Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

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.

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So, you think you know Darwin?

Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, geologist, and biologist is known the world over for his contributions to the science of evolution, and his theory of natural selection. Described as one of the most influential figures in human history, his ideas have invited as much controversy as they have scientific debate, with religious, social, and cultural ramifications.

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Digging for the truth?: Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland

In the summer of 2014, reports that a ‘septic tank grave’ containing the skeletal remains of ‘800 babies’ was discovered within the grounds of a former home for ‘unmarried mothers’ in Tuam, County Galway, featured prominently as an international news ‘story.’ Interest in the issue was prompted by the tireless and tenacious work of a local amateur historian, Catherine Corless.

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Intercultural communication and considering a different perspective

With the ever-increasing rise of globalization, the need to communicate more effectively across cultures becomes all the more important. In a hyper-connected world, we need to learn how to better understand the perspectives of others, and how to make accommodations in conversations that support both parties being on the same page. Simply put, different cultures see things differently.

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Should firms assume responsibility for individuals’ actions?

VW may have taken a big step towards resolving its emissions scandal in the United States with its recent guilty plea (at a cost of more than US$4.3 billion), but its troubles in Europe are far from over. Luxembourg has launched criminal proceedings and more countries may follow.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Misogyny, cheap sweets, and daydreams

Some of the most startling expressions of misogyny over the last century have been directed at girls and young women enjoying themselves. By the 1900s women were reading novels in large quantities. Heavy, three-volume works of fiction were disappearing in favour of single volumes in light bindings: paper covers were beginning to sport colourful, inviting designs.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The power of globalization: Singapore’s economic rise

Singapore is a controversial subject, described as “The Big Apple of Asia,” or “Disneyland with Capital Punishment.” On the one hand, there are those who admire its efficient government and material accomplishments; on the other hand, there are those who deplore its antipathy to freedom of expression. We can all ask how much an authoritarian government stifles the creativity necessary to nourishing a productive society.

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