Is the Mercury Prize Awards cursed?


Most people think that winning the Mercury Prize Award is a dream come true for any musician, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be?

A minority of people genuinely believe that it’s cursed. Yes. CURSED.

Okay, I admit to finding this theory a little ridiculous at first, but then I realised this: there actually is an elaborate history of failure after winning the Mercury Prize.

Have you ever heard of Roni Size/Reprazent? Ms Dynamite’s second album? And any ideas whatsoever about what happened to Pulp after winning in 1996?

No, no, and no again.

(For the record, subsequent to Pulp’s Award success, they embarked on a number of international tour dates, released the album ‘This Is Hardcore’, which failed to live up to the legacy of ‘Different Class’, before taking an ‘extended hiatus’ for nine-years in 2002).

I’m not completely convinced about this so-called ‘curse’…

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Agencies of social control

The term socialisation is a common term used by sociologists, psychologists, educationalists, anthropologists and political scientist to describe the lifelong process of learning values, norms and customs of a particular society. It provides individuals with skills and understanding that is necessary for conformity and survival.

There are five main groups that are responsible for the process of socialisation, which I will separately discuss in greater depth.

The family

The family is an example of primary socialisation, it is the earliest stage of a person’s learning about culture, for instance, how to eat with a knife and fork.

(Fact: culture is socially constructed – thus it varies from country to country. Example: Chinese culture teaches that it’s a norm to eat with chopsticks, whereas in Western countries (like the UK), children are taught to eat with a knife and fork.)

Through contact with family members, carers and other children (most likely to be siblings), the child learns basic norms and values of society. Also, what children learn varies according to social class, religion, ethnicity, and even the area in which they live. The family uses sanctions to encourage/discourage a child’s behaviour. For example, praise is given to children who say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, whereas bad behaviour is treated with negative sanctions, such as depriving children from what they enjoy, or being put on the ‘naughty step’.

Marxist theory: the family socialises children to comply with the unjust Bourgeoisie/Proletariat class system, commonly known as the ruling and working class. So whilst more affluent families educate their children to accept power and authority, the poorer families teach theirs to accept their role in the inferior class.

Feminist Theory: many feminists argue that the family reinforces gender roles through sanctions. They believe that parents are stricter with girls, which teaches them to be more obedient, while boys’ misbehaviours are largely ignored, brushing it off with language like ‘boys will be boys’. The feminist Ann Oakley points out that gender roles are introduced at an early age through dress code and toys. For instance, the girl is encouraged to wear pink and play with dolls and toy kitchens, whereas the boys are encouraged the wear blue and play with toy cars and action figures.


School is an agent of secondary socialisation which teaches pupils the norms and values of society in a formal and informal setting.

(Formal – meaning ‘proper’, or official. In context with this subject, formal education means curriculum-based subjects, which includes geography, Welsh, maths, etc.)

(Informal – meaning ‘improper’, or unofficial. Again, in context with this subject, informal education includes the ‘hidden curriculum’ –a student subconsciously picks up of the way a teacher may act or dress, which influences them to act in a certain way).

Pupils are sanctioned by using formal and informal social control. Formal social control is generally written through school rules, and when they are broken, official sanctions are applied, i.e. expulsion, detention. If a pupil is especially noted for good behaviour or achievements, official sanctions, in this case, could possibly consist of special privileges, praise assemblies etc.

Informal social control is essentially sanctioning, but with fewer, if any, consequences. For example, a pupil is taught that speaking in class is wrong through a verbal warning by a teacher. In the same way, good behaviour is encouraged by a nod of approval from a teacher.

Generally speaking, it is argued that formal social control has a bigger impact on the pupil’s education, yet informal social control still plays an essential part in influencing the pupil into a particular lifestyle and culture.

Lastly, school educates people on an intellectual level, in contrast to the family, who teaches it on an emotional level.

Peer groups

Peer groups consists of members with similar backgrounds or attributes. They tend to live in the same area and attend the same schools, which proves that peer groups can play a fundamental role on socialisation because they usually spend a great deal of time together.

The most obvious and well-known associated term would be ‘peer pressure’, meaning the the individual is under pressure to look and act in a certain way in order to be socially accepted by their peers. Rejection as a sanction is usually enforced when that member fails to conform to peer pressure.

Evans and Chandler once stated that peer pressure influences children to want the latest items, like Iphones and other expensive gadgets.

Often, peer groups can form subcultures that have norms and values that differ from mainstream society. Paul Willis’s study of working-class boys from London showed that they tended to form a ‘Lad-culture’ that rejected the ‘unfair’ class system and created alternative coping strategies to deal with educational failure, for instance, misbehaviour in class. So essentially, a person’s self-esteem, background or ideologies can influence which peer group they are attracted to, whether they have a negative or positive effect on that individual.

The workplace

Paid employment is a term that will play a significant role in nearly every person’s lives in our society. When a worker is new to a particular job, he/she must learn to conform to its norms, values and rules, or face (in)formal sanctions. This process is called re-socialisation.

Mass media

The mass media is a very prominent agency within society. Ranging from music, the internet, television, radio, magazines, newspapers and film, it allows mass communication and globalisation from all corners of the earth. As a result of the mass media being so large, it can influence and socialise people in more ways than any other social agency.

The mass media tends to focus on the distribution of role models that can have a positive and negative effect on the way males and females think and act. Bad role models, such as Kim Kardashian, can teach girls and boys to favour their looks and to destroy their self-esteem when they compare their lives to the (unrealistic) ones of the celebrities they admire.

The mass media also teaches social norms. For instance, the media tends to condemn murderers, which subconsciously teaches that it’s wrong and undesirable to copy it. Then again, especially with the popularity with gaming, games like GTA can potentially influence people to act in a negative way. For instance, the Norwegian serial killer, Anders Breivik, was allegedly playing hours and hours of violent video games before committing his atrocious crimes. On the other hand, some dispute that video gaming was no catalyst for his actions. Anders Breivik is rightfully demonised by the media, which reinforces the point that the mass media can influence one’s moral values.

Mermaid – a review of the Sherman Theatre production.


Polly Teale’s tale of an alluringly dark and twisted fantasy was brought on stage, with a unique intertwining of the fragile existence of both above and below the ocean through naivety, desire and love, whilst maintaining its signature theme of gripping sinfulness.

What started as a seemingly ordinary play, it developed to be anything but so. Mermaid will stay with you long after it  finishes.

The dialogue was especially captivating. It somehow complemented the eerie and beautiful setting, which was versatile in virtually all of the scenes in the play. The actors were natural to their characters, each distinct, vibrant, but wholly credible in their actions and movements.

The play raises philosophical questions: is it better to remain blissfully ignorant in safety, or follow in the in pursuit of happiness, but be simultaneously exposed to disillusion and regret? Will we ever be satisfied with what we have? Could there really be life that we are unaware of, or is it just merely subject to our futile imaginations?

It is left to the audience to decide.

In summary, Hans Christian Anderson would be proud.

Asesiad o’r safbwynt bod priodasau yn cyfartal yn y Deyrnas Unedig.

Mae’r gymdeithas wedi moderneiddio llawer dros y blynyddoedd, ac mae nifer o safbwyntiau o blaid ac yn erbyn y ddadl bod priodasau yn gyfartal yn y Deyrnas Unedig.

Gwelodd yr ôl-fodernwyr Giddens bod llawer o ‘ewyllys rhydd’ â phobl, felly cytunir gyda’r cwestiwn oherwydd mae pobl bellach yn rhydd i ddewis a gwneud penderfyniadau yn y gymdeithas, gan gynnwys o fewn briodasau. Yn ôl Young a Willmott, bellach mae’r gymdeithas yn rhoi llawer o bwyslais ar ‘teulu cymesurol’, sydd yn atgyfnerthu at y cysyniad bod priodasau, a theuluoedd yn hafal yn y gymdeithas gyfoes.

Gellir dadlau bod priodasau a pherthnasau ieuengach yn fwy hafal oherwydd y ffordd cafodd eu magu. Mae mwy o ryddid gender ac mae sefydliadau anllywodraethol, megis Stonewall, yn dylanwadu asiantaethau cymdeithasoli fel rhieni ac athrawon i gymdeithasoli plant heb bwyslais ar rolau gender. Mae Mansfield a Collard yn cefnogi’r cysyniad hon, ond hefyd gwelodd bod gwragedd yn dueddol o fod yn siomedig achos y diffyg dwyochredd emosiynol yn ei phriodas, sy’n gwrthbrofi’r syniad bod priodasau yn gyfartal yn y Deyrnas Unedig.

Gwelodd Salie Westwood bod mwy o gyfartaledd mewn priodasau Asiaidd. Er bod menywod Asiaidd fel arfer yn cael eu magu i fod yr ofalwyr, maent yn hyd yn oed yn cymryd rheolaeth dros benderfyniadau economaidd, megis symud tŷ. Yn ogystal mae’r dyn a’r fenyw mewn perthynas Asiaidd yn gwneud y coginio yn y tŷ, allan o draddodiad Asiaidd.

Er hyn, bodola nifer fawr o safbwyntiau sy’n gwrthddweud y cwestiwn. Mae modd dadlau bod ymddygiadau gan rhai ynglŷn â rôl fenyw yn cael effaith. Er enghraifft, yn ôl Rapoport a Rapoport, mae’r teulu yn dueddol o weld y fenyw fel ‘gwragedd a mamau’, tra bod nhw yn dueddol o weld y dyn fel y ‘breadwinner’. Hefyd os oedd dyn yn gwneud gwaith domestig, bydd y dyn yn ‘helpu ei wragedd’, sy’n awgrymu mae gwaith domestig yn swydd i fenywod.

Credir Mckee a Bell bod dynion di-swydd hyd yn oed yn gwneud llai o waith nag oedden nhw pan oedd ganddynt swyddi, ond i wrth-ddweud hyn, mae Wheelock yn sôn am  gysyniad bod diweithdra’r dyn yn arwain at rolau ryw gadarnhaol oherwydd mae gan y dyn mwy o amser rhydd i wneud gwaith domestig.

Cymerodd Morley llawer o sylw tuag at ba eiriau roedd gwr a gwraig yn cysylltu gyda’r tŷ. Daethon nhw at y casgliad bod y gwr fel arfer yn cytuno bod ‘y tŷ yw’r man hamdden’, a chytunodd y gwragedd bod ‘y tŷ yw man gweithio’. Mae hyn yn profi bod gwahanol ragolwg ar sail rôl y tŷ mewn priodas, ac felly rolau priodasau gwahanol ar sail gender yn effaith yn y gymdeithas. Yn ogystal edrychodd Bernard i mewn i ymddygiadau gwr a gwraig tuag at bwy sy’n berchen â beth mewn priodas, gwelodd y safbwynt, ‘ei eiddo ef a’i heiddo hithau’, sydd yn golygu bod y gwr sy’n gyfrifol am y tŷ ac mae’r fenyw yn gyfrifol am bopeth sydd yn y tŷ (megis dillad, bwyd), sydd yn golygu mae gwaith domestig yn swydd y wraig.

Yn ôl ymchwil Betty Stanko, nid yw priodasau yn y Deyrnas Unedig yn hafal oherwydd mae gweithred o drais domestig pob chwe eiliad, sy’n rhoi pwyslais ar anghyfartaledd mewn priodasau cyfoes. Dwedodd Sclater fod perthnasau ansefydlog (‘random outbursts of violence’) yn gatalydd ar gyfer drais domestig.  Yn ôl erthygl gan yr ‘Observer’, mae 40% o bobl sy’n dioddef o drais domestig yn dynion, sy’n dangos y dynion fel y dioddefwyr yn lle. Gall ystadegau trais domestig dod o dan y ffigwr tywyll trosedd oherwydd efallai nid yw dyn yn dymuno cwyno i’r heddlu rhag ofn bod dioddef yn gwneud iddynt edrych yn wan, neu hyd yn oed yn aros mewn perthynas trais domestig yn  y gobaith bod y cam-drin yn mynd i ffwrdd. Yn ogystal mae nifer o fenywod yn dewis beidio mynd i’r heddlu yn y gobaith bod y cam-drin wedi dod i ben, neu efallai yn ofni mynd rhag ofn bod ei bartner yn ymateb yn treisgar. Felly nid yw priodasau a berthnasau yn hafal oherwydd yr holl drais domestig sy’n digwydd yn y cartref.

Mae rhai o’r safbwynt bod rhaniad annheg o bŵer mewn briodasau cyfoes yn y Deyrnas Unedig. Dwedodd Edgell bod penderfyniadau anghyfartal rhwng dyn a menyw priodasol. Hyd yn oed os oedd y dyn yn ddi-swydd, roedd yn dueddol o wneud y penderfyniadau mawr, megis symud tŷ. Mae Delphy yn mynd ati i atgyfnerthu i esbonio’r ‘treuliant gwahaniaethol’, sy’n golygu bod menywod yn dueddol o dderbyn llai o arian na’r gwr, ac felly yn tybio rôl israddol. Yn ei astudiaeth o bedwar-deg pâr gwyn a oedd wedi priod dros pedwar-deg o flynyddoedd, gwelodd Duncombe a Marsden bod menywod yn dueddol o brofi ‘unigrwydd emosiynol’, felly mae hyn yn esbonio bod diffyg cyfathrebu yn arwain at briodasau anhapus ac anghyfartal.

Mae ymchwil Hochschild yn dangos bod menywod yn dueddol o wneud gwaith domestig am dair awr, gan gymharu â ddynion, sy’n gwneud tua un-deg-saith munud o waith. Er hyn, ni ellir anwybyddu’r ffaith bod dynion yn dueddol o wneud y gwaith mwy heriol a cyhyrol, megis garddio neu paentio. Mae Brayfield yn dadlau bod hyd yn oed mewn priodasau gyrfa deuol, roedd gan y menyw y prif cyfrifoldeb gartref, felly mae diffyg rhaniad gwaith llafur yn rhan-gyfrifol am diffyg cydraddoldeb mewn priodasau yn yr oes cyfoes. Y Shifft Drifflyg yn term wnaeth Sylvia Walby defnyddio i esbonio pam nad oedd priodasau yn cydradd yn y cymdeithas. Mae hyn yn golygu bod bellach gan y menyw tair swydd pwysig, sef mynd allan i weithio i ddarparu cefnogaeth ariannol i’r deulu, yr holl gwaith domestig, gan gynnwys coginio a glanhau, a gofalu am iechyd emosiynol y teulu. Mae hyn yn profi bod gor-dibynadwyedd ar fenyw, ac felly yn anghyfartal oherwydd mae’r menyw yn gwneud mwy o waith na’r gwr, fel arfer, yn ôl Walby.