Yarnold, Andrew (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
From the closing decades of the twentieth century, the philosophy of Walter Benjamin has been readily employed by academics seeking to legitimate lens-based art as critical practice and challenge the ideals of high modernism. Yet this situation has engendered a compulsion to read Benjamin as a harbinger of post-modernism, a tendency responsible for severe miss-interpretations of his work. This is most evident in accounts of arguably his most famous thesis: the philosophy of the aura. For scholars aiming to renounce autonomy, originality and genius in artistic labour, Benjamin’s reading of the aura’s decline has become a weapon of choice. However, although the auratic holds immediate significance for creative practice, what is often overlooked by invocations of Benjamin’s study is the fact that the aura does not describe a material or phenomenal quality that objects may or may not possess. On the contrary, the aura is a form of perceptual experience, a sensation analogous to reverie or contemplation. It is in response to claims that Benjamin’s thesis has been misconstrued that Aura, Craft and Labour is conceived. My dissertation sets out to re-stage the critical study of the auratic and thus revivify the philosophical, political and psychological motifs at play in Benjamin’s work. But to achieve this I do not intend to bypass subjects of artistic production and aesthetics. Rather, I aim to explore the sensory and experiential matrix of the auratic against the context of a critical dialogue between photography and painting, thereby identifying how an assessment of the breaks and ruptures that mark revolutions in creative practice can illuminate our insight into the aura debate.
Ikpe, Elias Okede (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
The Health and Safety Executive estimated the annual cost to British employers and other duty holders failing to comply with health and safety requirements to be up to £18 billion. It is estimated that the construction industry contributed £2billion of these appalling statistics. To date, health and safety management is still perceived as being costly and counterproductive in the construction industry. This research investigated the net benefit of accident prevention and explored the relationship between preventative costs and these benefits, with a view to drawing attention to the economic consequences of effective/ineffective management of health and safety by contractors in the UK construction industry. The need to investigate the cost of accident prevention in relation to overall benefits of accident prevention is therefore deemed necessary. A quantitative research methodology was employed in investigating these costs and benefits within the UK construction industry. From the ratio analysis small contractors spend relatively higher proportions of their turnover in total on accident prevention than medium and large contractors, and medium contractors spend a higher proportion of their turnover in total on accident prevention than large contractors. The results also show that medium and small contractors gain relatively higher proportions of their turnover in total as benefits of accident prevention than large contractors. The benefits of accident prevention far outweigh the costs of accident prevention by a ratio approximately 3:1. The relationships between these costs and benefits were examined. The costs of accident prevention were found to be positively and significantly (P < 0.005) associated with benefits of accident prevention. These associations were modelled using simple linear regression, and from these models it can be inferred from the results that the more contractors spend on accident prevention the more they derive benefits of accident prevention, which would improve health and safety performance on construction sites. ii The developed model was subsequently validated using experts and practitioners opinion from the UK construction industry. This developed model should provide good guidance to assist contractors in developing effective and efficient health and safety management for UK construction industry.
Samwinga, Victor (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Flooding is a global challenge that has plagued mankind throughout history, affecting over 164 million people worldwide in 2007 alone. As the frequency of flooding increases in England and Wales coupled with an increase in the number of properties at risk of flooding and the attendant huge (insured) economic costs of flooding, the services received by homeowners during flood damage repair works, have not been spared criticism, Both the Welsh Consumer Council report and the Warwickshire Trading Standards report raised serious questions about the level of service in insurance claims for the repair of flood-damaged domestic property. This research project was therefore aimed at investigating the level of service quality and determinants of homeowners’ satisfaction in England and Wales with respect to flood damage repair works during insurance claims. A comprehensive literature review was conducted on customers’ needs, satisfaction and service quality, flooding and related issues, and the repair of flood damaged domestic property, in order to set the framework for the research and shape the development of the research questions/hypotheses. The study employed a two-phased sequential mixed methods approach, commencing with 20 in-depth interviews with homeowners, repairers, insurers and loss adjusters. Findings from the initial exploratory study (and from the literature review) informed the development of a questionnaire instrument, which incorporated elements of SERVQUAL, the generic service quality measurement instrument. Survey data were collected for the quantitative phase of the study from a sample of 126 homeowners, which was then analysed to test the hypotheses put forward in the study. The data did not yield a set of reliable and interpretable factors of service quality from the three service quality scales used to measure homeowners’ perceptions of the performance of insurers, loss adjusters and contractors. However, of the three key service providers, the contractor’s performance was the best predictor of homeowners’ overall satisfaction during flood damage reinstatement claims, accounting for seven times the combined unique contribution of insurance and loss adjusting firms. In addition, satisfaction levels were significantly different for homeowners whose claims for repair works were completed within six months compared to those repairs exceeded twelve months. The thesis concludes with implications of the findings for practice as well as recommendations for further research. It is argued that knowledge of the determinants of homeowners’ satisfaction with services during the repair of flood damaged property, is beneficial not only to insurers, loss adjusters and repairers but to homeowners as well.
Follett, John Alan (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
In this thesis, I investigate permanence through exploring tattoo consumption in terms of the social-historical context of being tattooed. The analysis is based on four years of data collection adopting a grounded theory approach. I present an analysis of how permanence occurs in terms of tattoo consumption, with particular interest in the physical permanence in relation to identity creation. This is set within the framework of Consumer Culture Theory (CCT). The reason for this is twofold, firstly to illustrate the ability of using tattooing as an instrument to investigate permanence within CCT. Secondly, to show the lack of use of the socio-historical perspective within such an investigation, and to show that the use of such data is a valid strategy and which adds depth and context to such an investigation. Furthermore, I suggest that tattoo consumption has become a site of embodied expression that is bounded by physicality, and permanence. I present a typology of tattooed consumers based on levels of commitment and explore in depth two main categories, physicality, and, permanence. I find that the physical permanence is shown through the commitment to tattoo usage. Its permanent nature determines the tattoo as an act of consumption that is dualistic in nature; both accepted, and yet equally rejected, which is seen within the consumers‘ negotiation of its use, in terms of mimicry and placement. Being tattooed represents a form of consumption that contravenes certain rules and norms of society, and yet at the same time is the basis for community membership and adherence to a set of sub-cultural norms and values.
The use and application of 4 Dimensional Computer Aided Design (4D CAD) is growing within the construction industry. 4D approaches have been the focus of many research efforts within the last decade and several commercial tools now exist for the creation of construction simulations using 4D approaches. However, there are several key limitations to the current approaches. For example, 4D models are normally developed after the initial planning of a project has taken place using more traditional techniques such as Critical Path Method (CPM). Furthermore, mainstream methodologies for planning are based on individual facets of the construction process developed by discrete contractors or sub-contractors. Any 4D models generated from these data are often used to verify work flows and identify problems that may arise, either in terms of work methods or sequencing issues. Subsequently, it is perceived that current 4D CAD approaches provide a planning review mechanism rather than a platform for a novel integrated approach to construction planning. The work undertaken in this study seeks to address these issues through the application of a distributed virtual reality (VR) environment for collaborative 4D based construction planning. The key advances lie in catering for geographically dispersed planning by discrete construction teams. By leveraging networked 4D-VR based technologies, multidisciplinary planners, in different places, can be connected to collaboratively perform planning and create an integrated and robust construction schedule leading to a complete 4D CAD simulation. Establishing such a complex environment faces both technological and social challenges. Technological challenges arise from the integration of traditional and recent 4D approaches for construction planning with an ad hoc application platform of VR linked through networked computing. Social challenges arise from social dynamics and human behaviours when utilizing VR-based applications for collaborative work. An appropriate 4D-based planning method in a networked VR based environment is the key to gaining a technical advancement and this approach to distributed collaborative planning tends to promote computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW). Subsequently, probing suitable CSCW design and user interface/interaction (UI) design are imperative for solutions to achieve successful applicability. Based on the foregoing, this study developed a novel robust 4D planning approach for networked construction planning. The new method of interactive definition was devised through theoretical analysis of human-computer interaction (HCI) studies, a comparison of existing 4D CAD creation, and 3D model based construction planning. It was created to support not only individual planners’ work but multidisciplinary planners’ collaboration, and lead to interactive and dynamic development of a 4D simulation. From a social perspective, the method clarified and highlighted relevant CSCW design to enhance collaboration. Applying this rationale, the study specified and implemented a distributed groupware solution for collaborative 4D construction planning. Based on a developed system architecture, application mode and dataflow, as well as a real-time data exchange protocol, a prototype system entitled ‘4DX’ was implemented which provides a platform for distributed multidisciplinary planners to perform real-time collaborative 4D construction planning. The implemented toolkit targeted a semi-immersive VR platform for enhanced usability with compatibility of desktop VR. For the purpose of obtaining optimal UI design of this kind of VR solution, the research implemented a new user-centred design (UCD) framework of Taguchi-Compliant User-Centred Design (TC-UCD) by adapting and adopting the Taguchi philosophy and current UCD framework. As a result, a series of UIs of the VR-based solution for multifactor usability evaluation and optimization were developed leading to a VR-based solution with optimal UIs. The final distributed VR solution was validated in a truly geographically dispersed condition. Findings from the verification testing, the validation, and the feedback from construction professionals proved positive in addition to providing constructive suggestions to further reinforce the applicability of the approach in the future.
Sandbrook, Sandra (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Existing commonly used maternal-fetal attachment instruments have not been thoroughly tested for reliability and validity; criticism can be levelled for a variety of problems ranging from lack of reliability due to an inadequate underpinning framework to facilitate objective interpretation to limited generalizability due to the sample. The aim of this study is to acknowledge the centrality of the mother, to use the experiences of pregnant women to generate a definition of maternalfetal attachment and ultimately create a tool that will act as a reliable, valid and simple measurement. A mixed method framework utilising a sequential exploratory strategy has allowed qualitative exploration of the phenomenon under investigation followed by quantitative testing of the emerging theory on a much larger and different sample. Phase 1 involved face to face open structured interviews on an opportunity sample of 10 (5 primigravid; 5 multiparous) women in the final trimester of pregnancy followed by 3 focus groups targeting specific groups – primigravid women (6 participants); multiparous women (7 participants) and teenagers (4 participants). Data analysis was through constant comparative methodology. A multidimensional, psycho-biological definition of attachment was generated from the women’s own perception of their attachment to their fetus. This was used as a framework to design a questionnaire for the measurement of maternal-fetal attachment. Phase 2 involved the validation of the questionnaire and further testing of the definition. Cohort 1 tested for reliability with 200 participants within their second or third trimester of pregnancy. Following modification of the questionnaire, Cohort 2 a sample of 150 women within the final trimester of pregnancy tested the tool for internal reliability and validity. The generated Maternal-Fetal Attachment Tool (MFAT) following rigorous testing proved both reliable and valid. Maternal fetal attachment is founded in psycho-biological theory and is a complex multi-dimensional construct. Central to the definition is the woman’s need to protect her fetus, attachment develops as the fetus becomes more tangible, it is facilitated through the woman’s intergenerational experience of attachment and through appropriate social support. Maternal-fetal attachment facilitates behavioural change to ensure a favourable intra-uterine environment.
Cancer is one of the major causes of morbidity in the world. Although the overall survival of cancer has been significantly improved by chemotherapy in the last three decades, the success of cancer chemotherapy is still severely limited by the lack of selectivity of anti-cancer drugs to malignant cells leading to dose-limiting toxicity and the resistance of cancer cells to the conventional anti-cancer drugs. Gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) was designed to direct the anti-cancer drugs to specifically target the cancer cells by using cancer specific promoter to drive the expression of enzyme which can convert prodrug into anti-cancer drug specifically in cancer cells. However, this strategy is hindered by the lack of strong cancer specific promoters to specifically express drug-converting enzymes in cancer cells. In consequence, there is not enough anti-cancer drug activated inside the cancer cells. The first part of this study was to employ NF-κB binding sites as a novel enhancer system to improve the promoter activity of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) for GDEPT. In this system, the basal CEA promoter sequences were placed downstream of the 4 or 8 NF-κB DNA binding sites linked in tandem (κB4 or κB8). The system was designed to serve two particular purposes: to exploit the high levels of intratumoural NF-kB expression and keep the relative tumour specificity of the CEA and hTERT promoters. The results demonstrated that κB enhancer systems increased the transcriptional activity of CEA and hTERT promoter without compromising its cancer specificity. The fidelity of the κB4-CEA enhancer-promoter system was therefore improved by the increased transcriptional contrast between the cancer and normal cells. Moreover, in comparison with CEA promoter alone, κB-CEA enhancer-promoter system expressed human thymidine phosphorylase (TP) protein at significantly higher levels which were comparable to those expressed by CMV promoter. The κBCEA- TP system transfected cells demonstrated significantly higher sensitivity to 5'-Deoxy-5-Fluorouridine (5'-DFUR), a prodrug of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). The second part of this study was involved in using NF-κB inhibitor as a chemosensitizer to sentizise the anti-cancer drug-induced chemoresistance cells to anti-cancer drugs. The results derived from this study manifested that the anti-alcoholism drug, Disulfiram (DS), and anti-inflammatory drug, triptolide (PG490), markedly enhanced the cytotoxicity of several conventional anti-cancer drugs in colon, lung and breast cancer cell lines. PG490 induced caspase-dependent cell death accompanied by a significant decrease in Bcl-2 levels. PG490 induced the expression of p53 and down-regulated p21 expression. This study indicated that some clinically used non-cancerchemotherapeutic drugs may be developed as chemosensitizers for cancer chemotherapy
Hewitt, Stephen A. (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
The influence of mechanical alloying (MA) milling time, temperature, sintering method and microstructure on the mechanical properties of a tungsten carbide-cobalt (WC-Co) hardmetal, based on 10wt% Co, has been established. The effects of high-energy milling for 30, 60, 180 and 300 min and the interrelation between milling time and powder properties, and the resultant effects on the mechanical properties of the consolidated WC-10Co material, has been obtained for a horizontally designed ball mill. Nanostructured WC-10Co powder was synthesised after 60 min cyclic milling at room temperature with an average WC domain size of 21 nm. In direct comparison, a WC-10Co composition MA at -30°C for 60 min produced an average WC domain size of 26 nm with a higher lattice strain. WC domain size showed a slight increase with milling time, measured at 27 nm after 300 min ball milling. Extended ball milling (300 min) reduced the mean particle size from 0.148 μm for 60 min milling to 0.117 μm. Thermal analysis showed that the onset temperature of the WC-Co eutectic was related to particle size with increased milling time reducing the onset temperature from 1344°C after 60 min milling to 1312°C after 300 min milling. Onset temperature was further reduced by the addition of vanadium carbide (VC), reducing the onset temperature to 1283°C after 300 min milling. Powder contamination increased with increased milling time with Fe content measured at ~ 3wt% after 300 min ball milling. Milling at -30°C reduced Fe contamination to an almost undetectable level. Increased ball milling time resulted in decreased levels of green density with the powders milled for 30 and 300 min achieving 62.5% and 59.5% TD, respectively. Relative density increased for the powder milled at -30°C compared to the RT milled powder due to its flattened, slightly rounded morphology. A large difference in VC starting particle size compared to WC and Co led to non-uniform dispersion of the inhibitor during milling. Densification and hardness reached optimum levels for the 60 min milled powder for both pressureless sintering and sinter-HIP. Both properties decreased with increased milling time, regardless of the sintering method. Low temperature milling resulted in a higher hardness value of 1390 HV30 compared to 1326 HV30 for the 60 min, RT milled material after pressureless sintering. Densification levels of the doped materials were restricted to < 90% TD for both sintering methods due to inhomogeneity in the microstructures. Palmqvist fracture toughness (WK) of the RT milled powders increased with increased milling time and increasing WC grain size for both sintering methods. WK reached 11.6 MN.m3/2 with 300 min milling after pressureless sintering but reached 16.1 MN.m32 for the same material after sinter-HIP due to the effect of mean WC grain size and binder phase mean free path. The -30°C milled powder exhibited higher fracture toughness for both sintering methods than the 60 min, RT milled material. Spark plasma sintering (SPS) showed that the onset of densification was dependent upon particle size with the powder from 300 min milling showing an onset temperature of ~ 800°C compared to ~ 1000°C for the 60 min milled powder. The low temperature milled powder showed an onset temperature of ~ 980°C, which suggested that low temperature milling provided enhanced densification kinetics.
Musgrove, Nicholas James (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
The plant communities of the Long Mynd plateau are the culmination of over 3000 years of human intervention that largely deforested the uplands, and subsequently maintained the generally treeless heath and grassland communities now extant. The capacity of these communities to respond to directional change is well known, indeed the traditional mode of heathland management, burning, depends on the regenerative capacity of the target species, generally heather (Calluna vulgaris), for its success. However, changes in post WW2 stocking practice; the loss of ponies followed by an increase in the numbers of sheep and a change to them being overwintered on the hill, led to excessive grazing and damage to the heath. This coincided with the spread over the hill by bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and other changes in the distribution and nature of the vegetation. A sequence of vegetation surveys made by various individuals and organisations over the past 75 years or so has been analysed in an attempt to delineate spatial and temporal changes in the vegetation. This demonstrated the need for a standardised survey methodology to allow consistent monitoring. The analysis showed that bracken had been infiltrating most of the communities from its origins outside the lower limits of the Common as well as from some of the valley sides. Within the last decade, this expansion has apparently been contained in line with the current management plan for control. A survey of 730 quadrats in some 30 stands was made to characterise the variation of the vegetation on the plateau, and to relate it to some of the associated environmental factors. Classification, unconstrained ordination and ordination constrained by the abiotic environmental variables, showed that, a) the strongest trend in the vegetation distinguished water-flushed communities, b) non-wetland communities differentiate between heathland and grassland, c) this trend can be only partly be attributed to the measured abiotic environmental variables, d) the amount of pure Pteridietum [U20] is limited, although much of the heathland and grassland has bracken within it. There are indications that invasion by bracken often correlates with a loss of dominance of Calluna in favour of Deschampsia flexuosa and Vaccinium myrtillus. Difficulties in associating these trends with measured abiotic variables suggests, other factors probably management processes, are critical in driving this trend. Distribution of ‘heathland’ bryophytes was found to be associated more with the structure of their ‘host’ vascular communities rather than with abiotic factors. Finally, this investigation considers the practical implications with regard to the future encouragement of heather and the control of bracken. Cutting rather than burning appears to be the ecologically most suitable method for heather regeneration and bracken control.
Jones, Spencer (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
This thesis examines the influence of the Boer War 1899 – 1902 upon tactics and training in the regular British Army 1902 – 1914. The work argues that several key lessons drawn from South Africa became the tactical cornerstones for infantry, artillery and cavalry throughout the pre-First World War period and shaped the performance of the B.E.F. during the early battles of 1914. The experience of combat against well armed opposition in the Boer War prompted the British Army to develop improved tactics in each of the three major service arms. For example, infantry placed new emphasis on dispersion and marksmanship; cavalry improved their dismounted work and reconnaissance skills; and artillery adopted methods of concealment and strove to improve accuracy and co-ordination. Across the army as a whole, the experience of combat lead to an overall downgrading of the importance of drill and obedience, replacing it instead with tactical skill and individual initiative. In addition, the thesis also examines the impact of the Boer War upon overall British Army doctrine and ethos. The process of reform prior to the First World War was marked by wide ranging debates upon the value of the South African experience, and not all lessons drawn from the conflict endured, with tactical restructuring being further complicated by changes of government and financial restrictions. Nevertheless, key lessons such as dispersion, marksmanship, concealment and firepower were ultimately retained and proved to be of great value during initial clashes against the Germans in 1914. Additionally, the Boer War caused the British to place new emphasis upon overall training of the individual, allowing advanced tactical skills to be inculcated more easily than had been possible in earlier years. However, the short duration of the conventional period of the Boer War meant that there was less opportunity to derive operational lessons for future employment. Furthermore, the colonial policing role of the British Army and the likelihood of small scale deployments meant that developing an operational doctrine was of less immediate value than ensuring flexibility and tactical skill. This meant that the British Army took a somewhat skewed developmental path in the 1902 – 1914. The process of reform ultimately produced a highly adaptable force that was tactically skilled, but which was ill-prepared for the operational complications posed by large scale deployment. While the Boer War was the principal factor in driving reform during the 1902 – 1914 period, there were additional influences at work, including examples from the Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905 and various ideas drawn from the armies of the continent. However, this thesis argues that while these outside influences contributed to ongoing debate, they did not offer any particular fresh ideas and were therefore of less importance than the Boer War in shaping British Army development.
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