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Much Ado About Nothing – Power Analysis

In “Much Ado About Nothing” Shakespeare focuses on the roles of women in the patriarchal society. He contrasts two women, Beatrice who is strong, outspoken and independent with her cousin, Hero, who is considered the ‘ideal woman’ as she is submissive and innocent. Through both women’s experiences in a men’s world, Shakespeare shows that those who stand up for themselves and don’t let men objectify and restrain them are better off.

Hero is considered an ideal women because of her gentle, soft-spoken nature and is described as a “jewel” and “the sweetest lady I have ever looked on” by Claudio who falls in love with her almost instantly. However, this love quickly turns to hatred when he trusts the word of don Jon over the supposed love of his life and believes that Hero is cheating on him.  When Claudio confronts Hero of cheating, instead of being heartbroken and miserable, he is disgusted by her actions and the fact that he almost married such a woman. This scene represents the way women were misunderstood, misjudged and mistrusted in the Elizabethan era and hints that Claudio’s love for Hero was shallow and that he simply liked the idea of having an ‘ideal woman’ as his wife. Hero’s father is also quick to believe Claudio over his own daughter and threatens to disown and kill her before even finding out the truth.  This treatment shows that most of the men including her own father no longer care about Hero once they believe she is no longer “chaste” and “ideal”.

Beatrice on the other hand, defies the Elizabethan stereotype by speaking up and refusing to let men define and dominate her. She defies Elizabethan stereotypes by taking her future into her own hands and deciding when and who she wants to get married to. While this behaviour was shocking and outrageous to not only the other characters but also the Elizabethan audience, she also earned their respect and admiration.  This is shown by the way her uncle treats her in comparison to Hero whom he simply orders around. Leonarto knows better than to treat Beatrice in the same manner and simply settles for saying “Well niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband” instead of forcing her to get married to the highest bidder. The other men also are willing to have conversations with her and listen to what she has to say. This demonstrates how women do in fact have power  that if they are willing to stand up and fight for rights and equality, men will eventually treat them with respect and as equals.

At the end of the day however, it seems that no matter how strong-willed and independent a woman is, she simply won’t receive as much freedom and rights as a man. Shakespeare demonstrates this outrageous unfairness in society when Even Beatrice is forced to accept this when she realises that she can’t confront and battle Claudio he wrongs her cousin. She is absolutely outraged by the apparent shortcomings that come with her gender stating “if  cant be a man with wishing, I will die a woman with grieving.” Also, the ‘happy ending’ of the play occurs when Beatrice is ‘tamed’ into the domestic life signified by Benedick claiming to her “I will silence you with my lips.” This ending was most likely written to satisfy the Elizabethan audience by showing that all was well in the world again.  While Shakespeare did not go for entire equality, he still managed to demonstrate the idea was  desirable and viable light.

The role of women in society is an important theme in “Much Ado About Nothing.” By placing feminist ideals into Beatrice Shakespeare shows that even though she isn’t an ‘ideal woman’ according to social standards her personality and characteristics are definitely ideal.

Preludes and The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock – Analysis

Question: Eliot’s modern poems express his  response to a world that has lost important values and ideals. Do you agree with this statement? Discuss your response to the Love Song of J. Alfred and one other poem.

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Preludes” T.S. Elliot expresses his views and thoughts on the modern world.  He explores themes such as the shallowness and superficiality of the modern lifestyle, alienation and isolation. Elliot was a modernist writer who aimed to capture the rapid transformation of the world due to technological advances which he perceived as fractured and alienated. His use of literary techniques such as imagery, ambiguity and repetition to depict the lonely, mechanical way which he believes the modern world function in.

In the “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Elliot explores the life of a middle aged man, Prufrock, who’s life is boring, routine and uneventful. He has obsessive and compulsive traits which lead to him being hugely isolated and alienated. Prufrock lives in a world where the development of new inventions and technologies has made society mechanical an fake and left people in a fragile psychological state. His ‘damaged psyche’ prevents him from social interaction as he is afraid of rejection and scorn. He leads a frustrating life filled with meaningless and uninspiring events. Through Prufrock, Elliot communicated the loss of tradition an culture and the loneliness and alienation brought on by the emphasis of individuality in the modern world.

Preludes follows similar ideas of solitary and depersonalisation through the use of techniques such as fragmentation. Quotes such as “a lonely cab horse” represent the unhealthy amounts of isolation  brought on by the modern world. He also focuses on creating the grim atmosphere of the dreary atmosphere and grimy streets of the city. There is a repetition of time as the poem progresses and moves from morning to night. The way the poem moves through the day without hinting that there is any more important event or point may represent the mechanical, meaningless way human life has become.

In both “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Preludes” Elliot displays his modernist ideals by depicting the world as superficial, bleak and lacking in cultural depth and fulfilment.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Power Analysis

Analysis 

The power given to men is an important theme in Khaled Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. The book follows the lives of the illegitimate Mariam and young, beautiful girl, Laila, born of whom are married to Rasheed. Through both women’s experiences, the reader is thrust into the grim reality for women in a man’s world. As the women forced to face domestic violence, abuse and their husband’s controlling nature in silence, Hosseini exhibits very real problems which women from all walks of life are faced with on a daily basis.

From the very start the women are taught to be submissive and accepting of the pain and hardships thrown at them. Mariam’s mother ingrains the message that  “there’s only one skill women like us need in life, and its-tahamul…endure,” into Marian from a young age. She is told that men are heartless, uncaring creatures and that “a  man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed, it won’t stretch to make room for you.” In this world, the role of women is to serve men. “Had she ever been a deceitful wife? she asked herself. A complacent wife? A dishonourable woman? Discreditable? Vulgar? What harmful thing had she wilfully done to this man to warrant his malice, his continual assaults, the relish with which he tormented her?” In this quote, despite Mariam fulfilling all of her duties, Rasheed still feels the need to punish her and her is able to get away with it easily.

Rasheed dictates every aspect of his wives lives from the way they dress (forcing them to wear burqas in public) to the way they behave and speak. Rasheed has all the power in the relationships, eaily getting away with abusing his wives whenever they upset or anger him. An example of this is when he forced Marian to eat pebbles after he doesn’t like the food she has prepared for him – “His powerful hands clasped her jaw. He showed two fingers into her mouth and pried it open, then forced cold, hard pebbles in to it…’CHEW’ he bellowed… ‘now you know what your rice tastes like.” There are also many occasions of domestic violence in the book where Rasheed abuses Laila and Mariam by hitting them with his belt, locking them away without food or water for days and threatening them with a gun. When an outsider is told about the domestic abuse Laila and Mariam regularly face, he chooses to not take any action and plainly states that “what happens between a husband and his wives behind closed doors is none of my business.”

One day when the beatings from Rasheed become especially bad, Mariam defends Laila by attacking Rasheed with a shovel. Rasheed dies and Laila runs away to the country side with her children. She wants Mariam to come with them too but Mariam knows that if she goes, authorities will forever be chasing them looking to get justice for Rasheed’s death. Instead she stays at home and takes responsibility for his murder. When she is caught, she tries to explain that it was an act of self defence, but the judge sentences Mariam to death. “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.” She is publicly executed. Even in death, Rasheed’s is more powerful and more important than Mariam.

Khaled Hosseini communicates the social hierarchy and the hardships which many women are forced to endure through his characters.  Through mood and symbolism he relates moments of sheer pain and sorrow but also moments of love, happiness and hope.

Summer Heights High – Satire Analysis

Satire is a literary tool used to draw attention to social ideas and issues with the purpose of pointing out the flaws of human nature and behaviour. Summer Heights high is a contemporary satirical TV show which uses several forms of humour to draw attention to the negative aspects of the Australian public school system and society in general.  In the form of satire, producer and actor Daniel Lilley, portrays aspects of modern society through the characters of Jonah, a playground bully, and Ja’mie, a self-obsessed private school girl. Through literary techniques such as contemporary satire, humour and exaggeration, Lilley uses deviation and outrageousness to grab the audiences attention and highlight societal flaws.

One of the main characters, Jonah Tokalua, is a Year 8 student of Tongan descent who is constantly causing disturbances and misbehaving. Jonah’s character is a stereotypical top of the food chain ‘big bully’ who physically and verbally assaults his peers to the point where they are too afraid to stand up against him. He is extremely problematic, disruptive and is always stirring up trouble. His mother died when he was young and his family environment is unsupportive and uncaring which greatly impacts his behaviour at school. Jonah continually releases his pent up anger and frustration on teachers and peers. He often tries to justify his behaviour by making light of his actions, claiming that he was just joking or having fun and placing the blame on other people.  Jonah’s character embodies several negative aspects of modern society including, bullying, profanity, racism, homophobia,  and violence. He can also be compared to modern politics and specifically, Donald Trump.

Another main character, Ja’mie, is a private school girl who has stepped out of her comfort zone and come on a ten week exchange program to Summer Height High. She has a very high opinion of herself and believes that ‘her way is the only way’. Daniel Lilley uses exaggeration and mockery to highlight the flaws in modern generations and specifically the shallow, inconsiderate nature of some people. Ja’mie’s character is pretentious, snobbish and self important. She is portrayed as an attention seeker who only cares about appearance, popularity and boys and continually enforces the importance of her priorities on the people around her. Through Ja’mie, the audience is exposed to the destructive impacts of social expectations and the effect of wealth on individuals.

There has been widespread backlash from the media against Summer heights high, claiming that the stereotypes portrayed by Jonah and Ja’mie are uncomfortable, confronting and even downright false. However, the unfortunate truth is that there are real life prodigies of Jonah and Ja’mie. Situations that are made to seem so outrageous in Summer Heights High are in fact a harsh reality and the issues of bullying, peer pressure, violence and negativity are not as far from truth as we may think. Summer heights High employs comedic devices draw attention to and encourage people to reflect on these destructive aspects of modern society. The show portrays hilarious, real life situations which not only aim to amuse the audience but also portray outrageous aspects of society in the hopes that people will recognise flaws and attempt to amend them.

Bowling for Columbine – Analysis

Analysis

In 2002 Michael Moore created a mockumentary, Bowling for Columbine, which was about the correlation  between America’s gun obsession and its alarmingly high violence and death rates. Moore presents heartbreaking statistics and paints a harsh reality which is unfortunately still relevant to this day. With the overarching question of ‘why does America have such a high rate of gun related deaths per year?’, he explores several potential causes of America’s high violence rate including it’s violent history, media sensualisation, political influence and gun lobbies. Moore employs several film and satirical devices including irony, sarcasm, humour, visuals and editing techniques to get his point across.

Moore’s documentary style and techniques such as sequencing, visual irony and editing are strategically used to persuade and influence the viewer. It is emphasised that people often used America’s violent past as a scapegoat to excuse it’s violent present. However Moore easily contradicts this argument by displaying the violent pasts of several other countries including Germany. He then provides statistics to show how these countries are in completely different positions today. He presents the astonishing statistics of the death rates in countries such as Australia which seem minuscule in comparison to America’s shocking 11 000 a year! Moore mocks America’s past of fear and violence through an animation called ‘A brief history of USA’ in which he uses techniques such as exaggeration, repetition, irony and juxtaposition. The playful animation style, exaggeratedly enthusiastic voice over and lively music are contrasted with the themes of brutality and violence. Moore highlights the irony of the American belief that owning guns makes people safer and protected when in fact the reality is the exact opposite. Through repetition he emphasises the unnecessary climate of fear generated through history and juxtaposition between the ‘savages’ who are smiling and waving with the terrified Americans who run around, pointlessly shooting people. Towards the end of the clip, the narrator, which is ironically a happy bullet, proclaims “and the all lived happily ever after,” whilst a startled father shoots the paper boy for simply delivering the mail.

A ‘climate of fear’ which is generated by politicians, corporations and media sensationalism causes chaos and adds fuel to the violence in America. Moore exposes a nation living in terror which is highlighted after the tragic Columbine High shootings. Through comparison and visuals the audience is exposed to the irony that after the shootings the media decided to place the blame on shock rocker, Marilyn Manson but failed to recognise that on the same day the President ordered a massive arsenal of bombs to be deployed in Syria.  Moore compares Marylyn Manson’s sensitive and intellectual way of speaking with the right wing protesters who  are rowdy and crazed. Moore talks about the cycle of fear and consumption and how it created and maintained in America when he states “keep everyone afraid and they will consume.”

Moore employs visual and satirical techniques to amuse and persuade his audience. The overarching conclusion in his film is that America’s gun laws are simply not strong enough and must be drastically altered if America’s issues of violence and death are to be addressed.

Techniques

 Technique

 

Example
Exaggeration Exaggerates the craziness of the people interviewed by asking specific questions and manipulating them
Juxtaposition Juxtaposes Canada with USA – levels of safety, trust and happiness
Verbal irony Claims we need to limit the amount of bomb control because ‘there are wackos out there’ – man who sleep with a gun under his pillow.
Situational irony An organic tofu farmer who lives in a remote area feels the need to keep guns for ‘protection’ – usually associate ‘organic’ and ‘tofu’ with peace
Facial expression and body language The mood Moore sets adds to the satire and absurdity of the situations
Real life footage and statistics Creates an element of trust for the audience and verifies the points being made

Area of Study – Crossing Boundaries

Speech

The process of crossing boundaries involves uncovering what is buried within and re-evaluating values and ideas. Crossing confining boundaries is an important part of social progress and equality. Without it, society would still enslave people of colour, suppress women and execute homosexuals. By devaluing unrealistic connotations or expectations people are able to break away from predetermined moulds and define their own identities and paths. However, problems arise when boundaries are crossed in destructive ways which make individuals feel targeted, uncomfortable or manipulated. While our society has come a long way over the years, technological advancements have induced a whole new wave of social issues. Social media especially has opened up endless possibilities for people to spread cyber bullying, harassment and hate speech on several platforms and to a limitless audience.

As someone who has grown up in the generation of social media, I have seen people disregard feelings, respect and basic humanity for the sake of a ‘harmless’ laugh. I have seen people who stood up for what is right only to be brutally bashed down and hated on for ‘being too sensitive’ or ‘getting upset for no reason.’ In fact, while I was procrastinating writing this speech, I came across a meme on Facebook which summarised what I am trying to explain perfectly. It was a photo of a newspaper article titled “My mother forced me to be a slave” which I later discovered to be a devastating story of child abuse and manipulation. Instead of spreading awareness of deeper social issues like they could have, the person who shared the photo decided to add an oh-so-funny caption – “when my mum forces me to do the dishes”.  How can people draw boundaries in a world that is so disconnected and dehumanised that it is acceptable and normal to turn horrible social issue into an ‘innocent little’ joke?

When people are constantly exposed to such dehumanised values, they too begin to believe that disrespect and turning everything into a joke is ok. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the viscous social cycle of how behaviours and beliefs are imposed onto people – expose them to the horrors long enough and soon they will become numb to it. I must admit that I too have fallen victim to this. After all, how can we expect respect and dignity from each other when our very own self-elected ‘leader’ Mr Donald Trump takes to twitter on a regular basis to share his petty arguments, temper tantrums and horrifically controversial opinions? “If Hilary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”, “sadly because president Obama has done such a poor job at president, you won’t see another black president for generations!”, “@Jesus, such a loser. Would be nothing without daddy. Mom wasn’t a virgin. Needed to be said. SAD” the list goes on. This may shock you Mr Trump but you’re rude and discriminatory opinions were not actually ‘needed to be said’. Just because you can push everyone’s boundaries doesn’t mean you should. I wish I could say that Donald Trump was an appalling and scandalous outlier in a world filled with angels or at least… you know decent human beings. But he isn’t. He represents a new breed of people, one which is too self-righteous and spoilt to even admit its flaws, let alone amend them.

So no, we no longer enslave people of colour and force them into chains and shackles to do our bidding. Now we force them into a society which is unwilling to appreciate their individuality and instead shackles them to predetermined expectations and stereotypes on how to look, act and speak. No we no longer supress women to such an extent, now we simply supress anyone who has an out of the ordinary opinion, belief or way of doing things. And no, we no longer execute homosexuals, but the rise of social media has enabled a new generation of people to execute each and every boundary laid down by our founding fathers – respect, honour, decency and apparently basic intellect too.

The Taming of the Shrew Analysis

The Taming of the Shrew

Introduction
Through his writing, Shakespeare explored the human condition and gave an insight into not only his world, but the modern and future world too. In his play, the Taming of the Shrew and Wainwrights modern adaptation, we gain an insight into how money affects relationships, the position of women in society and how parental favouritism and sibling rivalry can affect an individual. Both composers use their respective forms to address these occurrences in our society.

Relationships
As a romantic comedy, The Taming of the Shrew focuses on romantic relationships and specifically the economic aspects of marriage. Both texts demonstrate how money and social status often determines who marries who. In Shakespeare’s play, Baptista decides who Bianca will marry  based one which one of her suitors is richest, without taking her feelings and wishes into consideration. Similarly, in the movie adaptation, Patrick only wants to marry Catherine because of her wealth and is even willing to put up with her shrewish behaviour, claiming to Harry “thou know’st not gold’s effect.” Both texts show how love is not always the only component of marriage and how external factors such as money, parents and social status are also involved.

Position of Women in Society
The position of women in society vary between the play and movie adaptation as the texts are set in different time periods. Shakespeare’s the Taming of a Shrew which is set in the 16th century represents women as obedient and submissive. This is shown when Baptista decides whom both of his daughters will marry, with Bianca and Katherine having no say in the matter. Pertruchio tells Katherine that “your father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry ‘greed on,” meaning that since her father has agreed, they will be married whether she likes it or not. On the other hand, in Wainwrights adaptation, women are independent and make decisions on their own. Both Catherine and Bianca are successful and have acquired wealth on their own. The texts demonstrate how the role of women in society has evolved over time.

Sibling Rivalry/Parental Favouritism
The Taming of the Shrew also explores parental favouritism and sibling rivalry and the effect it can have on those who are subjected to it. In both texts, Katherine’s shrewish behaviour and negative attitude is further brought out when she is continually downgraded and humiliated by not only her family but the public too. Wainwright emphasises sibling rivalry by highlighting the stark differences between Catherine and Bianca through language, appearance and behaviour. Wainwright emphasises how Katherine has little in common with her mother and sister and therefore makes her seem lonely and isolated. Towards the end of the story however, after she meets Pertruchio, she becomes more positive and her true personality begins to appear.

 

 

Little Big History: Tea

Question: Discuss the cultural, political and economic impact of tea on
China up until the 20th century.

Tea has played a significant role in China’s cultural, political and economic development for millennia. According to Chinese folklore, tea originated in Southern China during the Shang Dynasty in 2737 BC. Legend has it that one day a servant was boiling water for the Emperor to drink when dried leaves from a nearby plant fell in. The Emperor was intrigued by the brown substance and upon tasting it, found it very refreshing. Although this legend may not be accurate, physical evidence such as an ancient bronze teapot dating back to the Han Dynasty prove that tea has been an integral part of Chinese culture and tradition for thousands of years.  As tea spread to neighbouring Asian countries and eventually the world, it became a major trade commodity and source of income for not only the government but also several Chinese citizens. Foreign interest in tea enabled China to gain recognition and develop trade relations with superpowers such as Britain and Europe. Unfortunately, the widespread adoration of tea was detrimental at times as it caused conflicts such as the Opium Wars in the 19th century.

Before it became a widely enjoyed beverage, tea started out as a medicinal drink in China. Around 760 BC, Chinese writer Lu Yu wrote ‘Cha Jing’ (The Classic of Tea) in which he stated, “Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind; dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue; awakens thought and prevents drowsiness; lightens and refreshes the body and clears the perceptive faculties.” Originally, only wealthy and high-ranking individuals could afford to drink tea which gave it an exotic and extravagant reputation. This alluring air helped spark widespread interest in the drink and farmers began to produce greater amounts for a wider market. Eventually tea became accessible and ubiquitous amongst all social classes. As tea became increasingly integrated into Chinese culture, it influenced Chinese tradition, literature, society, belief systems, art and philosophy. During the Tang Dynasty tea allegedly surpassed the cultural importance of alcohol. It was used in situations which were previously reserved for liquor such as social gatherings, playing board games and listening to music and tea became increasingly represented in art and literature. The beverage was also popular in Buddhist monasteries as the caffiene enabled monks to meditate for long periods of time.  It was incorporated into daily life and people often dedicated time each day to drink tea and socialise.

The cultural and social importance of tea augmented China’s agriculture, market and economy. The tremendous demand for the drink lead to thousands of agricultural opportunities and paved the way for farmers and the government to profit from the commodity. It became a livelihood for thousands of Chinese citizens and was a source of income for farmers and labourers. Records from the Tang Dynasty state that tea was produced in eight provinces in Sothern China with over 8000 grades of tea recognised by flavour and quality. Through globalisation, tea began to spread to neighbouring Asian countries resulting in interaction and trade and soon, signs of cultural and political influence surfaced all across Asia. Tea was so highly valued that it was turned into bricks and used as currency or to pay tributes. It was often gifted to emperors and was even preferred over metallic coins in some parts of Asia. Tea first arrived in the west in 1610 when Dutch traders brought home green tea, marketing it as an ‘exotic medicinal drink’. It gained reputation and popularity throughout Europe before spreading to England in the 1950s. In England, tea consumption increased from 40 000 pounds to 240 000 pounds between 1699 and 1708. As the demand amplified China placed heavy taxes on tea which prompted Britain to look for other areas to source the leaves. When the British realised that Indian climate conditions were suitable for tea plantations their dependence shifted from China to their Indian colony which lowered Chinese tea earnings.

Foreign interest in tea was hugely beneficial for China as it paved the way for intercommunication and overseas relations. Trade links were not only profitable for China’s economy but also beneficial for its political standing in the world. Through tea, China gained recognition from world powers such as Britain and Europe. Unfortunately the high demand for Chinese commodities, including tea proved to be destructive for China as Britain began to illegally import Opium into the country in exchange for the luxuries. The Chinese government was alarmed by the vast quantities of Opium entering the country and the devastating impacts it was having on citizens. Hundreds of thousands of people and about 10% of China’s population became regular users with China consuming around 95% of the world’s opium supply. Officials ordered a ban and destruction of opium provisions which eventually lead to the Opium Wars between 1839 and 1860. Both the wars were overwhelmingly won by the British with an estimated 50 000 Chinese soldiers dead or wounded. The victory enabled the British to gain and wider access to China’s market and increased trade privileges. As Karl E. Meyer states in the New York Times, “a century of humiliation began with this war in which Westerners sought to enforce a deadly drug upon an Asian people and then imposed an unequal treaty which pried open their country.”

Over the years tea became a livelihood, innovation and important part of the day to day lives of millions of people. Chinese author, Lin Yutang wrote a book, ‘My Country and My People’ in which he recorded “they have had plenty of time to drink tea and look at life quietly over their teacups, and from the gossip over the teacups they have boiled life down to its essence.” Tea played a significant role in China’s economic development, cultural heritage and political standing. At times, the popularity of tea proved to be harmful for China as it stirred conflicts such as the Opium Wars but over time, tea’s benefits unarguably outweighed any negative impacts. As Xu Guangqi once stated – “Tea is a divine herb.”

Business Report – Contribution of Businesses

Question: Write a business report that explains the contribution that business makes to the Australian economy and society. Use a business case study to outline the role of entrepreneurs and their contribution to business success.

Executive Summary

Businesses are an important part of Australia’s economy and society as they provide goods and services to satisfy consumer wants and needs, generate employment and income and keep the market and economy functioning. The role of entrepreneurs is to introduce new and innovative business ideas, fill the gaps in the market and stimulate economic activity and growth. Entrepreneurs can be seen as catalysts which establish businesses and set the process of growth and industrialisation in motion. They significantly contribute to Australia’s economic success and citizens’ quality of life. For example the cofounders of Lush Cosmetics were able to find a gap in the market and catered towards a new generation which was becoming increasingly environmentally aware which contributed to their business’s global success.

Contributions of Business to the Australian Economy

Businesses help to stimulate the growth of Australia’s infrastructure, transport, technological and communications development and the nation’s overall advancement. By contributing to the cycle of economic activity and growth, businesses aid to sustain Australia’s progress, quality of life and international standing.

Large Businesses

Large businesses require a substantial number of employees and employ about one third of the Australian workforce. By creating and maintaining jobs, large businesses aid the economy by decreasing unemployment and increasing the overall income level which means individuals have more disposable income to spend. Increased consumer activity has a domino effect on the market because as demand increases, so does production, supply and business success. Due to the economies of scale, large businesses are able to produce significant quantities of goods at lower costs per unit and therefore provide cheaper goods and services to consumers. Large businesses also pave pathways for foreign trade and relations by exporting products overseas and earn a majority of the nation’s export earnings.

Small to Medium Businesses (SMEs)

In Australia, small to medium businesses are classified as enterprises which have between 1-200 employees. In 2014 and ABS data collection discovered that SMEs supply almost 70% of total Australian employment, hiring about 4.7 million people nationally. Small to medium businesses are a vital part of the Australian economy as they play a large role in employment, wealth generation, entrepreneurship, consumer choice and innovation. Local businesses are also beneficial as they keep money within the community or nation and “are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive” according to NEF researcher David Boyle. It is therefore important to support SMEs in order to keep the circular flow of income and economy stimulated.

Contributions of Business to the Australian Society

Australian businesses help to satisfy consumers’ needs and wants by providing goods and services. By providing means of social development and amenities they boost the nation’s quality of life. Businesses are crucial to society as they provide employment, income and the power for individuals to make choices about how to live their lives. Consumer sovereignty dictates that the Australian consumers influence several decisions that businesses take including what to produce and where to distribute certain goods and services. Businesses are also an essential factor to the operations of public services including education, medical facilities and transport. Several businesses also work towards the betterment of society including charitable organisations such as World Vision and Oxfam and knowledge creation such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Role of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs always strive to discover new and more efficient methods of doing things in order to overcome the barriers of achievement. By adopting latest innovations and producing a wide range of goods and services, they increase the nation’s standard of living. Entrepreneurial activities also stimulate economic activity and help redistribute wealth and income to a large amount of people in more geographical areas. They also help eradicate regional disparities by establishing businesses in less developed areas which may stimulates further developments in the region such as schools, health, education and entertainment facilities.

Case Study

Lush Cosmetics was launched in 1994 by six British cofounders who were dedicated making people feel better about themselves and the world around them. By providing environmentally friendly, supporting charities and actively campaigning against social issues such as animal testing and the environment, Lush is able to paint itself as an ethical option for increasingly aware consumers. One key marketing tool is the image Lush portrays itself as an affordable, everyday indulgence and an accessible substitute to costly spa or beauty parlour treatments. Therefore Lush products not only make consumers feel good about themselves but also enable them to make sustainable choices by opting against mass production, harmful chemicals and the exploitation of the environment. They were also able to differentiate themselves through innovative products such as bath bombs, clay masks and trendy merchandise targeted towards people of all ages. The entrepreneurs played a vital role in the success of the brand as they were able to find a gap in the market and cater towards the wants of a growing number of consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint and take care of their environment.

Business Cycle Essay

Question: Discuss the main stages in an economies business cycle and analyse how governments can influence the different periods in a business cycle.

Business cycles depict the fluctuations in economic activity over a period of time categorised into two main stages – contraction and expansion. They indicate the state of a nation’s economy and are used by economists as a tool to analyse and predict upcoming trends such as employment, income, supply and demand. Expansion, also known as recovery, is a period characterised by augmenting levels of business activity and increased GDP. On the other hand, contraction is a phase of the cycle when the economy as a whole is in decline. Governments employ strategies such as the monetary and fiscal policy which aim to maintain economic stability and achieve overall national progression.

A contraction in the business cycle indicates that an economy is slowing down as shown through decreased production, lower income and higher employment rates. Contraction periods are measured from the peak of a cycle to its trough (refer to Figure 1). During periods of economic downturns businesses tend to reduce their demand for labour and production as well as avoid investment. This has a domino effect of individuals as increased unemployment rates and less earnings lead to lower quality of life. An extended contraction period in a business cycle can have negative effects of a country’s stability, international standing and quality of life. A recession is classified as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

e
Figure 1

Governments aim to offset prolonged down-swings by stimulating and encouraging economic activity. They may increase the nation’s demand for goods and services which subsequently mean businesses require a larger work force to sustain their increased production levels. The government may also decrease tax and interest rates and allow people to retain more of their income meaning they have more to invest back into the market. The inflation target is a policy set by the RBA which aims to maintain a steady growth of inflation at about 2-3% over a medium term in the business cycle. By controlling the rate of inflation and ensuring that it increases at a steady rate, the RBA is able to preserve the value of the Australian dollar while simultaneously encouraging strong and sustainable growth.

During periods of expansion, an economy sees cyclical growth in aspects including increased individual and national revenue, higher employment rates, consumption and production. A period of expansion is measured from the peak of the previous cycle to the trough of the current cycle for example point A to point B in Figure 1. When economic growth and GDP levels are above the trend line in a business cycle, economies experience augmented levels of supply and demand and are therefore predisposed to to a reduction in unemployment levels and poverty. For example, the Okun’s Law expresses that for every 2% of GDP above the trend tine equates to 1% less unemployment. Economic upturns result in a boom in investment, consumption, manufacture and overall growth and countries see an improvement in economic activity and quality of life.

However, if an economy is growing at an unsustainable rate or ‘overheating’ to the point where it’s productive capacity is unable to keep up with demand, the government may intervene to maintain economic stability.  Through the fiscal policy government may slow activity by decreasing expenditure and increasing taxation. An increase in taxes means individual have less money to spend and hence decrease demand. Higher taxation may also cause enterprises to lower production levels and reduce investment into the growth of their businesses. Through the Monetary Policy, the Reserve Bank of Australia has the power to decrease the supply of money in an economy and ultimately affect the rate of inflation. They also influence the behaviour of investors, borrowers and lenders through the manipulation of interest rates, exchange rates and cash reserve requirements.

The business cycle demonstrates how economies have a tendency to fluctuate and change over time. It has direct relationships between a countries income, production, GDP and employment status. The position of an economy has an impact on individuals and businesses as it can greatly impact a country’s overall quality of life as well as its economic or political standing in the world. The government’s role in the business cycle is to prevent extreme changes, maintain stability, preserve the value of its nation’s currency and encourage growth.