Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Learning to live with irregular migration: towards a more ambitious debate on the politics of ‘the problem’

an article by Anne McNevin (The New School for Social Research, New York, USA) published in Citizenship Studies Volume 21 Issue 3 (2017)


What might be gained by learning to live with ‘the problem’ of irregular migration, rather than attempting to solve it?

This article engages two senses of ‘the problem’ at stake: first, the ongoing nature of displacement and migration and second, the contested justice claims that sit behind different policy perspectives.

The second sense of the problem (its political dimension) is rarely addressed explicitly in public debate. Yet direct engagement with the political dimension offers the potential to unlock debate from a polarised impasse. To make this argument, I first diagnose debate on irregular migration in terms of three archetypal positions and examine their implicit justice claims.

I then argue for a more ambitious debate that pushes contending justice claims to their logical extensions.

Debate of this kind requires a more coherent defence of justice claims, whether they are based in communitarian, cosmopolitan, anti-capitalist or hybrid values with respect to citizenship and political community. The article concludes with an illustration of how this approach can generate momentum for less circular, more sustainable and politically achievable policy responses.

The argument is made with reference to illustrative examples from Australia and Europe but holds for a variety of contexts where ‘the problem’ is framed in similar ways.

Tuesday’s Trivia: ten items that are not work-related

Study: How Fish Fins Evolved to Become Human Fingers
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Article Image
While there are a number of theories of how life on Earth began (perhaps in hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans), one hypothesis is that eventually the early life forms transformed into something between fish and lizards, developing an ability to walk on land. Filling in some crucial details in this idea, researchers from the University of Chicago now showed that human hands have an evolutionary connection to fish fins.
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10 facts about the recorder
via OUP Blog by Louise Gallagher
Recorder _ Shunichi kouroki
You might associate the recorder with memories of a second grade classroom and sounds vaguely resembling the tune of “Three Blind Mice” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” While the recorder has become a popular instrument in music education, it also has an extensive and interesting history.
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The most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy
via Boing Boing by David McRaney

Hypothetical situations involving dragons, robots, spaceships, and vampires have all been used to prove and disprove arguments.
Statements about things that do not exist can still be true, and can be useful thinking tools for exploring philosophical, logical, sociological, and scientific concepts.
The problem is that sometimes those same arguments accidentally require those fictional concepts to be real in order to support their conclusions, and that’s when you commit the existential fallacy.
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The Long 20th Century of Terror
via 3 Quarks Daily: Robert Zaretsky at The American Scholar

Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David (Wikimedia Commons)
Terrorism is as old as recorded history. Plutarch describes how ancient Spartans would ambush and kill a few enslaved helots every year to keep the rest in a state of terror. A few centuries later, according to Josephus, the Jewish Zealots earned the moniker sicarii, or dagger men, thanks to their practice of slitting the throats of Roman officials in crowded marketplaces. The dagger was also the weapon of choice for the Assassins, a medieval Shiite sect dedicated to the destruction of both the Sunnis and the Crusaders. For more than a millennium, a Hindu offshoot known as the Thuggees strangled unsuspected travelers as offerings to the goddess Kali.
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The Forbidden City to Convict’s Landing: rare early city maps – in pictures
via the Guardian

From London when it had only one bridge, to a pictorial rendition of Sir Francis Drake’s invasion of Santo Domingo, these global city maps date back to the 1500s and are taken from Great City Maps, published by DK
See for yourself

17 flowers that look like something else
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Here’s a gallery of flowers, mainly orchids, that look like monkeys, Darth Vader, naked men, human lips, dancing girls, laughing bumble bees, swaddled babies, parrots, human skulls, flying ducks, tiger heads, happy aliens, angels, doves, ballerinas, egrets, and moths.
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The old age of the world
via OUP Blog by Ben Hutchinson
At the home of the world’s most authoritative dictionary, perhaps it is not inappropriate to play a word association game. If I say the word “modern,” what comes into your mind? The chances are, it will be some variation of “new,” “recent,” or “contemporary.” This understanding of modernity is so ingrained that we rarely pause to reflect on its historical implications. Yet there is another way of conceiving the term, one that brings with it a whole different set of associations. What if we were to turn the telescope around, like Copernicus, and view modernity not as a new beginning, but as an end, as a period that is defined by the fact that it comes after everything else? What, in short, if we were to understand modernity as the old age of the world?
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The surprising spryness of fighters in 15th C armor
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Paris's Musée national du Moyen Âge teamed up with The University of Geneva to make this video demonstrating the fighting techniques available to people in 15th century armor, which are much more fluid and athletic that I had presumed – turns out you can really move in those tin cans.
Watch the video here

Flight of the bumblebee: survey finds individual personalities
via The Guardian by Press Association
Buff-tailed bumblebee
Photograph: FLPA/Rex Shutterstock
A study has found that bumblebees have distinct personalities.
Some bees play it safe by returning to the same flowers again and again while others search for new sources of nectar, scientists found.
The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London, tracked four bumblebees from birth to death, recording a total of 244 flights covering a distance of more than 110 miles.
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Saving Science
Science isn’t self-correcting, it’s self-destructing. To save the enterprise, scientists must come out of the lab and into the real world.
via Arts & Letters Daily: Daniel Sarewitz in The New Atlantis
Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble. Stoked by fifty years of growing public investments, scientists are more productive than ever, pouring out millions of articles in thousands of journals covering an ever-expanding array of fields and phenomena. But much of this supposed knowledge is turning out to be contestable, unreliable, unusable, or flat-out wrong. From metastatic cancer to climate change to growth economics to dietary standards, science that is supposed to yield clarity and solutions is in many instances leading instead to contradiction, controversy, and confusion. Along the way it is also undermining the four-hundred-year-old idea that wise human action can be built on a foundation of independently verifiable truths. Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex; to escape, it will have to abdicate its protected political status and embrace both its limits and its accountability to the rest of society.
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‘Disappearing workers’: Foxconn in Europe and the changing role of temporary work agencies

an article by Rutvica Andrijasevic (University of Bristol, UK) and Devi Sacchetto (University of Padua, Italy) published in Work, employment and society Volume 31 Issue 1 (February 2017)


This article investigates the role of temporary work agencies (TWAs) at Foxconn’s assembly plants in the Czech Republic.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, it shows TWAs’ comprehensive management of migrant labour: recruitment and selection in the countries of origin; cross-border transportation, work and living arrangements in the country of destination; and return to the countries of origin during periods of low production. The article asks whether the distinctiveness of this specific mode of labour management can be understood adequately within the framework of existing theories on the temporary staffing industry.

In approaching the staffing industry through the lens of migration labour analysis, the article reveals two key findings.

Firstly, TWAs are creating new labour markets but do so by eroding workers’ rights and enabling new modalities of exploitation.

Secondly, the diversification of TWAs’ roles and operations has transformed TWAs from intermediaries between capital and labour to enterprises in their own right.

Hazel’s comment:
Yet another way that has been found of creating a workforce with few, if any, rights. I suspect that it would be easier in countries with land borders.

Crafting a Calling: The Mediating Role of Calling Between Challenging Job Demands and Turnover Intention

an article by Tiago Esteves and Miguel Pereira Lopes (University of Lisbon, Portugal) published in Journal of Career Development Volume 44 Issue 1 (2017)


Despite the emerging interest in the job crafting construct, researchers know little about its dimensions and their potential benefits for organizations.

In a quantitative investigation, using a self-report questionnaire among a group of 189 Portuguese nurses and nursing assistants, we analyze how job crafting can be strongly related to workers’ sense of calling and turnover intention.

The results indicate that sense of calling totally mediated the negative relation between the increase in challenging job demands and turnover intention. Although traditional assumption is that a sense of calling leads workers to craft their jobs, we theorize about the potential reverse path, given that our results support the possibility that sense of calling may be triggered when workers increase their own challenging job demands.

We recommend further research to provide additional insight into job crafting formation mechanism.

Monday, 27 March 2017

National and local labour force projections for the UK

an article by Ludi Simpson (University of Manchester, UK) published in Local Economy: The Journal of the Local Economy Policy Unit Volume 32 Issue 2 (March 2017)


Labour force forecasts are required by local planning, legally guided in the UK by regulations on land use. Methods of forecasting the labour force, and data available for UK practice, are reviewed here.

A best strategy for sub-national forecasts of the labour supply is found empirically to involve an accurate national forecast with a local starting point. Key trends are the decreasing economic activity of young adults, the increasing activity of older adults and the impact of changing state pension age.

However, there exists neither an acceptable national forecast of economic activity nor a standard approach to local forecasts. Software for implementation of sub-national forecasts is described, and six types of scenarios are listed to aid local planning, which reflect uncertainty about current trends and the impact of changes in policy.

Research and development of forecasting the national and the local labour force is urgently needed.

Privacy and Territoriality Issues in an Online Social Learning Portal

an article by Mohd Anwar (North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC, USA) and Peter Brusilovsky (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA) published in International Journal of Information Security and Privacy Volume 11 Issue 1 (January-March 2017)


Following the popularity of Wikipedia, community authoring systems are increasingly in use as content sharing outlets.

As such, a Web-based portal for sharing of user-generated content (e.g., course notes, quiz answers, etc.) shows prospect to be a great tool for social E-Learning. Among others, students are expected to be active contributors in such systems in order to offer and receive peer-help. However, privacy and territoriality concerns can be potential barriers to wide adoption of such technology.

Understanding the preference for sharing learning content is the first step to address privacy and territoriality concerns of content providers. The authors conduct a survey among students in four university courses in order to learn their preference for sharing notes and quiz answers with three target groups: instructor, peer, and stranger (i.e., someone outside their class).

The authors also examine the preference for acceptable method of sharing by inquiring about three methods: “anonymous sharing,” “pseudonymous sharing,” and “sharing with name”. They further investigate the importance of “content type,” “sharing method,” and “accessor type” on the preference for sharing.

The survey also reveals respondents’ self-reported reasons for controlling access to their generated learning content. The survey data indicate that even though the respondents have various levels of concerns, almost all of them are willing to share.

The authors observe relationships between content type and respondents’ preference over each of these parameters: accessor type, commentator type, and sharing method.

Working Too Hard Can Increase Your Risk of Depression

a blog post by Andrew G. Rosen published by Jobacle

working too hard
a trifle OTT me thinks but …

Whether or not to you tend to enjoy work, most people would agree that working too hard can get the best of you. Sleepless nights, endless deadlines, less time to spend doing other fun stuff outside of work. Well, it’s not just a bummer to find yourself working too hard, studies say that it actually increases your risk of suffering from depression. But it doesn’t stop there. Not only does working too hard increase your risk of depression, but it also doubles the risk.

A European study published in the journal PLoS ONE shared these findings and said that people who work more than 11 eleven hours a day are at the highest risk of having negative side effects. Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the University College in London studied 2,000 middle-aged people who worked for the government to what they could find.

Continue reading with links to the original research