Make your own free website on

Frequently asked questions for the second midterm

Q: "Modern technological innovations can often be quite disruptive. Explain why."

A: Because such innovations out pace cultural norms and institutions - powerful new technologies may make laws out of date, may make certain jobs obsolete, and can radically alter a society so fast that people are always trying to catch-up. Just think about how computers, and now the internet have transformed our society. Think about all the changes that have been necessary to accommodate these new technologies that are always being "upgraded." Disruptive changes become the norm in an ever changing world. As Engels put it:
"All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they
can ossify. All that is solid melts into air."

Q: How do agglomeration effects produce an external economy?

A: By locating among functionally related activities, a firm can save a lot on transportation. Costs for other inputs and services may also be lower as there is more likely to be competition. Such advantages have nothing to do with the firm's own organization or production methods and everything to do with location and proximity.

Q: How does development in the core lead to backwash effects in the periphery?

A: Economic booms tend to attract the best and brightest from surrounding areas. Those surrounding areas can experience an economic decline as the most active individuals move away to participate in the boom.

Q: In what ways can a government promote economic growth in a region?

A: They can attract firms there by offering tax breaks and special legal status to attract firms to move there. Development can also be promoted by building and improving infrastructure, developing centers of research and learning, and/or encouraging workers to move there.

Q: I somewhat have an understanding of the difference between Modernity and Postmodernity. Can you clarify?

A: People write entire books on that question, so I'll do my best to cover this one verbally during the in-class review.

Q: Are post-industrial countries in the secondary sector of the economy?

A: While there may be a little bit of high value-added manufacturing (French Perfume, Gucci handbags) and specialized sectors such as defense and aerospace, most post-industrial countries by definition specialize in the tertiary (services), quartenary (research, development, information), and quinary (administration) sectors of the economy.

Q: Are tariffs ways of stimulating the local economy by making tariffs on foreign goods so high that people by domestic products?

A: That strategy, know as ISI - import substitution industrialization - has been used as a strategy to protect nascent industries. Unfortunately it also often results in higher prices and perhaps lower quality from industries that don't have world-class competitors. It also may not necessarily result in a healthy local economy. For example, as industry keeps wages as low to maintain profits, employees may not be able to afford what they produce.

Q: Does Biotech incorporate GE/GM foods, fertilizers and pesticides?

A: The biotech industry produces genetically engineered/modified (GE/GM) organisms - often for agricultural food production. Since they can reportedly incorporate pest resistance into the genetic make-up of the plant, the need for chemical pesticides is perhaps reduced or even eliminated. Chemical fertilizer may or may not be necessary depending on the type of crop, the natural conditions, and the type of cultivation.

Q: What would an example of a nation w/o a state?

A: Gypsies, Kurds, Palestinians, the Navajo, and the Ainu are all distinct peoples who are not in control of their own state.

Q: Why should a state be a contiguous entity?

A: contiguous: Sharing an edge or boundary; touching. Neighboring; adjacent. entity: Something that exists as a particular and discrete unit: Persons and corporations are equivalent entities under the law. The fact of existence; being. The existence of something considered apart from its properties.
This refers specifically to the South African Bantustans covered in the textbook. Imagine living in a country where the territory is made up of several separate pieces of landlocked territory. You'd have to go through another country to access other parts of your national territory. In this case 'contiguous' refers to connected territory - e.g. the 48 contiguous United States as opposed to the separate Alaska and Hawaii. Thankfully there are only international waters separating the states, but what if you had to travel through Russia or Iraq to get to Hawaii? It basically means that the non-contiguous state is at the mercy of the state that separates its national territory. This has all kinds of implications in terms of trade, security, and political cohesion.

Q: What is a supranational organization?

A: supra- meaning above, as opposed to inter- meaning between (international). A supranational organization is above the level of individual states. Organizations like the European Union and NAFTA make decisions that effect the member countries. The World Trade Organization makes decisions that can trump laws at any level - from municipal ordinances to national laws passed by referendum or congress.

Q:How will the terms be presented on this midterm?

A: Matching definitions to terms like last time. There will also be some multiple choice, true/false

Q: In chp. 6, technological advances are disruptive because we have to readapt to a new way of life everytime something new comes out-right?

A:Exactly, and since the changes in the modern world seem to be accelerating, so are the disruptions.

Q: Are computers able to market to specific consumers by using demographic techniques- allowing for more niche marketing?

A: Yes, the automation of databases has made it much easier to select addresses for a few people based on a diversity of criteria. Junk-mail is not sent out in large blanket mailings, but rather is targeted to specific niches using computer technologies.

Q: Is a cure for affluenza would be less focus on monetary possessions and more on family?

A: That is one of the cures advocated, yes. Check out the video questions I've posted at:
and some great ideas from voluntary simplicity at:

Q: Is NAFTA a supranational organization?

A: According to the textbook, supranational organizations "diminish, to some extent, individual state sovereignty in favor of the group interests of the membership." There are many examples where laws within member states have been challenged and sometimes changed in the interests of "free trade." While the level of integration is not yet to the same level of the European Union, one would have to agree that the sovereignty of NAFTA's member states has been diminished to some extent.

Q: Is the European Union an international organization?

A: No, as stated above, the EU has an even higher level of economic and political integration to the point that many of the most important decisions are now made by the EU in Brussels and Strasbourg. Most national currencies have been eliminated to make way for a continent wide currency called the "Euro." International organizations merely involve cooperation amongst states. The EU has fundamentally transformed and diminished the sovereignty of member states. And Melissa please let me know where you found the typo.

Q: I'm stumped on this review question...I've looked through your online notes, my notes, as well as the no avail...can u help? Explain how computers have enabled advertising strategies to shift from mass marketing to niche marketing.

A: When advertisers wanted to send out mail in the days before computers, they had very limited tools for dealing with address information. Usually they would just send it out to everyone in a mass mailing. Now with computer technology, a database of addresses can also include a wide range of other information which can be sorted and selected easily. Now it is much easier to selectively mail out only to those most likely to respond to you ad. Coupons for diapers go to young adults, ads for denture adhesive are sent to the elderly. The downside as the textbook states, is that judgments about people are being made more by the statistics about the place they live than by who they are.

Q: When you refer to a field planted as a polyculture as opposed to a monoculture do you mean that w/polyculture more than one crop is planted on the same field at the same time whereas with monoculture only one crop is planted on the same field at a time?


Q: Is this the same as shifting cultivation, crop rotation, and double cropping which deals with switching the crops or fields over time, but with only one crop at a time?

A: The first two are also forms of diversification -- over time. Double cropping simply means more than one crop a year in intensive subsistence agriculture.

Q: What are the assumptions behind Rostow's theory of development as stages of growth? Compare with the assumptions behind development theory.

A: Rostow assumes that each country is a distinct society that moves as a singular entity through the stages of development. Rostow also assumes that all societies started out as traditional and all societies will eventually go through the same stages of development in order to progress like the rich developed countries. He also adopts a modernizationist perspective on how to accomplish development -- by adopting modern ways of the advanced countries.

Q: It'd be cool if you could tell me where to find the answers in the book, if you can could you try to help me more with questions that aren't from there, thanks!

1) What conclusions may be drawn from a world map of GNP? I know I read about other statistical indicators besides GDP that do a better job of measuring growth, but I can't seem to find it, could you describe some or point me in the right direction?
2) How does knowledge impact economic development? See the answer below and the textbook chapter 7.
3) Describe the development of soil as a system. What produces it?
4) What are the effects of modern chemical agriculture on living soil systems?
5) Compare and contrast the 'traditional' and 'conventional' models of agriculture in terms of patterns and purpose.
6) Compare and contrast the characteristics of a field planted as a polyculture with on planted as a monoculture. Compare the strategies behind each pattern.

Q: I have a question regarding to the question "give an example of a nation without a state, and explain what problems they might experience." I read the book and the website, but I couldn't find anything about the problems they might experience. I'm guessing that if there is anything about losing their sense of identity or limiting their knowledge on different culture? Please give me some clues about this question. Thank you!

A: The historical experience of both Jews and Gypsies in Europe has never been easy, and during world war two was both groups suffered genocide during the holocaust. 6 million Jews and two thirds of Europe's Gypsies perished in Nazi concentration camps.
Simply put, a people without a state seldom have the political representation to defend their distinct culture and to make their interests heard. They must often live as minorities tolerated by the dominant group within the state. As you said, assimilation and a loss of identity can also erode the vitality of a nation without a state.

Q: How does knowledge impact economic development?

A: Economic development is often spurred by the diffusion of innovations from other places. In the new international division of labor of the information age , the most developed core areas tend to specialize in activities that require advanced knowledge. Research and development, administration, and some service sector jobs (3, 4, 5 sectors) don't involve so much the processing of physical raw materials into a finished product, rather require educated people to work with specialized knowledge.

Q: What are examples of other statistical indicators used to measure development?

A: see

Q: What do GNP/GDP show about a country's development?

A: Originally intended to judge a country's ability to go to war, these indicators have taken on new meaning in terms of measuring a country's development. One could say they do a good job of showing how much a country is engaged in the world economy and how it fits into the new international division of labor. For countries that are peripheral to the world economy, these indicators may miss much of the economic activity that does not engage market exchange - such as subsistence farming or black market sales. As stated in the video "Affluenza," one should not always assume higher GNP is always a positive thing for a society. A lot of terrible things stimulate market exchange as well.

Q: What are some of the reasons for why it is difficult to map culture accurately?

A: Look at the map of Bosnia posted online and then think about Senada - the nurse in yesterday's video. She is a Muslim married to an Orthodox Christian Serb. Trying to map out the various groups in Bosnia is a challenge because Muslims, Croats, and Serbs don't neatly sort themselves out into distinct territories,
but rather are mixed together and even marry. Trying to map such a these distinct peoples into neatly colored polygons at any scale is doomed to over-generalize and misrepresent the incredibly complex reality on the ground. How do you think a cultural map of the Bay Area might look? I should imagine anything coming close to an accurate portrayal would have to include paisleys, glitter, and polka-dots.