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  • Social Sciences

The constitutionality of the parsonage allowance

Under Internal Revenue Code Section 107(2), “ministers of the gospel” can exclude from the federal income tax cash payments from their congregations and other religious employers for such ministers’ housing. The IRS and the courts have held that this income tax exclusion applies to clergy of all religions including rabbis, cantors, and imams. Income tax-free housing payments to clergy are commonly denoted as “parsonage allowances.”

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The importance of physics for humanists and historians

If you studied history, sociology, or English literature in your post-secondary education, it was probably in part because physics was too hard to understand or not as interesting. If you did not pay attention to quiet developments in the world of physics over the past several decades, you missed some very interesting important discoveries. Today, physics is not what our parents or even any of us who went to high school or university in the last quarter of the twentieth century learned because the physicists have been busy learning a lot of new things.

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Shakespeare, Sinatra, and the Philosophy of Aging [excerpt]

Aging in the world of entertainment is portrayed in a variety of ways. In some cases it’s graceful and elegant; in others it’s manic and doddering. Shakespeare has dealt with this subject numerous times with vast reinterpretations in productions through the centuries. In this excerpt from Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Wrinkles, Romance, and Regret, authors Martha C. Nussbaum and Saul Levmore look at the classic example of King Lear, and how different portrayals of this elderly character can be a reflection of how people see aging and infirmity in modern times.

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Crisis in Catalonia

Spain is living through sad times. The Catalan parliament’s illegal proclamation of an independent state has sparked the most serious constitutional crisis since the failed coup in 1981. But unlike that crisis, this one has no easy solution. All the stereotypes that Spaniards are incapable of living together, epitomised by the 1936-39 Civil War, are being reinforced.

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The Bolivarian (r)evolution: the perpetual liberation of Venezuela

Ignoring both domestic and international protests, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro has recently overseen the creation of a Constituent Assembly with the power to dissolve parliament, rewrite the constitution, and remove any remaining checks on his power. But this should not be interpreted merely as a power grab by yet another desperate ruler. History’s invisible hand is at work, playing out a recurring theme that has haunted Venezuela since its formation by Simón Bolívar.

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Oxford Philosophy Festival, 16th–19th November 2017

Oxford University Press and Blackwell’s are delighted to team up once again to host the Oxford Philosophy Festival to celebrate the quest for knowledge and ideas. This year, our theme centres around applying philosophy in politics. Come and join us as we discuss religious liberty and discrimination with John Corvino, the benefits of a marriage-free state with Clare Chambers, the true nature of the oil industry with Leif Wenar, and much more

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Apparitions in the archives: haunted libraries in the UK

This Halloween we turn our sights to the phantoms haunting the libraries and private collections of Britain. From a headless ghost, to numerous abnormalities surrounding a vast collection of magical literature from a late ghost hunter, here are some stories around apparitions that have been glimpsed among the stacks – you can choose whether or not you believe them to be true….

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Public lands, private profit

Although no signature legislation has passed, President Trump and his congressional allies have already made several consequential changes, notably in the ways that the administration is undermining the public lands system. Americans have long contended over public lands, as we should. And that is a historical oddity, because perhaps nowhere in the world do people love private property as much as in the United States.

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Constitutional resistance to executive power

In a blog post following the election of Donald J. Trump, Professor Mark A. Graber examined the new president’s cavalier attitude toward constitutional norms and predicted that, “[o]ver the next few years, Americans and constitutional observers are likely to learn whether the Framers in 1787 did indeed contrive ‘a machine that would go of itself’ or whether human intervention is necessary both to operate the constitution and compensate for systemic constitutional failures.”

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How welcoming practices and positive school climate can prevent bullying

What happens when a student or parent first walks in to a new school? What welcoming practices occur during the initial registration process, when parents first complete a set of forms, when they hear the first hello, or when students are first introduced to teachers and classmates? Are students and parents greeted with warmth, guidance, and understanding, or is it a cold administrative process?

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When rivers die – and are reborn

Most of the great cities of the world were built on rivers, for rivers have provided the water, the agricultural fertility, and the transport links essential for most great civilizations. This presents a series of puzzles. Why have the people who depend on those rivers so often poisoned their own water sources? How much pollution is enough to kill a river? And what is needed to bring one back to life?

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Disaggregation and the war on terror [excerpt]

The early years of the 21st century are marred by acts of violence and terrorism on a global scale. Over a decade later the world’s problems in dealing with international threats are unfortunately far from over. In this excerpt from Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism, author David Kilcullen looks back on a time he was called upon to help develop a strategy for the Australian government in fighting this new global threat.

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Marketing-driven government (Part 2)

When marketing is used in government, its impact is often limited because it is dogged by a short-term, fragmented approach influenced by political time cycles. Government marketing is often characterised by an overemphasis on broadcast communications, including digital platforms, to the exclusion of a more citizen-centric approach focused on listening, relationship building, and social networking.

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Hop heads and locaholics: excerpt from Beeronomics

Beer drinkers across the United States observe the National American Beer Day annually on 27 October. Over the last decade two IPAs, craft beer and microbreweries have taken over the American beer market and continue their steady growth. This extract from Johan Swinnen and Devin Briski’s Beeronomics discusses some of the strategies of the American craft beer movement.

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The relevance of the Russian Revolution [video]

This year, 2017, marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution, a defining moment in time with ripple effects felt across the world to this day. In the following video, author Laura Engelstein sits down with Oxford University Press editor Tim Bent to discuss the history of the revolution, its global impact, and her book Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921.

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Stage fright and mental ghosts: managing stage fright as a growth process

William: I played in a violin recital a couple of weeks ago. I had played the music many times before but in that concert I really messed up my finger work passages – one in particular – and then I started feeling that my memorization was shaky. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to finish. I cannot figure this out. I feel haunted that it is going to happen again and again.

JJN: This sounds terribly upsetting – both your concerns about your playing and your worries about trying to figure it out on your own and not being able to do that. Has this kind of thing happened before? Do you typically try to figure things out on your own?

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