Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

What’s in the message?

Once upon a time, it could be believed that each advance in communications technology brought with it the probability, if not the certainty, of increased global harmony. The more that messages could be sent and received, the more the peoples of the world would understand each other. Innovators have not been slow to advance comprehensive claims for their achievements. Marconi, for example, selected 1912 as a year in which to suggest that radio, in apparently making war ridiculous, made it impossible.

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Warfare as the creator and destroyer of nations

There are at least four ways in which warfare in its changing forms has been formative in the rise and transformation of national collectivities. First, warfare has been central for much nation-state formation. Most nation-states that came into existence before the mid-20th century were created by war or had their boundaries defined by wars or internal violence.

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Let your soul escape: send a postcard this summer

‘The politics of postcards’ is not a common topic of conversation or academic study but as the summer approaches, my mind is turning to how I can continue to write about politics from the seaside, campsite, or dreary ‘Bed & Breakfast’ hotel. Could the humble postcard possibly offer a yet under recognized outlet for political expression?

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How to measure social pain

Against the grain of much twentieth-century research on the nature and function of pain in humans, which tended to focus on injury and the bodily mechanics of pain signalling, recent neuroscientific research has opened a new front in the study of social and emotional pain.

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Macronomics En Marche

Emmanuel Macron has completely upended French politics. Just over a year after founding a new centrist political party, En Marche (“On the move”), the former investment banker and Minister of Economy and Finance was elected president of France on 7 May by an overwhelming majority.

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Library outreach: a case study from Wakefield Libraries

Dawn Bartram is Library Development Area Supervisor, Skills and Learning, at Wakefield Libraries in the UK, and was the winner of our CILIP competition. Here Dawn expands on her winning entry, and talks us through the benefits and approach to setting up a library outreach programme in order to spread the word about the online resources available at your local library.

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Puerto Rico in crisis

The US territory of Puerto Rico is currently experiencing its most severe and pro­longed economic downturn since the Great Depression (1929–33). Between 2006 and 2016, the island’s economy (measured as Gross National Product in constant 1954 prices) shrank by 15.2%, while total employment fell by 28.6%. The elimination of federal tax exemptions under Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code in 2006 dealt a serious blow to the island’s manufacturing industry.

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Common pitfalls for UKCAT students and how to avoid them

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a widely-used admissions test which allows UK universities to evaluate the current skills and future potential of prospective medical students. Thoroughly preparing for the five separate sections of the UKCAT can be a daunting task, so the examination experts at Kaplan have pinpointed six common pitfalls that students should avoid.

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The Nixon tapes and Donald Trump

Since President Trump’s inauguration, and even before, there have been countless comparisons between the 37th and 45th presidents of the United States. Some of the comparisons make sense, while others do not. For this reason, when I was called upon to ask a question at the 16 May, 2017 CNN town hall debate between Governor John Kasich and Senator Bernie Sanders, and I chose to ask a question about Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.

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Savings banks in Germany: welfare versus politics

In Germany, it is not uncommon for primary-school children to have their own savings account. A reason for this is that on World Savings Day, savings-bank representatives visit schools all over Germany to educate pupils about the benefits of saving. Besides being clever marketing, this program is rooted in the savings banks’ legal pledge to foster economic welfare: German state law requires savings banks to support the local economy.

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The long history of political social media

One of the key stories of the last US presidential election was the battle of words and images fought by supporters of the candidates on social media, or what one journalist has called “The Great Meme War” of 2016. From hashtag slogans like #FeelTheBern and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain to jokey internet memes like “Nasty Women”, public participation in political advocacy and promotion has reached a fever pitch in the age of networked digital technologies.

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Corruption: are you an expert? [quiz]

Headlines regularly focus on political scandals and corruption. From public officials embezzling government monies, selling public offices, and trading bribes for favors to private companies generate public indignation and calls for reform—corruption, it seems, is inevitable. But what really is corruption, and who is responsible for its continuation?

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The global challenges Brexit won’t fix

23 June marks the first anniversary of the UK’s Brexit referendum. One year ago, the European Union was reeling. There were fears that the EU would start to unravel, with other countries being pushed by populism and euroscepticism into following Britain towards the exit door. A year on, that fearful mood has evaporated. But the EU is far from resolving its accumulating problems.

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Latino fathers and parenting: lessons learned from Puerto Rican fathers

atherhood is a complex and an evolving concept which has gained national attention. Fathers play an important role in the development of their children, which also has an impact on their identity as a father. Minority fathers, particularly Latino fathers, have been under-recognized in this call to better understand fatherhood. However, given that Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US, the experiences of these fathers are of heightened importance.

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Visualizing the global income distribution

The evolution of the distribution of income among individuals within countries and across the world has been the subject of considerable academic and popular commentary in the recent past. Works such as Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century or Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality have become unlikely bestsellers, garnering a startling degree of both academic and popular interest.

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The biological ironies of transgender debates

Transgender issues have made significant headlines in the United States. Not long ago, North Carolina struggled to repeal a 2016 law that required people to use only public restrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificate, not their lived gender identity. Only weeks earlier, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a case from a Virginia student on the same issue.

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