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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

When deterrence doesn’t work

No one likes to be threatened, and yet we threaten and are threatened all the time. From animal self-defence to how we raise our children, from religious teaching to gun ownership, capital punishment and nuclear deterrence, threat is an ever-present tool employed to influence an often-unpredictable external environment. But does it always work? And what are the consequences when it doesn’t?

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Modern Brazil: A Very Short Introduction

A change in Brazil’s national populist government

As we approach 15 November, a national holiday marking the end of the Brazilian Empire and proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889, and also a day of municipal elections, many Brazilians may be contemplating what has happened to their country and where it might be heading.

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Oxford Scholarship Online

Seven books for philosophical perspectives on politics [reading list]

2020 has come to be defined by widespread human tragedy, economic uncertainty, and increased public discourse surrounding how to address systemic racism. With such important issues at stake, political leadership has been under enormous scrutiny. As the US election approaches, we’re featuring a selection of important books exploring politics from different philosophical perspectives, ranging from interrogating the moral duty to vote, to how grandstanding impacts public discourse.

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Voter fraud and election meddling [podcast]

The topic of voter fraud and electoral meddling has been at the forefront of many a conversation over the last four years. Are foreign powers trying to sway our election in 2020? Is mail-in-voting safe from meddling? Will fear of COVID-19 decrease voter turnout?

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Oxford Bibliographies

Is gerrymandering “poisoning the well” of democracy?

Every ten years, the federal government administers the Census to determine the size of the population as well as how that population is distributed within and across states. These figures are then used to allocates seats within the US House of Representatives. States that grow faster than the rest of the country typically gain seats, necessarily at the expense of states that have lost residents or have experienced the slowest growth.

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Oxford Research Encylopedias: Communications

The fight against fake news and electoral disinformation

Just as COVID-19 is a stress test of every nation’s health system, an election process is a stress test of a nation’s information and communication system. A week away from the US presidential election, the symptoms are not so promising. News reports about the spread of so-called “fake news,” disinformation, and conspiracy theories are thriving as they did in 2016.

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Disorienting Neoliberalism

What COVID-19 tells us about global supply chains

President Trump is not the only one bewildered by global supply chains today. Over the past 40 years, it has become normal for the production of many goods to be disaggregated and outsourced around the world. Transnational supply chains now represent 80% of global trade; they’re inextricable from our daily lives. Most people aren’t exactly surprised when their t-shirt comes from the other side of the globe or when their phone contains components from 43 countries, even if we can’t ever quite shake the feeling that there’s something uncanny about the contrast between these extraordinary distances and the ordinary purposes these goods serve.

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MI5, the Cold War, and the Rule of Law

MI5 and Russian interference, now and then

On 21 July 2020, the UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published its long-delayed report on “the Russian threat to the UK.” Although heavily redacted, the report was wide-ranging and dealt with a number of issues, including the threat to democracy, highlighting concerns about potential Russian interference in the Scottish referendum in 2014, the EU […]

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The Puzzle of Prison Order by David Skarbek

Smaller prisons are smarter

There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too often they are incarcerated in prisons that […]

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Winston Churchill and the media in the 1945 British general election

Seventy-five years ago this week, the House of Commons in Britain began debating the legislative programme of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, elected by a landslide at the end of the previous month. John Freeman, one of the fresh intake of socialist MPs, declared boldly: “Today, we go into action. Today may rightly be regarded as […]

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The technocratic politics of the American right

Conservatives today often present themselves as populists running against a left said to be out of touch with the common people and enamored of technocratic rule by experts. This is, in fact, a longstanding critique found not only in grassroots ideological discourse but also in the work of conservative philosophers like Michael Oakeshott, who suggested that the left was […]

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It’s cheaper to preserve the Amazon than we might think

“The cattle need ladders to graze here.” That is what my wife’s relatives used to tell her after they moved to the Amazon rainforest. She visited their farm when she was 13, and the planted grass was taller than she was. Grass grows tall there because of the substantial amount of nutrients left on the […]

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Writing a non-fiction historical thriller

The distinguished biographer, Ben Pimlott, used to say that historians should try to write like novelists. To my knowledge, he never developed the thought, but what he meant was clear. While the historical monograph may make a significant contribution to knowledge, too often it is boring to read. He wanted us to deploy the skills […]

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