“Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction” By Benjamin Homework Essay Sample

Introduction

The shift towards capitalist values in the modern world has marked a distinct change in the perception of art, which prompted numerous attempts to explain the phenomenon. The current paper analyzes the essay “Work of art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin in order to determine the feasibility of concepts provided by the author and identify intersection points with related works in the field.

Summary

The essay deals with the change of aesthetic values that supposedly occurred as a result of the emergence of means of mechanical reproduction. According to Benjamin (1939), the fact that works of art can be reproduced in large quantities devaluates their artistic merits. To further clarify his position, the author introduces the concept of aura. Aura is an imperceptible and elusive vibe attained by a work of art as a result of its creation and serving as a basis for the feelings of awe and divine inspiration experienced upon exposure to the masterpiece.

Since the primary artistic value of the works of art throughout history was cultic in origin – that is, serving to sustain the belief in and fear of the supernatural – aura can be considered the essence of any artwork. In other words, the presence of aura ensured the masterpiece’s central position in the magical rituals of the societies and, by extension, became the foundation of the cultural and ritual tradition (e.g., a religious inspiration).

A ritualistic idol, for example, was able to communicate the sense of power and supernatural authority precisely because of the aura in it (Benjamin, 1939). However, once an object is duplicated, the aura is not transferred to the copy, stripping it of its artistic and/or ritual merits. To support his position, Benjamin provides several arguments that confirm the recognition of and reaction to the phenomenon in modern times. Specifically, he argues that the tendency of the modern art movements to distance themselves from the mundane and their goal of becoming detached from the society can be considered a form of self-preservation that aims at the same outcome as the early religious organizations (Benjamin, 1939).

The attempts to exclude the political and social influences in an attempt to refine art in its purest form also fall under this category and signify the antagonism between art and capitalistic values. Interestingly, the author also recognizes the fact that works of art have been copied throughout history and before the formation of capitalistic societies. Such copying, however, is not detrimental to aura since it lacks the mechanical component.

This situation, according to Benjamin, leads to a scenario where the institutions that were sacred and unique are becoming equalized. Importantly, such change is both acknowledged by the participants and is aligned with their needs. In simple terms, modern society does not need the experience of artistic aura anymore and is instead satisfied with the mediating nature of the institutions in question.

Evaluation

As can be seen from the summary, there are two main points used by the author to build his argument. The first assumption is the existence of an imperceptible aura which explains the feelings invoked by the works of art. The second is the ability of the mechanical reproduction to devaluate art by destroying the aura, or, rather, the impossibility of transferring it onto the copy. The former assumption is relatively easy to agree with based solely on the personal experience and the observations of others’ reactions, both individually and on a broad scale.

There is little doubt in the fact that a truly magnificent work of art triggers a strong emotion that is hard to describe or qualify. While it is hard to conclusively describe what exactly is responsible for such a reaction, I consider the complex interconnection of experiences, values, and beliefs the most likely candidate. Since it cannot be boiled down to the simple and specific set of factors, I consider the concept of aura suggested by Benjamin an acceptable substitute.

The historical perspective suggests that the described effect is common among individuals as well as societies. For instance, the architectural works of art inspired by and meant for the religious groups, such as churches and other grand buildings, are reported as awe-inspiring throughout the literature and seem to influence religious and secular individuals alike. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that the aura defined by Benjamin is a fair assessment of the effects art pieces have on the observer.

The second assumption – that mechanical reproduction is disruptive to the aura regardless of the fidelity of the copy – is somewhat harder to defend. If we assume that the suggested aura is a result of the individual perceptions and experiences of the observer, it becomes immediately apparent that the effect depends on the properties of the art piece. In this case, the presence of an aura would depend on the physical characteristics of the object, or, in the case of the mechanically reproduced copy, the precision and quality of manufacturing.

In other words, there would be no difference in aura perception between the original work of art and the copy unless the latter has flaws in its design incompatible with the artistic qualities of the object. However, it is also true that the original works and unique objects do possess a certain quality that distinguishes them from those that are widely available on the market. If the said effect is added to the multitude of factors that comprise aura, the definition suggested by Benjamin becomes more convincing. However, we then need to determine the reasons behind the magical power and authority contained in the art pieces of religious and cultural significance.

The most simplistic interpretation would be an added value of the uniqueness of the object. Under this assumption, the photographs and film, both of which can be easily copied in large amounts, would devaluate proportionally to their increase in quantity. On the other hand, the pieces that are hard to mass-produce with high fidelity or that are artificially limited in number would necessarily increase in quality and, by extension, would attain aura, which does not seem likely considering the religious and supernatural significance ascribed to it.

Another way of looking at mechanical reproduction is to evaluate the effort required for the production of the final work of art. In this case, the understanding of the lack of individual touch of the author would undermine the perception of the observer and decrease the significance of the observed object. When considered in separation, such interpretation is relatively meaningless, since the sheer complexity of the production of any object is insufficient for it to become inspiring in the cultist sense.

However, combined with the aesthetic magnificence of the piece, it is possible to see how the uniqueness of the object acquires additional sense when added to the general aesthetic characteristics of the artwork. Conversely, it would be reasonable to expect that once the observer comprehends the absence of the effort by the creator, its perception of the power and authority will be diminished.

Finally, it is possible to include social factors as a reason behind the devaluating effect of mechanical reproduction. Once the object is being explicitly reproduced, it becomes clear that the act of creation is caused by the demand of the society. In turn, this assumption suggests a link between society and the produced work, which denies it a unique detachment from humanity’s goals. This assertion seems the most plausible since it is partially confirmed by the author with an example of natural phenomena.

According to Benjamin (1939), a mountain can be equally awei0nspiring precisely because it is not in any way connected to the motives of humans and is, therefore, an independent phenomenon. The effort interpretation obviously does not stand to test in this case, and while it is still possible that it plays a certain role, it was not considered meaningful by the author.

Implications

The conclusions reached by the author increase our understanding of art in general as well as photography in particular. If we agree to categorize art as containing a necessary component of magical power resulting from the detachment from society, it becomes clear which contemporary activities can be considered as having greater artistic value. For instance, the concept is clearly connected to Tagg’s ideas on evidence and truth as shaped by the emergence of photography.

According to Tagg (1988), the utilization of photographic evidence as means for upholding certain facts as truth can be traced to the gradual improvements behind the technical process of component manufacturing and, as a result, the decrease in costs of the technology. Notably, the described shift is itself inspired by the need for serial production, which is a form of mechanical reproduction. Thus, in a certain sense, the growth of the state requires the decline of art as an authoritative force in the first place in order to adopt it as a tool for social needs.

Berger (1968) further refines the concept of art’s incompatibility with capitalist values by suggesting that the driving force behind the perceived value of art is the possibility to interpret it as property. Since the property has tremendously grown in importance in capitalist societies, the uniqueness of art is now serving as a warranty of the piece’s safety implications. Photographs, which are easily reproducible, are inherently less rare and, therefore, have no value compared to the works that do not rely on mechanical reproduction.

While it is arguable whether this concept was accounted for by Benjamin, it aligns well with the functions ascribed to the aura. In other words, it is consistent with the current understanding of photography and can be used to explain the differences in responses to different works of art. While it does not identify all of the causes behind the described effect, it contributes its set of factors that, when expanded by the suggestions of other authors, create a meaningful picture.

Conclusion

Since the conclusions made by the author rely on the broadly defined speculative concept, it is difficult to consider the essay by Benjamin a comprehensive assessment of the devaluation of art. Nevertheless, it is consistent with other scholars’ ideas on the matter and plays an important role as an outline of the direction taken by some art forms in capitalist societies.

References

Benjamin, W. (1939). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In W. Benjamin, Illuminations (pp. 219-253). New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Berger, J. (1968). Understanding a photograph. In G. Dyer (Ed.), John Berger selected essays (pp. 215-218). New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

Tagg, J. (1988). Evidence, truth and order: Photographic records and the growth of the state. In J. Tagg, The burden of representation: Essays on photographies and histories (pp. 61-66). New York, NY: Macmillan Education.

Financial Statement And Its Four Types

The purpose of a company’s financial statement is to inform the readers about the financial operations, revenue, and expenditures registered within a certain period (Fontinelle 2017). Differently put, in a financial statement, a company tells the public how much money it has earned and paid over a particular time frame. Also, financial statements usually cover periods of different length. Some of the most common are quarterly and annual statements that cover periods of one quarter or an entire year accordingly.

In a quarterly statement, a reader will be able to find more specific information in reference to the company’s performance during certain months or a season, whereas in an annual financial statement, a reader may find more general information about the company’s overall position in the market throughout a whole year. The readers may pick one of these two types of financial statements depending on the specific kind of information that they intend to learn.

Since the business and financial markets tend to be very unstable, it is likely that a company would experience several periods of up and downs throughout a year or a quarter in regard to sales, investment, and the overall business performance. Financial statements have a purpose of presenting full and detailed information concerning the experiences faced by a business over a chosen time frame in order to inform the readers about its position in general; this is done because the overall financial performance of a company, as well as its position in the market, is not defined by individual cases of its affairs within a period but by the sum of its losses and gains.

In many companies, different parts of a year may be characterised as more and less successful financially, some may be seen as stagnant or lacking activity, and some may be extremely busy and intense. It especially concerns the firms and organisations whose performance varies seasonally due to the activity of their consumer segments. In that way, financial statements are important for the professionals because they carry all the necessary information for the analysis of the overall state of a business and its potential perspectives and opportunities for the future.

By definition, financial statements are formal documentations of the financial activities of an organisation; they represent written reports that provide information regarding liquidity and financial strength of a company, and the effects produced by the organisation’s transactions on its performance in the market (What are financial statements? 2017).

Also, speaking about financial statements, it is important to mention that there exist four major types of such records. The first type is the statement of financial position that is also referred to as the balance sheet; the primary function of this document is to deliver information about a company’s financial position in regard to a particular period (What are financial statements? 2017). Balance sheets are usually comprised of three main elements that are assets (the resources and properties owned by a business), liabilities (the debts of an organisation or finances owed to another party), and equity (the finances owed by a business to its owners).

The second type is an income statement that represents a formal report filed by a company in regard to its financial performance; it is also referred to as the statement of profit and loss (What are financial statements? 2017). This document contains two major elements – income (or the revenue earned by the business) and expenses (the costs paid by the business over a reviewed period). The correlation of the two elements translates into the net profit or loss of the business.

The third type is a cash flow statement; it reflects the bank balances and movements of cash. The latter movements are subdivided into such elements as operating activities that reflect the flow of cash from the major transactions of a business, investing activities that show the movement of cash from sale and purchase of resources, and financial activities that stand for the flow of cash generated from dividends, payments of interest, and debt repayment (What are financial statements? 2017).

Finally, the fourth type is the statement of changes in equity that is also referred to as the statement of retained earnings. Equity stands for the difference between a company’s assets and liabilities owned over a specific period; and its movement is characterised by several elements such as net profit or net loss, dividend payments, issues or repaid share capital, effects produced by accounting errors or their corrections, and the overall gains and losses (What are financial statements? 2017).

The aforementioned components can be included in financial statements collectively, or a statement can present a scope of information focusing on a specific set of aspects of the financial performance of the organisation. In that way, based on the themes and types of statements and documentation mentioned above, one can see clearly how high the value of such statements can be for someone interested in making an investment into a certain business.

In particular, investors are especially sensitive to the financial performance, losses, and gains of a company because they are interested in receiving a return on their investment. The decision-making process involved in the solutions regarding investment is extremely complicated and is tightly connected to a wide range of diverse factors and determinants. As a result, it is critical for an investor to make a correct decision as the responsibility is very high. In that way, investors are to carry out a very thorough and detailed analysis of the companies in whose activities they plan to invest.

There exist several different sources from which an investor may receive information related to their potential investment; such sources are financial news, forums, latest research, and financial statements of various organisations and firms. The latter sources of information are particularly valuable because they carry primary information that has not been processed by any analysis yet so that the investors are free to analyse it independently or by means of engaging trusted professionals. Overall, financial statements of the companies stand for their transparency and honesty before all the stakeholders including the potential investors.

References

Fontinelle, A 2017, Value investing: finding value in income statements. Web.

What are financial statements? 2017. Web.

Time Management For Students In Bahrain’s Banking

Abstract

Time management has been a very important skill since the dawn of time. Many students and employees need to learn time management skills in order to effectively balance their studies, work, social life, and various day-to-day activities. Studies show that in most cases, both understand the importance of time management and have basic time management skills, but are unable to implement them properly due to procrastination, the influence of social media, and other factors. This research is aimed to study the opinions and attitudes towards time management among the students in Bahrain University and the country’s financial sector.

Introduction

Time management is considered to be the very core of our civilization. Many historians consider the invention of the clock to be more significant to the world than the creation of the first steam engine, as the clock allowed individuals, communities, and even entire nations manage their schedules, work, and day-to-day practices in an organized and timely manner. Back then, personal clocks were the items of wealth and privilege, and large public clocks were found on top of city halls and town centres.

Nowadays, due to technology becoming increasingly available, a clock is considered a mundane item. We have clocks on our wrists, in our homes, and in our phones. Our schedules have become more and more elaborate, as we are expected to complete a great multitude of tasks within the same 24 hours. This is especially true for students and workers in the Bahrain banking and financial sector, as they have to manage a great multitude of tasks during daytime.

The overabundance of tasks to complete can be the leading cause of burnout, stress, and exhaustion. Therefore, time management skills are of paramount importance. However, the extent to which the population understands this varies and is related to educational efforts in promoting healthy time management and teaching time management techniques.

Purpose of Research

The purpose of this research is to study the attitudes and opinions of the students of Bahrain University and of various workers in Bahrain financial operations sector towards time management and their perception towards its importance. This data will be compared with similar academic researches. It will allow the researchers to construct an analysis and gain an understanding of the situation in regards to time management among students banking sector employees and offer suggestions for improving the situation.

Research Questions

The study is aimed to answer the following questions:

  • Do the respondents perceive time management as important?
  • How do they manage their time and do they find the techniques they implement as reliable?
  • How frequent time management becomes an issue in achieving certain tasks?
  • How does the social media affect time management?
  • What motivates the students to complete their tasks and assignments?

Literature Review

All dedicated studies concur that time management is important in the successful completion of complicated tasks, relieving stress, and spending time more efficiently. At the same time, the perceived importance and implementation of time management strategies among students vary. MacCann, Fogarty, and Roberts (2012) have discovered that time management is more critical for part-time students than for full-time students. The study was performed among 556 college community students. According to the research, most part-time students also had to work during daytime, which motivated them to plan their time more carefully. Full-time students, in contrast, did not feel as pressured to manage their time and viewed it as non-critical.

This information is backed up by the study of non-traditional and traditional students in terms of their time management behaviours, performed by Forbus, Newbold, and Mehta (2011). The study was conducted in a four-year south-western university and studied stress factors and methods of coping with them while connecting it all to time management strategies. As the study discovered, non-traditional students, especially those that find part-time or full-time employment, were more interested in scholarly and study activities rather than leisure and social activities within the university, which contributed to their dedication to time management strategies.

Elliot Panek (2014) studied the effects of social media on time management and commitment to daily studies and routine tasks. The study found that while the majority of the respondents (n=458) were aware of the importance of time management and commitment to completion of certain tasks, they were unable to stop themselves from overusing mass media and prioritizing it over critical tasks. This shows that the use of gadgets, the Internet, and social media is detrimental to proper time management among students.

Research conducted by Xu, Du, and Fan (2013) indicated that time management could be possibly influenced by a number of social and psychological factors. It was conducted among 204 graduate students of South Eastern universities, split into 61 study groups. The research concluded that peer-oriented reasons, individual feedback, and arrangements in the workplace had a positive influence on the students’ time management skills.

Some student communities show a poor understanding of the importance of time management and the development of time managing skills. According to Kebriaei, Sabahi, and Saeedi (2014), students of Zahedan University of Medical Sciences (n=332) displayed low to moderate skills in managing their time, with the higher skills at time management displayed among female students. The study concluded that the lack of time management skills is associated with the lack of dedicated material on the subject available to the students and the lack of interest among the university staff to promote efficient time management strategies.

Some research dedicated to time management highlights the importance of differentiating between studies and leisure activities. Mirzaei, Oskouie, and Rafii (2012) indicate that most medical students in Iranian universities use unidirectional time management strategies in order to cope with the stressful study environment. In an attempt to alleviate stress, they dedicated most of their time to academic studies, which did not help them alleviate the feelings of tension. The researchers suggest that allocating time to leisure tasks and stress-coping strategies is paramount in proper time management.

While many studies indicate that the use of online tools, social media, and other Internet-based technological tools is detrimental to time management, not all researchers agree with this assessment of the situation. Armstrong (2011) states that while online studying has a certain degree of influence on the respondents’ performance due to how easy it is to be distracted by nonessential tasks and information available on the web, the benefits of extensive online education outweighs the trade-offs. The research concludes that any negative effects on the students’ time management can be overcome through self-discipline and peer control.

Methodology

In this study, questionnaires were dispensed to 40 students and employees in Bahrain banking sector. The sampling method used during the data collection period was the opportunity sampling, enlisting any students willing to participate in our research. The study included 23 female and 17 male students, with the majority of them being between 21 and 26 years of age. The data gathered from the questionnaires was then uploaded and analysed with the use of computerized survey software.

The limitations of the sampling method include the fact that the distribution between male and female participants is uneven, and no thought was given to diversifying the sample size to accurately represent all racial and age groups present among the population.

Findings

The survey found that among the sample group, nearly 40% of all respondents were either working full-time or part-time, with their occupation lying within the financial sector of Bahrain. When asked their opinion about the importance of time management, all of the respondents (100%) confirmed that it was important and necessary in their day-to-day lives. The most common ways of time management among the respondents include the use of schedules (40%), sticky notes (10%) and reminders on smartphones (~50%).

While the majority described their time management techniques as efficient and reliable (75% of respondents), roughly a quarter of the students (25%) were dissatisfied with the effectiveness of their chosen method of time management.

Despite the fact all respondents acknowledged the importance of time management and used a medium of some kind, be it schedules, sticky notes, or reminders, to manage their tasks, nearly all respondents have confirmed that time management was an issue on a frequent or even regular basis. Only three out of 40 stated to have no issues with time management and completion of important tasks, whereas the rest have indicated they encounter problems with time management all the time (36%) or frequently (56%). The majority of respondents (74%) have acknowledged that social media serves as a big detriment to effective time management.

When inquired about willingness to undertake unexpected or unplanned tasks which were not accounted for in the schedule, the majority of respondents answered “Yes” (72%), whereas the rest would either reject these tasks or accept them under certain conditions. When asked about motivations to complete tasks and reach objectives, the majority of the respondents answered that peer support (31%) and family support (44%) were the primary motivating factors. Rewards and benefits, surprisingly, were the core motivators for only 20% of respondents.

Discussion

The results of our survey mirror the statements made in various dedicated literature articles published in scientific journals in the last 5 years. The majority of the respondents acknowledge time management as a legitimate and useful concept that could be implemented in their student lives. In particular, the results of the survey resonated with the study conducted by Elliot Panek, which indicated that while the respondents are consciously aware of the importance of time management, they are not always ready or eager to actually implement the concept in real life (Panek, 2014).

Another similarity between the studies lies in the fact that social media tends to be among the main detriments to dedicated and timely studying efforts. The reasons for that likely correlate with the factors that motivate the students to commit to their own time schedules to a greater degree. According to the results of the survey, peer support and family support are the two main factors that motivate the majority of the respondents to avoid procrastination and complete their assignments on time.

This is supported by Xu, Du, and Fan (2013). At the same time, the majority of the assignments students receive are individual and require no peer feedback or group effort. With many students living in dorms, family participation and support is also rarely present. The absence of these motivating factors could be the reason why the majority of the students struggle with adequate time management.

The majority of the respondents displayed satisfaction with their chosen methods of time management. At the same time, the majority of the respondents claimed to have significant troubles with following their own time schedules and stated that time management is a frequent or a constant issue to them. This correlation indicates that time management methods have very little impact on the actual effectiveness of time management, as the greatest problem seems to lie in committing oneself to following the rules and time constraints that students establish for themselves.

Despite the fact that nearly a half of the respondents were part-time students or full-time workers occupied in Bahrain banking sector, the necessity to schedule time appropriately did not improve time management rates among them. Instead, it seemed to have worsened the situation for some of them, as lack of time management skills and dedicated efforts among part-time students and full-time workers brought unnecessary stress on them.

This contradicts the studies conducted MacCann et al. (2012), who stated that non-traditional students and people that have jobs tend to have greater dedication and discipline, as time management becomes necessary for them to succeed both in studies and work. This is likely due to the fact that the university does not feature any programs or educational information on time management. As a result, students are unable to use time management skills they do not have.

While they have the tools, they do not have the knowledge nor dedication to use them properly. In addition, when they leave university and seek employment in Bahrain banking sector, the issue of time-management skills becomes an even more pressing matter, as the intensity of working process grows, and there is little tolerance for failure.

Conclusions and Recommendations

As evidenced by the survey and the accompanying literature, the majority of the respondents realize the importance of time management and even use certain tools available at their disposal in order to do so. The issue in most cases lies in the fact that they are unable to follow their own time schedules due to a lack of motivation and self-discipline. Thus, recommendations and actions taken with the aim of improving said motivation and self-discipline, in order to improve the effectiveness of time management efforts.

Since peer-to-peer support has been stated as very important in actually following the established time constraints, it is recommended that a number of individual assignments and tasks is to be reduced in favour of group projects and peer-reviewed tasks. Once the respondents would be faced with the possibility of failing not only themselves but their friends and peers also, they ought to be more motivated in completing their assignments on time and making more use of time management strategies. This measure can be implemented both within a University and a financial sector setting, as collaborative and individual effort are present in both.

Family involvement and parental control are also important in preventing procrastination, which serves as one of the major detriments in proper time management. Feeling encouraged to complete the tasks on time, as well as the desire not to disappoint their families, could serve as a powerful catalyst to self-discipline. The university must strive for greater involvement of families in learning activities. Inviting family members to participate in communal projects and offering them tools to observe and control the academic efforts of their children in Universities is likely to improve accountability and willingness to follow self-established schedules and time constraints.

Eventually, once time management skills in a person would grow, these skills would transition well into a working environment, and provide a solid backbone for handling real-life managerial tasks and situations

Lastly, an effort must be made to promote proper planning and time-management skills. Both the students and the novice employees in Bahrain financial sector need to be explained about the dangers of social media and be taught effective strategies to counteract and resist its pull. The majority of the respondents simply do not know how to do it, and would never research the subject on their own. Offering training and information on time management is likely to improve the situation and help them become more efficient in managing their time.

References

Armstrong, D.A. (2011). Students’ perceptions of online learning and instructional tools: A qualitative study of undergraduate students’ use of online tools. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(3), 222-227.

Forbus, P., Newbold, J.J., & Mehta, S.S. (2011). A study of non-traditional and traditional students in terms of their time management behaviors, stress factors, and coping strategies. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 15, 109-125.

Kebriaei, A., Sabahi, B.M., & Saeedi, A. (2014). Relationship between use of time management skills and satisfaction with spending time among students of Zahedan University of Medical Sciences. Journal of Medical Education Development, 6(12), 79-88.

MacCann, C., Fogarty, G.J., & Roberts, R.D. (2012). Strategies for success in education: Time management is more important for part-time than full-time community college students. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(5), 618-623.

Mirzaei, T., Oskouie, F., & Rafii, F. (2012). Nursing students’ time management, reducing stress and gaining satisfaction: A grounded theory study. Nursing & Health Sciences, 14(1), 46-51.

Panek, E. (2014). Left to their own devices: College students’ “guilty pleasure” media use and time management. Communication Research, 41(4), 561-577.

Xu, J., Du, J., & Fan, X. (2013). “Finding our time”: Predicting students’ time management in online collaborative groupwork. Computers and Education, 69, 139-147.

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