Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How (un)representative is the British political class? [QUIZ]

The fact that the British political class doesn’t fully reflect the diversity seen in the population as a whole is hardly news. However, many people don’t fully appreciate exactly how unrepresentative its members are, or the specific (and sometimes slightly odd) ways in which the political class differs from Britain as a whole.

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History books for Dads [reading list]

In recent years, consumer surveys have shown an upward trend in Father’s Day gift-giving. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. Father’s Day spending in 2017 hit record highs: reaching an estimated $15.5 billion. This change could be related to nature of modern fatherhood: today’s dads report spending an average of seven hours per week on child care (nearly triple what fathers reported 50 years ago). To celebrate Father’s Day, we put together a video collection of books we think dads will love. More details about each book can be found in the list below. If you have any reading suggestions for Father’s Day, please share in the comments section!

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Performing for their lives: LGBT individuals seeking asylum

The UN Refugee Convention promises safe haven to individuals who, having crossed an international boundary, can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based upon one of five categories. Least well-defined of these categories, and most ambiguous among them, is ‘membership in a particular social group.’ How does one prove lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender ‘membership’?

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Taking pride in standing up for the transgender community

At the beginning of 2017, following the tumultuous election season it was my hope that there would be few changes made to the years of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights and equality. It was clear that prior to the election of 2016, the Obama administration, U.S. Supreme Court, and the Justice Department were committed to promoting social justice for LGBTQ individuals, and most especially the transgender community.

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Markets aren’t natural: governments have to make them work

hether we recognize it or not, “marketcraft” constitutes a core government function comparable to statecraft. By marketcraft, I refer to all the things governments do to make markets function and flourish, like corporate law, antitrust policy, intellectual property rights, and financial regulation. Marketcraft has profound implications for economic performance, social welfare, and national power – so we should want to get it right.

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Investment law leads to more investment: A faulty premise?

If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive. Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.

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Covert action is theatre – and the curtain isn’t coming down yet

We are told that intelligence activities are eye-wateringly secret. Yet they have been surprisingly prominent of late. Senior politicians and armies of online bloggers alike are trading bitter accusations about dark arts and dirty tricks.  This is covert action: perhaps the most sensitive – and controversial – of all state activity. What is striking, however, is the visibility of the supposedly hidden hand behind recent operations.

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First they came for Josh Blackman: why censorship isn’t the answer [video]

Having been thinking, reading, speaking, and writing about “hate speech” over the last four decades, I had come to believe that I had nothing new to say, and that all arguments on all sides of the topic had been thoroughly aired. That view began to change several years ago, as I started to see increasing activism on campus and beyond in sup­port of various equal rights causes.

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Exactly what is our problem with the political class?

Right now, the British people do not like their politicians. A common target of this dislike is not a singularly unpopular politician but rather the so-called “political class,” a group supposedly led by career politicians who collectively feed from the trough of publicly funded political institutions, who fail to represent the public at large, and who are a noxious mix of self-serving indifference. The overarching narrative surrounding the political class often takes one of three forms: attacks based on who they are (their personal characteristics), attacks based on what they do (their behaviour), or attacks based on what they think (their attitudes).

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Considering the future of US-China diplomacy [excerpt]

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Sino-US relations have overcome an intense impasse, adopting a much more intricate relationship driven by interdependent economies constant competition. The following excerpt from The Third Revolution, Elizabeth C. Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations identifies ways that the United States and China might improve their diplomatic relationship.

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Are we to blame? Academics and the rise of populism

The social and political sciences have for some time defined their role in terms of intellectual critique and questioning. This chimes with the role of the independent scholar in terms of speaking truth to power and puncturing political pomposity wherever it is found. A confident and flourishing intellectual community of social scientists is therefore commonly thought to be a core element of a confident and flourishing democracy.

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Considerations for peacemaking and peacekeeping

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to peacekeeping. Consequently, peace has generated considerable interest in the areas of education, research, and politics. Peacekeeping developed in the 1950s as part of preventive diplomacy. It has since become an essential component of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Peacebuilding has become embedded in the theory and practice of national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and regional and global intergovernmental organizations. Most regional intergovernmental organizations now have departments for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

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Trust in face-to-face diplomacy

President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, are due to meet for a historic summit in an as yet undisclosed location to try and resolve the nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula. For academics that study the potential of face-to-face diplomacy to de-escalate and transform conflicts, the summit is a fascinating case for testing the validity of their theories and prescriptions.

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“The American People”: current and historical meanings

Virtually all US politicians are fond of  “The American People.” Indeed, as the ultimate fallback stance for any candidate or incumbent, no other quaint phrase can seem so purposeful. Interesting too, is this banal reference’s stark contrast to its original meaning. That historic meaning was entirely negative. Unequivocally, America’s political founding expresses general disdain for any truly serious notions of popular rule.

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