Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Sharks, asylum seekers, and Australian politics

By Matthew Flinders
We all know that the sea is a dangerous place and should be treated with respect but it seems that Australian politicians have taken things a step (possibly even a leap) further. From sharks to asylum seekers the political response appears way out of line with the scale of the risk. Put simply, Australian politics is all at sea.

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Do we have too much democracy?

By Matthew Flinders
It’s finally happened! After years of watching and (hopeful) waiting, tomorrow is the day that I finally step into the TEDx arena alongside an amazing array of speakers to give a short talk about ‘an idea worth spreading’. The theme is ‘Representation and Democracy’ but what can I say that has not already been said? How can I tackle a big issue in just a few minutes?

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After the storm: failure, fallout, and Farage

By Matthew Flinders
The earthquake has happened, the tremors have been felt, party leaders are dealing with the aftershocks and a number of fault-lines in contemporary British and European politics have been exposed. Or have they? Were last month’s European elections really as momentous as many social and political commentators seem to believe?

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Politics to reconnect communities

By Matthew Flinders
Why does art and culture matter in the twenty-first century? What does it actually deliver in terms of social benefits? An innovative new participatory arts project in South Yorkshire is examining the ‘politics of art’ and the ‘art of politics’ from a number of new angles.

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Look beneath the vote

By Matthew Flinders
Hands up if you’ve heard of National Voter Registration Day? And in the somewhat unlikely event that you have, did you realise that it took place last month? If this momentous milestone passed you by, you’re not alone. Whatever 5 February means to the people of the UK, it’s safe to assume that electoral participation doesn’t figure prominently. This is not a surprise.

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Mad politics

By Matthew Flinders
If you are reading this blog then you’ve obviously survived ‘Blue Monday’. That is, the day in the third week of January when suicide levels tend to peak and demands for counseling rocket as a result of post-Christmas debt, dashed New Year resolutions, and the inevitable sense that this year is actually unlikely to be much different to the last.

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Down and out in Bloemfontein

By Matthew Flinders
My New Year message is simple: we can change the world in 2014 but only if we recognise that we have an economy based upon exclusion and inequality. Some people are ‘down and out’ in Bloemfontein or Rio de Janeiro, or even London, because they were born into a system that entrenched certain inequalities that would shape their life chances. They are not animals in a zoo to be gawped at or mimicked.

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Election 2015: ‘Don’t vote, it just encourages the b**tards’

By Matthew Flinders
Without a whistle or a bang from a starter’s gun, the 2015 general election campaign is now well under way. Labour’s proposed freeze on energy prices marks a first tentative attempt to seize the pre-election agenda, while the Chancellor’s autumn statement next month looks set to respond by including measures aimed at cutting the cost of living.

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Feral politics: Searching for meaning in the 21st century

By Matthew Flinders
Could it be that conventional party politics has simply become too tame to stir the interests of most citizens? With increasing political disaffection, particularly amongst the young, could George Monbiot’s arguments about re-wilding nature and the countryside offer a new perspective on how to reconnect disaffected democrats? In short, do we actually need feral politics?

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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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Bring me a scapegoat to destroy: babies, blame, and bargains

By Matthew Flinders
When reading this week’s coverage of the independent report into the regulation of Morecambe University Hospital Trust by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), I could not help but reflect upon the links between this terrible episode in public sector management and Stanley Cohen’s famous work on moral panics and folk devils.

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Saints and sinners, politicians and priests, and the 2013 local elections

By Matthew Flinders
Justin Welby recently used his first Easter sermon as Archbishop of Canterbury to warn of the dangers of investing too much faith in frail and fallible human leaders, be they politicians or priests. Blind belief in the power of any single individual to bring about true change in any sphere, he argued, was simplistic and wrong, and led inevitably to disillusionment and disappointment.

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Remembering Margaret Thatcher

By Matthew Flinders
Could it be that far from the all-powerful ‘Iron Lady’ that Margaret Thatcher was actually a little more vulnerable and isolated than many people actually understood?

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