemble and encompass the beliefs, values, and status symbol of those in the privileged class.

“Members of the first group, being usually light in their experiences, are dark in their broodings over the fate of Self; while members of the second group, being dark in their experience, treat the Self lightly because they consider Self unsafe or uncertain (or both), somehow.  The concepts “Self” and “identity’ have less in common than is normally assumed because they belong to two different series of historical events”(Lemert 1994:102-103).

For those who view themselves as having an identity, history is a must inside of their identity.    A strong-we believes that history should be forgotten so that we, as a society, can move on.  However, for the weak-we, history is knowledge and knowledge is power.  If history can stand the test of time, what’s done in the dark always comes to the light.  Because of that, opposition and oppression are no longer just observable to those who are around to view/experience them first hand.

In popular culture, the forces of the strong-we versus the weak-we and/or “Self” versus identity are often played out on the movie screen.  For example, in 2011 the film, In Time, which stars Justin Timberlake, exhibits the classic example of the strong-we silencing and oppressing the weak-we while at the same time falling to recognize that weak-we individuals were “human” beings at all.  In the movie, all humans have been genetically modified by the wealthy timekeepers so that they can run a “just” society.  No one physically ages over 25 years of age.  From the strong-we’s point of view, they’ve done their subordinates justice because they’ve placed all humans on an even playing field.  According to Lemert, when it comes to the views of the strong-we, they “Assume “Self” and “identity” are at least good enough identical that their difference, if any, may be ignored” (1994:103).  A strong-we believes that history has no bearing on a situation because at the end of the day, everyone in society is a human being.  There is a thin line that separates remembering and acknowledging one’s history, but if the two cards are played right, erasing and forgetting one’s history becomes the win-win in the end for the strong-we individual.    “Can individual human persons identify with Humanity itself without a too severe loss of historical coherence?  A strong-we thinks, yes; a weak-we, no.  Whichever choice is made, an entirely different history is told- one with a Self: one without” (Lemert 1994:106).  The strong wouldn’t stay strong if they allowed everyone to be truly equal, so what did they do?  They implemented the currency of time.  They hardwired the human DNA to be built with an internal working clock.  Your arm held your official time which was given in centuries, years, minutes, and seconds.  Your clock didn’t start running until you turned 25.  Once you turned 25, you had one year on your clock down to the second and once your time was up, you died.  If you were lucky enough to get a job for the day, then you could earn some extra time on your clock (5 hours, 12 hours, a couple of days, and up to 1 week).  Everything was bought and sold via the time on your arm.  However, the rates changed daily depending on how giving the powerful felt that day.  For example, in the movie, Justin Timberlake’s mother had 1 hour and 37 minutes on her clock.  Her bus ride earlier that day cost 1 hour of time, but since then, the price had risen to 2 hours per ride.  She begged and pleaded with the bus driver to let her on and her son would be there to pay for her when they made it to the stop.  He didn’t care!   She asked her fellow passengers, but no one would give her any time because it was so valuable and people couldn’t afford to share.  For the strong-we group, this placed them into the ultimate power position because they not only controlled, but also owned, all the time and the overall society.  Like barriers around a house or a country, the wealthy-we’s (strong) keep the poor-we’s (weak) out with a series of zone checks (financial roadblocks) and the policing “time watchers”.   Time watchers make sure that order is upheld by keeping the binary groups, the haves and the have-nots, isolated and segregated from one another.  “Whatever’s one’s own we, one is either in and of it, or not.  There is a forbidden territory between any particular weak-we and the strong-we” (Lemert 1994:121).

Due to a history of oppression, segregation, and, at times, discrimination, a weak-we individual would unlikely take the position of a strong-we individual because in order to do so that individual would have to erase a part of their own identity.  On the other hand, there are often strong-we individuals that are privileged yet they’ve either failed to accept or recognize that they were privileged.  If that type of strong-we individual began to recognize that they were privileged and they tried to take the stance of a weak-we’d individual, their “Self” status would be downgraded, from the stand point of the strong-we, to that of an “identity” status.  As Lemert notes, “The weak-we position is not universally available.  Were the position a matter of definition, one might say this is so by definition.  Still, however much a native strong-we might wish to identify with a weak we position, he would find himself not only out of Taylor’s moral limits of undamaged human personhood, but quite literally in the dark”  (1994:121).  This is exactly what happened in the movie- Mr. Weiss, a wealthy man, who had 116 centuries, 39 years, 4 days, 26 minutes, and 9 seconds on his clock, had grown fed up with this never ending life sentence during his 110 years of life.  Being that he was of privilege and wealth, he knew how the system worked and, more importantly, that the wealthy timekeepers had enough time for the whole world and no one had to die, but it would ultimately lower the control and status that the strong had over the weak.  When it comes to granting rights to the oppressed class in society, Lemert asserts that when, “The Americans gave all weak-we groups in the U.S. their moral independence.  Thereafter, the respective strong-we positions were crippled.  Having granted civil or state status to others, strong-we cultures legitimized weak-we identities” (1994:108).  The man broke all the rules and he educated Justin about the time zones, how the value of time increased as you would leave the poor zones (inflation and deflation as a form of suppression), and ultimately that no one had to die.  While Justin was sleeping, with only 15 minutes left on his clock, the man gave him all of his time.  The man decided to “time-out” so that this young man, whose mother had also timed-out, could change the world.  This is the perfect example of a strong-we person coming down to the level of a weak-we person.  The poor didn’t have cars, they barely had food, and they were isolated by 15 zones.  This type of structure, with the added help of the time watchers, kept the unjust society in order.  It cost Justin a little more than 5 years to make it to zone 15 where the rich people resided.  This high cost alone ensured that the strong would never be infected by the likes of the others.  From a strong-we’s standpoint, we are not like them and they are not like us.  Because of this, Wiley notes that, “If the structure and identity are not kept separate, it is easy enough to smuggle traits of the dominating elites into the (alleged) nature of the self” (1994:145).  In order for power and prestige to remain with the dominant class, there must be lines drawn to keep the dominant in and the subordinate out and oppressed.

Things inside the affluent zone were super expensive, but because no one on the privileged side ever ran out of time, the rich got richer while the poor just died.  On that side of town, no one wore the same clothes for too long, cars cost 50 years plus, and to gamble at the casino with the high rollers would set you back 100 years per hand.  Mr. Weiss, the man who controlled all the time in those 15 zones, believed that the poor were savage brutes, who needed to be continuously monitored, because they were a waste to the good of the common society.  Mr. Weiss, like most strong-we individuals, based his claims on half-truths while forgetting that he placed those people into that unfair and unjust environment.  As Lemert concludes, “No proponent of the strong-we position can admit the legitimate claims of those in the weak-we position, whatever he may see or believe.  Such an admission destroys the moral claims whereby a local culture presents itself as though it were universal” (1994:116).  Mr. Weiss’s daughter, Sylvia, was obsessed with every aspect of the poor from how they lived, how they acted, how they talked, and even what they ate.  She believed like many strong-we individuals that the poor were in their situation because it was their fault and all they had to do was stop being criminals and try harder.  That was a fine way for her to think while she was privileged with an abundant supply of time, but when she was robbed/stripped of her time and forced to become one of the outcasts, her views about her old utopian society quickly dwindled away.  In the end, she became the ultimate poster child for the have-nots due to the fact that she finally recognized that her and all of those in zone 15 were the privileged.  This sparked a revolution which lead her not only help the have-not’s but to become a have-not in the process.  The oppressed in the movie, like those throughout history, were silenced, forced to believe that that was no other way, and their overall freedom was lost.  “To be free is not simply to be left alone by others; it is also somehow to be your own person in the sense that you have defined who you are, decided for yourself what you want out of life, free as much as possible from the demands of conformity to family, friends, or community”  (Bellah et al. 2001:307).

Oppression, segregation, and/or discrimination are the dark aspects of society which are deeply rooted in the identities of the underprivileged weak-we.  Like many scholars, Wiley notes that identities are social constructs because “Identities individuate and allow us to recognize individuals, categories, group, and types of individuals.  They can be imposed from without, by social process, or from within” (1994:130).  When identities are imposed by a social process, the outcome produces two separate and unequal groups.  The stronger of the two groups, the strong-we, have privilege and “Self”.  The weaker of the two groups, the weak-we, not only face oppression and opposition from the dominant group, but they are also forced to forgo and forget any past historical events just to have an “identity” and be accepted in a somewhat unjust society.  Life itself is hard enough, but once those who have privilege an a strong sense of “Self” try to oppress those who have a strong historical background with their identity, we as humans demoralize ourselves which lowers our own self-worth all because we failed to see the identities of others.  As Lemert asserts, “The strong-we position, its inherent instability notwithstanding, is founded on a code of silence about the impossibility that any one self could be universal.  The code entails a double prohibition: first, against recognition of ones own complexity and, second, against the public legitimacy of any weak-we identity” (1994:115).  From the stand point of the strong-we, the claims that are made by the weak-we identity are not legitimate because the strong-we fails to see how complex they are because they’ve always had privilege.  For the strong-we, the shoe has never been on the other foot.      


Food Aid: Ethiopia

When it came to building a strong nation, the 4th president, James Madison, knew that during disastrous times aid must be given.  America’s first food assistance program occurred domestically in 1812 due to an earthquake that destroyed ninety percent of New Madrid.  This was the first time that laws were enacted to support victims with aid.  Over the next one hundred and forty-two years, the United States government worked its way to becoming the largest player in the fight for granting food aid.  The U.S offered food aid to Russia after WWI, famine relief to Europe after WWI and WWII, and it implemented the Marshall Plan to help feed and rebuild Western Europe with aid in 1948.  As Moyo (2009, 12) asserts, “Under the Marshall Plan, the United States embarked on an aid programme to fourteen European countries which saw the transfer of assistance worth roughly US $13 billion throughout the five-year life of the plan from 1948 to 1952”.  Six years later, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 480 into the Agricultural Trade Development Act which officially created the Food for Peace Program (FFP).   When the act was initially passed, the U.S. believed that giving food aid was a potential way to fight the spread of communism with specific countries in mind.  “The plan was clearly successful in bringing Western Europe back onto a strong economic footing, providing the US with the vehicle to influence foreign policy, winning it allies in Western Europe and building a solid foundation for US-led multilateralism.  Aid became the key tool in the contest to turn the world capitalist or communist” (Moyo 2009, 12).  In the beginning, Food for Peace was funded with surplus food supplies from the United States; however, during the 1980’s, Congress begun implementing funds for this project into the federal budget.   Since its creation, the Food for Peace Program has fed more than three billion people in one hundred and fifty countries over the last fifty-seven years.  Over that time, the Food for Peace Program has changed lives, reduced famine, promoted growth and/or sustainable development in developing countries and nations throughout the world.

Public Law 480 (PL 480) is broken down into three sections which are referred to as Title I, Title II, and Title III programs.   Both Title I, which deals with economic assistance and food security, and Title III, which deals with food for development, are no longer funded by the U.S. government.  Title III aid lost it funding in 1994 because it was believed that government-to-government grant aid funds were being misused and unequally distributed to certain sectors in the developing economies.  When it comes to U.S food aid, relief comes in the form of Title II aid which is devoted to emergency and private assistance programs.  These funds are distributed on an emergency need basis and for developmental programs which are supposed to reduce malnutrition in poverty stricken nations.  When it comes to giving Title II aid, Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) and the World Food Program (WFP) contact the U.S. Agency for international Development  (USAID) for a list of agricultural commodities that they feel will aid the country that’s in need.  Once the program gets government approval, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues a bidding contract to commodity suppliers and processors.  After that, the Kansas City Commodity Office buys the commodities after the USDA awards the commodity contract to the lowest bidder.  At that point, the good go to a U.S. port where they are then shipped to the country in need.  In emergency situations, the USIAD can avoid all of those steps by sending pre-positioned stocks of food which are located both at U.S. Gulf ports and overseas ports for a quicker and less bureaucratic response.

PL 480 has changed thelives for over 250 million Ethiopians since the famine of 1974.  During that year, Ethiopians went through detrimental changes which shaped their economy, political structure, and their sense of independence because Ethiopia has been under some form of a dictatorship since that year.  As Moyo (2009, 22) concludes, “Having seen the failure of fifty years of competing aid interventions, donors now laid the blame for Africa’s economic woes at the door of political leadership and weak institutions from Ethiopia’s Mengistu to Liberia’s Samuel Doe, the competition among these leaders to be more brutal to their people, more spendthrift, more indifferent to their countries needs then their neighbors were”.  This was detrimental to prosperous growth for Ethiopians because they were entrenched in a deadly civil war from 1974 to 1991.  In 1974, the Derg and Meles Zenawi Asres took office after a military coup removed Haile Selassie, who was the last emperor of the 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy.  During the 1980s, Asres cut his ties with the Derg and he became the chairman of the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) in 1985.  With the help of the United States, the TPLF overthrew the Derg in 1991.  Ethiopians citizens fought their way out of the TPLF regime and, since then, Ethiopia has been trying to make positive strides in the form of good governance; however, it must be taken into account that, their constitution wasn’t ratified until December 8, 1994 and, at that time, it didn’t take effect until August 22, 1995.  Converting from a form of dictatorship to form of “Democracy is seen as Africa’s economic salvation: erasing corruption, economic cronyism, and anticompetitive and inefficient practices, and removing once and for all the ability for a sitting incumbent to capriciously seize wealth.  Democracies pursue more equitable and transparent economic polices, the types of policies that are conductive to sustainable economic growth in the long run” (Moyo 2009, 41).

When it comes to aid for Africa and the developing countries in Africa, Moyo (2009, 13) notes that“Africa was ripe for aid.  The continent was characterized by a largely uneducated population, low-salaried employment, a virtually non-existence tax base, poor access to global markets and derelict infrastructure”.  These factors have made Ethiopia a prime candidate for aid since the early 1980s.  Moyo (2009, 16) notes that “In 1975 the US passed the International Development and Food Assistance Act, which stipulated that 75 percent of its Food for Peace Program would go to countries with a per capita income of less than US $300”.  Since the 1980s, Ethiopia’s economic state hasn’t seen much improvement.  In 2010, the World Bank noted that Ethiopia was the second-most populated country in Sub-Saharan Africa and their per capita income was only $390 US dollars compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa which was around $1,165 US dollars at the time.  As Moyo (2009, 5) asserts, “Africa’s real per capita income today is lower than in the 1970s, leaving many African countries at least as poor as they were forty years ago”.  Aid is nothing new to Ethiopia due to the fact that Ethiopians have received emergency food aid every year since the Great Ethiopian Famine which occurred from 1984 to 1985.

Since 2002, Ethiopia has been one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.  However, this growth isn’t sustainable growth; whereas, it’s viewed as an influx of citizen, many are refugees from Somalia, who are further stripping Ethiopians of the scarce resources that they have.  With all of this “population growth”, Ethiopia is still behind in terms of development because only 42.7% of the entire population is literate, 17% of the population is urbanized, 29.2% of the population live below the poverty line and, most importantly when it comes to education, the average male only attends school until he is nine and, for females, its age eight.  When an economy is set up this way, the UNDP Report (2005, 66) asserts that:

“Progress towards the reduction of absolute poverty is heavily conditioned by inequality. This is true not just for income, but also for wider inequalities in areas such as health, education and politics.  Income inequalities both reflect and affect wider life chance inequalities, starting with the chance of staying alive. The broader point here is that extreme inequality can constrain poverty reduction in low- and middle income countries for the same reason: the smaller the poor’s share of any increment to income the less efficient growth is as a mechanism for poverty reduction.”


Food insecurity is one of the major problems that Ethiopian citizens face on a daily basis. Ethiopia is highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture, but because of recurring droughts as well as intraseasonal dry spells, eight to fifteen million people face chronic food shortages annually. As a result of that, seven million people are annually provided with money to buy food through a productive public works programme that works directly with the Food for Peace Program.  The Ethiopian government can only do so much for their citizen on their own which is partly because they have a 33.2% inflation rate on their consumer prices, many citizen live on $1 US dollar a day, as a country they receive $4.645 billion in revenue, they spend $5.25 billion a year, and, most importantly, only 15.2% of their GDP comes from taxes (as of 2011).  The Food for Peace Program brings additional support to Ethiopian citizens because government-run programs can only go so far when you rank 171 out of 178 in terms of developed country in the world. In dealing with these food insecurities, Marianna Gomez notes that:

“I met Ghette a few days ago as she was carrying water back to her home. She said she would tell me her story and invited me in. Inside her small home, Ghette’s son Abeneezer is finishing a breakfast of Plumpy Nut—a peanut butter-based nutritional supplement for underweight children.

Ghette is 34 years old and has one child—a chronic illness, the details of which she doesn’t want to share, prevents her from having more. Her husband is an assistant carpenter and earns about $25 per month, so the family survives on less than $1 per day.

She receives food aid from one of the many government-run programs for low-income families. Each month she gets 12 kilograms of grain per family member and 2 liters of oil.

The program uses Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine program participation. As soon as Ghette’s BMI increases from underweight to the normal range, her government assistance will end. She says her government aid only lasts part of the month, and they cope by eating fewer meals a day.

The International Food Policy Research Institute reports that the price of agricultural products peaked in 2008, creating a global food crisis. Since then, food prices have been unstable in many poor countries.”[1]

Acquiring food is a major problem for many Ethiopian citizens.  In the US, food that we can’t produce is imported and food that is in excess is exported.  For Ethiopians, importing and exporting food is not done as easily as it is inside of a developed country.  Ethiopia’s major agricultural products are cereals, pulses, coffee, cotton, sugarcane, animal hides, khat and cut flowers with their major exports crops being coffee, grain sorghum (cereals), and castor bean.  Cereals constitute the majority of the food that is produced in Ethiopia.  Cereals may bring some cash into Ethiopia but it’s not a sustainable form of revenue or growth.  Ethiopian citizen learned this in 2008 when the cereal market went through a supply shock and, as a result, food prices rose which created an even higher level of food insecurity for the poor citizens.  When trying to acquire “new food(s)” that aren’t produced locally, Ethiopians are at a disadvantage because their purchasing power has been getting lower and lower over the past five years.  The currency in Ethiopia is the “Ethiopian birr (ETB)”.  With the exceptions of the Euro, the Pound, and the Yen, the majority of the worlds traded currency is in US dollars.  This is bad for Ethiopians especially poor rural farmers because their exchange rates have fluctuated over the years (see table 1).  As Moyo (2009, 30) concludes, “historically, on an economic performance basis, coastal resource-scarce countries performed significantly better than their resource-rich counterparts; leaving the landlocked, resource-scarce economies as the worst performers”.

Ethiopia’s infrastructurealso creates a huge problem for Ethiopia citizens.  Most rural farmland exists in places where no roads exist.  In 2007, out of the 36,469km of accessible road in Ethiopia, only 6,980km of it was paved.  This presents a huge problem in terms of mobility, food storage, food transportation both to and from the market, and, most importantly, access to the important public sector.  In order for sustainable growth to be achieved, both the public and the private sector have to compliment each other.  When it comes to sustainable development not all environments are created equal which is especially important when considering that Ethiopia has been a land locked country since their lost with the De Jure Independence of Eritrea on May 24, 1993.   Geographical environment and topography are so important that Moyo (2009, 29) concludes that:

“Certain environments are easier to manipulate than others and, as such, societies that can domesticate plants and animals with relative ease are likely to be more prosperous.  At a minimum, a countries climate, location, flora, fauna and terrain affect the ability of people to provide food for consumption and for export, which ultimately has an impact on a country’s economic growth”.

Ethiopia’s industrial sector only has seven major industries- food processing, beverages, textiles, leather, chemicals, metal processing, and cement processing.  When comparing these industries to the rest of the industries in the developed “world”, Ethiopia isn’t a major player because most developed countries can produce or do produce these things cheaper and, at times, more efficiently.

One major key tosustainable development involves meeting the basic needs of the citizens in these developing countries.  The Food for Peace program tries to ensure that these needs are met by providing the basic forms of food that is necessary to survive.  Food aid can be seen as a way of providing hope to starving, sick, and malnourished Ethiopians.  Ethiopia ranks in the top five for African countries that deal with a high risk of major infectious diseases (see table 2).  As Moyo (2009, 5) asserts, “Africa is the only continent where life expectancy is less than sixty years; today it hovers at fifty years.  One in seven children across the African continent die before the age of five and roughly 50 percent of Africa’s population is young- below the age of fifteen years”.  When it comes to comparing the statistics for Ethiopia compare to the entire continent of African, it must be noted that 46.3% of the population is under the age of 14 and the average life expectancy in Ethiopia is only 59 years.  The International Food Policy Research Institute notes that 35% of Ethiopian children are underweight and an astounding 40 percent of the population is malnourished.

The best way to observe if an implemented plan was successful is by examining those who benefited from the program.   Many countries that previously received food aid in the early years of PL 480 have become self-sufficient, they’re agricultural exporters, they can purchase products on the open market, and, most importantly, they’ve become international donors for other countries who are in need of aid.  When it comes to the effectiveness of the policy, some countries end up better off than other countries.  For over thirty years, Ethiopia has been plagued with an ongoing cycle of famine.  In 2003, the USAID and FPP organizations shipped aid to 13.2 million Ethiopians which averted another widespread spread famine outbreak.  The constant reoccurrence of famine does not mean that the current policy is not working to improve and save the lives of Ethiopians; whereas, it’s more of a sign that the country needs long term help because it has not been adequately able to sustain development in the long run.  When it comes to Food for Peace, slow growth in Ethiopia does not mean no growth.  In that same year, Food for Peace made sure the nutritional requirements were met for 61,000 people who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.  At that time, members in the Ethiopian community noted that absenteeism for underweight children who were in school fell from fifty-two to thirty-seven percent.  In 2009, the Food for Peace organization and other private donors constructed ninety-five km of roads which connected ten Dewe communities, they built three troughs for livestock watering, they rehabilitated five shallow wells, five schools were also rehabilitated, they trained 137 farmers in water conservation, and they also trained 100 women in heath, nutrition and hygiene behaviors.

In 2007, the USAID established the first food aid warehouse in Djibouti to have food aid on stock when it was needed in Africa or Asia.  Within that year, fifty-seven percent of the prepositioned food made its way to Ethiopia and the Sudan without the normal 3 to 4 month shipping time.  Reviewing the success of the warehouse in Africa, USAID raised its storage capacity from two million to ten million over the next two years.  Ethiopia also received one hundred and eighty-two million dollars worth of aid in 2007.  In 2008, the WPF improved the lives of 482,000 children in nine hundred and fifteen schools, throughout Ethiopia, by just providing school time meals.  Ethiopia needs so much help that in 2009, Ethiopia was ranked second overall in countries that received Food for Peace Program food aid which was 386.4 million and 328 million also went to Ethiopia from the emergency food program.  In 2010, the U.S. contributed one hundred and seven million dollars to the WFP mission in Ethiopia.  The Food for Peace Program works directly with the USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) which tries to prevent wide spread droughts and famine across Ethiopia.  In response to the current drought, which occurred in 2011, $231,192,658 dollars has been used to help 1.2 million Ethiopians.

Some U.S. policy makers want Congress to overhaul two provision of the Food for Peace Program.  Its been estimated that government could save over 500 million dollars a year by ending the U.S. food aid cargo preferences and by eliminating monetized food aid to the receiving countries.  In 1954, the U.S government added a provision to food aid commodities which mandated that seventy-five percent of the commodities must be shipped with registered U.S. vessels.  Policy makers argue that this provision was added by the military to ensure that ships and crews were available during war time.  In 2006, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) noted that taxpayers paid $140 million dollars in unnecessary transportation cost.  Consequently, the cost of U.S. food aid shipments are both sixty percent higher than European nations and only one-third of the U.S. federal food aid dollars actually purchase food.  The second program gives the U.S. Agency for international Development (USAID) the right to have private voluntary organizations (PVOs) sell a portion of the aid that they received from the U.S. to pay for development projects and the administrative costs associated with the PVOs.  In 1996, PVOs only sold twenty-eight percent of the aid, but by 2001, that number jumped to sixty percent.  What’s worse than profiting off of food aid?  The fact the American taxpayer foots the bill!  The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) also criticizes that the use of monetized food aid is not only a bad way for developing countries to acquire money for developmental projects but it also makes the recipient country more dependent on food aid.

With the rising cost of food, the U.S. government (Congress) wants to cut back spending on the program.  Cutting spending in some places/sectors may be necessary, but to cut spending to the Food for Peace Program would be a death sentence to many underprivileged citizens in the world.  A mist these Food for Peace budget cuts, the World Food Program USA (WFP USA) rallied two-thousand grassroots advocates to jump on the bandwagon for maintaining funding that aids poor countries around the world. Thanks to the help from these grassroots supporters, the budget cuts have yet to be enacted.

One way to reduce the amount of Food Aid that is shipped to Ethiopia would be to eliminate import tariffs on goods that come from developing countries and exported subsidized food that also goes to these countries.

“Estimates suggest that Africa loses around US $500 billion each year because of restrictive trade embargoes- largely in the form of subsidies by Western governments to Western farmers.  With millions of tons of subsidized exports flooding the market so cheaply, African Farmers cannot possibly compete.  Like cotton, sugar subsidies hurt Africa.  The charity Oxfam estimated the regime has deprived Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Malawi of potential export earnings of US $238 million since 2001” (Moyo 2009, 115).

Western nations believe that we are helping because we supply many Ethiopians with the food that they need, but we are often hindering their growth because we don’t want their food.  This is not sustainable and it slows development in developing countries like Ethiopia.  The US must eliminate this policy if these countries are ever going to achieve Broad Based Sustainable Development.

“Industrialized countries discriminate against processed agricultural commodities from developing countries.  This is true for coffee, oil seed, rubber, and many other commodities.  This is done to protect the processors of such products in the industrialized countries.  Most parties would benefit if coffee, cocoa, and rubber were processed in developing countries where wages are lower, so they could be imported and sold in industrialized countries at lower prices” (Weaver 1997; Rock, 1997; Kusterer, 1997, 147-48).

The food that we supply should come with additional support in the form of education.  The US government spent millions if not billions of dollars on teaching US citizens how to farm both efficiently and successfully, but, when it comes to places like Ethiopia, Moyo (2009, 153) notes that, “The West sent aid to Africa and ultimately did not care about the outcome.  China, on the other hand, sends cash to Africa and demands returns.  With returns Africans get jobs, get roads, get food, making more Africans better off, and (at least in the interim) the promise of some semblance of political stability”.  Giving food aid to Ethiopia is obligation that America must never forgo on.  Changes can be made to make sure that Ethiopians can develop and grow like all other NICs, but we must not turn our back on a country that has been involved in civil strifes, feminine, and food insecurities.  If aid was initially given to stop the spread of communism in the 1940s, what will happen to Ethiopia’s 90,873,739 citizens and, most importantly, to the estimated 1 billion people in Africa (in 2008 Africa’s population was estimated at 967 million)[2], if the still somewhat communist country of China continues to takeover with the unprecedented amounts of FDI that they flood into many African countries?

Developmental change starts with educating, feeding, empowering, connecting and vaccinating the children in developing countries.  In 2011, The Food for Peace program awarded Ethiopia thirty million dollars in aid a year for the next five years.  This number is much lower than previous years, but with the inclusion of new roads, and educated Ethiopians, the thirty million can go a lot further than the millions from previous years.  There are eight different tribes in the Lower Omo River in Southwest Ethiopia that have inhabited Ethiopia for the past 2000 years (Bodi, Kara, Kwegu, Mursi, Nyangatom,etc.).  When the FFP connected the 10 Dewe tribes, that was a good start but since then the Ethiopian government has been building a highway that will eventually connect (government speculating completion will be in 2014) the Omo tribes to  4 other tribes, and also to the main sector inside the Ethiopian economy.  As pat of their Millennium Development Goals, the Ethiopian government has pledge to donate 10 million dollars a year for the next five years to educate and empower Ethiopia’s subsistent agricultural farmers.  This a positive step forward for the Ethiopian government because their economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for 41% of their GDP and houses 85% of the countries total employment sector.  It must be noted that when it comes to developing counties like Ethiopia, growth is not always equitable and profit producing; however, if certain steps are taken by the government, broad based sustainable development can be achievable.  Weaver, Rock, and Kusterer (1997, 66) assess that:

“Governments can do a number of things to promote broad-based growth.  It helps if the income-producing assets, land and educated and healthy labor, are equitably distributed at the beginning of the development process.  Government needs to carry out land reform when its not equitably distributed.  Governments must finance basic education and basic health care for all so that workers and farmers can take advantage of the opportunities provided by equitable growth.  Finally governments must create safety net to provide basic necessities for those who are by passed by growth.”

If steps like this are taken, monitored, and implemented so that positive growth results in the end, the Food for Peace Program may one day be eliminated!


Works Cited Page

Carter, Alix. 2011. “Joint Emergency Operation Plan NGO response to emergency food needs in Ethiopia.” February 14. (February 8, 2012).

Corum, Jason. 2011. “From Congress to Ethiopia: How U.S. Foreign Assistance Encourages Children to go to School.” June 22. (February 8, 2012).

Moyo, Dambisa. 2009. Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux Publishers.

Norris, John. 2011. “Five Steps to Make Our Aid More Effective and Save More Than $2 Billion.” May 5. (Febuary 8, 2012).

Shah, Anup. 2007. “Food Aid.” December 3. (February 8, 2012).

United Nations Development Program. 2005.  Human Development Report International cooperation at a crossroads: Aid, trade and security in an unequal world. New York: UNDP

Weaver, J., Rock, M., & and Kenneth Kusterer. 1997. Achieving Broad-Based Sustainable Development: Governance, Environment, and Growth with Equity. Connecticut: Kumarian Press—ethiopia.html,,menuPK:295939~pagePK:141132~piPK:141107~theSitePK:295930,00.html



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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Political Science