Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What we talk about when we talk about capitalism

For more than a century, capitalism has been the dominant planetary system for supplying people with, quite literally, their daily bread. It transformed our cultures and knit us together in a global network of buying and selling. But how do we understand it? How do we make sense of it? What do we talk about when we talk about capitalism? Recently we did a study to track talk of capitalism over two hundred years.

Read More

Resisting change: understanding obstacles to social progress

The People’s Climate Movement, made up of dozens of organizations working to fight the climate crisis, held their first march in September 2014. On Saturday, 29 April, activists will once again march to demand climate action. As they protest the Trump administration’s drastic approach to climate change, the People’s Climate Movement will aim to “show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.”

Read More

The separation of church and state in the US

While contradictory in many respects, the principles of separation of church and state, cooperation between sacred and secular, religious equality in the treatment of religion, and the integration of religion and politics combine to provide unique but important contributions to American life. In the following excerpt, Derek H. Davis examines the relationship between law and religion in the United States.

Read More

Councils and juntas in early modern Madrid

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to think of meetings as a time-consuming chore, and it was no different in the seventeenth century. During the 1660s, the count of Castrillo would complain to his wife about the long hours that he had to spend in committees. He was sometimes too busy even so much as to go to Mass, and when he was finally allowed out of the palace it might not have been until the early hours of the morning.

Read More

The price of freedom

This week, as Passover ends and those of us who observe that holiday allow hametz – leavened things – back into our homes and our lives, it is worth reflecting on what all the fuss is over, and whether we should make such a fuss at all. Holidays are carved from daily life for a purpose, and often, the mode of observance dovetails the meaning of the holiday.

Read More

Raiding religion, the new normal

The 19th of April 2017 is the twenty-fourth anniversary of the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco, Texas. The disaster began three months earlier, however, with a botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to serve a search warrant for weapons upon a small religious community. The raid resulted in 15 casualties among federal agents, including four dead, and the deaths of six Branch Davidians.

Read More

The international protection of diplomatic and consular agents

On Monday 19 December 2016, President Vladimir Putin had made plans to attend Woe from Wit, a satirical comedy on post-Napoleonic Moscow. It was written in 1823, six years before its author – poet and diplomat Alexander Griboyedov – was murdered by a crowd of Islamic religious fanatics, when Ambassador to Persia.

Read More

Political intermediation for just sustainabilities

Present understanding of the relationship between environmental conservation and social justice – the two of the greatest challenges of our times – is fraught with multiple confusions, especially in the context of developing countries.

Read More

Looking beyond “America First”: war, politics, and human community

The polarity between self-assertive and integrative tendencies is characteristic of all human life on earth, even including the life of separate states in world politics. In this connection, regrettably, President Donald Trump’s conspicuously proud emphasis on “America First” represents an unambiguous preference for the former.

Read More

French politics at the crossroads

The outcome of France’s upcoming presidential elections may be the most difficult to predict in many years. The name of the anticipated winner has changed several times over the past few months. The conservative party’s primary election ejected several seemingly credible candidates from the race. The far-right populist party Front National has become the leading party in terms of vote share at the regional elections of 2015.

Read More

The role of smugglers in the European Migrant Crisis

Media coverage of the European migrant crisis often focuses on the migrants themselves—capturing their stories as millions escape violent conflicts and crushing poverty. In Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior, Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano consider the smugglers involved in transporting migrants throughout Europe. Although many smugglers are viewed as saviors, others give little regard to the human rights issues.

Read More

The sound of the Steel City: Orwell, Attercliffe, and the afterlife

There are some sounds in life that simply cannot be put into words. One of them is the sound I heard this morning as I ran along the canal in that very special part of Sheffield known as Attercliffe. The sound shook me to my soul and reminded me of George Orwell’s visit to the city in 1936 when he had been shocked by the realities of hard industrial life. For me, however, it was a glorious sound – the heartbeat of the Steel City.

Read More

How football fans, political leaders, and religious cues can change minds on LGBT rights

Less than 15 years ago, it was impossible for a same-sex couple to get married, and the public was strongly opposed to the idea. But in a remarkably short period of time, public opinion shifted, as did public policy—first in Massachusetts in 2004, and in an increasing number of states over time, until the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015 which legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

Read More

The decline of public intellectuals

Although their roles are similar, thought leaders and public intellectuals remain two distinct entities. Public intellectuals’ training gives them the authority to discuss a wide range of issues; thought leaders’ enthusiasm gives them an audience who will listen to their ideas. Public distrust in authority figures has led to a significant rise in “thought leaders”. While this change in the marketplace of ideas has increased diversity in creative thinking, it builds obstacles for the public intellectuals trying to filter out the bad from the good.

Read More

Urban waste management, and the largest dump site in Kolkata

These days, one hears much about the importance of adaptiveness and resilience, faced with the “super wicked” problem of climate change that is growing by the day and is demanding not just policy orientation, but action plans on an urgent basis. Often, opinion is expressed that poorer nations must perforce work towards adaptation and dedicated research must help them in that direction.

Read More