Friday, 31 August 2012

Start the weekend early! None of this is WORK.

And this miscellany includes one highly personal photograph. Comments welcome!

The man who made his own toaster
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

I spent the weekend at the Aspen Environmental Forums, and one of the presenters I got to see there was Thomas Thwaites—a man who built a toaster from scratch. As a project for his design degree, Thwaites reverse-engineered a cheap toaster from the British equivalent of Wal-Mart and used it as a blueprint to build his own. The catch: Thwaites made everything that went into the toaster. He mined the metal. He drew out the wires on jewelry-making equipment. He even found a way to make the plastic casing.
The point of this project wasn’t to suggest that everybody ought to be capable of DIY-ing up their own toaster. (Really, if you wanted toast in a post-apocalyptic world, you’d really just be better off with an old-fashioned, pre-electric toaster, which held bread in a metal grille so you could toast it over the fire). Rather, Thwaites was trying shine a light on how much we rely on other people, on their skill sets that we don’t necessarily share, and on centuries of technological advance. It takes a village to make a toaster. Or, rather, in this modern world, it takes lots of villages, all over the planet.
Thwaites’ project was also an interesting perspective on industrialization. There are drawbacks to producing goods this way. But there are benefits, too. And when we have the necessary conversations about how to make our world more sustainable, we need to consider both sides of the coin ... and how we can get the benefits for less risk.
Cory wrote about this project back in 2009, when it was still a work in progress. The video above provides a short summary of the entire Toaster Project, including an amazing shot of the finished product which did (very briefly) work.
Thanks to Matt Blind for the YouTube link!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The storytelling animal. Fiction is no mere escapist fantasy. Something about pages and print actually makes us better people... more

Huge Ancient Civilization’s Collapse Explained
via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Charles Choi in Discovery News:
The mysterious fall of the largest of the world’s earliest urban civilizations nearly 4,000 years ago in what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh now appears to have a key culprit – ancient climate change, researchers say.
Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia may be the best known of the first great urban cultures, but the largest was the Indus or Harappan civilization. This culture once extended over more than 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, and at its peak may have accounted for 10 percent of the world population. The civilization developed about 5,200 years ago, and slowly disintegrated between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago – populations largely abandoned cities, migrating toward the east.
Continue reading here and be very careful not to get sucked in to watching the various videos on the site, or reading related stories. Not that I would do that, oh no, not me.

Britain from Above, 1919-1951
When I see an item in ResearchBuzz which starts with “Wow!” I sit up and take notice.
Then the same item came up twice more so I felt I had to do something with it.
“More than 5,000 images from the Aerofilms Collection have been conserved and digitised, and they are available to be viewed online for the first time on the website, which also features about 12,000 other photographs from across the UK. Many shots were said to have been taken during the early days of aviation by former war pilots at very low altitudes.”
Check it out here
I could not find any mention of the names of the pilots/photographers involved in some of these shots. I wonder, I just wonder, if this man was one of them.
This is my grandfather Montague Sims in the plane he reputedly built himself.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The blues were born out of victimhood, racism, and the search for solace. Well, yes, sort of. But the music also came from the pages of the Sears, Roebuck catalog... more

Come Fly With Me: 1911
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Come Fly With Me: 1911
Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1911
“Senorita Lenore Riviero with Antony Jannus in Rex Smith aeroplane”
Please fasten your seatbelts (or skirts) while we prepare for departure. Tony Jannus, the pioneering but short-lived Washington aviator, a few years before his final flight landed him somewhere at the bottom of the Black Sea.
Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative
View original post

Vitamin Donuts, WWII
via Retronaut by Chris

“The Doughnut Corporation sought endorsement from the Nutrition Division of the War Food Administration for its Vitamin Doughnuts campaign”
What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam: The Government’s Effect on the American Diet

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Scientism is folly. This has been shown time and time again. And yet, says John Gray, it is another folly to think that scientism will go away... more

Feel Like an Egyptian
via Big Think by David Ropeik
Egypt has a civilian president. For most of us — so what. These are distant events, physically and emotionally, without much meaning and certainly with little personal relevance for most of us. We may know about them, but how much do we care?
Read More
This is a story about feeling, a story about a woman who was there, who saw and, above all, felt the revolution.

Why Loneliness Can Shorten Your Life
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
In two recent studies, one by Harvard Medical School researchers and the other by researchers from the University of California-San Francisco, it was concluded that people who lived alone and had feelings of loneliness were more likely to die earlier or develop some kind of disability.
Read More

A new approach for managing university-workplace partnerships

an article by Teemu Ylikoski and Mika J. Kortelainen (Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Lohja, Finland) published in Industrial and Commercial Training Volume 44 Issue 6 (2012)


University-workplace partnerships are becoming increasingly important as the demands for authentic learning are growing. Partnership management ensures availability of authentic learning environments, joint-learning tasks, and knowledge-producing commissions for the students. Universities, however, can have difficulties in managing these crucial partnerships. This paper’s purpose is to investigate the problems and to suggest a solution.
The approach is based on a case study of Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland.
In the case study, the programme is run by business students, who as a part of their education, learn important skills in managing “customers” and projects. This results in improved learning for the students as they not only gain first-hand experience in customer relationship management, but also deeper partnerships as the relationships evolve over time. Partnerships are centrally managed and available to all participants. This programme is non-exclusive: it does not assume or require participation from the educators. If an educator wishes to keep his/her own workplace contacts private, this is possible.
Research limitations/implications
The results stem from a case study. Even though good results are reported in the case, every organization is different and using a similar approach is not guaranteed to work.
Practical implications
The paper suggests a way for universities to deepen partnerships, overcoming typical hurdles.
The non-exclusive approach to partnership management described in the paper is original and will benefit universities in their quest for improving partnerships. The authors believe that the use of students as the task force of the programme to this extent is a novel idea and benefits the local workplaces (new knowledge) as well as students (authentic learning).

The geography of stupidity: From where do all the bad ideas come?

an article by Danny Dorling (The University of Sheffield) published in Local Economy Volume 27 Number 5-6 (August/September 2012)


The 30-year rule governing the release of Cabinet papers means that the British people only learned of a covert 1980s policy to manage the decline of northern England in early 2012.

We can only guess at what is really being said behind closed doors today.

There are some clues in a series of newspaper reports published in 2012 and in the social backgrounds and professed beliefs of the current Cabinet. They point to what might be the real intention behind reforms in education, health, housing and social security.

Good morning, good day: A diary study on positive emotions, hope, and work engagement

Else Ouweneel, Wilmar B Schaufeli and Corine I van Wijhe (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and Pascale M Le Blanc (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands) published in Human Relations Volume 65 Number 9 (September 2012)


The objective of this diary study was to look at the potential positive within-person relationships between positive emotions, work-related hope, and the three dimensions of work engagement on a daily level (i.e. vigour, dedication, and absorption).

Following Broaden-and-Build theory and Affective Events Theory, it was expected that the experience of positive emotions would cause hope, which in turn would lead to a state of vigour, dedication, and absorption.

The study was conducted among 59 employees of a Dutch university, who filled in a diary questionnaire for five consecutive working days, twice a day.

As expected, the experience of positive emotions had an indirect effect on the level of vigour, dedication, and absorption through hope across days. So, it seems that an individual and daily perspective on work engagement is particularly worthwhile and provides valuable insights to enhance employee engagement in practice.

Terms for Talking about Information and Communication

an article by Corey Anton (Grand Valley State University, Allendale, USA) published in Information Volume 3 (2012)


This paper offers terms for talking about information and how it relates to both matter-energy and communication, by:
  1. Identifying three different levels of signs:
    Index, based in contiguity,
    Icon, based in similarity, and
    Symbol, based in convention;
  2. examining three kinds of coding:
    Analogic differences, which deal with positive quantities having contiguous and continuous values, and
    Digital distinctions, which include “either/or functions”, discrete values, and capacities for negation, decontextualization, and abstract concept-transfer, and finally,
    Iconic coding, which incorporates both analogic differences and digital distinctions; and
  3. differentiating between “information theoretic” orientations (which deal with data, what is “given as meaningful” according to selections and combinations within “contexts of choice”) and “communication theoretic” ones (which deal with capta, what is “taken as meaningful” according to various “choices of context”).
Finally, a brief envoi reflects on how information broadly construed relates to probability and entropy.

Full text (PDF 21pp)

The strange case of the two Wootton Reports: what can we learn about the evidence-policy relationship?

an article by Ann Oakley (affiliation(s) not provided) published in Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice Volume 8 Number 3 (August 2012)


The contrasting careers of two government-sponsored commissions of inquiry in the late 1960s are the focus of this paper, which examines what can be learnt from them about the impact, or lack of impact, of such bodies on policy making.

The Wootton Report on cannabis, published in 1968, had its recommendations rejected by the government that had sponsored it.

The Wootton Report on alternatives to prison, published in 1970, resulted in speedy changes to the law, which had the effect of introducing the penalty of community service in Britain for the first time.

The paper looks at the short- and long-term impact of the two reports, and at factors that may have accounted for the different receptions they received from politicians and policy makers.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Trends and social divisions in maternal employment patterns following matern...

an article by Colette Fagan and Helen Norman (University of Manchester) published in International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy Volume 32 Issue 9/10 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the social divisions in maternal employment patterns post-childbirth, recorded by earlier studies, have persisted for a later cohort of mothers that had a pregnancy in the early 2000s, in the context of an expansion of childcare and other improvements in reconciliation measures.
Longitudinal data from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study are analysed using logistic regression.
It was found that mothers are more likely to be employed, and employed full-time, when their child is aged three if they were employed during the pregnancy and resumed employment within nine months of the birth. The mothers’ occupational class, ethnicity, household composition and the working hours of a partner also have independent associations with the probability of maternal employment once the child is aged three.
Research limitations/implications
The authors would expect these results to be modified – but not overturned – in a different national setting, for example where childcare services are more extensive or part-time employment is less common.
These new longitudinal survey results for a recent cohort of mothers in the UK demonstrate that resumption of employment following maternity leave is pivotal for women’s subsequent employment integration. Yet maternal employment trajectories remain shaped by social inequalities. Both results are important for informing debates about reconciliation policy for the pre-school years, including monitoring the impact of the recession on the employment integration of women following childbirth.

Women’s employment in the institutional and cultural context

an article by Birgit Pfau-Effinger (University of Hamburg, Germany) published in International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy Volume 32 Issue 9/10 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore how cross-national differences in the employment rates of women with children under age three can be explained. It argues that not only differences in welfare-state family policies, but also differences in the gender culture contribute to the explanation of such differences.
The paper outlines the theoretical approach of the “gender arrangement” which conceptualizes the ways in which family policies and culture interact, together with social and economic factors, in their impact on gendered social practices. It then analyses the differences in the employment rates of women with children under age three in six European countries, and how these are influenced by family policies, the gender culture and the labour market situation in the specific country, using data from international surveys as well as country case studies from an international EU-Project.
The findings show that differences in family policies alone do not explain cross-national differences in the employment rates of mothers with children below age three. They support the argument that an explanation requires consideration of a more complex framework of factors, to which culture certainly contributes substantially.
The role that culture may have in the explanation of the employment of mothers with children in contrast to the role of family policies is still a contested issue. Empirical studies which support the assumption that culture matters in this explanation are still rare. This relates particularly also to the employment of women with children below age three. In this group, cross-national differences in these women’s employment rates are particularly high. The paper introduces theoretical and methodological elaborations in this regard.

Equality, human rights and religion or belief: time to get out of the courtroom?

via Current Awareness by sally

"The interaction between the law and religion or belief is rarely out of the headlines. Debate rages about whether Article 9, the human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, receives sufficient – or too much – protection in the courts. There has been a considerable amount of litigation, much of it contentious."

Full story UK Human Rights Blog

An extremely interesting read.

Online people tagging: Social (mobile) network(ing) services and work-based learning

an article by John Cook (London Metropolitan University) and Norbert Pachler (Institute of Education, University of London) published in British Journal of Educational Technology Volume 43 Issue 5 (September 2012)


Social and mobile technologies offer users unprecedented opportunities for communicating, interacting, sharing, meaning-making, content and context generation. And, these affordances are in constant flux driven by a powerful interplay between technological innovation and emerging cultural practices.

Significantly, also, they are starting to transcend the everyday lifeworlds of users and permeate the workplace and its practices. However, given the emergent nature of this area, the literature on the use of social and mobile technologies in workplace practices is still small.

Indeed, social media are increasingly being accessed via mobile devices.

Our main focus, therefore, here is on the question of what, if any, potential there is for the use of social media in informal, professional, work-based learning.

The paper provides a critical overview of key issues from the literature on work-based learning, face-to-face and technology-supported, as well as social (mobile) networking services, with particular attention being paid to people tagging.

It then introduces an initial typology of informal workplace learning in order to provide a frame for understanding social (mobile) network(ing) services in work-based learning.

Finally, a case study (taken from the literature) of People Tagging tool use in digital social networks in the European Commission-funded MATURE project is used to illustrate aspects of our typology.

Practitioner Notes
  • The importance of social networks and associated technologies in everyday life and commerce.
  • Some conceptualisations of learning through and at work exist, but they tend to be based on the empirical study of professionals and graduate employees.
  • The concept of tagging in relation to digital resources is well established.
  • A consideration of the use of social networks in learning in informal and work-based context.
  • An exploration of some of the affordances of social media for work-located learning.
  • A widening of the concept of tagging to the classification of knowledge embodied in users and their social networks.
  • A typology of factors in social network(ing) services and work-based learning.
  • An analysis of a case study of people tagging in relation to the typology of factors.
  • A conceptualisation of aspects of technology-enhanced and enabled learning through and at work.
  • An understanding of the potential of social media for work-located learning.
  • A realisation of some of the potential of the use of social media in informal, professional work-based learning.

A multi-method approach to studying the relationship between character strengths and vocational interests in adolescents

an article by René T. Proyer, Nicole Sidler, Marco Weber and Willibald Ruch (affiliation(s) not provided) published in International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Volume 12 Issue 2 (July 2012)


The relationship between character strengths and vocational interests was tested.

In an online study, 197 thirteen to eighteen year-olds completed a questionnaire measuring character strengths and a multi-method measure for interests (questionnaire, nonverbal test, and objective personality tests).

The main findings were that intellectual strengths yielded primarily relations with investigative and artistic interests. Social interests demonstrated relations with strengths of transcendence and other-directed strengths and enterprising interests with leadership strengths.

The implications of the findings for practice are highlighted.

Welfare reform and the Single Work Programme: A local perspective

an article by Anthony Woods-Waters (Building Futures East, UK) published in Local Economy Volume 27 Number 5-6 (August/September 2012)


The political ideologies and economic strategies promoted since the early 1980s have created the ingrained welfare conditions that current reforms are meant to address.

Behind the reforms is an ideology that not only seeks to reduce the role of the state but also implicitly blames the poor for their own condition, as evident in the threat of more sanctions on the supposedly non-compliant.

We are witnessing the denouement of Thatcherism.

This article is not available to rent from DeepDyve. It is, however, available to purchase from Sage Publications – single day access for $20

Research on energy savings opportunities in university libraries

an article by Jeremy Linden and James Reilly (Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, USA) and Peter Herzog, (Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, LLP, St Paul, Minnesota, USA) published in Library Hi Tech Volume 30 Issue 3 (2012)


Mechanical systems in library environments are typically designed to run continuously in order to maintain the desired environmental conditions for preservation purposes, often resulting in a high cost in dollars and energy consumption. Altering these conditions through changed HVAC operating schedules is a risk many librarians and institutions are hesitant to take. This study aims to introduce the methodology and early findings of current research into the question of whether energy usage can be significantly reduced in libraries by carefully monitored and risk-managed shutdowns of air handling units (AHUs) during unoccupied hours in selected spaces without compromising the quality of the preservation environment.
Design/methodology approach
As part of the project, the authors are monitoring up to three air handling units (AHUs) at each of five partner institutions, three of which are university libraries or repositories, as well as the associated collections spaces served by the units.
Early findings show the potential value of systems shutdowns in various parts of the country, while also identifying regions that are less favourable.
Practical implications
In all cases, the experimentation with and successful implementation of a shutdown schedule, without adversely affecting preservation conditions, was preceded by careful documentation and risk management, as described.
Unlike unilateral HVAC equipment shutdowns and setbacks conducted solely for energy management, with little regard for collections, this risk-managed and documented approach potentially allows for the reduction of energy usage without placing collections’ health at risk.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Degrees of Insecurity: Graduate employment issues in Scotland

a paper by Matthew McLister published by Citizens Advice Scotland

Executive Summary

In April 2012, CAS launched an online survey aimed at recent graduates who are unemployed, have struggled to find a graduate level job or have faced difficulty since leaving university. The survey aimed to explore issues that are affecting graduates who have suffered from unemployment, underemployment or who have struggled in some form since graduating. The survey featured a range of questions on issues that affect graduates including; the support they have received in finding employment, internships, attitudes to the government and employers, as well as what advice they give to current students to increase their employment prospects.

The number of graduates has increased over the decades but the number of graduate level positions has not kept pace, particularly since the recession hit the UK in 2008. Many graduates can therefore find themselves unemployed, in a lower skilled position than they might have expected to achieve with a University education, or in a position of financial insecurity.

The destination of a graduate matters not just to the individual but also to other workers. Many graduates enter jobs at a different level or field than they are qualified for, or undertake part-time employment which can have the effect of displacing other workers down and out of the job market. The problems experienced by graduates can therefore cause ripples throughout the wider workforce.

The problems that graduates experience in employment can also have an impact on the future health of the economy. Graduates who fail to find employment in their chosen field may not develop the skills and experience gained through work to carry on from a retiring work force. The struggles of graduates may therefore lead to a displacement of skills in the economy.

This report examined the support that is available to graduates before, during and after they leave university. The transition from full-time education into employment is a crucial time for a graduate as the problems that they may experience can affect their employment prospects for a number of years. Their success in making this transition can be closely related to the support and guidance that the individual received at school, from the university careers service, during their degree, from internships, and from the Jobcentre if they found themselves unemployed. This report found many instances of good practice in providing support and guidance to students and graduates, but also identified areas which could be improved.

This report outlines a number of ways in which better support can be provided to graduates to make a successful transition into the workforce. Failure to do so will impact not just on the graduates themselves, but on other workers and on the future health of the economy.

These introductory paragraphs are followed by very useful and clearly set out pages on Key Findings and Recommendations.
I would also refer you particularly to pages 14-22 where the survey respondents provide information on support to find employment throughout education.

Full text (PDF 36pp]

The effect of parental wealth on children’s outcomes in early adulthood

a research paper by Eleni Karagiannaki published by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)


This paper presents the first UK estimates of the association between parental wealth during adolescence and a range of children’s outcomes in early adulthood. Parental wealth is positively associated with all outcomes examined (which include educational attainment, employment, earnings and home ownership).

The estimated associations are found to operate over and above parental education and income and in many cases are stronger than them.

For labour market outcomes a small share of the association reflects the indirect effect of parental wealth on children’s education whereas for home ownership the estimated association appear to mainly reflect the effect of parental wealth transfers.

Further analysis by wealth component shows that degree attainment is more strongly associated with housing wealth than financial wealth. However, important effects are also estimated for financial wealth indicating the existence of financial constraints for low wealth-financial indebted households. For home ownership and earnings the estimated association are stronger for financial wealth.

JEL Classification: D1, D3, I21, J62, J31

Full text (PDF 31pp)

All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit permission provided that full credit, including © notice, is given to the source [i.e. CASE].

Local needs and national eligibility rules: The City Strategy experience of localisation

an article by Duncan Adam and Anne Green (University of Warwick) published in Local Economy Volume 27 Number 5-6 (August/September 2012)


Welfare to work policy in Great Britain has traditionally been planned centrally to ensure even application across areas. More recently questions have been raised about the ability of such a system to address the requirements of those workless people with the most complex and severe needs.

Accordingly, attempts have been made to enhance local decision-making and agenda-setting within welfare to work.

This article considers one such initiative in Great Britain – City Strategy – and examines the extent to which the initiative transferred powers to local partnerships and how and where the partnerships were able to exercise autonomy, and where there were constraints.

Spatial patterns of labour market deprivation in Scotland: Concentration, isolation and persistence

an article by Alasdair Rae (University of Sheffield) published in Local Economy Volume 27 Number 5-6 (August/September 2012)


The measurement of deprivation at the small area level has been an important element of the evidence base for policy targeting and formulation in the United Kingdom over the past two decades.

In Scotland, the Scottish Indices of Deprivation 2009 represent the most recent manifestation of this trend, and they tell a familiar story, particularly in relation to local labour market deprivation.

This labour market dimension is an intriguing sub-plot, since regeneration and economic development policies very often have employment-related goals and target areas which are under-represented in terms of local labour market participation. However, despite numerous spatially targeted policy interventions, the policy challenge looms large and local labour market deprivation in Scotland is characterised by patterns of spatial concentration and isolation.

This article therefore sheds more light on these phenomena at a time when proposed welfare reforms threaten to further exacerbate patterns of spatially concentrated deprivation in Scotland.

Open spaces, closed boundaries: transparent workspaces as clerical female ghettos

an article by by Varda Wasserman (affiliation(s) not provided) published in International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion Volume 5 Number 1 (2012)


This research attempts to explore the link between organisational space and gender power relations.

Drawing on extensive research conducted at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this paper demonstrates three spatial mechanisms, which construct and reconstruct a docile female body and a gendered identity:
  • “anonymisation” of space;
  • disabling the ability to control space; and
  • subjugation of employees to surveillance.
By applying theories of feminist geography, this paper explores how planning and design is not gender-neutral, but rather anchored in power relations, which are deeply camouflaged.

Furthermore, it illustrates that spatial arrangements render the body a site of control and organisational impression management.

Typology of Web 2.0 spheres: Understanding the cultural dimensions of social media spaces

an article by Payal Arora (Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands) published in Current Sociology Volume 60 Number 5 (September 2012)


It has taken the past decade to commonly acknowledge that online space is tethered to real place.

From euphoric conceptualizations of social media spaces as a novel, unprecedented and revolutionary entity, the dust has settled, allowing for talk of boundaries and ties to real-world settings. Metaphors have been instrumental in this pursuit, shaping perceptions and affecting actions within this extended structural realm.

Specifically, they have been harnessed to architect Web 2.0 spaces, be it chatrooms, electronic frontiers, homepages, or information highways for policy and practice.

While metaphors are pervasive in addressing and normalizing new media spaces, there is less effort channelled into organizing these digital domains along cultural lines to systematize and deepen understandings of its histories, agencies and communities.

Hence, this article proposes a framework that reveals dominant cultural dimensions of Web 2.0 spaces through a five-fold typology:
  1. utilitarian-driven
  2. aesthetic-driven
  3. context-driven
  4. play-driven and
  5. value-driven.
This effort capitalizes and transfers mappings of actors and networks from real to virtual space to capture and organize diverse cultural (re)productions.

The quest for more and more education: implications for social mobility

an article by Joanne Lindley (University of Surrey) and Steve Machin (University College London and Centre for Economic Performance London School of Economics) published in Fiscal Studies Volume 33 Number 2 (June 2012)


In this paper, we discuss the quest for more and more education and its implications for social mobility.

We document very rapid educational upgrading in Britain over the last 30 years or so and show that this rise has featured faster increases in education acquisition by people from relatively rich family backgrounds.

At the same time, wage differentials for the more educated have risen.

Putting these two together (more education for people from richer backgrounds and an increase in the pay-off to this education) implies increasing within-generation inequality. By reinforcing already-existing inequalities from the previous generation, this has hindered social mobility.

We also highlight three important aspects that, to date, have not been well integrated into the social mobility literature:
  • the acquisition of postgraduate qualifications;
  • gender differences; and
  • the poor education performance of men at the lower end of the education distribution.

JEL classification: J24, J31

Full text (PDF 22pp)

Measuring Meaningful Work: The Work and Meaning Inventory (WAMI)

Note: I came across this article in a secondary source and could not quite believe that I hadn't already blogged it. If I have I can’td find it so thought I’ better do it now.

an article by Michael F. Steger (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA and North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa), Bryan J. Dik (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA) and Ryan D. Duffy (University of Florida, Gainesville, USA) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 20 Number 3 (August 2012)


Many people desire work that is meaningful. However, research in this area has attracted diverse ideas about meaningful work (MW), accompanied by an equally disparate collection of ways of assessing MW.

To further advance study in this area, the authors propose a multidimensional model of work as a subjectively meaningful experience consisting of experiencing positive meaning in work, sensing that work is a key avenue for making meaning, and perceiving one’s work to benefit some greater good.

The development of a scale to measure these dimensions is described, an initial appraisal of the reliability and construct validity of the instrument’s scores is reported using a sample of university employees (N = 370) representing diverse occupations.

MW scores correlated in predicted ways with work-related and general well-being indices, and accounted for unique variance beyond common predictors of job satisfaction, days reported absent from work, and life satisfaction.

The authors discuss ways in which this conceptual model provides advantages to scholars, counsellors, and organizations interested in fostering MW.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Outreach initiatives in academic libraries, 2009-2011

an article by Melissa Dennis, (University of Mississippi, USA) published in Reference Services Review Volume 40 Issue 3 (2012)


With outreach responsibilities on the rise in academic libraries and budgets declining or remaining stagnant, finding outreach initiatives that support the university in creative ways are on the rise. This study seeks to compare outreach initiatives by academic librarians to a project conducted by the author.
Academic librarians with responsibilities in outreach, marketing, and promotion were targeted in a survey sent to listervs in the Summer of 2011. A total of 21 academic librarians described successful outreach initiatives. A small response rate reflects the target audience.
The survey revealed a wide range of outreach initiatives that compare funding: library, university, grant, and other. The author’s project greatly exceeded the cost of all other initiatives.
Research limitations/implications
The research identifies survey flaws and a small reach to the targeted audience. Suggestions for future research include a modified survey to the Association of Library Communications and Outreach Professionals.
Practical implications
Technology advancements and budget restraints have put pressure on outreach librarians to provide successful programs with less funding. Many colleges and universities across the nation have inserted outreach into public services positions.
The literature produces limited research about successful outreach initiatives over the past five years where economic duress has been nationwide. Outreach librarians will find inspiration in the collected outreach projects undertaken at 21 colleges and universities across America to create projects with limited funding.

Quality assurance and evidence in career guidance in Europe: counting what is measured or measuring what counts?

an article by Peter Plant (affiliation(s) not provided) published in International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Volume 12 Issue 2 (July 2012)


Quality assurance (QA) and evidence in career guidance are increasingly seen as an indispensable part of explaining and even legitimising career guidance activities and policies.

It is no longer sufficient to assume that career guidance or career education has an impact. This has to be demonstrated.

This paper provides an overview of how and why QA approaches are featuring ever more significantly on the agenda of many European Countries.

A particular focus is the link between particular quantitatively oriented QA approaches and the effects that this has upon guidance policies and practices.

The paper concludes by raising some of the wider QA issues that need to be addressed.

Migration and Imperfect Labor Markets: Theory and Cross-country Evidence from Denmark, Germany and the UK

a NORFACE MIGRATION Discussion Paper (No. 2012-20) by Herbert Brücker (University of Bamberg, IAB Nürnberg, and IZA Bonn), Elke J. Jahn (IAB Nürnberg, Arhus University, and IZA Bonn) and Richard Upward (University of Nottingham)


We investigate the labour market effects of immigration in Denmark, Germany and the UK, three countries which are characterised by considerable differences in labour market institutions and welfare states.

Institutions such as collective bargaining, minimum wages, employment protection and unemployment benefits affect the way in which wages respond to labour supply shocks, and, hence, the labour market effects of immigration.

We employ a wage-setting approach which assumes that wages decline with the unemployment rate, albeit imperfectly.

We find that wage flexibility is substantially higher in the UK compared to Germany and, in particular, Denmark.

As a consequence, immigration has a much larger effect on the unemployment rate in Germany and Denmark, while the wage effects are larger in the UK. Moreover, the elasticity of substitution between natives and foreign workers is high in the UK and particularly low in Germany.

Thus, the pre-existing foreign labour force suffers more from further immigration in Germany than in the UK.

Full report (PDF 42pp)

JEL codes: F22, J31, J61

Sunday, 26 August 2012

10 stories and links I found educative, interesting or weird!

“Lucky Tiger Gets the Gals”, c.1955
via Retronaut by Chris

See the rest of Chris&rsquo's selection here.
Source: Get Lucky Tiger [it appears that the product was still available in 2010 – but the ads had become more believable]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Communism is dead. of course. So why are prominent intellectuals trying – successfully – to transform a blood-stained movement into a beautiful idea?... more

To Our Minds, Honesty Comes in Shades of Gray
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Social psychologist Dan Ariely has conducted a number of experiments that illuminate our concept of honesty and demonstrate its fascinating limits. While economists and politicians have long taken for granted that being honest is the result of cost-benefit .calculations, such that harsher punishments would deter people from committing crime, we now understand that there is an internal moral compass which obeys more complex rules.
Read More

How Close is the Turing Test to Being Beaten?
via Big Think by Nick Clairmont
Alan Turing was an English computer scientist, linguist, philosopher and code breaker widely credited as being the “father of artificial intelligence (AI)” and inventing the computer. 100 years after the birth of Alan Turing, we take stock of his most interesting idea, The Turing Test.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
When it comes to making big bucks on the black market, drugs, firearms, and money laundering are sure things. Almost as lucrative: stolen art...more

The Auschwitz Volunteer by Witold Pilecki is reviewed by Timothy Snyder in The New York Times
One man volunteered for Ausch­witz, and now we have his story.
In September 1940 the 39-year-old Polish cavalry officer Witold Pilecki deliberately walked into a German round-up in Warsaw, and was sent by train to the new German camp. His astounding choice was made within, and for, Poland’s anti-Nazi underground.
Read the full review here.
An amazing story!

The Kodak Girl: 1909
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
The Kodak Girl: 1909
February 17, 1909. “No. 28 – The Kodak Girl”
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
“What is time?” Augustine asked in his Confessions. Fifteen hundred years later, we’re still confused. So what makes us tick? Biology and culture... more

Learn the sign language of physics, male genitalia
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
A couple of years ago, Scientific American’s Ferris Jabr wrote a really fascinating story about the sign language of science. Along the way, he touched on an issue I’d never thought of before. Turns out, a lot of technical, scientific terms haven’t made their way into official sign language vocabulary. At the same time, these words are often far too long to bother fingerspelling. The solution: Translators at scientific conferences invent signs, often on the fly.
and, by coincidence,
In a tweet, mjrobbins linked to a poster that provides everything you need to know to talk about a man’s naughty bits in (I think) British Sign Language.
See the poster (NSFW, probably)
Read the rest of the story about the new sign language physics vocabulary at New Scientist

Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz, 1939
via Retronaut by Chris

Source: Museum of Cinema / Library of Congress
See the rest of Chris’s selection here

Saturday, 25 August 2012

10 stories I found interesting, educative or weird!

Woody Guthrie Versus the One Percent
via Big Think by Daniel Honan
100 years ago today [14 July], folk legend Woody Guthrie was born. In the popular imagination, Guthrie tends to epitomize the notion of authenticity. He travelled widely during the years of the Great Depression and wrote songs about migrants living along the Columbia River, dreaming about owning the land they toiled on.
Read More
My excuse to go into You Tube and pick something!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Psychology is too inward-looking - genes, brains, pharmaceuticals - for answers to our problems. But what about clues to culture and class?... more

Love vs. Lust (and the Brain)
via Big Think by Kayt Sukel
One of the most common questions I’m asked when I give lectures is how the brain differentiates love and lust. It’s an interesting question – and as most of us have confused love and lust a time or two (or sixteen), it’s an important one. After all, how many of us have been burned by confusing love and lust?
Read More

Top 5 – The World’s Deadliest Flowers
via Flowers...uncut by Sammy T
As we know here are Arena Flowers, blooms are often given as part of emotional gestures between humans. However, some blooms have a darker side. Many may be fooled by their aesthetically pleasing exterior and enchanting fragrance, yet their innocuous charm can hide a deadly secret. Here we count down, in reverse order, some of the flowery world’s deadliest blooms (top tip: don't eat any of the flowers on this list, ever):
5. English Broom or Cytisus Scoparius
   Effect on humans: Gastrointestinal distress
   Deadly? Yes
   Time from ingestion until death: Slow and painful
4. Milkweeds
   Effect on humans: Hypothermia
   Deadly? Certain species
   Time from ingestion until death: One to three days
3. Bloodroot or Sanguinaria Canadensis
   Effect on humans: Kills human cells
   Deadly? Yes
   Time from ingestion until death: Depends on the dosage
2. Atropa Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade
   Effect on humans: Hallucinations
   Deadly: Yes
   Time from ingestion until death: Two hours
1. Aconitum
   Effect on humans: Paralysis
   Deadly? Yes
   Time from ingestion until death: Less than 60 mins
That concludes our list of deadly flowers. If you would like to know which flowers you can eat, head to our Top Ten Edible Flowers post (just PLEASE do NOT confuse the two lists – we take no responsibility if you do!).
There are some pictures of these beautiful flowers here together with a description of the effect that ingestion (or in the case of the aconitum simply touching it) will have on the human body.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Percy Bysshe Shelley had good looks and a belief in his own genius. He also had a knack for inspiring suicide among the women in his life... more

The New Elitists
via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Shamus Rahman Khan in the New York Times: You can tell a lot about people by looking at their music collections. Some have narrow tastes, mostly owning single genres like rap or heavy metal. Others are far more eclectic, their collections filled with hip-hop and jazz, country and classical, blues and rock. We often think of such differences as a matter of individual choice and expression. But to a great degree, they are explained by social background. Poorer people are likely to have singular or “limited” tastes. The rich have the most expansive.
We see a similar pattern in other kinds of consumption. Think of the restaurants cherished by very wealthy New Yorkers. Masa, where a meal for two can cost $1,500, is on the list, but so is a cheap Sichuan spot in Queens, a Papaya Dog and a favorite place for a slice. Sociologists have a name for this. Today’s elites are not “highbrow snobs”. They are “cultural omnivores”.
Omnivorousness is part of a much broader trend in the behaviour of our elite, one that embraces diversity. Barriers that were once a mainstay of elite cultural and educational institutions have been demolished. Gone are the quotas that kept Jews out of elite high schools and colleges; inclusion is now the norm. Diverse and populist programming is a mainstay of every museum. Elites seem more likely to confront snobbish exclusion than they are to embrace it.
More here.

What it Costs to be a Well Dressed Flapper, 1926
via Retronaut by Chris

I tried to work out what the sterling equivalent was in 1926 and then what that would equate to in 2012. Didn’t really get a definite answer but it seemed that you could probably buy a small house, even at today’s prices!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Go ahead, call Will Self sesquipedalian. He's proud of his affinity for obscure words, and dismayed at the decline of intellectually difficult art...more

Smoke and Mirrors: 1912
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Smoke and Mirrors: 1912
Toledo, Ohio, circa 1912 “White Star steamer Owana leaving for Detroit”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

The Case for Certainty
via Big Think by Andrew Cohen
People with deep spiritual conviction – from religious fundamentalists to high Himalayan mystics – possess the greatest existential gift of all: certainty. But these days, it’s not a gift that we find it easy to appreciate. And for good reason.
Read More

Friday, 24 August 2012

10 weird and wonderful items to start the weekend

Scientists Still Seeking Answers to Questions About Meditation
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
Meditation works to relax the mind, body and soul, but scientists have been racking their brains as to why it works for people.
Read More
I don’t really care why it works, I just know it does and that’s enough for me!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What do Japanese tea ceremonies and Ponzi schemes have in common? Although social phenomena, they behave like biological cells... more

How Much Cleaner Does Soap Make Your Hands?
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
According to health professionals, washing hands with soap and washing hands with water does pretty much the same thing – cleans and rids hands of most bacteria.
Read More

The Mystery That Is Phantom Cell Phone Vibration
via Big Think by David Berreby
OK, so I thought I was alone in this, and that it was due to incipient neural disorders or too many drugs back in the 80s, but no: It turns out many other people, like me, feel the sensation of their cell phone vibrating when it has not. Matt Soniak looks at what’s known about this curious phenomenon.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Just as vexing as the question of why Rome failed is how it managed to survive for so long. We still don't have a convincing answer... more

How the Great Artists Imagined Paradise Lost, and Regained
via Big Think by Bob Duggan
“We are stardust. We are golden. We are billion year old carbon. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden,” sang Joni Mitchell in her song Woodstock.
Every generation before and since has longed to return to the garden – the Edenic paradise found in every human culture and religion on earth.
View entire story

Cosway-Style Bindings
via Reading Copy Book Blog by Beth Carswell
If you aren’t familiar with Cosway Bindings, now is your chance to have your mind blown.
You’re welcome.
If you are a lover of books, and beautiful bindings, and the craftsmanship, creativity and detail that artisans used to put into the creation of bindings, this will be right up your alley.
The Cosway style features traditional leather with miniature paintings built into the cover and the format is named after Richard Cosway, the famous English miniature portrait painter. Generally there is just one portrait, varying in size and shape, with oval being the most common.
But in some spectacular cases, a book will have multiple miniatures inset, and the effects are just remarkable.
Anyone intrigued by fine bindings will relish this selection of rare books with Cosway Bindings - be sure to click through and see them all. [Scroll down for lots of examples and a short video.]
My favourite – but I have not got the necessary $6,500!
Madame de Sévigné, Her Correspondents and Contemporaries
Madame de Sévigné, Her Correspondents and Contemporaries

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Northrop Frye knew scholars more intelligent or better trained than he was. But he had something else. “I had genius. No one else had that”... more

I Saw A Peacock With a Fiery Tail
via Reading Copy Book Blog by Beth Carswell
Have you ever heard of a trick poem?
What about this one, from the 17th century, called I Saw A Peacock With a Fiery Tail?
Depending on the way the poem is read, with what line breaks, it takes on two very different meanings for the reader.
This edition, breathtakingly illustrated by award-winning, central Indian artist Ramsingh Urveti, is also beautifully die cut to create new and intricate designs. Aside from the cleverness and beauty of the poem, this book is also a feast for the eyes
See inside it in my colleague Julie’s video. 

Bananas to Baltimore: 1905
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints
Bananas to Baltimore: 1905
Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1905
“Unloading banana steamer”
A teeming scene that calls to mind the paintings of Brueghel, if Brueghel ever did bananas. Note the damage from the Great Fire of 1904.
8x10 glass negative
View original post

The Effect of Minimum Wages on Labour Market Outcomes: County-Level Estimates from the Restaurant-and-Bar Sector

an article by John T. Addison and McKinley L. Blackburn (University of South Carolina) and Chad D. Cotti (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh) published in British Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 50 Issue 3 (September 2012)


We use US county-level data on employment and earnings in the restaurant-and-bar sector to evaluate the impact of minimum-wage changes in low-wage labour markets.

Our estimated models are consistent with a simple competitive model in which supply-and-demand factors affect both the equilibrium outcome and the probability of the minimum wage being binding.

Our evidence does not suggest that minimum wages reduce employment once controls for trends in county-level sectoral employment are incorporated. Rather, employment appears to exhibit an independent downward trend in states that have increased their minimum wages relative to states that have not, thereby predisposing estimates towards reporting negative outcomes.

Gender Gaps: Career Development for Young Women With Disabilities

an article by Lauren Lindstrom, Robin M. Harwick, Marcus Poppen and Bonnie Doren (University of Oregon, Eugene, USA) published in Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals Volume 35 Number 3 (August 2012)


Young women with disabilities face multiple barriers in making the transition from high school to meaningful careers.

This study used focus groups and individual interviews with high school girls with disabilities, college women with disabilities, high school special education teachers, school administrators and employers to examine career development and transition needs for young women with disabilities.

Barriers and supports were identified in four major categories:
  1. individual/interpersonal skills,
  2. career options,
  3. school system issues, and
  4. disability needs.
Recommendations for practice are discussed.

Regional Labour Market Statistics, August 2012

a Statistical Bulletin from ONS

Key points
  • Employment rate highest in the East of England (74.9 per cent) and lowest in the North East (66.6 per cent)
  • Unemployment rate highest in the North East (10.4 per cent) and lowest in the South West (5.8 per cent)
  • Inactivity rate highest in the North East (25.5 per cent) and lowest in the East of England (19.6 per cent)
  • Claimant Count rate highest in the North East (7.7 per cent) and lowest in the South East (3.1 per cent)
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Full publication (PDF 12pp)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Evaluation of the "Beyond High School" Model on the Self- Determination of Students With Intellectual Disability

an article by Susan B. Palmer, Michael L. Wehmeyer and Jane H. Soukup (University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA), Karrie A. Shogren (University of Illinois, Champaign, USA) and Kendra L. Williams-Diehm (University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA) published in Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals Volume 35 Number 2 (August 2012)


Students with intellectual disability are often served in community-based services to promote effective adult outcomes in employment, community inclusion, and independent living (Gaumer, Morningstar & Clark (2004).

Beyond High School (Wehmeyer, Garner, Lawrence, Yeager, & Davis, 2006), a multi-stage model to promote student involvement in educational planning, was effectively used by 109 students with mild and moderate levels of intellectual disability between 17.8 and 21 years of age to increase student abilities.

Results are discussed in regard to improved transition opportunities for individuals with intellectual disability such as those afforded through post-secondary education.

44% of 55-64-year-olds don't know when they'll retire

Press Release from Barings Asset Management via TAEN Site news

More than 2.1 million British adults aged between 55 and 64 (44% of non-retired GB adults in this age group) do not know when they will be able to retire, according to new research by Baring Asset Management (“Barings”), the international investment management firm.

The study found that nearly two fifths (38% or 13.5 million people) of all non-retired Brits do not know when they will be able to retire while 12% (equivalent to 4.3 million people) do not plan to retire at all. The results of this year’s survey are in stark contrast to the results from before the financial crisis in 2008. Back then, 100% of non-retired respondents were confident that they would retire, with only 1% saying that they did not know at what age they would be able to do so.

Continue reading here (PDF 3pp)

Acknowledging religious diversity: Opportunities and challenges

an article by Betsy D. Gelb and Teri Elkins Longacre (University of Houston, USA) published in Business Horizons Volume 55 Issue 5 (September–October 2012)


Because federal law protects an employee’s right to religious accommodation, managers cannot ignore the issue of religious diversity. The matter is far broader than simple legal compliance, though.

Certainly, managers need to better understand the laws protecting employees’ rights for accommodation and prohibiting disparate treatment, religious harassment, and retaliation. However, they also need to understand the various opportunities and challenges associated with acknowledging religious diversity.

Concerning opportunities, research suggests that allowing employees to express aspects of their religion can enhance their work lives and, thus, the value they place on the organization.

Furthermore, respect for religious diversity can encourage a useful mindset for communicating with other stakeholders in areas from advertising to the sports interests of salespeople.

Since learning more about a range of faiths can lead to greater skills in working with diverse groups, we offer information on Prothero’s God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World – and Why Their Differences Matter [£6.20 on on different religions’ practices associated with death-related issues.

In conclusion, we provide insight regarding the benefits of acknowledging religious diversity while respecting those who identify with no religion, and we do so without opening the door to proselytizing.

Hazel’s comment:
Obviously where this article quotes law it is American Federal or State law to which it refers. However, readers of this blog should not dismiss the article for this reason. The equality and humanity issues are the same the world over.

The Effect of Early Cognitive Ability on Earnings Over the Life-Cycle

an article by Torberg Falch (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Sofia Sandgren Massih (Uppsala University) published in LABOUR Volume 26 Issue 3 (September 2012)


This paper utilizes information on cognitive ability at age 10 and earnings information from age 20 to 65 to estimate the return to ability over the life-cycle.

Cognitive ability measured at an early age is not influenced by the individual’s choices of schooling.

We find that most of the unconditional return to early cognitive ability goes through educational choice.

The conditional return is increasing for low levels of experience and non-increasing for experience above about 15–25 years.

The return is similar for men and women, and highest for individuals with academic education. Only a small part of the return can be explained by higher probability of having a supervisory position.

JEL classifications: J24, J30, J31

A community of practice view of intervention programmes: the case of women returning to IT

an article by Niki Panteli (University of Bath) published in Information Systems Journal (Special issue on Women and IT) Volume 22 Issue 5 (September 2012)


The study presents an intervention programme for women returning to the information technology (IT) industry following a career break. This is interpreted through the lens of the community of practice perspective.

The longitudinal nature of the case study offered opportunities for in-depth investigation of participants’ experience and development during the process.

Using this datum, a mid-level analytical approach is adopted.

It is found that learning about the path to return to IT emerged regardless of the degree of participation in the intervention programme, and this was supported by the diversity and integration embedded in this programme. The implications of the findings for our understanding of intervention programmes are discussed.

The Immigrant Earnings Disadvantage across the Earnings and Skills Distributions: The Case of Immigrants from the EU's New Member States

an article by Alan Barrett and Séamus McGuinness (Economic and Social Research Institute) and Martin O'Brien (Central Bank of Ireland) published in British Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 50 Issue 3 (September 2012)


We analyse the earnings of immigrants from the EU’s new member states (NMS) using a large-scale dataset with information on employees in Ireland.

We find that the average earnings difference between these immigrants and natives is between 10 and 18 per cent, depending on the controls used.

However, the difference is found to be lower for people at the lower end of the earnings distribution. It is also generally lower for people at the lower end of the education distribution.

We find mixed evidence on whether unions have an impact on the wages of immigrants from the NMS, although such immigrants appear to suffer a wage penalty as a result of being in firms that provided training to a significant proportion of their workforce.

Employment Status and Income Generation Among Homeless Young Adults: Results From a Five-City, Mixed-Methods Study

an article by Kristin M. Ferguson (University of Southern California, Los Angeles), Kimberly Bender (University of Denver), Sanna J. Thompson (University of Texas at Austin), Elaine M. Maccio (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge) and David Pollio (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa) published in Youth & Society Volume 44 Number 3 (September 2012)


This mixed-methods study identified correlates of unemployment among homeless young adults in five cities.

Two hundred thirty-eight homeless young people from Los Angeles (n = 50), Austin (n = 50), Denver (n = 50), New Orleans (n = 50), and St. Louis (n = 38) were recruited using comparable sampling strategies.

Multivariate logistic regression results indicate that homeless young adults were more likely to be unemployed if they had been on the streets longer, currently lived on the streets, earned an income from panhandling, and were addicted to drugs.

Quantitative findings are expanded on with focus-group data from a group of homeless young people in Los Angeles regarding their challenges in locating and maintaining employment.

Employment-related barriers for this population include prior homelessness, geographic transience, previous felonies, mental illness, and addiction.

Findings suggest that homeless young adults’ employment status and use of specific income-generating activities may be influenced by demographic, environmental, and geographic contexts.

Determinants of Success in Academic Careers

an article by Barbara van Balen (QANU (Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities), Utrecht), Pleun van Arensbergen (Rathenau Instituut, Den Haag), Inge van der Weijden (Leiden University) and Peter van den Besselaar (VU University, Amsterdam) published in Higher Education Policy Volume 25 Issue 3 (September 2012)


The competition for top positions in university rankings has put a stronger emphasis on the quality of university staff.

Recruitment of excellent scholars is a core activity for university HRM.

In this study, we compare the careers of pairs of similar researchers that were considered as very talented in their early careers. Of every pair, one has a continued academic career, whereas the other does not.

We investigate to what extent success in academic career is determined by cultural, social and intellectual capital, and organisational and contextual factors.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Critical thinking in E-learning environments

an article by Raafat George Saadé and Danielle Morin (Concordia University, John Molson School of Business, Montreal, Canada) and Jennifer D.E. Thomas (Pace University, Ivan Seidenberg School of CSIS, New York) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 5 (September 2012)


One of the primary aims of higher education in today’s information technology enabled classroom is to make students more active in the learning process.

The intended outcome of this increased IT-facilitated student engagement is to foster important skills such as critical thinking used in both academia and workplace environments.

Critical thinking (CT) skills entails the ability(ies) of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation to achieve a logical understanding. Critical thinking in the classroom as well as in the workplace is a central theme; however, with the dramatic increase of IT usage the mechanisms by which critical thinking is fostered and used has changed.

This article presents the work and results of critical thinking in a virtual learning environment.

We therefore present a web-based course and we assess in which parts of the course, and to what extent, critical thinking was perceived to occur. The course contained two categories of learning modules namely resources and interactive components. Critical thinking was measured subjectively using the ART scale. Results indicate the significance of “interactivity” in what students perceived to be critical-thinking-oriented versus online material as a resource.

Results and opportunities that virtual environments present to foster critical thinking are discussed.


► We investigated critical thinking in an online learning context (higher education).
► We examined the kinds of resources and activities that fosters/require critical thinking skills.
► Online interactive learning components are perceived to foster critical thinking.
► Design factors of interactive learning environments need to be addressed in online courses.
► Designers and teachers need to integrate more interactive components into the course activities.

Conceptualizing Work, Family and Community: A Socio-Ecological Systems Model, Taking Account of Power, Time, Space and Life Stage

an article by Barbara Pocock, Philippa Williams and Natalie Skinner (Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia) published in British Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 50 Issue 3 (September 2012)


A large body of empirical research now exists about ‘work and family’, much of it in agreement on critical issues.

However, it is under-conceptualized, it over-researches professional and managerial workers and it under-attends the larger terrain of work, family and community.

This contribution argues the case for a stronger analytical framework around work, family and community and the ways in which they intersect, drawing on concepts commonly used in the field of employment relations.

The article utilizes a body of empirical research about work, family and community in Australia to develop Voydanoff’s ecological systems model of work, home and community, arguing that it is vital to unpack the ‘black box’ of ‘work’ in a multi-layered way, to give appropriate weight to various sources of power, and to avoid an individualistic approach to the reconciliation of work, home and community life by locating analysis in a larger social and political context.

The contribution proposes a ‘socio-ecological systems’ model of work, home and community that delineates the four issues of power, time, space and life stage.

Subjective Well-Being in Urban, Ethnically Diverse Adolescents: The Role of Stress and Coping

an article by Elizabeth M. Vera et al (Loyola University Chicago) published in Youth & Society Volume 44 Number 3 (September 2012)


This study examines stressors, general stress levels, coping strategies, and subjective well-being in a sample of 144 ethnically diverse, urban adolescents (mean age of 13).

The most frequently reported stressors include the death of a family member, feeling socially isolated, family financial problems, injury of a family member, and parents arguing.

The most common coping strategies are seeking support, acceptance, active coping, using distraction, and venting.

Positive and negative affect are related to many coping strategies, but only humor buffered the relationship between stress and negative affect.

Venting exacerbates the negative relationship between stress and life satisfaction. Implications for helping ethnically diverse, urban adolescents cope with stressors and maintain well-being are discussed.

Transitions To and From Self- Employment Among Older People With Disabilities in Europe

an article by Ricardo Pagán-Rodríguez (University of Malaga, Spain) published in Journal of Disability Policy Studies Volume 23 Number 2 (September 2012)


This paper analyses the labour-market transitions among older people with disabilities in Europe as compared to their non-disabled counterparts.

Particular attention is paid to the workers’ transitions to and from self-employment.

Using data from the two first waves (2004 and 2007) of a panel data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we estimate employment transition matrices for disabled and non-disabled individuals aged 50 years or over, taking into account the possible transitions in disability status that individuals may experience throughout our panel data.

The results show that older people with disabilities (especially females) who are self-employed in 2004 are less likely to remain in the same labour status three years later.

In contrast, transitions from self-employment to “out of labour force” were relatively higher for disabled individuals as compared to non-disabled ones.

In addition, the results vary when we take into consideration the disability trajectories.

Areas of future research and policy recommendations are given.

Bodily Deviations and Body Image in Adolescence

an article by Runar Vilhjalmsson and Gudrun Kristjansdottir (University of Iceland, Reykjavik) and Dianne S. Ward (University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill) published in Youth & Society Volume 44 Number 3 (September 2012)


Adolescents with unusually sized or shaped bodies may experience ridicule, rejection, or exclusion based on their negatively valued bodily characteristics.

Such experiences can have negative consequences for a person’s image and evaluation of self.

This study focuses on the relationship between bodily deviations and body image and is based on a national survey of 3,898 students attending 9th and 10th grade (age 14-16) in the Icelandic school system (92% response rate).

Girls had a considerably lower body image than boys. Overweight and heaviness were related to lower body image among both genders. Interactions with gender showed that short stature was negatively related to body image among boys, whereas underweight was positively related to body image among girls.

Bodily deviations can have positive implications, as shown by the fact that tall boys and girls had a more positive image of their body than their peers of lower stature.

Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Living on the Move: Mobility, Religion and Exclusion of Eastern European Migrants in Rural Scotland

an article by Sergei Shubin (Swansea University, Wales) published in Population, Space and Place Volume 18 Issue 5 (September/October 2012)


The paper explores theoretical and practical issues related to spiritual mobility and engagement with Eastern European migrants in rural Scotland.

Emerging mobile lifestyles create different patterns of living ‘on the move’, but the church and other rural institutions in Scotland often fail to attend to migrants’ affective relationships with existing immigrant communities, unpredictable travelling behaviour, and cross-border spiritual links.

For this gap to be addressed, the paper develops a complex understanding of migrants living on the move. It suggests adding a spiritual element to the analysis of transnational mobilities and explores the ways in which constellations of mobility and religion generate more-than-corporeal dislocations (faith-based sensations), generate virtual movement (beyond rationality to the outside of knowing), and create new imaginations of the migrants’ place in the world.

It argues that the spiritual can be seen as an important factor in producing new social worlds and overcoming the separations and division created by migrations.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Is beautiful really usable? Toward understanding the relation between usability, aesthetics, and affect in HCI

an article by Alexandre N. Tuch, Sandra P. Roth, Klaus Opwis and Javier A. Bargas-Avila (University of Basel, Switzerland) and Kasper Hornbæk (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 5 (September 2012)


This paper analyzes the relation between usability and aesthetics.

In a laboratory study, 80 participants used one of four different versions of the same online shop, differing in interface-aesthetics (low vs. high) and interface-usability (low vs. high).

Participants had to find specific items and rate the shop before and after usage on perceived aesthetics and perceived usability, which were assessed using four validated instruments.

Results show that aesthetics does not affect perceived usability. In contrast, usability has an effect on post-use perceived aesthetics.

Our findings show that the “what is beautiful is usable” notion, which assumes that aesthetics enhances the perception of usability, can be reversed under certain conditions (here: strong usability manipulation combined with a medium to large aesthetics manipulation).

Furthermore, our results indicate that the user’s affective experience with the usability of the shop might serve as a mediator variable within the aesthetics–usability relation: The frustration of poor usability lowers ratings on perceived aesthetics.

The significance of the results is discussed in context of the existing research on the relation between aesthetics and usability.


► This study analyzes the relation between usability and aesthetics within websites.
► Results show that good usability enhances the perception of classical aesthetics.
► The effect of usability on aesthetics is mediated by user’s affective response.
► The frustration of poor usability lowers ratings on perceived aesthetics.
► Usability is manipulated via information architecture without changing page layout.

Working age claimants with complex needs - Qualitative study

a study by Dan Donaldson published by the DWP (In-House Research No 12)

This small-scale qualitative study of frontline Jobcentre Plus staff was commissioned to supplement the existing evidence base that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) holds about working age claimants with complex needs.

The study explored:
  • how complex needs are defined by Jobcentre Plus staff,
  • which claimants Jobcentre Plus staff consider to have complex needs and why, and
  • areas for improvement to the service identified by staff.
The fieldwork comprised six focus groups of Jobcentre Plus staff, conducted during July and August 2011. They took place in six areas across the Country (Greater Manchester; East London; Durham and Tees Valley; Glasgow, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire; Thames Valley; and West Yorkshire).

Findings from the research will be used to inform ongoing efforts to improve service delivery for working age claimants with complex needs by DWP Operations. The research will also add to the wider evidence base for working age claimants with complex needs to inform the implementation of Welfare Reform policies and future policy developments.

Full report (PDF 22pp)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tough Love: The True Nature of the Eurozone Crisis

an article by Holger Schmieding (chief economist of Berenberg Bank) based on an address delivered to NABE's Annual Washington Economic Policy Conference, March 26, 2012 published in Business Economics Volume 47 Issue 3 (July 2012)


There are a number of misconceptions about the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

One is that it is a debt crisis: in fact many countries that are considered to be reasonably sound have bigger long-term fiscal deficit problems than even the weakest Eurozone countries.

The crisis partly reflects the pain of front-loaded fiscal repair. But even more so, the crisis has turned into a step-by-step attempt to forge a stronger and more coherent Europe.

The reluctance of the European Central Bank to defuse the tensions which this process creates makes the region vulnerable to bouts of market turmoil. This paper outlines the course of the crisis, the policy responses to date, and the actions that are necessary to resolve it.

The decline of British trade unionism: markets, actors and institutions

an article by John Kelly (Birkbeck College, London, UK) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 43 Issue 4 (July 2012)


This paper first describes the evolution of Willy Brown’s thinking on trade union membership and collective bargaining coverage.

The second part explores some of the issues around his growing conviction about the role of product markets and offers some critical reflections about his analysis of product markets by drawing on comparative evidence.

The final section turns to his analyses and prescriptions for trade union strategy.

Hazel’s comment:
Not having access to the full article is not often a disadvantage is providing an abstract to my faithful readers – most of you know how to find “the full thing” if necessary or will ask through the comments about access to the journal.
However, I suspect that many of you, like me, will be thinking “Willy who?”. I tried a search and I think I may have found the right man – a professor at Cambridge University.
Perhaps someone could inform me if I’ve got it wrong!

Touchbase e-zine

Personally I find this a difficult read on screen, and an even more difficult one if printed since it's a PDF of an A5 booklet which appears as two pages to a sheet of A4.

Anyway, you can find it here with information about:
  • Universal Credit
    Implementation update
  • Universal Credit and In Work incentives
    Three job entry payments to be phased out
  • Personal Independence Payment
    Communicating the claimant Journey
  • Independent Living Fund consultation
    Consultation launched to consider the Fund’s future
  • Work experience benefits businesses
    Scheme giving valuable experience to young people
  • Work Capability Assessment
    A decision maker’s views of the assessment
  • Changes to Sure Start Maternity Grant
    Extension of the scheme from August 2012
  • Joint working to tackle fraud
    An update on Fraud and Error
  • UK Older People’s Day
    Join the Big Skills Share
  • Other news in brief
    Roundup of other news
    • Work Programme stories
    • Benefit Cap
    • New Social Justice Stories
    • Real Time Information
The PDF has good links for further information on all the topics covered.

Mental Health Disability: An International Perspective

an article by Robert E. Drake and Gary R. Bond (Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, Lebanon, USA), Graham Thornicroft and Martin Knapp (Institute of Psychiatry, London, England) and Howard H. Goldman (University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA) published in Journal of Disability Policy Studies Volume 23 Number 2 (September 2012)


Mental health disability imposes an enormous cost to patients, families, and society. Across free market countries, the rate of mental health disability is growing and now constitutes about one third of all disability claimants.

Living on disability benefits begets demoralization and passivity. This article reviews
  1. the current status of mental health disability and mental health disability systems,
  2. the encouraging findings related to research on evidence-based treatments and supported employment, and
  3. policy changes that might ameliorate the problem of rising rates (and costs) of mental health disability.
Mental health treatments, employment services, and disability policies powerfully shape the disability experience.

Evidence-based mental health and employment services can ameliorate disability and could potentially prevent disability if applied as early interventions. Yet evidence-based mental health treatments and supported employment services are rarely available.

Furthermore, current disability policies tend to trap people in a “disability benefits culture”.

Policy changes should recognize that people with mental health disabilities usually want to work, that they are often able to work when provided with appropriate mental health and vocational services, and that employment is highly therapeutic.

Disability policies need to strengthen work incentives for beneficiaries, providers, and employers.

“Every individual has his own insanity”: Applying Vygotsky's work on defectology to the question of mental health as an issue of inclusion

an article by Peter Smagorinsky (The University of Georgia, USA) published in Learning, Culture and Social Interaction Volume 1 Issue 2 (June 2012)


In Volume 2 of the Collected Works, Vygotsky argues for more inclusive treatment of people who depart from the developmental norm.

In this essay I review facets of his approach and discuss how they may inform current attention to extranormative mental health makeups, e.g., tendencies toward depression, anxiety, bipolarity, and related neurological influences on personality.

I focus on the following sets of Vygotskian tenets:
  1. his belief that mental and cognitive differences do not comprise defects or deficiencies, but rather present developmental channels that depart from the evolutionary norm;
  2. his assertion that “secondary disabilities” resulting from stigmatization related to difference produce more deleterious effects on one than does the source of difference itself;
  3. his belief that feelings of inadequacy, if socially channeled toward productive roundabout means of mediation, can productively promote human growth within existing cultural channels; and
  4. his conviction that the goal of education and human development is to promote progress toward a culture’s higher mental functions – i.e., those ways of thinking endemic to particular cultural orientations to the world – rather than to remediate sources of difference.

Rethinking public ownership and participation

an article by Andrew Cumbers and Robert McMaster (based in the University of Glasgow, UK) published in On the Horizon Volume 20 Issue 3 (2012)


This paper seeks to challenge the simplistic formulation of public ownership in terms of centralized planning and state bureaucracy. Instead, drawing on the works of Dewey and Veblen the paper aims to argue that public ownership is a critical aspect of forging progressive change through enhancing democratic participation in economic decision-making.
The paper presents a conceptual analysis of public ownership types and employs case examples to further illuminate the argument.
The conceptual analysis challenges the supposition of market superiority in standard economic approaches and in neoliberalism. Drawing from the instrumental valuation principle a wide corpus of public ownership modes can offer the prospect of enhanced democratic participation that challenges existing power structures.
By emphasising the association between ownership and democracy the paper challenges the assumption that markets necessarily offer the only route to democratic participation. It also identifies and challenges the market fundamentalism of standard economic approaches.