Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Lesbian existence and marginalization in India

India’s first ‘lesbian ad’ went viral at the start of June this year. The advert featuring a young lesbian couple awaiting the arrival of one set of parents to their joint home is uncompromisingly ‘out’ even as it sets this exceptional moment in the everyday intimacy and domesticity that most relationships share. The ad is actually part of a new digital campaign launched by the brand Myntra for its range of ‘contemporary ethnic apparel’ called Anouk.

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Psychological deterioration in solitary confinement

It is difficult to imagine a more disempowering place than a solitary confinement cell in a maximum security prison. When opportunities for meaningful human engagement are removed, mental health difficulties arise with disturbing regularity. In the United States, where prisoners can be held in administrative segregation for years on end, stories of psychological disintegration are common.

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Looking for God in the sociology of religion and in Game of Thrones

Religion has played an increasingly significant part in Season 5 of the HBO series Game of Thrones, with the ‘Faith Militant’ taking over the reins of power at King’s Landing, mostly unopposed. Yet internet discussions indicate that some viewers have found this storyline unsatisfying, as the Sparrows are depicted as crazed religious fanatics, piously obsessed with driving out vice and immorality from the city.

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Watching the true detectives

The media has a key role to play in the construction of our knowledge of crime and policing. In the post-war decades, they argue the representation of policing in the UK reflected the general social consensus. The dominant image here is Jack Warner playing George Dixon in the popular UK TV series Dixon of Dock Green that ran from 1955 to 1976. George Dixon came to represent the archetypal ‘British Bobby’, a pillar of the community who was widely respected. The homely and reassuring values that Dixon represented were summarized in his catchphrase ‘Evenin’ all’.

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Reframing gangs

Picture the scene.
Scene 1: A group of wildly drunk young men smash a local business to smithereens, systematically destroying every inch, before beating the owner within an inch of his life.
Scene 2: A group of power-crazed men (and one woman), driven by an aggressive culture of hyper-competitiveness, commit economic crime on an epic scale.

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Surveillance and privacies

In its recent report, Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework, the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee pondered on the scale of public concern about digital surveillance. A feature of the current controversy is its narrow chronology. The decades before 9/11 correspond to the medieval period and the centuries before the internet are lost in the mists of time. The legislation that controls the behaviour of the security agencies, particularly the Acts of 1989, 1994 and 2000, is generally seen as obsolete.

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Is Christian feminism an oxymoron?

Is Christian feminism an oxymoron? For the past century or so, it’s often seemed that way. But it wasn’t all that long ago that many women not only considered Christianity and feminism compatible, but in fact believed each essential to the other. Perhaps no figure makes this case more powerfully than Katharine Bushnell. An internationally-known anti-trafficking activist in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Bushnell repeatedly encountered Christian men who had perpetrated acts of appalling cruelty against women, often without remorse or consequence.

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Sex, cars, and the power of testosterone

A red open car blasts past you, exhaust and radio blaring, going at least 10 miles faster than the speed limit. Want to take a bet on the driver? Well, you won’t get odds. Everyone knows the answer. All that exhibitionism shouts out the commonplace, if not always welcome, features of young males. Just rampant testosterone, you might say. And that’s right. It is testosterone. The young man may be driving the car but testosterone is what’s driving him.

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Ritual in our lives [quiz]

Whether we know it or not, ritual pervades our lives, silently guiding our daily behavior. Like language, tool use, and music, ritual is a constituent element of what it means to be human, joining together culture, archaeology, and biology. The study of ritual, therefore, is a reflection on human nature and the society we inhabit.

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Bayliss and Stoddart-British Nuclear Experience

Britain, political leadership, and nuclear weapons

The beliefs of British Prime Ministers since 1941 about the nation’s security and role in the world have been of critical importance in understanding the development and retention of a nuclear capability. Winston Churchill supported the development as a means of national survival during the Second World War.

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The causes and consequences of the 2011 London riots

During the London riots in August 2011, the police lost control of parts of the city for four days, and thousands of people took part in destruction and looting that resulted in property damage estimated at least $50 million. A recent article in Social Forces examines the residential address of 1,620 rioters — who were arrested and charged in the London riots, to investigate potential explanations for rioting.

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How I stopped worrying and learned to love concrete

Every campus has one, and sometimes more than more: the often unlovely and usually unloved concrete building put up at some point in the 1960s. Generally neglected and occasionally even unfinished, with steel reinforcing rods still poking out of it, the sixties building might be a hall of residence or a laboratory, a library or lecture room. It rarely features in prospectuses and is never – never ever – used to house the vice chancellor’s office.

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It’s never too late to change

Ever wanted to change a behavior or habit in your own life? Most of us have tried. And failed. Or, we made modest gains at best. Here’s my story of a small change that made a big difference. Just over two years ago, I decided, at the ripe old age of 55, that it was time to begin exercising.

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Preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Losing control: radical reform of anti-terror laws

The violent progress of the Islamic State (IS) through towns and villages in Iraq has been swift, aided by foreign fighters from Britain. IS has now taken control of large swathes of Iraq and there are growing concerns amongst senior security officials that the number of British men and women leaving their country to support and fight alongside the extremist group is rising.

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Visualizing same-sex desire

History is surfeited with examples of the interactions between society and individual sexuality. Same-sex desire in particular has been, up until the present moment, a topic largely shrouded in shame, secrecy, and silence. As a result, it is often visualized through the image of ‘the closet,’ conveying notions of entrapment, protection, and liberation. Dominic Janes, author of Picturing the Closet: Male Secrecy and Homosexual Visibility in Britain, recently sat down with us to talk about visualization of same-sex desire in eighteenth-century Britain to the present.

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