Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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Do government officials discriminate?

Suppose you write an email to a school district or a library asking for information about enrolling your child to the school or becoming a library member. Do you expect to receive a reply? And do you expect this reply to be cordial, for instance including some form of salutation? It turns out that the answers to the two questions above depend on what your name is and on what it embodies.

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Being Church as Christian hardcore punk

What is church? In the social sciences, church is ordinarily conceptualized as a physical gathering place where religious people go for worship and fellowship. Church is sacred; it is not secular. With this idea of church in mind, sociologists find that U.S. Christian youth (particularly young white men) are dropping out of church. Some are dropping out because they have lost faith in God. Others, however, are leaving church because they feel alienated from organized religion, not because they stopped being Christians. This rise in “unchurched believers” raises a question: how are Christian youth creating and expressing church beyond the confines of a religious institution?

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National Volunteer Month: a reading list

On 20 April 1974, President Richard M. Nixon declared National Volunteer Week, to honor those Americans whose unpaid “efforts most frequently touch the lives of the poor, the young, the aged and the sick, but in the process the lives of all men and women are made richer.” This commemoration has since been extended to a full month to recognize those who offer their time, energy, and skills to their communities.

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Women in economics: female achievement in a male-dominated field

Women in economics are underrepresented. A lack of diversity runs the risk of constraining or distorting the field’s intellectual development. To mark International Women’s Day, we have listed below the achievements of five influential female economists. The list does not fully represent the little diversity that does exist in economic research, but we hope that it will open up important discussions that need to be had.

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Exploring religious diversity in higher education

In his recent post, “Declining Exposure to Religious Diversity” (24 January), Jeremy Bauer-Wolf notes some striking results of a survey conducted by the Interfaith Youth Core of more than 7,000 students at 122 American colleges and universities. The survey measures the extent of their interfaith experiences on campus, and tracks developments in their attitudes toward religious diversity.

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Greenwashing the garrison state

Across the globe, the garrison state has “gone green” as national militaries have become partly involved in stewardship of the natural environment. On the face of it, this is a puzzling development. After all, protecting plants and animals from the depredations of humankind is not a job that most people expect from women and men in uniform.

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A new generation wrestles with the gender structure

What’s happening with kids today? A few years ago, liberals were confidently– and conservatives dejectedly– predicting that Millennials were blurring traditional distinctions between the sexes both in the workplace and at home, operating on “the distinctive and historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society. So what are the Millennials’ gender politics?

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Has “feminism” beaten “complicity” or are feminists complicit too?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionaries,“Feminism” is Word of the Year 2017,” as announced by a headline in The Guardian. “Complicit” was a strong runner-up in Merriam-Webster’s Competition though, and came in first place on the Dictionary.com list. Both “feminism” and “complicit” have been around for some time, so it is not as if 2017 gave birth […]

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Freemasonry and the public sphere in the UK

Freemasonry once again hit the headlines of UK media on New Year’s Eve 2017, revealing the contentious nature of the place of secrecy in public life. Just having concluded the celebration of its tercentenary anniversary year, the United Grand Lodge of England found itself at the center of controversy. How far can membership in a masonic lodge be regarded as incompatible with the exercise of a public office?

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The weight of love: ‘love locks’ as emotional objects

On the night of 8 June 2014, a section of the metal barrier on the Pont des Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks which had been attached to it. Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly common for famous (and sometimes less famous) bridges, and, increasingly, other monuments, to become encrusted with small padlocks in celebration of romantic love.

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The optics of a cabinet reshuffle: PR vs reality

Reshuffles are a chance to revive the fortunes of a Prime Minister by changing the faces of their Cabinet and Government. January’s offered much but delivered less; the occupants of key Cabinet positions remained in place after all. May’s big beasts stood their ground, seemingly immovable; Justine Greening was the most prominent and the only woman to exit the Cabinet.

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Community healing and reconciliation: a tale of two cities

Community healing and reconciliation has been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. Over the past 12 years there has been a growing number of high profile murders of African American youth in the United States. Some communities have responded to the incidents offering examples of how communities may work together to move forward.

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Feminist themes in TV crime drama

The fictional world has always featured women who solve crimes, from Nancy Drew to Veronica Mars. Although men crime-solvers outnumbered women on TV, women detectives have increasingly become more commonplace. This trend includes the policewomen depicted on CSI and Law & Order: SUV as well as private detectives like Veronica Mars and Miss Phryne Fisher who are the chief protagonists of their series.

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10 fascinating facts about Lucha Libre

Over the course of the 20th century, Lucha Libre—or professional wrestling—has become a stable of urban Mexican culture. Dating back all the way to the 1800s, professional wrestling has become a distinctly national rendition of an imported product. Within the past 20 years, it has gained international acclaim for its distinctive style: an incredible acrobatic ring style and the highly recognizable masks.

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A five-day guide to resiliency in the New Year

In a world that values busyness, it is often easy to prioritize personal responsibilities over personal fulfillment. Phrases like I wish I had the time and once things settle down justify an all-too-common postponement of happiness and self-care. In the following excerpt from Night Call, acclaimed psychologist and author Robert Wicks details a five-day guide to self-care designed to fit even the busiest of schedules.

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