Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Asbo, Jago, and chavismo: What party hat for Arthur Morrison?

By Peter Miles
First, a word to Google. Dead people do not have birthdays. I hate to be a party-pooper in the eyes of any zombies still celebrating Halloween, but Google will insist on informing me that today is Nietzsche’s 169th birthday or the 143rd birthday of the chap who first put a metal strip in a banknote or the 158th birthday of the Czech inventor of the bicycle seat — when it never is.

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Riots, meaning, and social phenomena

By P.A.J. Waddington
The academic long vacation offers the opportunity to catch–up on some reading and reflect upon it. Amongst my reading this summer was the special edition of Policing and Society devoted to contemporary rioting and protest.

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Interrogating inequality around the globe

The Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York brought together leading sociologists from around the world to discuss the field, focusing on “Interrogating Inequality.” Arne L. Kalleberg, Editor-in-Chief of Social Forces, was lucky enough to steal five sociologists 20 blocks south to Oxford’s New York office.

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Prospects for China’s migrant workers

By Douglas J. Besharov and Karen Baehler
Let’s assume that Nobel economist Paul Krugman and others are right about China’s economy being “in big trouble” and headed for a “nasty slump.” What does this mean for the 150 million current Chinese workers who left their home villages to fill jobs in the new economy’s growth centers?

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Parricide in perspective

By Kathleen M. Heide, PhD
It hardly seems like 24 years since Jose and Kitty Menendez were shot to death by their two sons, Lyle and Eric. It was a crime that shocked the nation because the family seemed “postcard perfect” to many observers. Jose was an immigrant from Cuba who worked hard and became a multi-millionaire. He married Kitty, a young attractive woman he met in college, who was also hardworking. They were the parents of two handsome sons.

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Zeroing in on zero-hours work

Stephen Fineman
The growth of zero-hours work contracts has grabbed the headlines recently. The contracts offer no guaranteed work hours and can swing between feast (over work) and famine (literally nil hours). Employees are expected to be available as and when needed; if they refuse (which in principle they can) they risk being labelled as unreliable and overlooked the next time round.

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Family values and immigration reform

By Grace Yukich
This summer has been pivotal for the American family. On 26 June 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, making same-sex couples eligible for the same federal benefits that opposite-sex couples have.

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The strengths and limitations of global immunization programmes

By Desmond McNeill
Modern vaccines are among the most powerful tools available to public health. They have saved millions of lives, protected millions more against the ravages of crippling and debilitating disease, and have the capacity to save many more. But like all complex and sophisticated tools, they can be used for different purposes, in different ways, and with various consequences.

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Homicide bombers, not suicide bombers

By Robert Goldney
To some this heading may seem unexpected. The term ‘suicide bomber’ has entered our lexicon on the obvious basis that although the prime aim may have been the killing of others, the individual perpetrator dies. Indeed, over the last three decades the media, the general public , and sometimes the scientific community have uncritically used the words ‘suicide bomber’ to describe the deaths of those who kill others, sometimes a few, usually ten to twenty, or in the case of 9/11, about two thousand, while at the same time killing themselves.

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Cooperation through unproductive costs

By Jason A. Aimone, Laurence R. Iannaccone, Michael D. Makowsky, and Jared Rubin
What do prison gangs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Ultra-Orthodox Jews have in common? All of these groups require highly-visible “costs” that reduce their members’ opportunities in the outside world.

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The European Union: debate or referendum?

Simon Usherwood
To the casual observer of British politics, we would appear to be heading towards a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister has spoken for it, the clamour in the press and in the lobbies of Westminster continues to grow stronger and there is no good reason to speak against it, or so it would seem.

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Violence, now and then

By Hannah Skoda
We are used to finding a stream of extreme violence reported in the media: from the brutal familial holocaust engineered by Mick Philpott to the terror of the Boston bombings. Maybe it is because such cases seem close to home and elicit reactions both voyeuristic and frightened, that they gain so much more emotive coverage than quotidian violence in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

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The classification of mental illness

By Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman
According to the UK Centre for Economic Performance, mental illness accounts for nearly half of all ill health in the under 65s. But this begs the question: what is mental illness? How can we judge whether our thoughts and feelings are healthy or harmful? What criteria should we use?

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Give weight-loss diets a rest

By Abigail C. Saguy and Tamara B. Horwich
A respected cardiologist of our acquaintance recently confessed that he often tells his patients to lose weight. This may sound like good advice, but he knows better. Scores of clinical studies show that heavier patients with heart disease are, on average, less likely to die than thinner ones. Furthermore, weight loss efforts are typically counterproductive.

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