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  • Social Sciences

Water scarcity, warfare, and the paradox of value

Back in 1995, then World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin made an important prediction about the future: “The wars of the next century will be fought over water.” Thankfully, No wars have been fought strictly over water in modern history. In fact globally the number of international agreements over water far exceeds the number of international conflicts. That paradox shows that water can be just as powerful a driver of cooperation as of conflict between nations, regions, and communities. But that doesn’t mean Serageldin is wrong.

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Investing in women’s reproductive health makes economic sense

There is no gender equality without access to reproductive health services, including access to contraceptives and safe abortions. In fact, economists are paying increasing attention to the economic benefits of investing in women’s reproductive health and finding gains not only for women but also for their families and for the economy at large.

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Using economics to find the greatest superhero

In case you missed it, the world was recently saved by the Avengers, a Marvel Comics superhero, super-team who defeated Thanos, a genocidal maniac of galactic proportions. However, the real victory belongs to Disney, which owns the Marvel movie properties. Avengers: Endgame annihilated the record for the largest opening weekend box office haul, raking in […]

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Is social media a platform for supporting or attacking refugees?

On March 15th 2019, a white nationalist opened fire during Friday prayers, killing fifty Muslims and injuring at least fifty others in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack was the largest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history and came as a shock to the small and remote island nation which generally sees itself as free from the extreme violence and terrorism seen elsewhere in the world.

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Should the people always get what they want from their politicians?

Should we listen to the voice of “the people” or the conviction of their representatives? Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has inspired virulent debate about the answer. Amidst Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons this spring, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the frustrations and feelings of the people. “You the public have had enough,” she asserted in a speech of March 20.

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Why banishment was “toleration” in Puritan settlements

Typically, sociologists explain the growth of religious toleration as a result of people demanding religious freedom, ideals supporting tolerance becoming more prevalent, or shifting power relations among religious groups. By any of these accounts, Puritan New England was not a society where religious toleration flourished. Yet, when contrasted to a coterminous Puritan venture on Providence Island, it becomes clear that New England’s orthodox elite did […]

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Why politicians do care what the UN thinks

In a January 2019 press briefing at the White House, US National Security Adviser John Bolton flashed a legal pad with “5,000 troops to Colombia” written on it, a not-so hidden message to contested Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that the United States was considering sending troops to the region. Maduro is presiding over a Venezuela in economic […]

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What stops us from following financial advice? We may be more biased than you think

While improving consumers’ financial literacy has finally received the attention it deserves among policymakers, many people still lack the knowledge to make informed financial decisions. Thus, when it comes to financial matters, the majority of households turn to advisors. Clearly, however, advisors’ recommendations—however beneficial they might be—do not translate into informed financial decisions if clients […]

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Economics can help us protect the world’s wildlife

People affect nature, nature affects people. This interaction of humans and nature creates opportunities and risks to both. One major challenge today is how to protect biodiversity. Across the world, scientists tell ­­us the diversity and abundance of life on earth is declining. From coral reefs affected by bleaching and pollution, to lions in Africa, […]

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Racist jokes may be worse than racist statements

Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse tells her father, “Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know—in a joke—it is all a joke.” Mr. Knightley isn’t joking, as he and Emma know; he presents his criticisms without a hint of jocularity. But if Emma persuades Mr. Woodhouse to believe Mr. Knightley is joking, he “would not suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by everyone.” A little over 200 years after Emma was published, the comedian Roseanne Barr defended a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former adviser, in a further tweet, “It’s a joke—”.

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Who invented modern democracy?

Did modern democracy start its long career in the North Atlantic? Was it invented by the Americans, the French and the British? The French Revolution certainly helped to inject modern meaning into a term previously chiefly associated with the ancient world, with ancient Greece and republican Rome.

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Will robots really take our jobs?

Will computer technology and robotics lead to the automation of our jobs, leading to rising job losses and income inequality? Or could the use of technology intended to replace certain low-wage jobs lead to offsetting employment growth in other types of jobs?

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12 of the most important books for women in philosophy

To celebrate women’s enormous contributions to philosophy, here is a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers. Despite their apparent invisibility in the field in the past, women have been practising philosophers for centuries.

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Harold Wilson’s resignation honours – why so controversial?

On February 6 Marcia Falkender, the Baroness Falkender, died. She was one of the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s closest and longest-serving colleagues, first as his personal then political secretary. An enigmatic figure, she has been variously reviled, mocked, and defended since the end of Wilson’s political career.

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