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Page 1: The MSJ Chronicle - Issue 2 June 2105

ISSUE 02 / JUNE 2015



eThe MSJ

Are you a feminist?Charlotte Davey uncovers the real meaning behind this controversial word

Regret?Alexa Condick on why she’s determined to live life to the full

Should imagination be measured?Isabel Rawlings considers the possibility of measuring creativity

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3 Regret? No thanks!

4-5 Reality TV Are we all wasting our time?

6-7 Fox hunting Should the ban be repealed?

8 As a consumer am I being constantly conned?

9 Choices

10-11 Are you a feminist?

12-13 Oxford Who is good enough to get in?

14-15 US Westward Expansion & The Holocaust

16 E-cigarettes Are they the right way forward?

17 You are good enough!

18-19 I am not eating that!

20-21 Fashion: my thirst for knowledge

22-23 How much difference does a day make?

24-25 Rock into maturity

26-27 Should imagination be measured?


If you would like to submit an article for inclusion in the next issue of

‘The MSJ Chronicle’, please contact the editorial team on:

[email protected]

editorialJohn Locke said, “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours”. As your editors, our aim has been for this publication to leave you, the reader, not only enriched with knowledge, but also to have challenged your current perceptions of personal, political, cultural and historical issues.

Following the phenomenal success of the first edition of The Chronicle, we were set extremely high standards by the 2014 editors, Vicky and Jenny. Whilst wanting to continue their stylish revival of the magazine, we also hoped to bring our own ideas to this year’s edition. In keeping with MSJ’s ethos of individuality and self-expression, our vision was to create a contemporary, intimate and honest publication that represents the diverse and distinct views of our contributors with sophistication and professionalism.

Despite some surprising obstacles, our hopes for this magazine have been entirely fulfilled and our dream has been made a reality. This would not have been possible without every single one of our talented contributors and their relentless determination and effort and, to each one of them, we extend our profound thanks. We would also like to give our heartfelt appreciation to Dr Jones for editing and managing the process from start to finish and to Mr Vaughan for bringing our ideas to life on the page.

Editing this edition has been an incredibly insightful experience; we have learnt the importance of clear communication, meeting deadlines and the delicate art of creating cohesive and intelligent articles. We are exceptionally proud to introduce the 2015 Chronicle, the second of what we hope will be a long line of editions that celebrate the quality and talent of the students at MSJ in an invigorating and accessible format.

So, we invite you to savour our feast of journalistic endeavour and, in keeping with John Locke’s philosophy, take ownership of the materials extended to you in this publication.

Ellie, Issy & LouiseYour editors-in-chief

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


Alexa Condickby

According to The Oxford Dictionary the definition of

regret is, “to feel sad, repentant or disappointed (over something that one has done or failed to do)”1. So, I’ve decided to stop bothering with regret, as whatever may have happened, it is in the past and it has shaped who I am.

You see, tomorrow, I might get hit by a bus, a tree could fall and crush me or I could have an aneurism and die. The list is endless. So, rather than saying, “what if” I have recently started saying “why not?” My point is to stop wasting time and actually start doing the things that I want to do.

I am not advocating this as an excuse for engaging in a frenzy of shopping related activities, for example, if I die tomorrow, I might as well spend my wages, but I do believe that one should spend their money on experiences rather than material things. We cannot ever purchase long-term happiness. You might get a buzz from a new pair of shoes but ten years down the line I bet that you will remember the night you had wearing those shoes rather than the shoes themselves. My point is, they’re not going to last but your memories will.

The crux of the matter is that I have found myself putting off “starting my life” because of stupid little excuses such as, I’m too young; I’m too busy or I will never be able to achieve this. On reflection, I realise that I want to do and experience new things such as, learning to play the guitar; learning a new language; meeting new people in different countries and just having spontaneous fun. I want to travel along the Inca Trail and visit Mexican Temples and scuba dive in the Red Sea; there are so many experiences available to us that it seems shocking to me that anyone would want to pass them up.

Throughout my life I’ve been told stories of when my mum was in her 20s and of her experiences of travelling. She had an amazing time with her friends and she continues to love travel. In short, I’m jealous of the time that my mum has spent working in Florida, South America and the Caribbean. Many a family event consists of my auntie, uncle and mum bouncing stories around about their time working abroad. They would constantly travel together

on ships and go to parties on the beaches and spend all night dancing and meeting new people who influenced their lives. It was less about thinking about what the future held for them and more about really living in the moment and discovering who they were, surrounded by exotic people, cultures and experiences.

My dad is another family member who has travelled, although he claims it doesn’t count because it’s his job. Many a FaceTime conversation features him in front of an idyllic backdrop of swaying palm trees. I have had a globe in my room since before I can remember and recall nights pinning the points my dad had visited on his round-the-world trips. So you can see where my desire to leave my small town and go globetrotting comes from.

My bucket list is packed with things I want to do and I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to have already visited many places around the world. Fulfilling my life now means never saying “no” to opportunities out of fear; it means creating as many memories as possible. In 2012 I traveled to Costa Rica and experienced zip-lining through the Rainforest. Flying through the trees so high up in the sky (the lines start at 30ft) was exhilarating, incredible and terrifying at the same time and undoubtedly a moment that will stay with me forever.

I don’t need my name in a book or my face in a magazine and I don’t crave fame. My aim now is to eradicate regret from my life and to do this I plan on taking every opportunity that comes my way. Let’s just say I’m looking for a bit of adventure and excitement.


Regret?No thanks!

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02

REALITY TVAudience figures for the Halloween special in 2014 for Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor were 9.7 million and 7.4 million viewers respectively, indicating that audiences find this type of program entertaining but why do people really watch reality TV?

According to CBSN, one reason that this type of program is attractive to viewers is that people simply want to know what a stranger would do in a particular situation (Connor, 2015). In ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’, for example, the audience want to see how the celebrity contestants will react to trials such as eating ‘live’ bugs. The exotic jungle location also adds to the appeal as, in England, it is not part of our normal cultural experience to cope with rainforest conditions.

This suggests that the attraction of these shows is not all about the games the contestants play. We, the audience, want to catch a glimpse of the participants’ ‘real’ identity so we can connect with them and get past the mask they wear on the screen. We want to know more about the person behind the celebrity.

We also have to remember that these programs are designed to challenge or surprise us and “either we find them entertaining or we find them so shocking that we are simply unable to turn away” (Cline, 2015). It is this element of surprise that makes them addictive, for example, watching celebrities attempting to eat delicacies such as fish eyeballs. Our cultural codes tell us that this is an act that most of us would never usually consider doing, but as a viewer we want to see the contestants’ reactions and whether they will actually play the game.

So who has the power; is it the TV program or the participant? As an audience we wait to see if they will dare to refuse and rebel.

Reality TV can also feel very ‘real’, for example with Big Brother, all the action takes place in the house or the garden and these are situations that most viewers can relate to. The show reels you in as you can become part of the action by voting to have players taken off the show.

Are we all wasting our time?

by Beth Easterbrook

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


The shows are also a test to see who can survive without folding mentally. The players, “are cut off from the outside world”, the only contact being with Big Brother (Big Brother 24-7, 2014). This is a particularly difficult scenario as in reality, we are used to being able to contact anyone at any time. Big Brother is a clever show as it keeps its audience gripped by updating the format of the programme slightly each time; for example, in this version they have created contestants who are spies, adding an extra dimension of uncertainty and interest for the viewer.

But are these reasons good enough; as an audience, should we be enjoying someone’s discomfort? Reality shows depend on putting people in new and awkward situations in order to force them to react. Is that something that we can justify as being entertaining? Is it that we feel powerful and they have no control over their situation?

A convincing reason not to watch is simply because the programmes are dull, lack any enriching content and they are a “MASSIVE bore!” (Bull, 2011). The point here is that if the people on the shows have no substance then

consequently they will only be able to create a show that has no substance, “If anything, all Made in Chelsea has done is reinforce the point that boring people make boring TV” (McConnachie, 2014). Just watching people living their lives does not help us live ours. The viewer gains nothing because the programmes depict a false representation, “reality TV isn’t entirely true to life” (McGeorge, 2014).

The format of the shows often revolves around relationships which means that it is easy for viewers to relate to the people on an emotional level and posting on social media about these shows, “just serves our need to feel like we’re better than other people” (Rosetta, 2015). In this case, the viewer is only using the program to raise their own self-esteem and feel superior about their own life.

Another reason not to watch reality TV is the negative focus which means that, “there is a complete lack of positive redeeming messages” and “there is never any attempt to justify these shows as enriching or worthwhile in any way” (Cline, 2015). This is not real life but an illusion of reality.

In conclusion, as viewers we must be careful not to get sucked in to programs that offer little content; can’t we do better than tuning into the boring and shallow attempts that we are offered in the name of entertainment?


Connor. P, (2015). Why Do We Tune In To Reality TV? [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2015].

Cline. (2015). Ethics of Reality TV: Should We Watch? [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2015]

Big Brother 24-7, (2014). Show Format | Celebrity Big Brother 15 UK | Big Brother UK | Channel 5. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2015].

Bull, S. (2011). ‘It’s so bad it’s hysterical’ New reality show Made In Chelsea doesn’t live up to the hype as viewers label it ‘banal and boring’ [online] Mail Online. Available at: [Accessed 14 Nov. 2014]

McConnachie, G. (2014). Made In Chelsea? More like ‘Made in Woodwork’- The Daily Record – TV &Film Blog. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014]

McGeorge, A. (2014). Are the Kardashians the fakest family on TV? Our top 20 faux-ments from reality show. [online] mirror. Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2015].

Rosetta, (2015). Three reasons to stop watching reality TV shows. [online] Available at [Accessed 6 Feb. 2015].

As an audience, should we be enjoying someone’s


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Banned in 2005, fox hunting has been a traditional English sport since the 16th century1. Originally only attended by the upper classes who could afford to keep two or three horses specifically for hunting, it has now become more accessible to everyone, with 240 active hunts in England and Wales. So ten years after making their decision, why should the government consider repealing the ban? I believe that there are three key reasons why: to decrease fox population numbers, to keep it in line with other blood sports and most

importantly to ensure that an important part of English heritage and tradition survives.

In the countryside, without hunting, there has been population increase in foxes. This, in turn, has led to an increase in the number of road accidents involving foxes, an increase in attacks on livestock by foxes and a growth in the number of urban foxes. This has led to more people using their own ways to reduce the fox population; namely through the use of poison, shooting

Why should the current ban on fox hunting be repealed?


The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02

by Eleanor Revill

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and trapping however, these methods come with their own problems2.

Poisoning foxes can be an effective method of reducing numbers but the results are not always desirable as animals in the food chain can be affected, for example if a poisoned fox carcass is not properly disposed of and is ingested by another mammal, such as scavenging birds, then they too will be poisoned. The chances of actually killing a fox with poison are also very low as foxes have a keen sense of smell and so can often detect it. It is more likely that something else might eat the bait first, possibly a neighbouring cat.

There are similar problems with shooting. It is unlikely that a clear shot will be had, instead the fox will most likely be injured by the bullet and die slowly and painfully of either gangrene or starvation.

Trapping is an extremely unreliable method as it presumes that all foxes will walk into a metal cage to eat the bait. As foxes are notoriously clever creatures (there was some truth behind the tale of Fantastic Mr Fox) this makes it unlikely. Furthermore, if traps are not checked regularly then

the fox could face starving to death in a cage which, once again, is not a humane way to go. Other creatures could also be enticed by the bait and caught by accident.

From the longer list of blood sports, fox hunting has been the only one to be banned in recent years. Both gamebird and waterfowl shooting and are still legal3. This does not follow. With fox hunting, if the fox is caught, the death is relatively painless as foxhounds are trained to go for the neck. If, the hunt master has reached the hounds and they haven’t dispatched the fox, then it is done so quickly. Furthermore, generally only unhealthy and old foxes are caught by the hunt. Healthy foxes can reach 30mph whilst foxhounds can only get to 25mph. Foxes also naturally mask their scent by following streams and running along the tops of fences.

Has society simply moved too far away from the reality of the countryside, where the cycle of life and death is part of life? As I write this, lambing is just beginning, bringing new life into the countryside. However over the winter many of the elderly sheep may have died and that’s just how life goes. But have we become soft as a society where everything has to die a natural death or until it is too weak to go on so we euthanise it?

For foxes, hunting simply ends their life cycle when they are too weak to escape. When they become too slow to escape, they will not be agile enough to hunt wild prey.

Finally, hunting is part of England’s rich history; people dressing in their riding best to gallop across the countryside. It is a tradition that hasn’t changed much since it began and the enjoyment and excitement derived from it is the same that Henry VIII experienced in 1520. This is why it should be celebrated, not quelled. It is a tradition that not only includes the people participating in it but many families also come out to watch the Boxing Day processions ride through the street. It creates an opportunity for families to spend time together which is becoming more difficult in today’s busy society.

To conclude, I would say that the ban on fox hunting should be repealed not only because of the problems caused by the rise in the population but because the law discriminates against fox hunting4. We should be preserving this important part of English history; we should be celebrating it, not crushing it.

The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


1 2 3 4

In the countryside, without hunting, there has been

population increase in foxes.

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02

Recently, I have found myself asking some wider ethical questions about the way retailers promote their goods. Have you ever wondered how companies are able to afford the ‘amazing’ deals they promote? Have you ever questioned how well they really work out for the customer?

Advertising campaigns that promote, for example, out of season goods are common and this is something that has always been promoted. For example, an ice cream manufacturer is likely to offer a promotion, with their retailer and the customer, to encourage more sales in colder weather when consumers are less likely to buy. This promotion might be there to ensure stability of sales, in order to sustain the factory’s work outside of high summer, for example – reducing price with a drop in temperature (10p off for every 5° below a certain temperature) or offering special

winter flavours such as gingerbread ice-cream or mulled wine flavour.1

It makes good business sense for the factory to keep busy “out of season” as overheads such as rent and staff wages still have to be paid.

In business it is always better to sell your product at a lower profit margin than to have no sales at all. So their marketing strategy is a key part in helping the survival of their business.

However, there are other kinds of promotions that I am a lot less comfortable with. For example, sofa companies, such as DFS, seem to be always promoting ‘half-price’ sales. Carpet shops like Carpet Right, also often have huge discounts off their products. It gets me wondering what the “real” price of these goods is. Is it ever really the so called “full price” or is it actually the offer price? And

is it ethical to suggest to consumers that they are getting a bargain, when in fact very few people have paid the full price? Legally this practice is fine – as long as the product has been full price for 28 days2, but I question whether it is morally right or just a

marketing ploy.

So, is it any wonder that my generation has become cynical? When so called ethical blogger, Zoella3 publishes a book in her own name, teenagers feel cheated when they discover that it has actually been written by somebody else. Especially as this is a blogger, not a celebrity, and the whole attraction of bloggers is that they are “real people” who become popular because they are seen as being authentic.

To me, this is where marketing has gone too far, when it has become what seems like a deceitful practice. This leads us to become mistrustful as a generation.

So where does this leave me as a consumer? I understand it is a company’s job to make as much profit as possible, but I suppose it feels like they are lying to me, the consumer. If companies continuously offer discounts, I will continue to feel used and unsure of the truth! Although let me assure you that I definitely, one hundred per cent, wrote this article!

As a consumer, am I being CONSTANTLY CONNED?

by Lucy Macaulay


2 3

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A person on average in their life makes 773,618 decisions or choices1. Some are easy and quick to make, such as deciding what you are going to wear in the morning whereas some are more difficult, like what options to take for GCSE or at A-level. Some choices will have an effect on the distant future, whereas others affect what will happen right now; but what makes us make a choice and why do we sometimes make bad ones?

Although some choices are made in seconds others can leave us pondering, wondering whether we will get it ‘right’. One of the main factors that influence our ability to choose is past experience. This means that people will use their past knowledge to try and refrain from making the same mistake twice, so if you have decided on something and it has turned out to be a mistake then this would warn you not to make this particular decision again.

But our decision making process is also prone to flaws. Cognitive biases influence the actions we take when making choices. This means that people can dismiss evidence and ignore the bigger picture, such as the impact that having another chocolate will have in the long term2. This can lead to poorly made decisions, however our negative response to loss aversion may, through our bad experiences, enable us to learn from our mistakes.

Another factor in decision making is age. Younger people can worry more about the decisions they make, thinking that they are not old or experienced enough to make important choices. At the other end of the age spectrum it is thought that, because cognitive functions decline with age, some decisions, especially those related to uncertainty, are often more easily taken by the young. Another factor is that older people can be overconfident when compared with younger people. However, some research suggests that age does lead to improved long-term strategic decision-making skills3.

This explains how we make our choices, but not why we sometimes make bad choices. One of the main factors leading to poor decision making is stress. Having a high level of motivation to avoid making decisions you will regret can lead to stress. This can lead to making a bad decision as you feel unable to consider all the options4 available to you.

When we look at all of the choices that we have made in our lives, we can often remember most of the bad ones whereas perhaps we can only recall a handful of the good choices.

What if it turned out that, in reality, you haven’t made as many bad choices compared with the good ones? What if it was just the fact that your perspective is skewed negatively? Many people feel that they have made more ‘bad’ choices than ‘good’ due to emotional memory attachment, so if you have made a ‘bad’ choice it usually involves an emotional experience. These strong negative emotions then become attached to the choices that we remember the most. This means that when we reflect on our choices, the good become outweighed by the strength of the emotion attached to the bad.

In conclusion, next time you are faced with making a choice, think: don’t over-think and don’t under-think. Don’t let the stress of the possibility of making a bad decision affect the decision in hand. Just keep calm and trust your instinct as, after all, in your life you have a lot of decisions to make.

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by Alex Knapper

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


“I am a feminist.” I heard an impassioned Emma Watson say as she made her speech for the UN on gender equality and, as she shared her views on this subject with the world, I was inspired to think about the possibility for changes that feminism could accomplish. However, I was shocked to discover from my research the fact that many people who claim to be feminists do not actually know the real meaning of the word. So, I found myself asking: What does it really mean to be a feminist?

What thoughts spring to mind when you hear the word feminist in a conversation? Do you connect it with the popular stereotypes that feminists are all men haters and bra burners? In fact, this is simply not the case. It is sad, but true, that feminism – the

movement for fighting for gender equality in social and economic situations, and women’s rights within them – is too often confused with the animosity towards men. To be a feminist, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary, means a, “person who believes people should have equitable places in society.” It does not say that feminists are fighting for women to become superior in society. This is a word that is now subject to ugly, repulsive and grisly connotations.

Stereotyping and miscommunication through social media, the internet and people themselves, have all lead to negative associations with the idea of feminism. Media reported female acts of aggression after emotional break-ups, have led to the idea in society that all feminists must hate men. However, the people who assume this

are wrong and have failed to see that it is not men that are to be hated, but the institutions, organisations and influential individuals who support the discrimination against women. This powerful and misunderstood word that represents the campaign for social and political change has been interpreted as a simple battle of the sexes.


Many people who claim to be

feminists, do not actually know

the real meaning of the word

by Charlotte Davey

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


Nevertheless, Gloria Steinem, nationally recognized as a leader of the early feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, said ‘Though we have the courage to raise our daughters like our sons, we rarely have the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.’ This expresses that for too long, men have been viewed and treated by society as the dominant gender.

The fight for gender equality cannot stop as according to UNESCO “Millions of girls around the world are still being denied an education.”1. At MSJ, this might be a difficult concept to understand, as we are given the best opportunities available. We are not told we cannot go to school or that we do not have the right to a good education just because of our gender. We are not told we cannot sit at a desk or ask questions because we are not boys. We are not denied education simply because we are girls. Our parents send us to a school where our gender is valued, and we are encouraged to perform to our best ability. They believe we have the right to an education just as much as any other child. They do not discriminate against us. Not all girls are as lucky. Unfortunately a lack of education leads to a lack of skills and so a lack of business opportunities for women, making it difficult for girls caught in this cycle of poverty to escape.

For those women who can access job opportunities, the fight to gain the same status as men is increasingly evident. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn just 77%2 of what men earn for the same amount of work. In the UK it was 85p for every £1 earned by a man3. In addition to this gender wage gap, women can often face a challenge when it comes to promotions due to their gender. This is evident when you look at the ratio of men to women in leadership positions at major companies, with research stating that women hold less than a third of the UK’s most influential jobs4. Furthermore, women who have children may find themselves penalised for taking time off and jobs that are considered traditional women’s work, such as nursing and child care, can be lower paid work. Across Europe women earn around 16%5 less per hour than men.

It is these shocking figures and facts that have made

me realise there is much more to the word ‘feminism’ than reducing the pay gap between men and women. It is the simple idea that men and women are equal. It is the struggle to create the circumstances in which both men and women are respected for their ability, not their gender. Nowhere in the world can say that they have this issue under control. This is why feminism, in all its forms, exists; to fight for gender

equality for both women AND men; not to destroy the opposite gender. It is because of this, I call myself a feminist. I believe that women and men are entitled to the same rights. I believe that gender does not define a person’s ability. The question is, do you?

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“In order to graduate from Oxbridge, you must be fluent in Latin and Ancient Greek, have a signed certificate confirming your ability to operate a punt to a satisfactory standard, sign allegiance to the Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England, and demonstrate at least intermediate-level proficiency at fencing, archery, horsemanship, versification...”1

From the point of view of someone who has interviewed a principal of one of Oxford’s colleges and researched opinions and assertions posted online, I have come to realise that the general perception of life the top universities is definitely not the whole picture.

Oxford and Cambridge are world-class institutions that are often thought to be the best universities to study at in the world; it is not, therefore, surprising that the media is in constant pursuit of berating them for biased views against those who are actually not, according to their stereotype, rich and upper-class or “toffs”.

After speaking with the principal of Somerville College, Oxford, Alice Prochaska, I managed to deduce three main conclusions that bring respite to the many myths and common perceptions that surround the prestigious universities.

Firstly, Oxford students are seen as being part of the academic elite, so who exactly is good enough to get into Oxford? Is there such thing as the ‘perfect candidate’? According to Dr Prochaska, the so-called ‘perfect candidate’ is non-existent; “We do not compare like with like. We take an interest in each individual and are looking for people who can think for themselves and have a genuine passion for their subject, as well, of course, as having achieved excellent grades”. Therefore, contrary to common misconceptions, Oxford is not accessible to the student who can memorise answers, who is overly worried about saying the right thing or who has simply

slogged away for years, although having a firm work-ethic is an agreeable quality.

The existence of a “perfect candidate” is a subject that has been much debated by the media, with ethnicity, race, social and religious background often featuring as part of this discussion. In 2013, the Guardian accused Oxford of, “bias against ethnic minority applicants”, after figures revealed, “Caucasian applicants are up to twice as likely to get a place than others, even when they get the same grades”. However, after discussing this view with Dr Prochaska, she stated that ethnicity or religious background are not even considered in the admissions process.

Ethnicity is completely irrelevant; all candidates are simply just candidate numbers on the admissions database up until the interview; “Everybody is on a completely even footing at the interview. By the time you get to the interview, nobody is going to judge you on what social class you come from or anything else other than your academic potential.”

On a positive note, Oxford takes into account candidates who have experienced any kind of trauma during the time of application and also places a marker on students who may require financial support on acceptance to try to reduce the barriers to gaining and taking up a place.

Debate has also occurred in the media regarding private vs state education, and whether this is an influential factor. “62% of UK students at Oxford come from state schools”, revealed Dr Prochaska; a seemingly surprising figure, which completely contradicts the myths about the universities containing only financially secure students. Secondly, Oxbridge interviews are undoubtedly a daunting prospect associated with the selection process. This does not mean to say, however, that they are the most important; the interviews are only one part of the



The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02


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whole process. Dr Prochaska mentioned that she hears frequently of tutors who still accept students who did not have particularly impressive interviews, because all the rest was so impressive! She stated that,

Other than the well-known, “What is a banana?” question, other Oxbridge interview tales include a tutor who said, “Surprise me” in response to which one candidate supposedly set the table on fire and another threw a brick out of the window, without first opening the window. These humorous stories that continue to circulate in the media and through word-of-mouth, all combine to produce a confusing

depiction of what purportedly goes on behind Oxbridge’s medieval doors. Dr Prochaska, commented that, “Quite often when people come away with terrible stories about interviews that they’ve had, part of the problem was that they were actually expecting it to be fierce. None of the tutors are likely to be too vexatious, but we would not expect a candidate to set the table on fire!”

Finally, Oxford is world famous for its excellence in all areas of academia, from Biochemistry to English Literature; their reputation for all-round excellence is unquestionable. As well as being so highly ranked in all subjects, the universities are also known for being outstanding in extra-curricular areas such as drama and rowing.

So, why is Oxford so good at everything? According to Dr Prochaska, it all comes down to selectiveness, “The students that are accepted are mostly people who are very strongly motivated in their own right anyway, not just academically. Also, there is peer-pressure; everybody expects themselves and their friends to do well and to achieve their maximum potential.”

The colleges all have very long traditions of exceedingly high standards, however, Somerville college is unique in that it is especially pioneering with regard to women in academia, “The college gained a reputation for being the leading women’s college academically at a very early stage in the days when there were no mixed colleges”. Numerous academically pioneering women attended Somerville including Vera Brittain, Margaret Thatcher, Winifred Holtby and Iris Murdoch. Despite this impressive legacy, there is still a long way for women to go in academic life, “The male to female ratio at undergraduate level and postgraduate level is about equal, although established academics include far more men than women.”

From my stimulating interview with Somerville College’s Principal Dr Alice Prochaska I feel able to conclude three things: there is, in fact, no such thing as the ‘perfect candidate’; the point of the interviews is not to frighten, but to challenge and to expect a rigorous but fair admissions process and to be delighted by the challenge and stimulus that it offers.



The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02

“People shouldn’t feel the interviews are the make or

break of the admissions; schools prepare students for

trick questions but there aren’t in fact going to be any –

we just want to see that you know how to think!”

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The MSJ Chronicle / ISSUE 02

Despite their differences in century, objectives and geographical location, there are some clear similarities between The Holocaust and Westward Expansion of America in the 1800s. Following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 of 727,000km for $15 million, doubling the size of the US overnight, ‘Manifest Destiny’1 swept across America through the 19th century. The mass genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945 in which over 6 million Jews were murdered, may not normally be associated with that of Westward Expansion, however, at the root of both events is the emotion of hatred.

US Westward Expansion throughout the 19th century relied on claiming the land Native Americans had inhabited since 10,000 BCE. Over the period of 90 years, 67% of Native America was taken over and destroyed by Americans. It is clear that Americans strove to achieve united power through Western Expansion, as advocated by the famous quote “Go West, young man” credited to Horace Greenley2. However, this drive to expand doesn’t fully explain why Americans felt they had to destroy Native American culture in the process.

On the surface, American and Native American Indian lifestyles were discordant and antipathetic due to a variety of factors; uncommon language, the incompatibility of nomadic and settler lifestyles and the difference in cultures and traditions. However, why should these differences prevent negotiation? President John F. Kennedy summed it up when he said,

“You cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

It was the belief of the American government that they were justified in their pursuit of land, even though it resulted in the destruction of Native American Indian culture and traditional ways of life3. Why exactly did Americans in 1864 in the Sandy Creek Massacre murder 450 Native Indians in cold blood? This was an act of hatred, not just incompatibility.

Abeysinghe’s argument as to why The Holocaust came about is detailed in his book ‘An Analysis of Mein Kampf’4 where he states that:

“In order to hate somebody to the point of genocide what you require is to feel simultaneously (and contradictorily) that that person or entity is both superior and inferior. You need to perceive them as being a tangible threat as well as a laughable incompetent.”

According to Abeysinghe the logical explanation of why Hitler decided upon genocide was simply hatred of a people he believed to be inherently inferior but also superior due to their wealthy and ostentatious lifestyle.

How did Hitler come to the conclusion that Jews were inferior? Hitler had a minimal understanding of Jewish tradition or religion and I believe that lack of understanding often results in fear.

This theory can also be applied to the Westward

“You cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

US westward expansionThe correlation between 1800s

by Louise Hayesand The Holocaust

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1 the doctrine or belief that the expansion of the United States throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable



4 Abeysinghe, I (2012) Hitler’s Youth: An Analysis of Mein Kampf

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Expansion of America. President Thomas Jefferson stated that, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past”, reflecting the emphasis

and enthusiasm for future endeavours. Americans believed that Native American Indians were inferior, due to an assumed American superiority of language, culture, industrialisation and sophistication. But, despite developments in artillery, such as the Winchester C Rifle, Native American guerrilla warfare terrified

Americans and they believed that Native Americans were superior in this respect. Americans did not understand the languages or practices of Native American Indians and thus were fearful of them. This sparked the hatred that lead to events such as ‘The Trail of Tears’ in which approximately 500 Native Indians from the Civilised Tribes were left to die from disease and starvation. The destruction of the Native American civilisation is just one example of how the paradoxical belief that something is both inferior and superior can result in hatred.

What can be concluded from the paradox of hatred? Americans hated Native Indians for the same reason Hitler hated the Jews: fear of the unknown and although it’s unrealistic to assume that every lack of understanding results in fear and hatred, Abeysinghe’s paradox of hatred can be applied to present day conflicts.

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Smoking always seems to be one of those things that everyone wants to stop. In the past, there was no easy way out, no short cut, you just had

to believe in yourself and quit, until now that is with the breakthrough of the e-cigarette. It seemingly allows people to ‘smoke’, without actually smoking, but most brands still contain the addictive drug nicotine.

E-cigarettes were developed from an invention in China in 2003. They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from replicas of normal cigarettes to look-alike sonic screwdrivers for the Doctor Who lovers of the world. In recent years the number of e-cigarette smokers has grown dramatically, for example, in the UK the number of e-cigarette users has increased from 700,000 in 2012 to 2.1 million in 20131. This shows the huge scale of their use.

But what happened to the will power involved in quitting smoking, does it even exist anymore? I was on the way back from Worcester on a train, and opposite and in front of me sat three e-cigarette smokers carelessly blowing the vapour in my direction. Admittedly it was much better than having cigarette smoke blown in my face, but on public transport smoking normal cigarettes is not permitted, so why should people think that it is acceptable to use e-cigarettes?

The rapid rise in the number of people using these e-cigarettes especially in the UK has led to the questions around how they should be dealt with in public. If a person sitting next to you happily lit a cigarette in a restaurant, it would cause concern and the person would

be made to be put it out or asked to leave. Under the same circumstances the use of an e-cigarette is more problematic. Is the person using it doing nothing wrong, or should they be stopped?

Another concern about these ‘fake’ cigarettes is that we do not yet know the long term effect of them on their users, as we have no long term research.

“Researchers know that the nicotine contained in cigarettes constricts blood vessels. However, they don’t yet know the cumulative damage e-cigarettes cause to your heart, lungs and blood vessels.”2

In the short term there have also been some manufacturing problems linked to reports of exploding3 batteries. A man died in August 2014 in the UK and it is thought his death was linked to an e-cigarette that exploded when it had been charging in his bedroom. It is suspected to have caught fire and ignited the tube of an oxygen concentrator in the man’s room4 .

These e-cigarettes are met with much controversy around the world with Brazil, Singapore and Mexico having banned importing and selling the devices, as they believe they pose no benefits to the user, even though tobacco is still on sale in these countries.

It is not yet known what the future holds for these products and whether the UK Government will continue to allow them to be used in public places such as in pubs and restaurants or in the future will they treat them like any other cigarette encouraging people to embrace the concept of will power and simply quit.

1 2 3 4



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Until a couple of years ago I think it would be fair to say my self-confidence wasn’t the highest. I often doubted myself and the thought of meeting new people was slightly terrifying; and there are still days where I get scared for at least a little bit. I’ll have moments (or hours or days) when I believe that I’m not smart enough, not productive enough or not talented enough. But I know that I am not the only one. It is sad to think that many other girls like me sometimes feel the same way. Why does not being good enough seem to be imbedded in every girl’s head?

Not every day is like this, of course. There are days when I feel more confident, when I believe in my own ability; but it can be hard to remember those moments of positivity when I’m mired in feelings of self-doubt, when I feel like an impostor, or when I’m sure I won’t ever quite measure up to the sky-high success of the other talented girls at school whom I watch and admire.

However, the truth is, we are all possessed by some kind of self-doubt from one time or another. The women in my life are incredibly smart, hard-working and talented. I’m not just saying that because they’re my friends (although these are the reasons I want them in my life to begin with), I’m saying this because I truly believe in their abilities and their value. I see it, I hear it and I feel it every time I talk to them. So, it is surprising to learn that they don’t always feel the same on the inside.

But then again, neither do I.

So why do we feel this way? There are, of course, a lot of factors that contribute to feeling not ‘good enough’, including the usual suspects: the unrealistic portrayal of women in fashion and media; the seemingly constant murmurs to be the best sportsman, scientist, friend, daughter, musician you can be; in short visions of perfection – like Beyoncé.

We live in a culture where people are constantly obsessed with trying to be like someone else. As a society, we’ve identified markers of success. Do you have a booming career and a nice house? Are you in a relationship? Are you healthy and fit? More often than not, we compare ourselves to those we feel have already reached these accomplishments, even if their actual reality may be different to the one that we perceive.

Although feelings of low self-worth can be traced to external sources, the pressure to be perfect often comes from within. Deep down we all know that there is no such thing as being ‘perfect’ so, why do we constantly strive to attain the unattainable?

Of course, there is value in setting high expectations and in pushing yourself to pursue goals and accomplishments outside of your comfort zone, but try to remember that striving for something, moving past the fear and going after what you want is its own reward; whether you succeed or not.

Everyone has their own private struggles and insecurities and for every opportunity you’ve missed, for everything you wish you’d said, it’s important to remember what has gone right. When we are bogged down by where we fall short, we can be blind to everything we do have going for us.

We DO have moments when we are good enough, in fact more than good enough.

Be your own definition of success, not someone else’s. Learn from your mistakes.

You are good enough!

“The pressure to be perfect often comes from within.”

by Olivia KimberleyYOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

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Even the co-founder of London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw praises food and so do I. I love food, but like my mum, a nutrition professional, I am a fussy eater. My mum’s opinions on food, such as her dislike of mushrooms, has influenced my behaviour and perhaps prevented me from exploring different types of food. I was considered a troublesome eater when I was younger and all my relatives and friends still say that I am picky. My mum is extremely knowledgeable and therefore opinionated about offal, the internal organs of animals, so if someone asks me if I would like some haggis, my reaction would be to ask for the vegetarian option! Platforms like YouTube can influence people’s views towards food. For example, my reasons for not eating offal were confirmed when I watched a vivid video clip about the manufacture of haggis. My appetite was stifled!

Not only does my mother’s opinion affect my views towards food, but the media also has a powerful influence. Despite Meghan Trainor’s song ‘All About That Bass’, and the #effyourbeautystandards hashtag

campaign on Instagram, which promotes figure acceptance and celebrates all body types, the number of advertisements that advocate that ‘skinny is beautiful’ is far greater than the number of advertisements that don’t.

In order to blend into social norms, the desire to keep fit is another reason I became a fussy eater. When I realised that the impact of the media was beginning to affect my already fussy eating habits, I realised the entertainment industry has gone too far. The most prevalent example of the media’s influence is the lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret. The company features ‘angels’ such as Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne in their fashion shows, which has created a persuasive image of beauty.

‘There is no sincerer love than the love of food.’ 1

Natalie Ngby


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Victoria’s Secret originally branded their campaign ‘The Perfect Body’2 but rapidly rebranded it with a less controversial slogan, ‘A Body For Everybody’ following some understandable criticism. Excessive standards of pulchritude or physical beauty, have been imposed upon women. After the lingerie campaign, the ‘VS diet’ rapidly became a popular trend, with people following the diet in the hope that they would look like Victoria’s Secret models.

The influence of campaigns like this means that, as women, we begin to believe that we should eat less and be especially picky about what we do eat. Some of my friends share William Gilmore Beymer’s sentiment, ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow ye diet’ whereas others are often overly conscious of what they eat, following the notion that, ‘I am a better person when I have less on my plate’. Likewise, celebrity culture also dominates eating patterns and habits. For example, the American actress Goldie Hawn said: ‘If you put junk food in your body, your body will turn to junk’. Comments like this can help people to think twice before opening a pack of chocolate biscuits!

Many young women, like myself, are driven to constantly renegotiate their identity in the face of pressure from the media, YouTube and celebrities. Some people may even think I am enslaved by the modern expectations and dietary attitudes however, I have learnt not to blindly follow or take social conventions that are fuelled by celebrity comments, such as Goldie’s, to extremes. The fact that I have my own independent interpretation of social trends helps me to feel powerful and improves my self-esteem. I have learnt from my mum the dangers of eating ‘junk’ and I have acquired nutritional knowledge from A-level Food Technology. I understand the dangers of letting food control you.

When I came to England from Hong Kong, I became absorbed in the culture and became excited by the

new range of foods that were available to me. I found ways to blend British with Chinese recipes and, despite the pressure from the media either to only or not eat certain foods, I feel that I have created my own British-Chinese food culture! Coming to boarding school and integrating myself in another culture has meant I have

learnt to be healthy, enjoy food and not think about it too much!

From my experiences I feel very strongly that the issues surrounding food are far more serious than we realise and that young girls, like myself, shouldn’t be confined by social expectations. It can be useful to be careful about what you eat, but we must realise that there is a difference between being ‘fussy’ and being controlled by what magazines and the media tell us.

I am proud to call myself a ‘faddy food-lover’, as Matthew Arnold said: ‘Culture is the production and circulation of meaning.’ For me, this means that I value the food I eat but I eat what suits me and only me.

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‘Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times’1

Betsy Johnson once said.

Fashion, therefore, is not all about seeking attention from the opposite sex but rather it is a means of expressing your own identity through the use of visual codes.

Most readers will use magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Fader and Love to provide them with inspiration for their own look and as looks are transitory, part of the fun is in the discovery of the next big trend. However, is it popular or elite magazines that provide a more authentic reflection of real fashion? Both kinds of magazines can help create interesting looks but they are aimed at two very different groups of people.

People buy high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue because they advertise different products, different looks, as well as the latest accessories and products. These magazines are aimed at consumers who appreciate high fashion as they consist of more expensive and elite products.

Vogue leads its readers by identifying the upcoming trends and offers an elite fantasy fashion experience that is created through luscious photo shoots and high quality articles. Readers might just find enjoyment from being seen with the magazine and from simply possessing it. Most of the time, a popular celebrity, with what society labels as an attractive body, is plastered on the lavish covers in expensive clothing and jewellery.2 These celebrities are usually wealthy and inspirational figures that readers aspire to be like.

But this contrived styling could be interpreted as simply telling people how to dress rather than encouraging them to style themselves.

Although high-end clothing is advertised inside the covers, editors do try to incorporate popular brands with a high class twist. An example is the popular high street name, Topshop as the clothes from the more expensive

‘Unique’ collection can sometimes be found in the magazine.3 In short Vogue is telling readers to invest in expensive clothing to look good and creates a need to buy the products it values.

However, there are alternatives that provide another angle on fashion. Two contrasting publications that do this are Love and Fader. They show that, to create an honest, edgy, street look that expresses your true identity, cultural influences are vital. Love and Fader are unlike Vogue due to the reality, rawness and freshness they offer to their readers.

Love is a bi-annual British fashion magazine. It includes photography that has been altered with different medias and when compared with Vogue, this magazine provides inspiration to an artist’s mind rather than a springboard for the advertisement of products. Some could argue that

FASHION: My Thirst For Knowledgeby Oluwatomi Salako

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a bi-annual product cannot keep up with the constant changes in fashion. However, Love magazine comes out in larger sizes showing you what was, is and will be in fashion. This gives people the opportunity to be inspired by trends from different times.

In contrast, Fader magazine is a New York based music publication that documents a diverse range of emerging and iconic music, style and culture through in-depth reporting and a distinct street sensibility.

This magazine is a reflection of the melting pot that is society

with black or bi-racial artists often featured. The mix of cover artist, cultural features, style emphasises that expressing your own identity is important. The cover usually focuses on the artist’s face which has the connotation of looking into a person’s soul4 and in the choice of rapper Nicki Minaj for the Aug/Sep 2014 issue cover5, we are shown a very powerful and fearless female.

To conclude, using a range of magazines to create your style is not a problem and it can, in fact, be helpful. There are many tastes and styles to cater for and although people need to be inspired, they also need to know the places and retailers that they can shop with in order to create a look. To use or own Vogue means to value fantasy and fashion status that can be shared with other consumers or peers. In contrast, to use Love and Fader means you want to feel authentic and street, and also it shows you know the importance of gaining a sense of your own true identity.

1 http

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ByHow much difference does a day make? Kylie Ka Hei Yeung



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Shakespeare takes us through the journey of life from cradle to the coffin (, 2015). This implies that you are constantly moving forward through the different stages in your life where you learn new things, you meet new people and you make new friends. In Hong Kong, like many western countries, turning 18 officially marks the end of childhood. A key is a traditional gift that represents the opening of the door into adulthood and the closing of the door that was your childhood identity.

This move into adulthood, results in both rights and responsibilities. Suddenly, the things that were off limits are now legally available which is exciting as it gives you a sense of freedom and the realisation that now you are in control of your life rather than your parents.

Recently in Hong Kong, a protest called the Umbrella Revolution was held by Scholarism, an activist group that consisted of eighteen year old students.

For Hong Kong, this was a radical way of protesting as it caused the financial area to be blocked for several days, impacting on both people’s lives and business revenues.

These actions demonstrate how young people are taking on the responsibilities of adulthood and entering into big conversations about democracy and power. Students had taken the big decision of not going to school, breaking the significant cultural rules of valuing and respecting education. In the eyes of the law, the students are all now responsible for their behaviour as, once you reach 18, you have to face the penalties of your actions; the consequences of which can follow you for the rest of your life.

Turning eighteen is seen as a magic birthday as it symbolizes another step of your life (BBC News, 2003). You are legally responsible for yourself, but why is 18 considered to be such a milestone?

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But not every change in your status can have such a big effect in your community. Turning 18, gives you the freedom to choose what to consume as, for example, no film can be considered out of bounds. Your viewing is no longer restricted by your age but 18 films can contain disturbing imagery and scenes. The Film Classification Board (Bbfc, 2015) states that for this category:

‘There is no limit on the number of uses of strong or even very strong language. Uses could be aggressive or accompanied by strong violence. There may be racist, homophobic or other discriminatory language. There can be strong and detailed portrayals of sex.’

This gives us an amazing amount of choice, but this also creates a problem. You will need to develop your own ethical and moral code, and on this journey, you may see things that you wish you had not. On the other hand, we can view this as an important rite of passage as by watching a wider range of media, we have the opportunity to develop our own set of values.

One way of harnessing this new found freedom is to plan new objectives for your life. Cheung (2014) challenges the view of a stereotypical teenager by

suggesting that rather than breaking the rules or choosing to get drunk, 18 is, “a year in which you can reflect what you have done and start planning how you will live your life.” She sees it as a positive step where she can achieve her dreams and future goals such as skydiving, going on a European adventure and applying for an internship. Therefore, 18 can be viewed as an exciting stepping stone that leads us to a better life.

However, turning 18 is only really the start of the journey as according to Confucius (Chinese-wiki, 2015),

In some ways, turning 18 can seem frightening as there are no controls anymore. But this doesn’t mean that we have to automatically understand the implications of all of our responsibilities as we have the rest of our life to gain experience and wisdom. My advice is, celebrate the actual day and embrace the transition from being a child to an adult.

“When I am fifteen, I aspired to learn. At thirty, I can be

independent. At forty, I am not deluded. At fifty, I knew my

destiny. At sixty, I knew truth in all I heard. At seventy, I could

follow my heart’s desire without overstepping the line.”, (2015). Seven Ages of Man. William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Descriptive Poems: II. Nature and Art. Bliss Carman, et al., eds. 1904. The World’s Best Poetry. VII. Descriptive: Narrative. [online] Available at:

BBC News (2003). Have Your Say | Is your 21st still a milestone?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Jun. 2003]., (2015). 18 | British Board of Film Classification. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Feb. 2015].

Cheung, A. (2014). What does 18th birthday mean to you?. [online] THE FREELANCER. Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2014]., (2015). Verse 4-Analects of Confucius Chapter 2 - World’s Chinese Wiki. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

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Young people go to festivals expecting to be able to be free, explore their identities in a whirl of hedonism but with today’s highly organised and managed events, is their only choice to conform?

In 1968, Bob Dylan took to the stage for the first Isle of Wight festival in a mood of anti-establishment, countercultural hedonism. In 1998, 30 years later, he appeared at Glastonbury, a festival where around 10% of the festival goers are over 50 (Smith, 2014). Most of the people who first saw Bob Dylan in 1968 are the same people and make up 10% of the over 50s who attend. Glastonbury is known as a highly managed festival; showing that as the original Bob Dylan fans aged and their children started to attend the festivals with them; ‘security’ and ‘safety’ became paramount for their parents and therefore for the festival.

Festivals are still a rite of passage, but does this mean that the umbilical cord is still slightly attached and young people are deluded in thinking they are free?

‘Music festivals have now been established as a tradition in an English summer’ (Winterman, 2010) and in 2013 ticket sales amounted to £1.3billion according to The Festivals Awards Market Report 2013 (Festivals Awards Market Report, 2014). Festivals are clearly now part of mainstream culture, and for many young people they form a key part of their enculturation. When Michael Eavis created an environment where you can get to see bands that have shaped your personality; it is no wonder that Glastonbury has become a huge icon within youth culture.

For young people, the festival feels like it is a different

Music festivals are still a rite of passage but where’s the hedonism?

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country (Glastonbury Festival, 2015) and on entering through the gates the process of naturalisation can begin. British law still applies, but the rules of society are a bit different, a little bit ‘freer’. Everyone is here to have a wild time in their own way with the stereotypes of drugs, drunkenness, moshing and free love being a common perception of festival activities, but that is all they are: stereotypes. However, because adolescents believe that these ‘cultural practices’ are common practice, they might have the feeling of secretly wanting to experience a wild and anarchic lifestyle, even if it is only temporary. They may think that they want to be cool and rebel, but they won’t want to admit this to anyone so they wear a mask (Goffman, 1990) that displays a self that wants to conform and be safe. However, most people are not looking for a chance to take part in illegal drugs and break the law. Instead they want to share an experience with peers (instead of their parents) and have a sense of freedom, but is this freedom only a delusion?

In the 90s, security in festivals hardly existed. In 1995, the year after Glastonbury was first broadcast on TV, 80,000 people jumped the fence, effectively doubling

the on-site population. It happened again in 2000; of the 250,000 revellers who attended that year, less than half had bought a ticket. Nowadays there is an army of security patrolling the new million-pound ‘superfence’ with military precision. The festival started to take on the semblance of a prison with every move monitored via CCTV or the ‘watchtowers’. Long gone is the ‘out of hell dystopia’ (Smith, 2014).

There has clearly been a paradigm shift in the music festival experience. Since the 1960s, Glastonbury has not only changed the music it plays but also the way it’s run. The change in the profile of the audience means that expectations have moved away from pure hedonism, in favour of safety and control or, in other words, the rebellion has been tamed.


Bernstein, B. (1971) Class, Codes and Control in Bennet, P. & Slater, J. (2001) Communication and Culture The Essential Introduction. Abingdon. Routledge.

Festivals Awards Market Report. (2014). [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014].

Gergen, K.J. & Gergen M.M. (1981) Social Psychology in Bennet, P. & Slater, J. (2001) Communication and Culture The Essential Introduction. Abingdon. Routledge.

Glastonbury Festival. (2015). An Introduction to Glastonbury Festival | Glastonbury Festival. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Goffman, E. (1990) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life in Bennett, P. & Slater, J. (2001) Communication and Culture The Essential Introduction. Abingdon. Routledge.

Maslow, A. (1954) Original Hierarchy of Needs Concept in Bennett, P. & Slater, J. (2001) Communication and Culture The Essential Introduction. Abingdon. Routledge.

Smith, J. (2014). What it’s like to jump the Glastonbury fence (and why you never should) - Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2015].

Winterman, D. (2010). BBC News - What does a music festival say about you?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2014].

by Charlotte Sherwood

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IMAGINATIONImagination is one of humanity’s most underutilised resources. It gives us the power to conceive images beyond physical reality; allows us to travel to different places and to create solutions.

Each individual possesses this ability and it is a skill that is extremely underestimated and undervalued in today’s society. There are numerous standardised tests that measure and quantify our intelligence, our musical, physical and logical capabilities, but as of yet, there is no objective measurement of our imagination. However, the Imagination Institute is currently laying the foundations of an “Imagination Quotient” an alternative to the traditional, IQ-oriented standardised test (“Intelligence Quotient”). There is an argument that the current testing systems can limit potential and promote stereotyping1. But, should imagination really be quantified?

“Using the ‘Imagination Quotient’ is a flawed principle because a person’s capabilities are made up of so many different talents.”

It is arguable that imagination belongs in the same category as ideas like love and God; concepts that are immune to scientific inquiry2. Attempting to measure imagination is like trying to quantify the extent that you love your partner or family, or the strength of your religious beliefs; things that are highly subjective and determined by the individual. Like love, imagination cannot be seen or touched and as it is experienced differently by everyone it is extremely difficult to measure objectively.

One possible approach would be to record an individual’s actions that demonstrate creativity, for example, inventing a new object or writing a novel. However, this approach does not include the range of ideas that may have been generated during the process. A standardised test might need to include more common


be measured?by Isabel Rawlings

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forms of imagination such as “daydreaming”. Regardless of the criteria chosen to form the basis of the “Imagination Quotient”, the results of the test would be limited to certain criteria which, by default, would only generate a limited result. This approach is in complete conflict with the concept of imagination itself.

We live in a society where everyone is categorised, whether that be socially, intellectually or physically.

By producing a standardised measurement of imagination, are we just creating another

way of labelling people? Are we essentially promoting the idea of

society becoming even further segregated into stereotypes

and hierarchies?

There are many arguments that suggest that the current IQ test is dampening students’ confidence and encouraging students with better IQ scores to look down on other students with lower scores. The introduction of yet another IQ test to

measure imagination could create a similar

problem within peer groups.

However, there are legitimate arguments for a new IQ test. It

could be of use to employers as a tool for finding “possibility thinkers”3

- people who “think big”. If employers are able to utilise these people’s ‘big’ imaginations then this could make real business sense if ideas are turned into marketable commodities. However, using

the “Imagination Quotient” is a flawed principle because a person’s capabilities are made up of so many different talents. Just because a person has a wild imagination does not mean that she can effectively and practically communicate and accomplish

her ideas and so she should not be given an advantage in terms of employability.

I believe that measuring imagination is unnecessary and

probably impossible. By putting boundaries, criteria and binding scores against it, we are limiting it. Imagination is in the same realms as experiences that defy measurement, like love. We already have IQ tests, GCSEs, A-levels, and University degrees, so testing yet another aspect of our minds and our personalities could perhaps be viewed as just another form of social oppression. It seems odd that although we call the human brain the ‘most complex object

in the known universe5’, we are still convinced that we can measure and define all of its many functions. Perhaps when it comes to the task of measuring imagination, we should follow William James’ philosophy that “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”5

1 3 4 5 William James American philosopher & psychologist (1842 - 1910)

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Call 01684 584624 [email protected]

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