Second time around

Organisational Communication: Portfolio

As this was our second visit, we felt much more relaxed when entering, as we half new what to expect and it was no longer a new experience for us. Although told, the week before, that if the weather was hot it is usually much busier. The weather was very hot, however it seemed to be the opposite.

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Success overall…

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The above photos were posted by Geoff* the event coordinator to the organisations twitter. He was delighted to work with both of us from MMU and informed us that previous students had not been such a success story. So it was nice for him to have a positive experience of students contributing. Myself and Chelsey achieved a lot from this experience and we thoroughly enjoyed learning about the organisation as well as interacting with volunteers/clients and contributing to the food bank. It was a success on both parts. We have also gave Geoff* access to both of our blogs so that he is able to read everything that we have wrote before it was published.

When we decided to conduct a mini-ethnography we knew very little about what it actually involved as this was our first time at coordinating a mini-ethnography. However, from analysing the different assignment routes we could have taken, we preferred the mini-ethnography style over the other choices. Once we had chosen this research method we then looked into what ethnography comprised of and what we needed to include. This made us both even more intrigued and we set our hearts on this method.

From this process we both feel that we have learnt a lot about the importance of organisational communication, ethnography, food banks and working together successfully as a team.

Our first visit to the food bank…

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So today we encountered first hand the process of a food bank; from start until finish we made vigorous notes and were kept busy as well as welcomed and entertained by staff. This post is simply going to describe the steps we went through on our first visit to the food bank as ethnographers. Upon arrival we were greeted by an elderly man (a volunteer) who informed us the group were just finishing up their team brief and that Geoff* the event coordinator would be with us shortly. When the team brief had finished we were welcomed into the main hall and introduced to a bunch of volunteers, at this point all of the volunteers were preparing and setting up for the day ahead. It seemed that each volunteer had a task to do and they all just got on with it. Straight away myself and Chelsey felt very at ease and comfortable which made the whole process of starting the ethnography a little easier. We both took a seat in the main hall at the side so we could observe all areas.We were informed by Geoff* that the weather effects the amount of clients that visit the food bank and that today may be a quiet day due to bad weather. Upon glancing around the vicinity we noticed that the organisation supplied more than just food; there were baby car seats and prams as well as boxes filled with children’s clothes that an outside organisation had donated. Geoff* notified us that they were extremely grateful for the larger donations, however they had limited space to store larger Read More »

Mini-ethnography… What’s it all about?

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This is my first blog post on assignment two that I am conducting in a pair with Chelsey. To kick off I am going to first of all explain what a mini-ethnography is all about.

In my own words I would describe a mini-ethnography as a smaller scale full ethnography. A mini-ethnography is demonstrated in two parts, (the doing) which is the intense observation or participant observation and, (the writing) which is analysing the findings from your fieldwork and making sense of it. Ethnography as we know is a process of learning from people/organisations about a particular aspect of their lives or how an organisation is ran; including the culture, communication and environment. Then writing up about it in a report in a critical manner.

In mine and Chelsey’s case we chose to do a mini-ethnography on a charity organisation formed by the Trussell Trust. The organisation is a food bank in Fallowfield open to people who are in crisis and in need of food and other services. To start our mini-ethnography we needed to choose an organisation to focus on so that was ticked off the list when the food bank accepted that we could conduct our research (mini-ethnography) with them. We then turned into almost detectives, taking copious amounts of notes and asking the staff question after question. As we were advised to conduct between 4 to 6 hours of observation we decided to dedicate 6 hours of observation across 3 separate visits.

As we have made so many notes we are aiming to narrow down the notes so that we use only the information that is required. We looked back on what we have learnt so far in our organisational communication unit to distinguish our aims and objectives. We also put together an assignment plan and sent this to our lecturers to read over and give us feedback.

The socialisation of a fresher…

fresherFor this task I had to interview a first year student at MMU  in pairs, once again with my class mate Chelsey. The purpose of the interview was to find out how the first year had socialised into university life and how they felt about the whole experience. The interview started with us asking him;
‘How have you settled into MMU?’
to which he responded that it was nerve wrecking to begin with but also a mixture of excitement too because it was a brand new experience. Luckily Paul* told us that he gets along with all of his housemates which made the process easier; I think that is a really crucial part of university life because university is hard enough without having daily disagreements with your housemates. A second question we asked our interviewee was;
‘How have you found the socialisation of uni?’
Paul* admitted that his main form of socialising was alcohol related and going on nights out, this nowadays is student culture especially in their first year of studying and being a ‘fresher’. Paul* attended the universities freshers fair and ventured out to most of the freshers week nights out with his house mates and friends from his course, also meeting new friends along the way. At the freshers fair he was keen to join a society and took an interest in a winter sports society called ‘MUFFS’. Here he now belongs to another group where he has met new friends and they are due to go on a skiing holiday in April this year which he is really looking forward to. Paul* accommodates in Cambridge halls which I know myself are a very sociable student halls just from walking past them. They are very first year student orientated so everyone is in the same boat of moving into a new environment.

Paul* moved to Manchester and university alone, without any other friends so to begin with he was anxious that he wouldn’t make any new friends but he needn’t worry because now he has lots of friends through his uni course, going out, his society and house mates. Paul* doesn’t have a part time job yet so he depends fully on his loan or any support from his parents, he blew all of his loan on clothes, nights out and takeaways which most students do but then they learn from this in time. Paul* thought that being given such a large amount of student loan all at once that it would never run out, but it did. Paul’s* overall wellbeing seems positive, he survives of the typical lad student meals but he never goes hungry ensuring he has enough food in and he has support from his parents too. He has said the different in work load and difference in independence from college to university was a bit of a shock to him but he will get the hang of that by second year hopefully.

Overall, Paul* told us that moving away from home has gave him more independence and he feels he has matured and adapted well, given the circumstances. Generally he is very happy at uni and likes it a lot more than he thought. He maybe struggles in some areas i.e the learning side but he prepared himself for this knowing that it wouldn’t be a breeze.

 

*name changed for confidentiality.

Food systems…

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This blog post focuses on ‘locavores’ a term used to describe an individual or group of people which prefer to purchase and eat locally sourced food.

Buying locally sourced foods boosts your local economy so in turn is overall beneficial for yourself and society. Nowadays there are so many super markets and chains being opened that the public are going to them instead of say their local veg stall or butchers out of ease. Simply because they can get everything at once in one big shop saying going to Asda, instead of lots of small stalls that is time consuming.

I can’t say I have ever discussed my eating ‘habits’ with my friends or even tried to hide them, however I will moan to them when I have eaten too much and feeling the size of a house. I would say I have a good appetite but I have been described as a fussy eater. I don’t eat any pork, fish or seafood and this is simply due to the fact that I don’t enjoy the texture or taste. I have this year started to cook and enjoy lamb and steak, I use to always stick to chicken and god knows why because it is one of if not the cheapest meats to buy. I think with age I have widened my food choice and explored new foods and cuisines also. Working in a Latin American restaurant especially has encouraged my eating habits.

When I lived with my mum I always ate fruit, veg and meat from local food markets as that is all she ever bought and all I ever knew.  I wish I could say that I do choose locally sourced products now that I live on my own, but I don’t. The ease of the local super market Sainsbury’s being round the corner from my house is too appealing. I do every now and again buy from local food stalls if I am passing and there is an offer on.

Within a system of an organisation there are five characteristics, these are; environment and open systems, interdependence, goals, process and feedback, openness, order and contingency. The next part of this task will describe what each term means and how these movements intertwine within the locavore culture and their organisations.

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Culture and the Dead Poets Society…

 

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I really enjoyed watching the clips, that much that I actually watched a bit extra. The film displays an assortment of young boys attending Welton academy for boys in the 1950’s. The academy presents a constrained culture as I got the impression their are rules, behaviours and systems to follow. Headmaster Nolan states at the start of the film that the academy compreses four pillars, which are; tradition, honor, discipline and excellence. All of which shape the institutions culture and communication.

The boys experience various teaching methods which include speeches by the trig teacher, as well as the Latin teacher, and the maths teacher who states that “all 20 questions at the end of the first chapter are due tomorrow”. In contrast to those orthodox teaching methods, the boys experience a culture shock when they attend their English class taught by the new liberal Mr Keating (Robin Williams). Mr Keating displays a completely different teaching ethic, he enters the classroom whistling the 1812 overtune, and he first takes the boys out in the hallway and tells them that they are powerful individuals, which no teacher in the academy would do. The way in which Keating teaches and communicates with the boys, allows them to think for themselves.

We witness Welton’s organisational culture through its material symbols, ceremonies, stories and the language they portray. The hall in the opening scene that the boys walk through represents a very church like environment, the boys walk in holding flags that state the four pillars; tradition, honour, discipline and excellence. We notice that this is drummed into the young boys right from the very start. The ceremony then moves onto the boys setting light to their candles the “light of knowledge”, evidently this is one of the first rituals in which the first years experience. The teachers are all sat on the stage wearing ceremonial robes which indicates their superior role.

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