Monday, 31 October 2011

Two Paths to Inequality in Educational Outcomes …

Family Background and Educational Selection in the United States and Norway

an article by Liza Reisel (Institute for Social Research, Oslo) published in Sociology of Education Volume 84 Number 4 (October 2011)


The United States and Norway represent two distinctively different attempts to equalize educational opportunity. Whereas the United States has focused on expansion and the proliferation of lower-tier open-access institutions, Norway has emphasized institutional streamlining and the equalization of living conditions. At the same time, the two countries have similar levels of educational attainment among young adults. Is one model more successful than the other in providing equality of educational opportunity among youth from different socioeconomic backgrounds?

Using longitudinal data and multinomial regression analysis, the findings reveal that there are more similarities than differences in the relationship between family background and college degree attainment in the two countries. The relatively moderate differences between the two countries primarily emerge in the patterning of selection at different transition points rather than in the overall relationship between socioeconomic background and college degree attainment.

Unequal Britain: How Real Are Regional Disparities?

by Steve Gibbons and Henry Overman via Latest articles from CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance - produced by the CEP

CEPCP353. October 2011.

Average earnings vary widely across the regions of Britain, a fact that has prompted many decades of policies aimed at reducing regional disparities. But as Henry Overman and Steve Gibbons demonstrate, such variation reveals little, especially if we ignore regional differences in the cost of living and availability of local amenities.

Full article: (PDF 3pp)

For further reading, see SERC Discussion Papers No.60, No.65 and No.74

Information Economy Report 2011

The Information Economy Report 2011: ICTs as an Enabler for Private Sector Development (PSD) [PDF 164pp] is the sixth in the flagship series published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Report shows that the potential of leveraging information and communication technologies (ICTs) to develop the private sector is far from fully exploited.It finds that many national and donor strategies related to PSD currently fail to take adequate account of the ICT potential, which has greatly expanded thanks to changes in the global ICT landscape. The Report then makes policy recommendations on how to remedy this situation.

The Information Economy Report 2011 identifies four facets of the ICT-PSD interface and argues that policy interventions should take into account this holistic approach.

  1. ICT infrastructure as a factor in the investment climate.
  2. ICT use as a factor to improve the performance of the private sector.
  3. The ICT producing sector as a strategic component of the private sector.
  4. ICT use as a component of interventions aimed at facilitating PSD.

Executive Summary: English [PDF 4pp]

Employability Skills Development: Strategy, Evaluation and Impact.

an article by Georgina Andrews and Marilyn Russell, (Southampton Solent University) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning Volume 2 Issue 1 (2011)


This paper reports how one university has sought to test the effectiveness of strategies to enhance employability skills, and the key themes which emerged from this investigation.
A survey tool has been used to record staff perceptions of where employability skills are strongly developed and assessed in a sample of courses. The results have been triangulated against explicit statements/mapping in course documentation, and top level university strategies and policies. Key performance indicators have been reviewed, and focus groups have been conducted to appraise student perceptions. An external scan of selected comparator benchmark institutions has also been undertaken.
Key emerging themes include:
  • issues surrounding the role of higher education; 
  • deficiencies in the classification of graduate destinations; 
  • the challenge of predicting the needs of employers of the future; and 
  • gaps between strategies, perceptions and realities.
Research limitations/implications
A number of the outcomes of the audit are university specific. However, some of the key themes and issues that have emerged are relevant to the sector as a whole. This paper highlights these broader issues, whilst acknowledging that individual universities will find their own unique responses to these challenges.
This paper shares an approach to the critical evaluation of the effectiveness of strategies to enhance employability skills development which may be of value to educational establishments wishing to review their own provision. The paper also draws attention to key issues relating to the enhancement of graduate employability.

Education, youth, employment

via The European Information Association – Recent EU News

Eurostat’s Statistics Explained website now [has] articles on education statistics and on the education and employment patterns of young people. The former presents data on EU education and training systems between 2000 and 2009, focusing on major trends at each educational level in terms of enrolments, education expectancy, teacher characteristics and graduates. The latter looks at situations regarding education and employment of people in the 18-24 age group.

Statistics Explained website - Education Statistics

Young People Without Qualifications: How ‘Headline Numbers’ Shape Policy and Aspiration

via Latest articles from CentrePiece – The Magazine for Economic Performance – produced by the CEP by Hilary Steedman

CEPCP349. October 2011.

England’s most widely used indicator of young people’s education and labour market status is the NEET category – “not in education, employment or training”. Making comparisons with how France and Germany measure school leavers’ progression and achievement, Hilary Steedman argues that NEET is no longer good enough.

Full article: (4pp)

The article is based on Les élèves sans qualification: La France et les pays de l'OCDE by Ekaterina Melnik, Martine Möbus, Noémie Olympio. Hilary Steedman, Rémi Tréhin-Lalanne and Eric Verdier, a study commissioned by the HCE and coordinated by Eric Verdier and Hilary Steedman.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Tolstoy on Difficulty, 1897 via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
A timeless quote from Tolstoy: “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Mass-produced images cheapen what they portray. You doubt that? Consider pornography and the corruption of desire... more

The Best Astronomy Websites via Ask Bob Rankin
Attention Stargazers…
If you’re an amateur astronomer, or you just enjoy looking up into the night sky, the Internet is full of resources for you. For the best star pictures, astronomy websites, user groups and telescope reviews, read on.

Harnessing the Tides to Make Electricity via Big Think by Big Think Editors
unable to attribute as original post did not have attribution
With some of the highest tides in the world, Eastport, Maine, has become the world’s testing ground for new renewable energy technologies that harness the tides’ power. The Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) “plans to deploy a full-scale 150-kilowatt unit off …
Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Hugh Trevor-Roper was many things – social climber, political intriguer, intellectual bomb thrower – and in none of them was he ever boring... more

Video of a river rock balancer via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
I was in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado over the weekend for a family reunion. On Friday afternoon we had a picnic at Eben G. Fine Park, which is bordered on one side by Boulder Creek. I noticed some stone sculptures coming out of the water and walked over to snap a photo.
I thought they were a permanent fixture, and that the rocks had been cemented together, because they looked impossibly balanced.
But a couple of days later I was looking in the Boulder Daily Camera, and I discovered that the rock sculptures were not cemented together. They had just been placed there earlier in the day by a man named Mike Grab. He has a website with photos of his sculptures, called Gravity Glue.
Video Link

This has to be one of the most fascinating, intriguing and time-wasting Internet resources I have yet to come across!
Love it.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Think of Winston Churchill, what comes to mind? Jowly war hero, stirring orator, acidic wit. How about father of the British welfare state?… more
Worth taking the time to read every word of this!

The Neuroscience of Success via Big Think by Jason Gots
“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”
Shakespeare’s Othello, I.iii
Admittedly, the messenger quoted above is Shakespeare’s arch-villain Iago. But when the message is right, it’s right. Neuroscience and psychology have identified willpower, largely a co-production …
Read More

Nice work if you can get it via Prospero by P.W. | CAMBRIDGE
It is small – it’s a ring, after all. It is also surprising and breathtaking. The purity of the stone and the shield-like shape that forms its front give the sapphire ring the kind of cool elegance that can be reproduced in photographs. But its hot halo of shooting blue, purple and pink lights is visible only in person. The entire ring is carved from a single, unbroken hunk of the precious gem (pictured). There is nothing quite like it anywhere. Made in 1400, the ring is the earliest of the 60 treasures on view in “Splendour and Power” which just opened at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Read more, get full details, and enjoy more pictures.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

The Commerson’s Dolphins of the Kerguelen Islands and Southern South America via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers

Commerson's dolphins in the Strait of Magellan. Credit: Mirko Thiessen, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic.

With its handsome black-and-white colouration, Commerson’s dolphin is a striking addition to the cool sub-antarctic waters off southern South America and surrounding the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. Its distinctive appearance is unmistakable: black head and flippers, white throat patch and body, and wide black band extending from just in front of the dorsal fin to the caudal region, which along with the tail is black all around.
This post was originally published in NaturePhiles on
With apologies for the positioning of the picture - it would not stay on the left!

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Chet Baker had a pure sound and matinee-idol looks. Then heroin took over. The trumpeter’s self-degradation, says Greil Marcus, is irresistible... more

How Far Can an Artist Go in a Religious Country? via Big Think by Bob Duggan
The recent controversy in Manila over local artist Mideo Cruz’s Kulo exhibition raises the question of how far an artist can go in terms of religious art in a religious country — in this case, the Philippines, which is more than 80% Roman Catholic. Kulo, which means “boil”, set Cardinal Gaudencio …
Read More

Try out knoword, the fast playing word game that will drive you insane!
from @LibraryFeed via Tanita – who is, apparently, to be blamed for nobody in the library getting any work done.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
War, recession, the recent riots in Britain: Is there anything bad in the world that “neoliberalism” is not blamed for? Brendan O'Neill wonders … more

Build An Empire With Age Of Empires Online – Free to Play! via MakeUseOf by James Bruce
True gamers among us will likely have fond memories of the original Age of Empires game released by Microsoft Studios back in 1997, and it was a regular at many of my own LAN parties. The game itself was standard fare strategy / empire building but at the time it was quite innovative, helping to push forward the genre and shocking many of us with the fact that something good in gaming came out of Microsoft.
Read the blurb from MakeUseOf (recommended) or go straight to play the game.

To Improve Self-control, Focus on the Long-term: Paying Attention Can Mean Making Better Choices
via Big Think by Maria Konnikova
Which would you rather have: an apple or a Kit-Kat bar? It’s not an easy question. The answer depends on many factors, including how hungry you are, how much you like apples and Kit-Kats, what your mood is like, what time of day it is, when you expect to eat next, and the list goes on. However, for …
Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Robert Johnson never denied that he’d cut a deal with the devil: his soul for his guitar chops. The bluesman knew that scandal sells…more

What Is It to Daydream? via Big Think by Big Think Editors
In a distinctly unscientific analysis of daydreaming, French philosopher Raphaël Enthoven conjures up a series of evocative metaphors to help us better understand, in more human terms, that state of reverie which lies between consciousness and sleep. “Like …
Read More

Portraits by Yousuf Karsh via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris
These are just stunning!
  • Muhammed Ali
  • Brigitte Bardot
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Fidel Castro
  • Winston Churchill
  • Jacques Cousteau
  • Joan Crawford
  • Gerard Depardieu
  • Albert Einstein
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Margot Fonteyn
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Jacqueline Kennedy
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Grace Kelly
  • Martin Luther King
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Pope Pius XII
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Mother Teresa
  • Andy Warhol
Have a look for yourself
[When I checked the link it was very slow to load with all those photos in the same file. I assure that I found it worthwhile waiting!]

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cheating in Contests

an article by Scott M. Gilpatric (University of Tennessee, USA) published in Economic Inquiry Volume 49 Issue 4 (October 2011)


Wherever competition is used to motivate a desirable activity or productive effort it may also motivate undesirable and therefore prohibited behaviour – that is, cheating – that the organiser of the contest attempts to police. For example, when workers compete for promotion, bonuses, or other rewards, they may misrepresent their output (i.e. commit fraud) or increase their output by unacceptable means (e.g. violate regulations). We show how the extent of cheating is determined by the payoffs at stake in the contest, the random component of output, probability of cheating being detected, number of contestants, and the penalty associated with being found to have cheated. We find that while greater enforcement reduces cheating, it may also reduce productive effort. We also identify how two particular aspects of enforcement, the awarding of default victories and use of correlated rather than independent audits, affect cheating behaviour.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The emotional labour process: An essay on the economy of feelings

an article by Steve Vincent (University of Leeds) published in Human Relations Volume 64 Number 10 (October 2011)


This article evaluates conceptual resources for exploring the economy of feelings. It reviews existing contributions, discovering tensions surrounding the material status of emotional displays and normative commitments at work, as well as significant gaps within the conceptual resources used to classify the emotions we experience and evoke while working. In an effort to develop more robust categories for this broad area, labour process theory is combined with other conceptual tools to reframe and refresh debates. Specifically, the concept emotional misbehaviour is posited as a useful addition to the debate concerning the material status of emotion at work and various novel conceptual resources are explored from a labour process perspective. In particular, emotional intelligence, techno-normative control, symbolic violence and cultural capital are introduced to the debate and considered for their potential usefulness in filling the conceptual gaps identified.

Is concentration of university research associated with better research performance?

an article by Henk F. Moed (Elsevier, Amsterdam), Félix de Moya-Anegón and Carmen López-Illescas (Spanish National Research Council, Madrid) and Martijn Visser (Leiden University, the Netherlands) published in Journal of Informetrics Volume 5 Issue 4 (October 2011)


This paper analyses relationships between university research performance and concentration of university research. Using the number of publications and their citation impact extracted from Scopus as proxies of research activity and research performance, respectively, it examines at a national level for 40 major countries the distribution of published research articles among its universities, and at an institutional level for a global set of 1500 universities the distribution of papers among 16 main subject fields.

Both at a national and an institutional level it was found that a larger publication output is associated with a higher citation impact. If one conceives the number of publications as a measure of concentration, this outcome indicates that, in university research, concentration and performance are positively related, although the underlying causal relationships are complex. But a regression analysis found no evidence that more concentration of research among a country's universities or among an institution's main fields is associated with better overall performance.

The study reveals a tendency that the research in a particular subject field conducted in universities specializing in other fields outperforms the work in that field in institutions specializing in that field. This outcome may reflect that it is multi-disciplinary research that is the most promising and visible at the international research front, and that this type of research tends to develop better in universities specializing in a particular domain and expanding their capabilities in that domain towards other fields.


► It analyzes in Scopus a global set of as many as 1500 universities, and uses citation impact as performance indicator.
► The research question is: Does more concentration lead to better research? In four separate analyses the study found no empirical evidence that this is the case.
► In a group of 40 major countries found no significant linear or rank correlation between national research performance and the degree of concentration of research among their universities. Among top performing nations one finds both concentrated and more evenly distributed national academic systems in terms of research output.
► At the level of individual universities it was found that universities showing a high overall disciplinary specialization tend to have a lower citation impact than general academic institutions do, although the linear correlation is weak.
► This result may reflect that it is multi-disciplinary research that is the most promising and visible at the international research front, and that this type of research tends to develops better in general institutions covering a broad range of main fields than it does in specialized ones.

Career attitudes and subjective career success: tackling gender differences

an article by Mihaela Enache, Jose M. Sallan, Pep Simo and Vicenç Fernandez (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Terrassa, Spain) published in Gender in Management: An International Journal Volume 26 Issue 3 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to analyse the effect of gender upon the relation between protean and boundaryless career attitudes and subjective career success, in today’s dynamic and changing organisational context.
Data were collected using a questionnaire conducted on 150 graduate and post-graduate distance learning students. The data were analysed using structural equation modeling.
The analysis indicates that women’s career success is positively related with self-direction and negatively related with their reliance on their own values. Furthermore, the authors found a negative relation between organisational mobility preference and men’s subjective career success.
Research limitations/implications
A potential limitation of this study is that all participants were distance-learning students, thus limiting the generalisability of the findings to other populations. Furthermore, cross-sectional designs do not permit drawing conclusions regarding the causal direction.
Practical implications
Organisations should transform work structures and human resources policies and provide career models that allow women flexibility and more control over their work. Research results show that values-driven predisposition may lead to low levels of perceived career success. This indirectly suggests that individuals experience intrinsic career success when their values are consistent with organisational values, and therefore they should seek work opportunities in organisations whose aim, scope, and philosophy is consistent with their ideals.
This is the first paper to shed light on gender’s impact upon the relationship between protean and boundaryless career attitudes and subjective career success, in a context in which there have been calls in literature for more career research taking into account gender differences.

Are competition and corporate social responsibility compatible?: …

The myth of sustainable competitive advantage

an article by Françoise Quairel-Lanoizelée, (Université Paris-Dauphine, France) published in Society and Business Review Volume 6 Issue 1 (2011)


While fierce global competition has negative environmental and social impacts and may lead large companies to act irresponsibly, corporate social responsibility (CSR) academic literature, especially stakeholder theory, pays little attention to competition and market pressure. It only highlights the competitive advantage a CSR strategy represents for companies. The purpose of this paper is to explore the connection between CSR and competition in order to contribute to the CSR concept through analysis of the conditions for its implementation.
The paper draws upon the academic literature in economics and strategic management, on mainstream CSR papers and on the official disclosure and communication from companies listed on the “CAC 40” of the French stock market. The paper uses the definition of corporate responsibility which integrates companies’ environmental and social concerns into all their activities.
The following three major findings arise.
  • First, on a theoretical level and in terms of corporate disclosure on CSR, a large gap is noticed in how the economic view and the CSR view of competition are represented.
  • Second, it is observed that the limits of the competitive advantage obtained by CSR strategy while the “demand for virtue” is weak even if the stakeholders’ “expectations” for responsible practices are strong. In fact, a typology of CSR strategies is proposed related to competitive situations. 
  • Third, the paradox of the CSR competitive advantage is underlined: specifically, it is gained only if not imitable, i.e. if companies prevent the mimetic practices which could spread best practices for sustainable development.
The paper highlights the limits of the CSR concept within the liberal paradigm, arguing that the mainstream theoretical CSR framework based on the hypothesis of the convergence between firms’ objectives and the common interest is not relevant. The framework of the neo-institutional theory is more appropriate to analyse the mimetic behaviour in competitive markets and corporate commitments in sector-based codes of conduct that define new norms of social quality.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Beneath the glass ceiling: Explaining gendered role segmentation in call centres

an article by Dora Scholarios and Phil Taylor (University of Strathclyde) published in Human Relations Volume 64 Number 10 (October 2011)


Although the call centre is much researched, the literature on gender remains surprisingly undeveloped given the importance of this setting for women’s employment. This study of role segmentation in four call centres demonstrates women’s disproportionate representation in more routinised mass production roles, as opposed to higher status or managerial grades. It also analyses three explanations – human capital, domestic status and supervisor career support. The evidence shows that women face a ‘glass ceiling’, first, on entry to the call centre in terms of human capital disadvantage and levels of domestic constraint and, second, within the call centre in their ability to secure supervisor support for career opportunities. We argue that even for women with similar career aspiration and human capital to men, domestic responsibilities create obstacles before they reach the glass ceiling, especially for managerial roles, and contribute thereafter to reinforcing their concentration in more intensive, lower status work.

What has globalization done to developing countries’ public libraries?

an article by Gabe Ignatow (University of North Texas) published in International Sociology Volume 26 Number 6 (November 2011)


The goal of this article is to highlight the major trends in the establishment of public libraries in developing countries under conditions of globalization. Based on a review of research from library history and the sociology of culture, the author develops hypotheses about the conditions under which public libraries are likely to be established in relatively large numbers in developing countries. Analysis of historical trends in library establishments and crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis of UNESCO data on public libraries in six developing nations reveal that globalization is associated with decreasing or flat numbers of public libraries on a per capita basis. The only observed exceptions are Malaysia and Chile, where public libraries have been established in large numbers partly for purposes of national integration as a counter to sectarian and ethnic heterogeneity. Implications of these findings for research in the information society paradigm, and for development theory, are discussed.

Effects of a Group Intervention on the Career Network Ties of Finnish Adolescents

an article by Markku Jokisaari and Jukka Vuori (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki) published in Journal of Career Development Volume 38 Number 5 (October 2011)


The authors evaluated how a group-based career intervention affected career network ties among Finnish adolescents as they made educational choices and prepared for their transition to secondary education. They examined the career-related network ties of 868 students during their last year in comprehensive school (junior high school) in a randomised field experimental study. The results indicated that immediately after the intervention, the group method lowered the density of participants’ career networks, that is, the participants’ network ties were less interconnected. The results further showed that about 6 months after the intervention, the program had increased the number of school counsellors named as network ties.

Investigating homeworkers' inclination to remain connected to work at “anytime, anywhere” via mobile phones

an article by Banita Lal (Nottingham Business Schools, Nottingham Trent University) and Yogesh K. Dwivedi, (School of Business and Economics, Swansea University) published in Journal of Enterprise Information Management Volume 23 Issue 6 (2011)


Mobile phones are said to enable homeworkers to remain connected for work purposes at “anytime, anywhere”, irrespective of time or location. This paper seeks to argue that, despite this assertion, little is known beyond the anecdotal literature about whether homeworkers actually remain connected as such.
The paper aimed to address the issue described previously by conducting semi-structured interviews with 25 homeworkers who were recruited using snowball sampling.
The findings show that homeworkers tried to distinguish between “work” and “home” by allocating specific time and space to each domain, but nevertheless remained connected via their mobile phones outside the time and space allocated for work activity. This resulted in work crossing into the home domain and individuals potentially becoming connected and contactable at “anytime, anywhere”. However, the findings identify that homeworkers took various actions in order to control their contactability outside the work domain, which suggests that, despite the potential, remaining connected “anytime, anywhere” is often not the reality. Such actions are discussed in this paper in the context of the existing literature.
Practical implications
Implications for organisations employing homeworking are also presented, together with how the limitations of the study can be overcome in future research.
The paper contributes to the less explored and existing homeworking and boundary literature and provides implications for practitioners of homeworking.

Lying in business: insights from Hannah Arendt’s “Lying in Politics”

an article by Piet Eenkhoorn (Enterpreneur, Tilburg, The Netherlands) and Johan J. Graafland (Tilburg University, The Netherlands) published in Business Ethics: A European Review Volume 20 Issue 4 (October 2011)


The political philosopher Hannah Arendt develops several arguments regarding why truthfulness cannot be counted among the political virtues. This article shows that similar arguments apply to lying in business.

Based on Hannah Arendt’s theory, we distinguish five reasons why lying is a structural temptation to businessmen:
  • business is about action to change the world and therefore businessmen need the capacity to deny current reality; 
  • commerce requires successful image-making and liars have the advantage to come up with plausible stories; 
  • business communication is more often about opinions than about facts, giving leeway to ignore uncomfortable signals; 
  • business increasingly makes use of plans and models, but these techniques foster inflexibility in acknowledging the real facts; and 
  • businessmen easily fall prey to self-deception, because one needs to act as if the vision already materialises. 
The theory is illustrated by a case study of Landis, which grew from a relatively insignificant organisation into a large one within a short period of time, but ended with outright lies and bankruptcy.

Stay-at-Home Fathers and Breadwinning Mothers …

Gender, Couple Dynamics, and Social Change

an article by Noelle Chesley (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) published in Gender & Society Volume 25 Number 5 (October 2011)


I examine experiences of married couples to better understand whether economic shifts that push couples into gender-atypical work/family arrangements influence gender inequality. I draw on in-depth interviews conducted in 2008 with stay-at-home husbands and their wives in 21 married-couple families with children (42 individual interviews). I find that the decision to have a father stay home is heavily influenced by economic conditions, suggesting that men’s increased job instability and shifts in the relative employment conditions of husbands and wives push some men into at-home fatherhood. However, this shift in family arrangements can promote change toward greater gender equality even in couples that initially hold entrenched, gendered beliefs. The data indicate that at-home fathers come to value their increased involvement in children’s care in ways that reduce gender differences in parenting and that have the potential to translate into institutional change, particularly when they re-enter the labour force. Furthermore, at-home father arrangements generally appear to provide increased support for women’s employment and promote changes in women’s work behaviour that may reduce inequities that stem from traditionally gendered divisions in work/family responsibilities.

Hazel’s comment:
What I would now like to see, whether studied in the UK or elsewhere, is whether employers are less likely to favour a male returner to the labour market. My instinct tells me that a child-rearing break is acceptable for a woman but not for a man when wanting to take up some form of employment.

Monday, 24 October 2011

An experimental system for measuring the credibility of news content in Twitter

an article by Hend S. Al-Khalifa and Rasha M. Al-Eidan (King Saud University, Riyadh) published in International Journal of Web Information Systems Volume 7 Issue 2 (2011)


Owing to the large amount of information available on Twitter (a micro blogging service) that is not necessarily true or believable, credibility of news published in such an electronic channel has become an important area for investigation in the field of web credibility. This paper aims to address this issue.
A system was developed to measure the credibility of news content published in Twitter. The system uses two approaches to assign credibility levels (low, high and average) to each tweet. The first approach is based on the similarity between Twitter posts (tweets) and authentic (i.e. verified) news sources. The second approach is based on the similarity with verified news sources in addition to a set of proposed features.
The evaluations of the two approaches showed that assigning credibility levels to Twitter tweets for the first approach has a higher precision and recall. Additional experiments showed that the linking feature has its impact on the second approach results.
Research limitations/implications
The proposed system is experimental; thus further experiments are needed to prove these findings.
This paper contributes to the research on web credibility. It is believed to be the first which provides a proposed system to evaluate the credibility of Twitter news content automatically.

Social Exclusion and Poverty: …

Translating Social Capital into Accessible Resources

an article by Bronwyn Boon and John Farnsworth published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 45 Issue 5 (October 2011)


This article investigates the dynamic multi-dimensional processes through which the poor become excluded from social participation. Drawing on social capital literature, it traces how bridging and bonding capital do not always translate into expected levels of social participation. It does so by detailing research findings from low income focus groups undertaken in Dunedin, New Zealand. These describe the experiences of group members in attempting to manage connections around employment, their own broader social participation or the participation of their children. In each case, the study highlights the difficulties of translation they experienced: in particular, translating available bridging or bonding capital into useful social, cultural or economic resources which could mitigate their social exclusion or enable fuller social participation.

Competitiveness and Social Cohesion in Western European Cities

an article by Costanzo Ranci (Dipartimento di Architecttura e Pianificazione, Politecnico di Milano, Milan) published in Urban Studies Volume 48 Number 13 (October 2011)


European cities are historically characterised by a strong association between social cohesion and competitiveness. However, in recent years, this stability has been affected by strains induced by rising new inequalities and increasing competition among cities. These facts have raised the need for a new understanding of the relationship between cohesion and competitiveness. This paper draws on a selection of social and economic indicators to explore this multifaceted relationship in 50 European cities, selected on the basis of their size and international role. The aims of the analysis are to assess the position of each European city, to identify clusters of cities and to suggest an interpretative hypothesis in order to characterise the particularities of this relationship in European cities.

How child welfare workers view their work with racial and ethnic minority families: …

The United States in contrast to England and Norway

an article by Katrin Križ (Emmanuel College, Boston, USA) and Marit Skivenes (Bergen University College, Norway) published in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 33 Issue 10 (October 2011)


This study builds on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 93 child welfare workers employed in public child welfare agencies in the United States, Norway and England, and examines their perceptions of working with racial and ethnic minority families in contrast to White service users.

Almost all workers reported on differences.

In the United States, workers regarded cultural pluralism as a given and considered it an inherent feature of their work, regardless of the racial and/or ethnic background of the family. Further, they identified poverty, racism, and lack of feelings of entitlement as dimensions to practicing with minority families. A few mentioned language as an issue. The views of workers in the U.S. stand in stark contrast to the perceptions of workers in both England and Norway. They thought that communication challenges constituted a major problem, and that minority clients’ lack of language proficiency and knowledge about society and social systems made it difficult for workers to understand families’ meaning and intent (Križ & Skivenes, 2009; 2010b).

We discuss how caseworkers’ perceptions may influence their decisions and affect minority disproportionality in the child protection system and analyze what factors may account for the cross-country differences we found. We also relate our findings to the broader question of citizenship and social rights in American society.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

7-year-old boy writes book to pay for life-saving dog via Lighter Footstep by Jenn Savedge
Evan Moss is not your average 7-year-old boy. For starters, his recent Alexandria, Va., book signing drew 600 people from as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But he’s not your average child celebrity either. His book isn’t a tell-all about the movie industry or fodder for the next reality television show.
Read more about My Seizure Dog

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. The Internet makes it hard to concentrate. Good, says Cathy Davidson. Disruption and distraction spark innovation and creativity… more

humanism via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
When we worry about machines replacing human beings, we are focused more on these alien robots than on mimetic replicants. Yet the programming of robots can, as the engineer Cecil Balmont observes, make their proper use obscure and dysfunctional, just because we have no guiding measure of what they should do for us.
more from Richard Sennett at The Hedgehog Review here

.If you are interested in the history of Great Britain then look no further than the British Museum website.
Thanks for the reminder – College & Research Libraries News

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Philip Larkin is a novelist’s poet. It’s novelists, like Martin Amis, who revere his inimitable skill as a scene-setting phrasemaker…more

A little bit of exercise could have big benefits via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
A new rat study suggests that exercising even a small amount more than you previously did could produce relatively large health benefits.

Europeana new content: Irish Traditional Music Archive via Peter Scott’s Library Blog by Peter Scott
New content on Euro­peana includes items from the Irish Tra­di­tional Music Archive (ITMA) provided through the Irish Manuscripts Commission. The ITMA is a “national reference archive and resource centre for the traditional song, instrumental music and dance of Ireland”. The archive holds an impres­sive col­lec­tion of sound record­ings, books, sheet music, photographs, videos and DVDS. Items from areas of Irish set­tle­ment such as in Britain, North America and Australia also feature.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
“When I cleared out my Moscow apartment, they found wiring in the walls,” says Mikhail Gorbachev. “They were spying on me all along” … more

5 Cool Word Sites That Are A Bit Different via MakeUseOf by Saikat Basu
Here are five more word based websites to explore and keep.
The sites being considered are:
  • WordSift
  • Hot For Words
  • WDTM
  • Tag Galaxy
  • Corpus of Contemporary American English
And if you missed the previous collections of websites on words and vocabulary you can also link to:
8 More Word Games You Can Play To Sharpen Your Language Skills
8 Quick Online Word Games To Play With Your Vocabulary
10 Spelling Bee Game Websites That Help Your Children Spell Words Right
10 Websites To Learn A Word A Day & Enrich Your Vocabulary
10 Online Synonym Dictionaries To Help You Find A Similar Word
Get them all here

The Exotic Bird-of-Paradise Flower (Strelitzia reginae) via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers
Bird-of-paradise flower. Credit: Scott Bauer—ARS/USDA
The bird-of-paradise flower, so-named for its remarkable bird-like appearance when in bloom, is a favourite among horticulturists and can be found growing in gardens worldwide.

Read more
This post originally appeared in NaturePhiles on

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Towards an Alternative Concept of Privacy

an article by Christian Fuchs (Uppsala University) published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Volume 9 Issue 4 (2011)


There are a lot of discussions about privacy in relation to contemporary communication systems (such as Facebook and other “social media” platforms), but discussions about privacy on the Internet in most cases misses a profound understanding of the notion of privacy and where this notion is coming from. This paper challenges the liberal notion of privacy and explores foundations of an alternative privacy conception.
A typology of privacy definitions is elaborated based on Giddens’ theory of structuration. The concept of privacy fetishism that is based on critical political economy is introduced. Limits of the liberal concept of privacy are discussed. This discussion is connected to the theories of Marx, Arendt and Habermas. Some foundations of an alternative privacy concept are outlined.
The notion of privacy fetishism is introduced for criticising naturalistic accounts of privacy. Marx and Engels have advanced four elements of the critique of the liberal privacy concept that were partly taken up by Arendt and Habermas:
  1. privacy as atomism that advances
  2. possessive individualism that harms the public good and
  3. legitimises and reproduces the capitalist class structure and
  4. capitalist patriarchy.
Research limitations/implications
Given the criticisms advanced in this paper, the need for an alternative, socialist privacy concept is ascertained and it is argued that privacy rights should be differentiated according to the position individuals occupy in the power structure so that surveillance makes transparent wealth and income gaps and company’s profits and privacy protects workers and consumers from capitalist domination.
The paper contributes to the establishment of a concept of privacy that is grounded in critical political economy. Due to the liberal bias of the privacy concept, the theorisation of privacy has thus far been largely ignored in critical political economy. The paper contributes to illuminating this blind spot.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ethnicity, job search and labor market reintegration of the unemployed

an article by Amelie F. Constant, Martin Kahanec, Ulf Rinne and Klaus F. Zimmermann published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 32 Issue 7 (2011)


PurposeThis paper seeks to shed further light on the native-migrant differences in economic outcomes. The aim is to investigate labor market reintegration, patterns of job search, and reservation wages across unemployed migrants and natives in Germany.
The paper is based on the IZA Evaluation Dataset, a recently collected rich survey of a representative sample of entrants into unemployment in Germany. The data include a large number of migration variables, allowing us to adapt a recently developed concept of ethnic identity: the ethnosizer. The authors analyse these data using the OLS technique as well as probabilistic regression models.
The results indicate that separated migrants have a relatively slow reintegration into the labour market. It can be argued that this group exerts a relatively low search effort and that it has reservation wages which are moderate, yet still above the level which would imply similar employment probabilities as other groups of migrants.
Research limitations/implications
The findings indicate that special attention needs to be paid by policy makers to various forms of social and cultural integration, as it has significant repercussions on matching in the labour market.
The paper identifies a previously unmapped relationship between ethnic identity and labour market outcomes.

Online Employability Toolkit Launch

Lasa (London Advice Services Alliance) has finalised the English version of the “Key Competencies for All” Online Employability Toolkit, an EU project, which is now freely available online. The toolkit supports telecentres - online centre networks, public facilities such as libraries or community centres where people can access computers and the internet, undertake basic training courses and gain skills certification and helps develop their skills, from CV building to online job hunting.
via Lasa ICT E-Bulletin October 2011

Hazel’s comment:
I don’t think that I’m sufficiently up to date to evaluate this but it looks good and I really rate the work that Lasa does.

E-portfolio, a Valuable Job Search Tool for College Students

an article by Ti Yu, (Jinwen University of Science and Technology) published in Campus-Wide Information Systems Volume 29 Issue 1 (2011)


The purpose of this paper was to find an answer to the following questions:
  • How do employers think about e-portfolios? 
  • Do employers really see e-portfolios as a suitable hiring tool? 
  • Which factors in students’ e-portfolios attract potential employers? 
  • Can e-portfolios be successfully used by students in their search for a job?
A semi-structured interview survey was used in this study. All ten interviewees were HR managers from ten different companies. They were interviewed face-to-face between December 2010 and May 2011. In order to collect a broad range of multiple ideas, the interviewees came from a wide range of industries including tourism, product design, real estate, information and technology, insurance, recruitment service, and others.
The results of this survey showed that the e-portfolio is perhaps still in its early stage of development. Nevertheless, the employer interviews indicate a high and consistent level of interest by the employers, indicating a promising future of the e-portfolio as a job search tool. In addition, employers can use specific information to conduct to pre-screen candidates. On the other hand, they may include the e-portfolio as a factor in the final phase of the selection process to obtain a deeper and more complete level of information (e.g. learning reflections) that can clearly demonstrate a job applicant’s characteristics and potentials for career development.
Faculty members and career service staff in universities and colleges should consider promoting e-portfolios to employers as a promising tool for selecting their next employee.

Rising wage inequality and postgraduate education

CEP Discussion Paper No 1075 (September 2011)

by Joanne Lindley (University of Surrey) and Stephen Machin (London School of Economics and University College London)


This paper considers what has hitherto been a relatively neglected subject in the wage inequality literature, albeit one that has been becoming more important over time, namely the role played by increases in postgraduate education. We document increases in the number of workers with a postgraduate qualification in the United States and Great Britain. We also show their relative wages have risen over time as compared to all workers and more specifically to graduates with only a college degree.

Consideration of shifts in demand and supply shows postgraduates and college-only workers to be imperfect substitutes in production and that there have been trend increases over time in the relative demand for postgraduate vis-à-vis college-only workers. These relative demand shifts are significantly correlated with technical change as measured by changes in industry computer usage and investment.

Moreover, the skills sets possessed by postgraduates and the occupations in which they are employed are significantly different to those of college only graduates. Over the longer term period when computers have massively diffused into workplaces, it turns out that the principal beneficiaries of this computer revolution has not been all graduates, but those more skilled workers who have a postgraduate qualification. This has been an important driver of rising wage inequality amongst graduates over time.

Full text (PDF 59pp)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Labour Market Statistics

This labour market statistics pocketbook from Eurostat aims to highlight various aspects of the labour markets in Europe. The statistics shown refer to the labour market situation of individuals and households, their gross and net earnings as well as the labour cost incurred by enterprises, to labour demand and labour market policy interventions.

Table of contents

Electronic format  Pocketbook format (1/2 A4 portrait) PDF 115pp

Hazel’s comment:
Unfortunately I could not find from where to get a hard copy. This format is difficult in PDF and wastes a lot of paper (or oodles of time manipulating the pages to get it to print like a book). I have neither that much paper nor the time to save paper and suspect that you don’t either.

Practitioner reactions to work-related psychological tests

an article by Adrian Furnham (University College London) and Chris J Jackson (University of New South Wales) published in Journal of Managerial Psychology Volume 26 Issue 7 (2011)


This study seeks to investigate human resource practitioners’ attitudes and beliefs about work-related psychological tests. The purpose was to look at the structure and correlates of those beliefs.
In all, 255 practitioners from human resource and related disciplines completed a 64-item questionnaire on their attitudes to, and beliefs about, work-related psychological tests.
Overall, the participants were positive about the validity and hence usefulness of tests. Factor analysis suggested that attitudes to tests fell into four easily identifiable factors (Test complexity, Practical application, Bias, and Usefulness of psychological tests). It was found that all four factors were predicted by age or educational qualifications or both.
Research limitations/implications
The study had a restricted sample of test users. It would be interesting to test a bigger and more representative sample of those in HR, training and coaching and get more specific details on which tests they used, why those particular tests and how they used the data they provide.
The aim of this study is to investigate whether practitioners generally find psychological tests in general useful, what aspects of psychological tests are most valued and what aspects are least liked. It also set out to determine whether the perceived scepticism toward, or enthusiasm for, psychological tests could be predicted by test user experience, and test user academic qualifications. Whist some survey studies have been interested in expert opinion, this study looked at practitioners from HR and related disciplines.

Academic libraries – measuring up: …

assessment and collaboration for student success

 an article by Rachel Besara and Kirsten Kinsley (Florida State University Libraries) published in New Library World Volume 112 Issue 9/10 (2011)


This paper aims to describe how the Florida State University Libraries used assessment data with other campus partners to gain funding and resources for new initiatives. When general funding sources were threatened, alternative funding sources from these campus partners were used to jump-start new initiatives designed to enhance student success.
This paper is a case study of how assessment data fuelled the creation of a new late-night peer-tutoring program at the Florida State University Libraries. The three main data conduits that inspired a new tutoring program were: an ethnographic study of undergraduate students, undergraduate courses with high failure/high enrolment/high drop rates, and an environmental scan of existing campus tutoring.
Sharing assessment data with key partners can leverage funding and resources for new initiatives.
Social implications
In hard budgetary times, opportunities for funding and resources may arise when shared values between campus constituencies are met with assessment data. Libraries need to take a leadership role in gathering and sharing those data with other campus constituents in order to place libraries in a strategic position to receive alternative funding for shared initiatives.
Other libraries may use this case as a model, sharing their assessment results with the campus community, especially with those campus constituencies where there is a relationship already in place, to garner further support for piloting innovative services.

Transition of higher education graduates to the labour market: …

are employment procedures more meritocratic in the public sector?

an article by Caroline Berggren (University of Gothenburg) published in Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management Volume 33 Issue 2 (2011)


As an employer, the public sector might be expected to be more meritocratic than the private sector, because of its democratic values and more transparent appointments procedures. In this context meritocratic means that the employer only considers characteristics such as degree and grades, relevant for the position in question.

The individuals in this study have completed one of four higher education degrees, and are aged 30-32 years (n = 22,133). Multinomial logistic regression analyses were employed. The results show that the public and the private sector are similar in that they both seem to prefer male graduates from old and well-established universities. One slight difference is that graduates’ family and national backgrounds appear to be less relevant in the public sector than in the private sector. These differences are present even when several other educational factors are the same.

Hazel’s comment:
Just goes to show that what many of us thought was happening actually is happening – at least in Sweden it is.

The employment effects of recession on couples in the UK: …

women’s and household employment prospects and partners’ job loss

an article by Susan Harkness (University of Bath) and Martin Evans (University of Oxford) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 40 Issue 4 (2011)


The effect that the 2008/09 recession has had on unemployment and, in particular, on the distribution of job losses across households is of key concern to policymakers.

During the 1991 recession rising male unemployment was associated with a sharp increase in the number of workless households, with this polarisation of work between ‘work-rich’ and ‘work-poor’ persisting many years later. Part of the reason for this polarisation was that the design of the tax and benefit system produced weak work incentives for women partnered to unemployed men, particularly if the jobs open to them were either part time or low paid.

Since 1999, the United Kingdom has undertaken reform of employment and transfer programmes, with a particular focus on boosting incomes and work incentives for families with children. The resulting literature focussed on the impact that these reforms had on women's movements into employment.

Since the economy entered recession in 2008, an increasingly important question is how have these reforms affected women's decisions to remain in employment (or enter into work) if their partner becomes unemployed.

This paper uses Labour Force Survey data to assess the effect of male job loss on their partners’ employment and to examine the implications for the distribution of jobs across households. Results suggest that working women whose partners lost their jobs in the 2008/09 recession were more likely to remain in work than before and this has helped to mediate the growth in workless couple households.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lifelong guidance across Europe: …

reviewing policy progress and future prospects

CEDEFOP (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) Working Paper no 11

In the absence of an abstract to this paper I have copied the first two paragraphs of the six-page executive summary to provide a flavour of the whole document.

The current European Union policy and strategy framework for lifelong learning (general education, vocational education and training, higher education, adult learning) and employment sets favourable conditions for establishing holistic and coherent lifelong guidance systems in the Member States to cater fully for the information, advice and guidance needs of diverse target audiences in their learning and career pathways. Many recent EU documents (see Chapters 1.3. and 1.4.) address the importance of guidance in aiding lifelong learning in formal, informal and non-formal settings as well as in improving the employability and active labour market participation of all citizen groups. In this context, the main aim of lifelong guidance is to support individuals’ acquisition and continuous development of knowledge, skills and competences.

Starting from this overall EU-level framework, the aim of this review is to monitor the achievements of the Member States in developing guidance policies, systems and practices against the priorities identified in the Council resolution on better integrating lifelong guidance into lifelong learning strategies (Council of the European Union, 2008b). There are four priority areas: encouraging policy coordination and cooperation; establishing quality assurance mechanisms; widening access to guidance services for all citizens; and developing career management skills. As the review is placed in the context of the current economic crisis, special attention has been given to the empowerment of at-risk groups and to targeted guidance measures launched for them.

Full text (PDF 136pp)

Raising aspirations and widening participation: …

an evaluation of Aimhigher in Herefordshire and Worcestershire

an article by Judy Miller & Catherine Smith (University of Worcester) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 16 Issue 2 (2011)


Set in the context of a falling budget, the purpose of this study was to investigate how the impact of Aimhigher funds could be maximised in Herefordshire and Worcestershire schools.

A case study approach using phenomenological methods was used to examine three key areas:
  • How are funds distributed and utilised by schools and colleges? 
  • How are learners identified and targeted? 
  • Which interventions are most valued?
Quantitative data was supplied by Aimhigher Area and Local offices.
Qualitative data was collected using interviews with professionals based either in schools and colleges, or in Aimhigher offices.
This data was analysed using a simplified Stevick‐Colassi‐Keen method to identify key themes that exemplified the experience of Aimhigher users and managers. Two clusters of ideas emerged, the first focusing on experience of interventions and the second on more general management issues.

There was a consensus that Aimhigher interventions and budgets were well managed by knowledgeable and supportive staff. However, schools believed that targeting needed to be refined so that white boys from lower socio‐economic status backgrounds, with parents who did not have a level 4 qualification but who lived in a ‘good area’, were included. This was particularly true for intensive interventions. Schools were most enthusiastic about low intensity, and low cost, activities that could be offered to all pupils. These activities were beginning to be embedded in the school year.

Figures from HEFCE indicate that there is an increase in the number of low socio‐economic status pupils accessing Higher Education. This may indicate that the work of Aimhigher is worthwhile and should be continued in the future.

The university in the twenty-first century: …

Towards a democratic and emancipatory university reform

an article by Boaventura de Sousa Santos published on the Eurozone articles website

The reaction from universities to demands for reform – both from the private sector and society – has been a state of paralysis and resistance in the name of autonomy and academic freedom. The only way universities can recover from their crisis legitimacy, writes Boaventura de Sousa Santos, is through radical democratic restructuring. Countering the brain-drain from poorer to wealthy nations – so far the main result of the transnationalisation of education – will only be achieved by embarking on a counter-hegemonic process of globalization creating genuine equality of access.

Full text (HTML)
NOTE: There is a link to a PDF version but it went nowhere when I tried it!

IT for a better future: how to integrate ethics, politics and innovation

an article by Bernd Carsten Stahl, (De Montfort University) published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Volume 9 Issue 3


The paper aims to explore future and emerging information and communication technologies. It gives a general overview of the social consequences and ethical issues arising from technologies that can currently be reasonably expected. This overview is used to present recommendations and integrate these in a framework of responsible innovation.
The identification of emerging ICTs and their ethical consequences is based on the review and analysis if several different bodies of literature. The individual features of the ICTs and the ethical issues identified this way are then aggregated and analysed.
The paper outlines the 11 ICTs identified. Some of the shared features that are likely to have social relevance include an increase in natural interaction, the invisibility of technology, direct links between humans and technology, detailed models and data of humans and an increasing autonomy of technology that may lead to power over the user. Ethical issues include several current topics such as privacy, data protection, intellectual property and digital divides. New problems may include changes to the way humans are perceived and the role of humans and technology in society. This includes changing power structures and different ways of treating humans.
Research limitations/implications
The paper presents a piece of foresight research which cannot claim exact knowledge of the future. However, by developing a detailed understanding of possible futures it provides an important basis for current decisions relating to future technology development and governance.
Practical implications
The paper spells out a range of recommendations for both policy makers and researchers/industry. These refer to the framework within which technology is developed and how such a framework could be designed to allow the development of ethical reflexivity.
Social implications
The work described here is likely to influence EU policy on ICT research and technology research and innovation more broadly. This may have implications for the type of technologies funded and broad implications for the social use of emerging technologies.
The paper presents a novel and important broad view of the future of ICTs that is required in order to inform current policy decisions.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

How's life? Measuring well-being (Chapter 7 - Education and skills)

via OECD’s Directorate for Education

This chapter [of the How”s Life? publication] considers a few well established educational indicators that provide a basic picture of both the current educational status of the adult population and selected skills of youth, skills needed to undertake the broad range of activities essential to life in modern society. It finds that while education has increased substantially over the past few decades, with countries converging towards a similar level of educational attainment, strong disparities remain in the quality of educational outcomes.

How's Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, launched by the Organisation on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. The OECD Better Life Initiative aims to promote “Better Policies for Better Lives”, in line with the OECD’s overarching mission. One of the other pillars of the OECD Better Life Initiative is the Your Better Life Index (, an interactive composite index of well-being that aims at involving citizens in the debate on societal progress.

Readers can access the full version of How's Life? Measuring well-being by choosing from the following options:

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Traditional occupations in a modern world: …

implications for career guidance and livelihood planning

an article by Anita Ratnam published in International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Volume 11 Number 2 (July 2011)


This article is an attempt to examine the place and significance of traditional occupations as careers in today’s world. The areas of tension and compatibility between ideas and values that signify modernity and the practice of traditional occupations are reviewed. The meaning of “traditional occupations” is unravelled, the potential that traditional occupations in agriculture and crafts offer for building inclusive and sustainable societies is explored, and attention is drawn to the implications of such potential for career guidance practice.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The role of education, training and skills development in social inclusion: …

 The University of the Heads of the Valley case study

an article by Paul Jones, Christopher Miller, David Pickernell and Gary Packham, (University of Glamorgan Business School, Pontypridd) published in Education + Training Volume 53 Issue 7 (2011)


The objective of this paper is to examine the initiation of the University of the Heads of the Valley Initiative (UHOVI) project and evaluate the development of its focus, materials and structure.
The methodology employs interviews with a purposive sample of local employer stakeholders. The rationale for this approach is that it allows identification of the key requirements that UHOVI will need to fulfil if it is to be successful in this endeavour, within a reasonable timeframe. The in-depth interviews also allow increased clarity in terms of the conclusions that can be drawn, particularly in terms of the recommendations for the next stages of UHOVI project.
UHOVI’s aim is to encourage social inclusion, through vocational education and training programmes explicitly suited to non-traditional learners in an area of high social deprivation. UHOVI is a strategic partnership backed by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Social Fund, between the University of Glamorgan and University of Wales, Newport. The purpose of the project is to alleviate the long-term problems inherent within the Valleys area of Wales, which include low levels of professional and managerial jobs, limited qualifications and educational progression and high levels of economic inactivity, sickness and disability.
Practical implications
This study can also act as a case study for other similar policies undertaken in similar economic geographies in the future. It also provides an important and original insight into the underpinning design of a large scale social inclusion educational project which will be of interest to policy makers, academia and enterprise support agencies.
The paper provides an in-depth study of the significant UHOVI project, examining the requirements for such an initiative in terms of both content and delivery of vocational education, and how this can affect the role that an education and training programme can play in meeting a social inclusion agenda.

Knowledge sharing through informal networking: an overview and agenda

an article by Michael Schwartz and Christoph Hornych published in International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development Volume 2 Number 3 (2011)


Informal inter-organisational networks provide manifold opportunities to organise the transfer of information, knowledge and technology between actors. The importance of informal networks as channel of knowledge transfer is widely acknowledged by academics and practitioners. However, there is a significant lack of discussion on their theoretical foundations and systematic empirical research on the origins, dynamics and effects of informal networking. The objective of this paper is threefold.
First, we review the fragmented academic discussion of the notion of informal networking, thereby focusing on how these relationships emerge initially and what conditions (presumably) are required to make them a mutually fruitful and sustainable channel of the transfer of information and knowledge.
Second, we give an up-to-date overview over most important and recent studies trying to disentangle the mechanisms of inter-organisational informal networking.
Finally, we outline an agenda of future research directions that we encourage researchers to pursue in future empirical studies.
Overall, six important research gaps are identified.

The labour market consequences of globalisation and regionalisation

an article by  Ludo Cuyvers (University of Antwerp), Philippe De Lombaerde (United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), Bruges) and Glenn Rayp, (Ghent University) published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 32 Issue 3 (2011)


This paper aims to introduce the subject of the impact of globalization and regionalization on the labour markets. The papers of the special issue are placed within this subject.
Although the subject is not treated exhaustively, the papers presented are new contributions dealing with labour market institutions, efficiency wages, employment effects of outward foreign direct investment, immigration patterns, and regional social and labour policies. These diverse issues are dealt with in their relation with increasing globalization in developed economies.
The major conclusions of the papers in the special issue are put into the perspective of the state of the art of the research on the social impact of globalization, particularly the labour market consequences.
A more comprehensive analysis of globalisation, which takes into account the complementarity of the different channels through which its effects on labour markets are transmitted, becomes more and more necessary. The papers of the special issue attempt to look into a number of these channels and to some extent into their complementarity.

Understanding the importance of work: the effects of work values and work-value congruence

an article by Başak Uçanok published in European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management Volume 2 Number 1 (2011)


The main purpose of this study is to understand the importance that is attached to work by analysing the link between work-related values and attitudes. In this respect, it is hypothesised that work values significantly predict work centrality and that this relationship is moderated by work-value congruence. Work-value congruence is conceptualised on the premise that different work values have varying degrees of influence on work centrality. It is proposed that as the distance between the act of working and the value it relates to (work-value congruence) differ, the relation between values and work centrality will change accordingly. In the study, work values have proved to act as an important predictor of work centrality. It is suggested that, work-value congruence be treated as an independent variable in future work-related research. The results are discussed along with gender differences for work values.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Does the availability of vocational qualifications through work assist social inclusion?

 an article by Erica Smith and Andy Smith (University of Ballarat, Australia) published in Education + Training Volume 53 Issue 7 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to discuss whether the availability of qualifications through work-based traineeships in Australia assists social inclusion.
Industry case studies, of the finance and cleaning industries, were undertaken as part of a national research project on quality in traineeships. The two industry case studies were analysed to provide data on social inclusion aspects. A general discussion on the “pros” and “cons” of gaining qualifications through work, from a social inclusion point of view, is included.
The industry case studies show many advantages of work-based qualifications for people who have had disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds. The study presents a model showing how work-based qualifications help to meet the twin social inclusion goals of employment and education. However in economic hard times, the need to have a job may rule out some people. Also, some doubts about quality in work-based delivery may mean that qualifications gained through work may be of lower value than those gained at least partly through formal study.
Research limitations/implications
The models put forward are tentative, based on the findings in the research study that has been described and the authors’ earlier research. Further research is necessary to establish the social inclusion benefits of this means of gaining qualifications. In particular longitudinal research with disadvantaged people who have gained qualifications through this route is needed to evaluate whether their completion of qualifications through employment has assisted their broader economic and social engagement, and in what ways. In addition, research is needed to compare the quality and utility of qualifications gained through work and those through education providers as a poor-quality qualification may be of limited long-term use to an individual.
Practical implications
Work-based qualifications are shown to be a useful investment of public resources. The research also analyses some shortcomings of this method of gaining qualifications so that they can be addressed by employers and training providers.
Social implications
The research establishes the social inclusion utility of work-based qualifications, providing insights useful for education systems and social welfare organisations.
This is one of very few scholarly studies of the large-scale use of work-based qualifications.

Employee engagement for control freaks

an article by Gareth Chick (Director, at Spring Partnerships, Banbury) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 19 Issue 6 (2011)


This paper aims to claim that most people are control freaks and explain how they can be encouraged to accept change.
The paper puts forward a five-step plan to help to create genuine change in an organization.
The paper describes the five stages as: uncertainty; denial; negotiation; reflection; and action.
Practical implications
The paper advances the view that the job of the leader is to move people through these five stages as fast as possible; arguably the definition of leadership is to get people through these stages quicker than on their own.
Social implications
This paper highlights, at a time when organizational change is the norm, a way in which managers can encourage their people to accept and embrace this change.
The paper reveals that authentic leadership means creating an emotional journey towards an inspirational vision of the future – creating a compelling mission or purpose – and then communicating this effectively.

A ‘lesbian advantage’? Analysing the intersections of gender, sexuality and class in male-dominated work

an article by Tessa Wright, (Queen Mary, University of London) published in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal Volume 30 Issue 8 (2011)


This article explores the intersections of gender and sexuality in male-dominated work through the experiences of lesbians working in the transport and construction sectors in the UK.
The research uses semi-structured interviews with women working transport and construction, focusing here on an analysis of eight interviews with lesbian workers, five working in transport and three in construction, representing both professional/managerial and skilled manual occupations.
The paper considers the question of whether lesbians may experience an ‘advantage’ in non-traditionally female work compared to heterosexual women, but finds that their experience is complicated by other factors such as ethnicity, class and organisational culture. Organisational response and practice in relation to sexual orientation is found to be the most significant factor in the reality of working life for lesbians in traditionally male work.
Research limitations/implications
The initial findings in this paper are based on an analysis of a selection of interviewees from a larger research project examining the experience of both heterosexual and lesbian women working in the transport and construction sectors.
The paper addresses a gap in the literature on lesbian experience in non-traditionally female work and aims to contribute to knowledge of the diversity of lesbian experience by through researching lesbian workers in both professional and skilled manual roles.

The meaning of career success: Avoiding reification through a closer inspection of historical, cultural, and ideological contexts

an article by Nicky Dries (Research Centre for Organisation Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) published in Career Development International Volume 16 Issue 4 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which the concept of career success has been subject to reification, and identify potential implications for individuals, organizations, and societies.
The current paper offers an in-depth analysis of the different contextual forces contributing to the reification of careers (i.e. history, culture and ideology), and how these have impacted on the social reality of career and the definitions of career success held by different relevant actors.
In total, eight research propositions are identified that need to be addressed in future research in order to advance knowledge and understanding of career success in context.
Social implications
One manifest outcome of career reification is the establishment of collective norms prescribing what a “normal”, “successful” career is – and what is not. Consequently, all careers not conforming to these norms are devaluated, which is inappropriate given the present-day climate of workplace diversity.
Career theory, in general, has been criticized for overemphasising individual agency while neglecting contextual issues. Furthermore, more conceptual development is necessary in relation to the career success construct. The current paper aims to address both of these gaps by presenting in-depth analyses of the historical, cultural, and ideological contexts impacting on the meaning of career and career success.

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Smokes on the Water: The Geothermal Charms of Reykjavik via Britannica Blog by Britannica Editors

A geothermal power station in Iceland creates electricity from heat generated in Earth’s interior. Photo credit: © Barbara Whitney
A geothermal power station in Iceland creates electricity from heat generated in Earth’s interior. 
Photo credit: © Barbara Whitney

The atmospheric capital of Iceland, located in southeastern corner of Faxa Bay on the island's south-western coast, was designated the administrative center of the Danish-ruled island 125 years ago today. According to tradition, Reykjavík ("Bay of Smokes") was founded in 874 by the Norseman Ingólfur Arnarson, though until the 20th century it only a small fishing village and trading post.
I was very struck by the air quality which is apparent in all the photographs.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
On the road. GPS means that you never have to find your own way in the world. What would Jack Kerouac think?... more

Memory Is a Thing of the Past. Is That Bad? via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Think of all the things you use to remember but no longer need to: telephone numbers, street and email addresses, driving directions, etc. In our society of ubiquitous computing devices, the formidable capabilities of the human memory are no longer obvious. Yet …
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Is Islam Compatible with Capitalism? via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza
From City Journal:
ArabMuslim economies haven't always been low achievers. In his seminal work The World Economy, economist Angus Maddison showed that until the twelfth century, per-capita income was much higher in the Muslim Middle East than in Europe. Beginning in the twelfth century, though, what Duke University economist Timur Kuran calls the Long Divergence began, upending this economic hierarchy, so that by Rifaa's time, Europe had grown far more powerful and prosperous than the Arab Muslim world. A key factor in the divergence was Italian city-states’ invention of capitalism.
At just over 3,000 words I would describe Sorman's work as an essay. Please read it for yourself

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Ah, the Moulin Rouge: a paragon of decadent, belle epoque entertainment. Toulouse-Lautrec saw it as a scene of poignant melancholy…more

Steamship Routes of the World c.1900 and 1914 via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Amanda
Thank you to Pantufla
View the images here
Whilst I have no particular interest in steamships per se, nor, indeed, the routes that these vessels took in the years mentioned, I did find it interesting to look at the names of the countries which include Sudetenland, Cape Colony and, of course, Finland is simply part of Russia.

Learn To Speak Esperanto With Lernu via MakeUseOf by Danny Stieben
At some point or another, you may have thought about or had to learn a language. Whether it was English, Spanish, Chinese, or even Swahili, finding tools to learn those languages is hard at best. Based on what I've heard, Rosetta Stone seems to be the best way, but such a solution is quite expensive. So what if I told you that if you've ever been interested in Esperanto, there's a website that can teach you for free?
Danny’s post covers:
  • What is Esperanto?
  • About Lernu
  • Start Learning!
  • Multilingual Support
  • Keep It Up!
  • Conclusion
Read all about it

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
“Our culture is afflicted with knowingness,” says Erik Davis. But what we know are other peoples’ opinions. Yelp, Digg, Twitter, Facebook...Make up your own damn mind!...more

The Monster of the Lagoon by George F. WortsBeware the retro monsters such as this one!Shock! Horror! Terror! Time to get under the bed and cower. No, we're not talking about the evening news, but THE MONSTERS OF YESTERYEAR! Make no mistake, these fearsome brutes will terrify and stupefy you. Stay out of the water unless you want to come face to fins with The Monster Fish, or grapple with The Monster of the Lagoon, or let the Killer Crabs get the pinch on you, or worst of all — fall prey to The Slime Beast!
Whether with tentacles or webbed feet, laser-vision or antennae, these monsters are here to conquer the Earth, and everyone on it. With fantastically illustrated covers festooned with dames in distress, killer robots, alien interlopers and much more, there's nowhere safe to hide from these vintage villainous volumes. Hearken back to the days of The Thing, The Blob, and other hilariously scary beasts bent on destruction. They’re campy! They’re kitschy! They’re collectible!
Read all about it at AbeBooks

Top 5 Historical Figures in Doctor Who (Ranked by Accuracy) via Credo Reference Blog by kathleen
Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie and Vincent van Gogh are the choices and I found the blurb about each of them interesting even though I do not watch the Doctor!