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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

Freemasonry and the public sphere in the UK

Freemasonry once again hit the headlines of UK media on New Year’s Eve 2017, revealing the contentious nature of the place of secrecy in public life. Just having concluded the celebration of its tercentenary anniversary year, the United Grand Lodge of England found itself at the center of controversy. How far can membership in a masonic lodge be regarded as incompatible with the exercise of a public office?

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The US led liberal international order is in crisis

One year into President Trump’s administration serious questions are being asked about the nature and extent of the ‘crisis’ of the US-led liberal order, and its hegemonic state. After the Cold War’s end, the triumph of liberalism seemed all but certain. Though success bred its own international challenges, liberals were ready for them. Until November 2016.

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The weight of love: ‘love locks’ as emotional objects

On the night of 8 June 2014, a section of the metal barrier on the Pont des Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks which had been attached to it. Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly common for famous (and sometimes less famous) bridges, and, increasingly, other monuments, to become encrusted with small padlocks in celebration of romantic love.

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Happy, healthy, and empowered in love

If, as Tolstoy says, all happy families are alike, then why is it so challenging to identify what it is—psychologically and sociologically—that makes them so happy? We can easily identify the markers of unhealthy relationships; for example, domestic violence—commonly known as intimate partner violence in an academic setting—is controlling behavior rooted in the power and control by one person over another.

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The optics of a cabinet reshuffle: PR vs reality

Reshuffles are a chance to revive the fortunes of a Prime Minister by changing the faces of their Cabinet and Government. January’s offered much but delivered less; the occupants of key Cabinet positions remained in place after all. May’s big beasts stood their ground, seemingly immovable; Justine Greening was the most prominent and the only woman to exit the Cabinet.

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Does nationalism cause war?

Nationalism is often blamed for the devastating wars of the modern period, but is this fair? Critics pinpoint four dangerous aspects of nationalism: its utopian ideology (originating in the late 18th century), its cult of the war dead, the mass character of its wars, and its encouragement of the break-up of states. I argue, however, that the case against nationalism is not proven.

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Nuclear deterrence and conflict: the case of Israel

“Deliberate ambiguity” notwithstanding, Israel’s’ core nuclear posture has remained consistent. It asserts that the tiny country’s presumptive nuclear weapons can succeed only through calculated non-use, or via systematic deterrence. srael must plan for the measured replacement of “deliberate ambiguity” with certain apt levels of “disclosure.” In this connection, four principal scenarios should come immediately to mind.

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Community healing and reconciliation: a tale of two cities

Community healing and reconciliation has been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. Over the past 12 years there has been a growing number of high profile murders of African American youth in the United States. Some communities have responded to the incidents offering examples of how communities may work together to move forward.

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Legal rights are not all right: when morality and the law collide

In early November 2017, media outlets hailed the Paradise Papers as a major scoop: 13.4 million leaked documents revealed the financial details of some of the world’s leading brands, politicians, sports stars, and musicians. But this was to be no repeat of last year’s Panama Papers, in which well-known names appeared relating to criminal acts l; the Paradise Papers failed to reveal a single crime. So why was it considered news?

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Feminist themes in TV crime drama

The fictional world has always featured women who solve crimes, from Nancy Drew to Veronica Mars. Although men crime-solvers outnumbered women on TV, women detectives have increasingly become more commonplace. This trend includes the policewomen depicted on CSI and Law & Order: SUV as well as private detectives like Veronica Mars and Miss Phryne Fisher who are the chief protagonists of their series.

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Should Politics be taught within secondary school?

Despite the higher youth turnout than originally anticipated, it has been estimated that around one third of millennials did not vote in the EU Referendum. But could a better understanding of the European Union, and political affairs in general be achieved if Politics were taught more widely in schools? Would more young people be willing to engage with politics?

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Catalan language, identity, and independence

The Catalan sovereignty movement came to a head on 1 October 2017 in a beleaguered referendum declared illegal by the Spanish government, which sent in thousands of police and civil guard troops, used force against would-be voters, confiscated ballot boxes, and jailed civic leaders and elected officials on charges of sedition. The political crisis for the Spanish state as well as Catalonia continues.

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In search of political prisoners: A dialogue with Padraic Kenney

States around the world imprison people for their beliefs or politically-motivated actions. Oppositional movements of all stripes celebrate their comrades behind bars. Yet they are more than symbols of repression and human rights. Padraic Kenney discusses his new book, Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World, which seeks to find universal answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of imprisonment.

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The changing nature of retirement

Whether you are approaching retirement, or are a few years or decades away from thinking about leaving the workforce, it is likely that you will be affected by the changing nature of retirement. Maybe it’s not your own retirement that is on the forefront of your mind, but your spouse or partner’s. Perhaps your parent or another family member is trying to navigate the complexities of their pension, all the while trying to decide whether and how to retire.

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10 fascinating facts about Lucha Libre

Over the course of the 20th century, Lucha Libre—or professional wrestling—has become a stable of urban Mexican culture. Dating back all the way to the 1800s, professional wrestling has become a distinctly national rendition of an imported product. Within the past 20 years, it has gained international acclaim for its distinctive style: an incredible acrobatic ring style and the highly recognizable masks.

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For the people, by the people: democracy in the US and India [excerpt]

India is the world’s largest democracy. However, despite its shared political system with the United States, India’s approach to human rights and foreign policy differs greatly from its Western counterparts.
The following excerpt from Our Time Has Come highlights the key differences between the American and Indian democratic systems.

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