Saturday, 26 September 2015

Trivia (should have been 23 May)

Study: Massive Amounts of CO2 Led to Mass Extinction 252 Million Years Ago
via Big Think by Robert Montenegro
The history of life on Earth is full of evolutionary close shaves, most of which we’ll never know too much about. The authors of a new study published in Science believe they’ve uncovered a major clue as to the cause of one of life’s narrowest escapes, known affectionately as The Great Dying, a name that pretty much spells it all out for you.
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The Genetics of the Earth and Moon
via 3 Quarks Daily: Dean Raymond in Nautilus
Imagine that two very similar-looking neighbors undergo a genetic test. The exam shows that the pair’s genetic fingerprints are virtually identical. They feel a flash of shock and excitement. What does this mean? Could they be long-lost twins, separated in a hospital mixup? The Earth and Moon share a similar issue, one that poses a major scientific puzzle.
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About Thebes: 1909
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
About Thebes: 1909
“Washington Dramatic Club – About Thebes
Our second look at this nominally Egyptian-themed charity benefit staged at the Belasco Theater in April 1909 for an audience including President Taft
8x10 inch glass negative
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Data, Data, Everywhere, nor Any Time to Think: DIY Analysis of E-Resource Access Problems
an article by Sommer Browning published in Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship Volume 27 Issue 1 (2015)
Broken links, incorrect metadata, platform changes, and other access issues plague libraries. While libraries have workflows and teams in place to address these problems, little is written on the valuable data gathered in the process. Analyzing this data can reveal the nature of a library's access problems. This article presents the process Auraria Library used to organize data from 100 access-problem reports, the insights the data generated, and the resulting tools that created better electronic access. By simply looking at the rich data that troubleshooting teams are gathering, libraries can make real changes to create a better user experience.
Picked not so much for the content of the article but for its title. Very clever.

The death of a friend: Queen Elizabeth I, bereavement, and grief
via OUP Blog by Susan Doran
On 25 February 1603, Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin and friend – Katherine Howard, the countess of Nottingham – died. Although Katherine had been ill for some time, her death hit the queen very hard; indeed one observer wrote that she took the loss “muche more heavyly” than did Katherine’s husband, the Charles, Earl of Nottingham. The queen’s grief was unsurprising, for Elizabeth had known the countess longer than almost anyone else alive at that time. While still a child, Katherine Carey (as she then was) had entered Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield; a few years later, on 3 January 1559, though aged only about twelve, Katherine became one of the new queen’s maids of honour and participated in the coronation ceremonials, twelve days afterwards. What is more, Katherine was close kin to the queen. Her paternal grandmother was Mary Boleyn (the sister of the more famous Anne) and her father was the queen’s favourite male cousin Henry, Lord Hunsdon.
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via Daily Writing Tips by Maeve Maddox
The word crusade, used as both noun and verb, derives from a Latin verb meaning “to mark with a cross”. Middle English adopted the Old French form, croisee. When the OF spelling shifted to croisade, English speakers started spelling it that way too. Finally, in the 18th century, the spelling was Anglicized to crusade.
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Hermit crabs line up in order of size to swap and upgrade shells with one another
via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
“They arrange themselves in an orderly queue, the biggest at the front, the smallest at the back; they're lining up with one aim: to exchange properties. But none of the crabs can make a move because the chain is not yet complete.
They’re all waiting for the right-sized crab to come along.”
The Hermit Crab vacancy chain, as featured in the 'Home' episode of Life Story, on the BBC.

Spiders: the allure and fear of our eight-legged friends
via OUP Blog by Laurie Kerzicnik
Picture not included here for obvious reasons!
What’s your first reaction when you see this picture? Love? Fear? Repulsion? If you are like many Americans, when you come across a spider, especially a large, hairy one like this tarantula, the emotions you experience are most likely in the realm of fear or disgust. Your actions probably include screaming, trapping, swatting, or squashing of the spider.
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The Apparatus: 1923
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
The Apparatus: 1923
Washington, D.C., circa 1923
“Unidentified ramp on field” is all it says here.
Who can help us categorize this cryptic contraption?
4x5 glass negative
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Wolf Hall: count up the bodies
via OUP Blog by Peter Marshall
Historians should be banned from watching movies or TV set in their area of expertise. We usually bore and irritate friends and family with pedantic interjections about minor factual errors and chronological mix-ups. With Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the sumptuous BBC series based on them, this pleasure is denied us. The series is as ferociously well researched as it is superbly acted and directed. Cranmer probably didn’t have a beard in 1533, but, honestly, that’s about the best I can do.
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Friday, 18 September 2015

Reducing bogus self-employment and supporting the genuinely self-employed

A blog post by Alison Blackwood, Senior Campaigns Officer Citizens Advice

Self-employment is now a mainstream part of the UK labour market: around 15 per cent of people work in this way. For most people, working for themselves provides welcome flexibility, independence and the reward of growing their own business. However, for some people who are self-employed, the reality is very different.

Continues but better to read the report Neither One Thing Nor the Other (PDF 23pp)

The spectrum of control: A social theory of the smart city

an article by Jathan Sadowski (Arizona State University) and Frank Pasquale (University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law) published in First Monday Volume 20 Number 7 (July 2015)


There is a certain allure to the idea that cities allow a person to both feel at home and like a stranger in the same place. That one can know the streets and shops, avenues and alleys, while also going days without being recognized. But as élites fill cities with “smart” technologies – turning them into platforms for the “Internet of Things” (IoT): sensors and computation embedded within physical objects that then connect, communicate, and/or transmit information with or between each other through the Internet – there is little escape from a seamless web of surveillance and power.

This paper will outline a social theory of the “smart city” by developing our Deleuzian concept of the “spectrum of control”. We present two illustrative examples: biometric surveillance as a form of monitoring, and automated policing as a particularly brutal and exacting form of manipulation. We conclude by offering normative guidelines for governance of the pervasive surveillance and control mechanisms that constitute an emerging critical infrastructure of the “smart city”.

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Trivia (should have been 17 May)

The moral camera
via 3 Quarks Daily: Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium
Imagine a runaway train. If it carries on down its present course it will kill five people. You cannot stop the train, but you can pull a switch and move the train on to another track, down which it will kill not five people but just one person. Should you pull the switch? This is the famous ‘trolley’ problem, a thought experiment first suggested by Philippa Foot in 1967, and which since has become since become one of the most important tools in contemporary moral philosophy. (In Foot’s original, the dilemma featured a runaway trolley, hence the common name of the problem.)
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‘Munitions, more munitions, always more munitions’
via National Archives by Dr George Hay
Gun ammunition, MUN 4/1085 (3)
One hundred years ago today [13 March], the Battle of Neuve Chapelle was in its closing stages. A small village in northern France between Béthune and Lille, it played host to the first major British offensive of the war. Those three days of fighting marked a significant point in the British war experience, something confirmed just eight weeks later when fighting over the same ground during the one day engagement at Aubers Ridge. Though neither operation was successful, within a month of the Battle of Aubers Ridge the way in which the British armed forces were supplied in the field changed dramatically.
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Why Killer Whales Go Through Menopause But Elephants Don’t
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science
ScreenHunter_1078 Mar. 15 17.54
Last summer, I met Granny. I was on a whale-watching boat that had sailed south from Vancouver Island, in search of a famous and well-studied group of killer whales (orcas). Two hours after we set off, we started seeing black fins scything through the unusually calm and glassy water. We saw a dozen individuals in all, and our guide identified them by the shape of their fins and the white saddle patches on their backs. Granny, for example, has a distinctive half-moon notch in her dorsal fin.
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Get a Quick Workout Without Even Leaving Your Office
via MakeUseOf by Dave LeClair
Get a Quick Workout Without Even Leaving Your Office
Who says you have to leave your office and go to the gym to get a workout? It’s quite possible to get some exercise from your desk and the areas around it. Not only that, but you can target all the key parts of the body!
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Which is the poorest city in the world?
via The Guardian by Nick Compton
Residents of Monrovia's West Point township.
Ranking hardship is not a simple, or happy, task – but as the world urbanises, city poverty becomes ever more important.
For most of history, and despite the stereotype of urban squalour, it has been the countryside where poverty has particularly thrived. But as the world urbanises, poverty is moving with it. Over the past decade, the share of poverty in the developing world blighting cities rather than rural areas has jumped from 17% to 28%. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost a quarter of all poverty is urban. In east Asia, half.
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Ancient cities and power: the archaeology of urbanism in the Iron Age capitals of northern Mesopotamia
an article by James F. Osborne (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA) published in International Journal of Urban Sciences Volume 19 Issue 1 (2015)
This paper explores the expression of power in the built environment of ancient cities, using two case studies from the middle Iron Age (early first millennium BCE) ancient Near East: the capital cities of the Syro-Anatolian city-states in southern Turkey and northern Syria, and those of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in northern Iraq. A functional approach to urbanism, which defines cities based on their influence in the surrounding region, leads to the conclusion that although the expression of power in these two cultures’ major cities is superficially similar (though different in scale), incorporating the surrounding landscape into the discussion reveals how empires are more comprehensive than city-states in creating entire landscapes that communicate power in their built environment.

Infinite West: 1941
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Infinite West: 1941
September 1941
“Buena Vista, Colorado (vicinity). The Sawatch mountains.”
Medium format negative by Marion Post Wolcott
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Where Does Religion Come From?
via Big Think by Derek Beres
If we were to ask a priest where religion originated, his response would most likely be rooted in his theology. The same would hold true for a rabbi, imam, yogi and so forth. We believe that the roots of our personal faith provide an answer to questions of creation.
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Lolita’s Loathsome Brilliance
via 3 Quarks Daily: Robert Macfarlane in More Intelligent Life
Humbert Humbert, literature’s best-known paedophile, calls it his “joy-ride”. For a year he tours the back-roads of rural America, with Lolita, who is 12, as his coerced companion and his regular victim. Together they cover thousands of miles in Humbert’s sedan, gliding down the “glossy” black-top from New England to the Rockies via the Midwestern corn prairies. They become connoisseurs of motel America – “the stucco court”, “the adobe unit”, “the log cabin” – always checking in as father and daughter, and never staying longer than a couple of nights. Milk bars and diners are their mealtime haunts; tiny tourist traps (“a lighthouse in Virginia…a granite obelisk commemorating the Battle of Blue Licks”) their daylight destinations.
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From vinyl records to toys: the return of analogue products in our digital lives
via the Guardian by Emmanuel Tsekleves
Collection of vinyl records on a shelf
There is something unique and magical about interacting with physical objects. From toddlers discovering the world around them to the texture and pungent scent of a book. We live in the digital era but the latest trends in digitally-dominated markets, such as the entertainment industry, indicate strong sales for analogue products.
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Social enterprises as enabling workplaces for people with psychiatric disabilities

an article by Pearl Buhariwala, Robert Wilton (McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) and Joshua Evans (Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada) published in Disability & Society Volume 30 Issue 6 (July 2015)


In recent years, western governments influenced by neoliberalism have emphasized paid work as a key route to social inclusion and community participation for people with psychiatric disabilities.

Although paid work can offer many rewards, access to mainstream employment for people with psychiatric disabilities is difficult as they continue to encounter discrimination and a lack of workplace accommodation. One response to these challenges has been the creation of social enterprises as ‘alternative spaces’ of employment for people with psychiatric disabilities.

On the basis of interviews with key informants from 21 different social enterprises across Ontario, Canada, this paper critically analyzes the strategies used by organizations to create jobs that are both accommodating for people, but also conducive to the ongoing success of the business.

A vocational qualifications system fit for adults? Revisiting some ideas from the university for industry

an article by Stan Lester (Stan Lester Developments, Taunton, UK) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning Volume 5 Issue 2 (2015)


The purpose of this paper is to make a case for creating a strand of negotiated qualifications in the English (and more generally UK) vocational education and training (VET) system, using the approach established through Ufi-Learndirect Learning through Work (LtW).

The paper identifies some limitations in the recent Whitehead review of adult vocational education in relation to people already in work. Drawing on research into learning at work, modifications to the VET qualifications system are proposed based on the LtW approach.

The VET qualifications system assumes a purpose of preparing people for occupational entry and developing essential competence. The needs of adults already in work can be accommodated provided that they can be fitted within structures reflecting this assumption. It is less able to meet the bespoke needs of individual workers or employers. The LtW approach, which enables individual accredited programmes to be negotiated, offers a way forward that preserves the integrity of the qualification system.

Practical implications
Implementing a LtW-type approach in the VET sector is structurally more difficult than in higher education, although less likely to encounter academic resistance. The main challenge is likely to come from the need to modify regulatory rules and design principles for vocational qualifications.

Individually negotiated qualifications have been resisted in VET due to largely unfounded fears about reduced rigour and loss of control of content. The proposed approach offers a means of meeting individual needs while retaining the integrity of the qualifications system and reducing the proliferation of units and content within it.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The impact of the Global Financial Crisis on youth unemployment

an article by PN (Raja) Junankar (UNSW Australia, Australia; University of Western Sydney, Australia; IZA, Germany) published in The Economic and Labour Relations Review Volume 26 Number 2 (June 2015)


Australia was one of the few OECD countries to emerge from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) without facing a recession, usually defined as negative GDP growth for two consecutive quarters. However, the (overall) unemployment rate did increase following the GFC and has still not returned to pre–GFC levels.

Unemployment rates for young people went up much more dramatically and remain high. This article investigates the impact of the GFC on youth unemployment and long-term unemployment.

To anticipate our results, we find that the youth unemployment rates increased significantly owing to a fall in aggregate demand, although youth wages had been falling relative to adult wages. These findings do not support the commonly heard claim that youth wages are pricing young people out of the market.

Review of literature on Graduate Employability

an article by Erabaddage Gishan Tharanga Sumanasiri, Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid and Ali Khatibi (Management and Science University, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia) published in Journal of Studies in Education Volume 5 Number 3 (2015)


There is increasing pressure from governments, funding organizations, students and parents on universities around the world since graduate employability has been clearly recognized as one of the main objectives of university education. Accreditation bodies also appear to measure quality of education through the contributions made towards employability.

In such a context one would assume that employability of university graduates to be clearly understood and extensively researched area. However, the real situation appears to be one which requires the urgent attention of all stakeholders of university education.

A review of literature on graduate employability is a clear need today and current paper achieves this by summarizing the major articles on university graduate employability theoretical frameworks and empirical studies. Despite the large number of studies, graduate employability appears to be suffering from the problems of lack of theoretical control and politicization which appear to have become major obstacles for future developments of the concept.

Full Text (PDF 14pp)

Hazel’s comment:
Is university education only about employability?
Is it even about employability?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Cyber bullying and teachers’ awareness

an article by Baris Sezer (Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey) Ramazan Yilmaz and Fatma Gizem Karaoglan Yilmaz (Bartin University, Bartin, Turkey) published in Internet Research Volume 25 Issue 4 (2015)


The purpose of this paper is to determine the awareness levels of teachers with regard to cyber bullying. In line with this purpose, the extent of awareness levels of teachers in general, regarding the issue of personal cyber security in their daily lives and the precautions that can be taken in this context have been measured.

Survey method is used in this study. The participants of this research were 184 teachers working at various provinces in Turkey during 2012-2013 academic year. A scale was used in this study.

The findings of the study reveal that the teachers in the sample group of the study have an average level of awareness on cyber bullying, in general. According to the findings of the study, based on branch, gender and frequency of internet use, there are statistically significant differences among teachers’ awareness levels on cyber bullying.

Research limitations/implications
The data collection tool used for the study is a self-report scale and it is restricted to determining the awareness levels of teachers with respect to personal cyber security within the context of cyber bullying awareness and the precautions that need to be taken in this respect.

Practical implications
The data obtained from the study, the authors have conducted, can contribute to updating in-service and pre-service educational contents developed for teachers and prospective teachers, by providing insight for the policy makers.

It is believed that this research will contribute to the literature. On the other hand, this study will guide the policy makers/implementers in Turkey, as well.

Educating for food security in the UK: Planning for an uncertain future

an article by Howard Lee (Hadlow College, UK) published in Local Economy Volume 30 Number 3 (May 2015)


The pressures affecting the UK’s food production infrastructure are reviewed, with a conclusion that security of supply is currently unsafe.

Planning ahead to improve security of supply is argued as key, especially as we try to cope with an uncertain future.

The challenge of planning for uncertainty of food supply leads to a consideration of recent research on risk and the ideas of Taleb about antifragility.

This investigation is in the context of Higher Education delivery for the next generation of agriculture and commercial horticulture graduates: the impacts of resource restrictions and opportunities of novel modes of teaching are reviewed as we learn to work with greater uncertainty.

Breaking the ‘class’ ceiling? Social mobility into Britain's elite occupations

an article by Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Andrew Miles (University of Manchester) published in The Sociological Review Volume 63 Issue 2 (May 2015)


In this paper we use the unusually large sample size of the Great British Class Survey to compare rates of social mobility into different élite occupations. We find a distinction between ‘traditional’ professions, such as law, medicine and finance, which are dominated by the children of higher managers and professionals, and technical or emerging high-status occupations, particularly those related to IT, that appear to recruit more widely.

Second, we find that even when the upwardly mobile are successful in entering élite occupations they invariably fail to accumulate the same economic, cultural and social capital as those from privileged backgrounds.

While many such differences may be explained by inheritance, we also find that the mobile tend to have considerably lower incomes. Investigating this further we demonstrate that even when controlling for important variables such as schooling, education, location, age, and cultural and social capital, the upwardly mobile in eight occupations – located largely in the business sector – have considerably lower incomes than their higher-origin colleagues.

These findings underline the value of analyses of mobility into specific high-status occupations as well as illustrating how, beyond entry, the mobile often face considerable disadvantage within occupations.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Regional resilience across Europe: on urbanisation and the initial impact of the Great Recession

an article by Steven Brakman and Harry Garretsen (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) and Charles van Marrewijk (Xi’an Jiaotong–Liverpool University, China and Utrecht University School of Economics, the Netherlands) published in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society Volume 8 Number 2 (July 2015)


Using a novel data set for 207 European regions from 22 different countries, we analyse the relevance of urbanisation for the short-term resilience to a major shock.

We take the Great Recession, the economic and financial crisis that started in 2008, as our shock and analyse how the European NUTS 2 regions differ in their short-run resilience in the aftermath to the crisis in terms of unemployment and real GDP per capita.

We find that the degree and nature of regional urbanisation is important for resilience. EU regions with a relatively large share of the population in commuting areas are relatively more resilient. In addition, regions with a large output share in medium-high tech industries were also less affected by the crisis.

JEL codes: R11, R12, R15

A nuanced understanding of Internet use and non-use among the elderly

Alexander JAM van Deursen (University of Twente, The Netherlands) and Ellen J Helsper (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) published in European Journal of Communication Volume 30 Number 2 (April 2015)


This article examines explanations for both Internet use and non-use by older individuals.

Older adults are often considered a homogeneous group with uniform reasons for Internet non-use, or when they are online, practicing a uniform range of activities.

The study gathered data concerning senior non-users through a national telephone survey. Data concerning senior Internet users were obtained through a nationally representative online survey.

The findings suggest that although a substantial part of the senior Internet non-users live in surroundings that enable Internet uptake, they seem to be less eager or unable to do so.

Important differences among senior non-users are based on gender, age, education, household composition and attitude towards the Internet. Differences among users were based on life stage, social environment and psychological characteristics.

This article thus reveals that older citizens are a very diverse group in which some are more likely to be digitally excluded than others.

A Global Examination of Policies and Practices for Lifelong Learning

an article by Phyllis Cummins and Suzanne Kunkel (Miami University, USA) published in New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development Volume 27 Issue 3 (Summer 2015)


Continuous learning over the life course is necessary to successfully compete in a knowledge-based global economy. Workers are increasingly encouraged to remain in the labour force at older ages, which for many will require skills upgrading.

While a wide range of individual and community factors play a role in whether older workers receive skills training and remain in the labour force, national policies and practices are also likely to have an influence. This nation-level study used OECD data to identify associations between participation in lifelong learning activities and outcomes such as labor force participation at older ages and income inequality.

Countries with more hours spent in lifelong learning activities over the life course have higher labour force participation rates between the ages of 55 and 64 and have lower rates of income inequality.

Recognising lifelong learning as a shared responsibility among stakeholders is crucial to successful programme implementation.

The political economy of ‘lap dancing’: contested careers and women’s work in the stripping industry

an article by Kate Hardy and Teela Sanders (University of Leeds, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 29 Number 1 (February 2015)


The visibility of striptease (‘lap dancing’) as a workplace and site of consumption has grown significantly over the past 15 years in the UK.

This article draws on the first large scale study of stripping work in the UK, exploring original empirical data to examine why women continue to seek work in an industry that is profoundly precarious and often highly exploitative. It suggests that rather than either a ‘career’ or a ‘dead end’ job, many women use lap dancing strategically to create alternative futures of work, employment and education.

It is argued that precarious forms of employment such as lap dancing can be instrumentalised through agentic strategies by some workers, in order to achieve longer term security and to develop opportunities outside the sex industry.

As such, it is averred that engagement in the industry should instead be understood in a wider political economy of work and employment and the social wage.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Triva (should have been 16 May)

Inventing Impressionism
via 3 Quarks Daily: Craig Raine at The New Statesman

Here are some chairs I noticed. An empty chair at the natural optical centre of Degas’s Dance Foyer of the Opera at rue le Peletier (1872), occupied by a fan and a puddle of white cloth. It is waiting – and the viewer is waiting, subliminally – for its occupant to return and claim the fan. It is reserved. Someone has bagged it. Not a circumstance you often see painted, though common enough in real life. Nor is the violinist playing. He is pausing, his bow at rest on his trouser leg. Degas has painted a pause. A thing that hasn’t been painted before. In the same picture, a dancer to the right, in the foreground, is sitting on another chair, her legs stiffly out front – ungainly yet graceful, resting. The upright back of the chair is invisible because it is under her unmanageably stiff tulle skirt, lifting the skirt up and slightly out of alignment. All her fatigue is there in the mistake, the carelessness of her plonking down. (The tulle in this picture, by the way, is a miracle: done not in the easier pastel, with its naturally smudgy, suggestive cloudiness, but in oil paint, using the texture of the fine linen canvas.)
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The whom
via Prospero by R.L.G.

Last week’s Johnson column celebrated “National Grammar Day” with some thorny grammatical issues: the uses of which versus that, the plural of words borrowed from foreign languages and how to handle one of those things that drive(s) me crazy. All defy attempts to impose hard-and-fast rules, because perfectly good grammar (as practised by the best English writers) points in more than one direction.
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25 Fictional Books That Will Change Your Outlook
via Lifehack by Jacob Cashman
There is one in the list that I love (Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and one I tried but could not get into at all (The Alchemist). The rest I haven’t even tried! Perhaps I should instead of wallowing in fantasy.
Read the list for yourself

A glorious finale
via Prospero by C.W.

It begins with the most famous gong in jazz. A few seconds later, the double bass takes up a four-note “Love Supreme” motif. John Coltrane starts a blistering saxophone solo. And 30 minutes later it is all over. But it still sounds as fresh as it did 50 years ago.
Continue reading and listening on YouTube

What neuromyths do you believe in?
via Big Think by Simon Oxenham
Why "neurobonkers"? The name of this blog was originally a comment on the widespread and blatant abuse of neuroscience to lend credibility to spurious claims about psychology. This is something we see all the time in the newspapers and something that goes on every single day in our schools. The issue is a big part of an excellent new lecture by Dr. Christian Jarrett, who quotes Nate Cornell's recent comment that:
You need to know how brains work to teach. Just like dogs need to know physics to catch a frisbee.
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A visit to Harvard’s Holden chapel, where William James once asked the question, “Is life worth living?”
via 3 Quarks Daily: John Kaag in Harper’s
Harvard University’s Holden Chapel always struck me as the proper home of a crypt-keeper: an appropriate place to die, or at least to remain dead. The forty-foot brick structure has no front windows. Above its entrance are four stone bucrania, bas-relief ox-skull sculptures of the sort that pagans once placed on their temples to keep away evil spirits. In 1895, when William James was asked to address a crowd of young Christian men at the Georgian chapel, it was already more than 150 years old, a fitting setting for the fifty-three-year-old philosopher to contemplate what he had come to believe was the profoundest of questions: “Is life worth living?”
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16 optical illusions more fun than that damn dress
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
View the rest for yourself

8 Retro Gaming Gadgets For Geeks
via MakeUseOf by Dave Patrick
8 Retro Gaming Gadgets For Geeks
Gamers are a funny bunch. Not so much in the ha-ha sense, but more in the slightly weird sense. Give them a video game and they’ll greedily consume it, regardless of how old or new it is, as long as it’s good. Or great. Or absolutely essential.
This means that retro games and the gadgets that go with them are just as likely to thrill and enthrall gamers as the latest Triple-AAA titles. Especially if the gaming geek in question is of a certain age and has a healthy touch of nostalgia attached to the bygone era of gaming.
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It’s a Small Train: 1951
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
It's a Small Train: 1951
September 1951
“Walt Disney oiling parts of the locomotive of his scale model steam railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railway, in the backyard of his house in Los Angeles”
Medium-format nitrate negative by Earl Theisen for the Look magazine assignment “Walt Disney's Giant Little Railroad”
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I’ll be Frank with you
via Prospero by A.M.B.

Frank Sinatra, who would have been 100 this year, was a headline act on the Las Vegas Strip for four decades. During that time he was closely associated with the Sands Hotel, in whose presidential suite he often stayed, and in whose Copa Room nightclub he had a three-week stint with the legendary Rat Pack – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford – in 1960. It was there that he recorded his first live album with Count Basie and his orchestra, and he eventually went on to become a co-owner.
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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Trivia (should have been 10 May)

8 Places To Visit Before It’s Too Late
via Lifehack by Tracey Tullis
places to visit
Do you have a wish list of amazing places you want to visit on this Earth? If so, this article is for you. Climate change, environmental disasters, and over development threaten to wipe out some of the planet’s most spectacular places. If any of the eight discussed in this article are on your list you should move up the date for your trip. These places may deny access or disappear altogether in as little as a few decades.
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The robot built from drinking straws
via BBC by Jane Wakefield
Digital making is exploding around the UK in schools and after-school clubs as part of a push to increase digital skills and introduce more children to coding.
Tech reporter Jane Wakefield decided to give it a go with her own children on a wet day during half-term in February.
They opted to build something very simple – a robot made of drinking straws.
Watch the video result

Beefalo are causing problems in the Grand Canyon
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Zubron - hybrid of domestic cattle and european bison. Image: Shutterstock
Zubron - hybrid of domestic cattle and european bison. Image: Shutterstock
Herds of beefalo (a bison-cattle hybrid) are causing massive damage to vegetation, water supplies, other animal species, and American Indian cliff dwellings in the Grand Canyon.
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A newly discovered trove of unknown fairy tales
via 3 Quarks Daily: Michael Dirda at The Washington Post
In 2012, in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Germany, scholar Erika Eichenseer discovered 30 boxes containing more than 500 hitherto unknown fairy tales. A high-ranking civil servant named Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810-1886) had spent much of his spare time collecting the oral and traditional stories of Bavaria. This unexpected find rocked the fairy-tale establishment.
I love that phrase “the fairy-tale establishment”.
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How to make tasty unsweetened ginger ale
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
So easy! Find out how

Thinking about how we think about morality
via OUP Blog by Jennifer Cole Wright
Morality is a funny thing. On the one hand, it stands as a normative boundary – a barrier between us and the evils that threaten our lives and humanity. It protects us from the darkness, both outside and within ourselves. It structures and guides our conception of what it is to be good (decent, honorable, honest, compassionate) and to live well.
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Encyclopedia of Imaginary and Mythical Places
Stuart James review in Reference Reviews Volume 29 Number 3 (2015)
Product Details
At £106 I will not be buying this in a hurry. Only £24 for the Kindle version but I imagine that the beauty of a book like this gets completely lost when it’s electronic.

Young dolphins learn to spin
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Scientists have two hypotheses about why dolphins leap out of the water and spin. One is that they are getting rid of parasites. The other is that they making an emotional “exclamation point” about something that just happened.
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Old Orleans: 1890
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Old Orleans: 1890
New Orleans circa 1880s-1890s
“Street in the French Quarter”
Take care not to trip on the guttersnipes
5x7 glass negative by William Henry Jackson. Attribution based on Catalogue of the W.H. Jackson Views (1898)
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The 10 best shows for music directors, in no particular order, for several reasons
via OUP Blog by Joseph Church
9780199993413 (1)
Listing the ten best shows for a music director to work on is as subjective as choosing the ten greatest composers, or painters, or novelists, so it’s worthwhile to stipulate some qualities the winners must have, subjectively speaking. These qualities can only reveal themselves by working through the reasoning of what makes a show a music director’s favourite.
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Monetary policy and bubbles in the national and regional UK housing markets

an article by I-Chun Tsai (National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China) published in Urban Studies Volume 52 Number 8 (June 2015)


Numerous studies have explained the significant correlation between monetary policies and asset pricing bubbles. This study uses data on the overall UK housing market and the five UK regions with the highest house prices to evaluate the correlation between monetary policies and pricing bubbles in the UK housing markets.

This study uses a theoretical model to verify whether monetary policies affect asset pricing bubbles. Fluctuations in house prices are classified into fluctuations related to fundamentals (the mean reversion behaviour and responses to information in the current period) and fluctuations unrelated to fundamentals (self-related behaviour).

After estimating the fluctuation behaviour of house prices through quantile regression, this study asserts that a monetary easing environment can significantly increase housing returns. The self-related phenomenon of asset returns has increased significantly and has thus continuously increased prices and formed a bubble.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Work-time underemployment and financial hardship: class inequalities and recession in the UK

an article by Tracey Warren (University of Nottingham, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 29 Number 2 (April 2015)


The economic crisis that led to recession in the UK in 2008–9 impacted in multiple ways on work and economic life. This article examines changes to the work-time of employees.

The UK stood out for its recessionary expansion of work-time underemployment.

Working in a job that provides ‘too few’ hours can have serious ramifications for the economic livelihood of workers. Working-class workers are central here.

Drawing on analysis of large-scale survey data, the article identifies that workers in lower level occupations experienced the most substantial post-recessionary growth in the proportions working ‘too few’ hours. Did these work-time changes narrow or widen class inequalities in feelings of financial hardship?

The article concludes that although middle-class workers also saw their financial positions damaged, this so-called ‘first middle-class recession’ did not erode class inequalities in financial hardship among UK workers.

Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: Examining the Role of Work Meaning and Person–Environment Fit

an article by Ryan D. Duffy, Kelsey L. Autin and Elizabeth M. Bott (Department of Psychology, University of Florida) published in The Career Development Quarterly Volume 63 Issue 2 (June 2015)


Building on core principles within the Psychology-of-Working Framework (PWF; Blustein, 2006, 2008), the authors examined mediators that may explain the link between work volition and job satisfaction among employed adults (135 women, 145 men).

A structural equation model was tested hypothesizing that person–environment fit and work meaning would fully mediate the work volition–job satisfaction link.

Results suggested that the reason work volition related to job satisfaction was because of stronger perceived fit with one’s work environment and greater perceived meaning at work. In total, the predictor variables accounted for 82% of the variance in job satisfaction.

Based on these findings, clinicians are encouraged to help clients understand the unique factors that may be limiting their work volition and to specifically target barriers that are amenable to change.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Perceived Effectiveness of Social Networks for Job Search

an article by Maayan Zhitomirsky-Geffet and Yair Bratspiess (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel) published Libri Volume 65 Issue 2 (June 2015)


One of the most common uses of the capabilities of social networks is for professional, and business purposes. The literature presents conflicting evidence as to the effectiveness of different networks for professional purposes. Therefore, our primary research aim is to conduct a comparative investigation of the effectiveness and factors which influence the effectiveness of different social networks for finding a job.

This study focuses on the two most popular networks, Facebook and LinkedIn; the former is not intended specifically for professional purposes while the latter is. To

this end, we conducted a user study based on over 220 responses to a questionnaire especially designed for this goal.

In our analysis, we distinguish and compare between the users’ perceptions and attitudes toward the effectiveness of the network and its actual helpfulness for finding a job in past experience.

Our results indicate that different demographic and network usage variables influence the attitude to effectiveness and helpfulness of the networks. Thus, users with lower incomes preferred Facebook, while more educated users with higher incomes perceived LinkedIn as more effective.

Interestingly, we found that despite the fact that LinkedIn was perceived as significantly more effective for finding a job by the majority of the users, the actual helpfulness of the two networks was assessed as quite similar.

Our findings provide direct evidence for bridging social capital increase by online social networks. This study has practical implications and recommendations that will enable job candidates to improve their job-hunting strategies.

Sharing the load? Partners’ relative earnings and the division of domestic labour

an article by Clare Lyonette and Rosemary Crompton (University of Warwick, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 29 Number 1 (February 2015)


One of the most pressing issues contributing to the persistence of gender inequality is the gendered division of domestic labour. Despite their entry into paid employment, women still carry out more domestic work than men, limiting their ability to act on an equal footing within the workplace.

This qualitative research adds to the ongoing debate concerning the reasons for the persistence of the gendered nature of domestic work, by comparing working women who earn more, those who earn around the same and those who earn less than their male partners, as well as examining women’s absolute incomes.

On average, men whose partners earn more than they do carry out more housework than other men, although women in these partnerships still do more.

However, these women actively contest their male partner’s lack of input, simultaneously ‘doing’ and ‘undoing’ gender.

The article also identifies class differences in the ‘sharing’ of domestic work.

McMindfulness in the workplace: vocational learning and the commodification of the present moment

an article by Terry Hyland (University of Bolton, UK) published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training Volume 67 Issue 2 (2015)


Originating in Buddhist contemplative traditions, mindfulness theory and practice – which foregrounds present-moment awareness and attention – has extended its modern secular and therapeutic applications into an exponentially expanding range of fields and disciplines including psychology, psychotherapy, mind-body health practices and education at all levels.

Its potential usefulness in general vocational education and training has been explored by a number of researchers and practitioners, and its application in schools and colleges is receiving increasing attention.

As with many popular educational innovations, the foundational values of mindfulness strategies have been distorted and subverted in a number of instances in which ‘McMindfulness’ programmes have been implemented with a view to the exclusive pursuit of corporate objectives and commercial profit.

Such mutated examples of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are, to some degree, evident in certain spheres of the field of mindfulness and work in which the present-moment attention and stress-reduction aspects of mindfulness strategies are unduly separated from the ethical foundations for the purpose of outcome-based assessments linked to predominantly instrumentalist ends.

As a way of guarding against such decontextualising developments in MBIs, a conception of mindfulness at work is recommended which foregrounds the ethical and affective components of vocationalism and which is informed by work-based and apprenticeship models of learning.

Full text (HTML)

What do low-paid workers think would improve their working lives?

a report by Cordelia Hay of Britain Thinks for JRF (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

This study explores the experiences and perceptions of low-paid, low-income workers in the retail, hospitality and care sectors.

How do these workers feel about work, and what do they think would most improve their working lives?

The report explores:
  • the realities of low-paid work;
  • the challenges experienced by workers in the three sectors;
  • ideas for improving work for low-paid workers that go beyond pay rises; and
  • conclusions for employers of low-paid workers.
A related report, based on a survey of 5,000 low-paid workers in low-income households, is available on the Survation website.

Summary (PDF 4pp)

Full report (PDF 56pp)

Monday, 17 August 2015

Local institutions and local economic development: the Local Enterprise Partnerships in England, 2010–

an article by Andy Pike, Anja McCarthy and Peter O’Brien (Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University), David Marlow (Third Life Economics, Stamford, Cambridgeshire) and John Tomaney (The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London) published in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society Volume 8 Number 2 (2015)


This paper examines the roles of local institutions in economic development at the local level.

Drawing upon comparative analysis of the 39 local enterprise partnerships emergent in England since 2010, it demonstrates: how local economic development institutions work within multi-agent and multi-scalar institutional settings; the ways institutional genealogy shapes processes of layering and recombining as well as dismantling and improvising in episodes of institutional change and the analytical themes able to explore the roles and functions of institutions in local economic development.

JEL codes: H70, O10, O20, R58

Full text (HTML) and (PDF 20pp)

Addressing the challenges of an ageing workforce: an intergenerational learning toolkit

an article by Donald Ropes (Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Haarlem, The Netherlands) published in Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal Volume 29 Issue 4 (2015)


The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the challenges organizations face in regards to an ageing workforce and to present the results of an European Union project called SILVER (see that developed a toolkit to help management in knowledge-intensive organizations deal with older personnel in a positive and effective manner by organizing intergenerational learning.

This study involved interviews with 32 international human resource managers and a local survey of more than 1,100 mid and upper-level managers. Testing and evaluation of the toolkit was done in 43 organizations.

Older workers bring several challenges with them, namely, ensuring continuous learning, social issues and diversity. The toolkit helps to deal with these challenges in a flexible and constructive way.

This article gives insights into how older workers can positively contribute to learning in organizations.

The secret garden? Élite metropolitan geographies in the contemporary UK

an article by Niall Cunningham (Durham University) and Mike Savage (LSE) published in The Sociological Review Volume 63 Issue 2 (May 2015)


There is an enduring, indeed increasing, awareness of the role of spatial location in defining and reinforcing inequality in this country and beyond.

In the UK, much of the debate around these issues has focussed on the established trope of a long-standing ‘north-south divide’, a divide which appears to have deepened in recent decades with the inexorable de-industrialisation of northern Britain presented in stark counterpoint to the burgeoning concentration of wealth in London and the south-east, driven by the financial and ancillary services sectors.

Due to a lack of available data, such debates have tended to focus solely on economic inequalities between places, and until now there was little understanding of how these disparities played out in the social and cultural domains. This paper significantly advances our understanding of the true meaning of spatial inequality in the UK by broadening that definition to encompass not only the economic, but also the social and cultural arenas, using data available from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey experiment.

We argue that these data shine a light not only on the economic inequalities between different parts of the country which existing debates have already uncovered but to understand how these are both reinforced and mediated across the social and cultural dimensions.

Fundamentally, we concur with a great many others in seeing London and the south-east as a vortex for economic accumulation but it is also much more than that; it is a space where the coming together of intense economic, social and cultural resources enables the crystallisation of particular and nuanced forms of élite social class formations, formations in which place is not incidental but integral to their very existence.

Disruptive Computing

an article by David Alan Grier (George Washington University) published in Computer Volume 48 Issue 6 (June 2015)

To expand e-commerce, we shouldn't try to fit computing technology into markets, but instead fit markets into technology.

Full text (PDF 1 page)

The Web extra at is an audio recording of author David Alan Grier expanding on his Errant Hashtag column, in which he talks about the disruptive nature of computing and how expanding e-commerce shouldn't mean trying to fit computing technology into markets but instead fitting markets into technology.

Hazel’s comment:
This really is worth listening to, IMO.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Scale of ‘Leakage’ of Engineering Graduates from Starting Work in Engineering and its Implications for Public Policy and UK Manufacturing Sectors

SKOPE Research Paper No. 122, January 2015 by Dr Matthew Dixon (SKOPE Fellow)


The fact that not all graduates from vocational higher education courses go and work in the ‘natural’ profession or ‘natural industry sector’ corresponding to the course content is recognised. However, the scale of the ‘leakage’ of those completing engineering courses away from working in relevant engineering companies comes as a considerable surprise. The fraction of those graduating from particular engineering disciplines who go into the corresponding industry sector (in particular within manufacturing) is not only not 100 per cent, but generally less than 50 per cent and, in some cases, less than 10 per cent.

This paper presents evidence from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) surveys, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DHLE), over 10 years that shows just how invalid is the idealised ‘linear pipeline’ assumption that has prevailed (often by default) in much higher education skills supply thinking over recent years, and examines the implications. Any shortages, in a particular engineering manufacturing sector, of bright young people who might understand the engineering principles and technical details involved in that work, arise not from a lack of supply of such graduates as a whole but from the fact that most of them go and work elsewhere.

A default response focused on trying to get more (young) people to sign up for the corresponding higher education courses in order to tackle any shortages in individual manufacturing sectors would therefore generally be particularly wasteful from a policy point of view. An ultimately more effective response would rather be to work to significantly raise the attractiveness of the sector to students on the courses.

This paper also considers the natural response from a classical economics perspective – of urging engineering employers, if they perceive a supply shortage, to raise their starting salary offers to graduates. While plausible, this suggestion ignores the realities of the business model within the sector in the highly competitive market context in which these companies must trade. Their operating profit levels mean that engineering manufacturing companies cannot afford, as easily as employers in various other sectors can, to offer higher salaries: the market in which engineering employers recruiting graduates operate is not a level playing field’.

As well as examining aspects of the reported skill shortage context of the issue, the paper also throws light on answers to the questions that naturally follow a recognition of the comparatively large scale of leakage: Where do engineering graduates from particular disciplines go and work? What other disciplines are recruited by engineering firms? In addition, evidence from DLHE data on initial unemployment of graduates from different disciplines confirms that the shortages often asserted are not generally enough to put the corresponding labour markets into a particularly ‘tight’ state.

Evidence on role requirements from the Migration Advisory Committee suggests that such recent engineering skill shortages as are substantiated could not generally be directly resolved with ‘fresh’ graduates. The rather complex realities of engineering graduate recruitment outcomes uncovered by this analysis will help policy analysts realise the need for more robust evidence of market failure when considering possible policy responses attempting to link reported skill shortages in specific sectors to higher education flows into the workforce.

Full text (Wordpress)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Involuntary Non-Standard Employment and the Economic Crisis: Regional Insights from the UK

an article by Anne E. Green (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick) and Ilias Livanos (Oxford Brookes University Business School) published in Regional Studies Volume 49 Issue 7 (2015)


Increases in unemployment and non-employment in the 2008–2009 economic crisis were less marked than expected in the UK given experience of previous recessions.

To capture more fully the regional dimensions of economic crisis it is necessary to look also at employment. Using Labour Force Survey (LFS) data on involuntary part-time working and involuntary temporary working a measure of involuntary non-standard employment (INE) is constructed.

Econometric analyses reveal that there were rises in INE alongside unemployment increases in the economic crisis and that young people, individuals from non-white ethnic groups and those in weak regional economies were particularly at risk of INE.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Bringing the “right to request” flexible working arrangements to life: from policies to practices

an article by Rae Cooper and Marian Baird (Unviversity of Sydney, Australia) published in Employee Relations Volume 37 Issue 5 (2015)


The purpose of this paper is to understand how the “right to request” flexible working arrangements (FWAs), located in national policy and in organisational policy contexts, are brought to life in the workplace by employees and their managers. The authors seek to understand the nature and content of requests, the process followed in attending to requests, the scope of the arrangements which resulted and the implications for the work of both employees and managers.

The authors employ a case study method, investigating how formal “right to request” FWAs policies translate to practice within two large companies in Australia. The primary data focuses on 66 in-depth interviews with line managers, employees and key organisational informants. These interviews are triangulated with legislative, company and union policy documents.

Most requests were made by mothers returning from maternity leave. Typically their requests involved an attempt to move from full-time to part-time hours. The authors found a considerable knowledge deficit among the employees making requests and a high level of informality in the processing of requests. As a result, managers played a critical role in structuring both the procedure and the substantive outcomes of FWAs requests. Managers’ personal experience and levels of commitment to FWAs were critical in the process, but their response was constrained by, among other things, conflicting organisational policies.

Research limitations/implications
The scale of the empirical research is possibly limited by a focus on large companies in the private sector.

Practical implications
The authors provide insight into the implementation gap between FWA policy and practice. The authors make suggestions as to how to make “right to request” policies more accessible and effective.

Social implications
The “right to request” flexible working is an issue of critical importance to families, employees, managers, organisations and economies.

“Right to request” FWAs are relatively new in legislation and policy and thus the authors have an incomplete understanding of how they operate and come to life at the workplace level. The authors show a significant implementation gap between policy and practice and point to some of the critical influences on this. Among other things, the authors build new insight in relation to the interaction of formal and informal and the role and place of the direct manager in the process of operationalising the “right to request”.

The social significance of the Facebook Like button

an article by Veikko Eranti (University of Helsinki) and Markku Lonkila (University of Jyväskylä) published in first monday Volume 20 Number 6 (June 2015)


In this paper we study social aspects of using the Like button for purposes of impression management, identity construction, and maintenance of social ties online.

On the theoretical level our investigation combines Goffman’s notion of face-work with concepts of social network analysis, shedding light on what we dub ‘nano-level’ interaction and sociality on social networking sites. Our data come from a 2013 classroom survey in which 26 Finnish university students were asked about their motives for and ways of using the Like button.

Our results show that though the Like button was designed to allow users to express their positive evaluations of the contents of Facebook posts, comments, and pictures, it was in actual fact used for a wide variety of purposes, from dating efforts to conversation regulation and maintenance of social ties.

Our results also reveal that the networked Facebook audience affects the users’ liking behavior, and that users reflect their liking based on previous likes.

Full Text: HTML

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Facilitating Emotional Awareness in a Career Counseling Context

an article by Keith A. Puffer (Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN, USA) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 23 Number 2 (May 2015)


Significant research on emotion and career development has transpired in the past few decades. Regrettably, certain aspects of emotional functioning germane to the career decision-making process remain ambiguous. Specifically, kinds and frequency of affective reactions to career options along with helpful ways to assimilate this emotional information in the counseling experience are unclarified.

In contrast, this study operationalized an intervention designed to facilitate emotional awareness and tested it with a sample of 451 undergraduates exploring career information.

Using a descriptive research design, a frequency distribution of 40,207 affective responses revealed six noticeable recurring emotions resulted from participants’ reflections on career possibilities. This pattern, consistent over a 3-year interval, comprised the majority (59%) of total elicited affect.

Moreover, a statistically significant higher percentage of positive emotional responses emerged with college students’ self-assigned occupations relative to computer-generated careers. Practical applications of the affective information for career counseling purposes are also discussed.

Mature women and higher education: reconstructing identity and family relationships

an article by Louise Webber (Exeter College in partnership with Plymouth University, Exeter, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 20 Issue 2 (2015)


Since Edwards’ influential study on mature women students and families in the 1990s, questions have been raised about the effects of Higher Education (HE) on family lives. Edwards maintained that relationships were at risk of breakdown due to the changing identity, increased self-esteem and enhanced confidence levels of women students.

Men were perceived negatively as often being unsupportive of their wives’ return to HE, or threatened by the changes they observed in her.

This paper is based on qualitative research methods focusing on whether HE changes a woman’s identity and reconstructs family relationships. A narrative line of inquiry was used to build detailed stories of a small group of women students and their husbands. The 11 women students were selected from one Foundation degree in Early Years programme at a further education institution.

Data was constructed using mind mapping, focused interviews and a mosaic approach of participant-led research.

Research findings showed that HE had the potential to transform a woman’s identity and position within her family relationships.

The results also demonstrated that family capital, in the form of practical and emotional strategies of support from both husbands and children, played an instrumental part in the women’s success and participation in HE (though this aspect will be discussed in a subsequent paper).

The unintended consequences of targeting: young people’s lived experiences of social and emotional learning interventions

an article by Rhiannon Evans, Jonathan Scourfield and Simon Murphy (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK) published in British Educational Research Journal Volume 41 Issue 3 (June 2015)


In the past twenty years there has been a proliferation of targeted school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions. However, the lived experience of young peoples’ participation is often elided, while the potential for interventions to confer unintended and even adverse effects remains under-theorised and empirically under-explored.

This paper reports findings from a qualitative case study of students’ participation in a targeted SEL intervention, the Student Assistance Programme. Data was generated with four secondary schools in Wales, with 41 students (age 12–14) taking part in the study.

Findings indicate that students’ identification for participation in the intervention and their reaction to the group composition may lead to harmful effects.

Four iatrogenic processes were identified:
  1. identification may be experienced as negative labelling resulting in rejection of the school
  2. the label of SEL failure may serve as a powerful form of intervention capital, being employed to enhance students’ status amongst peers. Possession of this capital is contingent on continued resistance of the intervention
  3. targeting of discrete friendship groups may lead to the construction of intervention ‘outsiders’ as students seek safety through the reification of pre-exiting [sic, should this be existing?] relationships
  4. students may seek to renegotiate positioning within targeted friendships groups by ‘bragging’ about and reinforcing anti-school activities, leading to deviancy amplification.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing Web site

an article by Francine Barone (social anthropologist and Internet researcher), David Zeitlyn (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology) and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger (Oxford Internet Institute) published in first monday Volume 20 Number 5 (May 2015)


This paper presents the findings of the Gone Dark Project, a joint study between the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. The project has sought to give substance to frequent reports of Web sites “disappearing” (URLs that generate “404 not found” errors) by tracking and investigating cases of excellent and important Web sites which are no longer accessible online.

We first address the rationale and research methods for the project before focusing on several key case studies illustrating some important challenges in Web preservation.

Followed by a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of current Web archiving practice, the lessons learned from these case studies will inform practical recommendations that might be considered in order to improve the preservation of online content within and beyond existing approaches to Web preservation and archiving.

Full Text: HTML

Does It Pay to Be Moral? How Indicators of Morality and Competence Enhance Organizational and Work Team Attractiveness

an article by Anne-Marie van Prooijen (Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Belgium) and Naomi Ellemers (Leiden University, the Netherlands) published in British Journal of Management Volume 26 Issue 2 (April 2015)


Based on a social identity analysis, the authors argue that people are attracted to teams and organizations with positive features. Such features can refer to the competence and achievements of the organization, or to its moral values and ethical conduct.

However, in work contexts, ethics and achievements do not necessarily go together.

The paper reports three studies that examine the relative and combined impact of perceived competence vs morality of a team or organization on its attractiveness to individuals.

Study 1 (n = 44) reveals that students prefer to seek employment in a moral rather than a competent organization, when forced to choose between these organizational features on a bipolar scale.

Study 2 (n = 100) replicates these findings in a design where the competence and morality of a fictitious organization were manipulated orthogonally.

Study 3 (n = 89) examines responses to experimental task teams that systematically differed from each other in their competence and morality.

Results of all three studies converge to demonstrate that the perceived morality of the team or organization has a greater impact on its attractiveness to individuals than its perceived competence.

The authors discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

A qualitative evaluation of non-educational barriers to the élite professions

a report for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission by Dr Louise Ashley (Royal Holloway University of London), Professor Jo Duberley (University of Birmingham), Professor Hilary Sommerlad (University of Birmingham) and Professor Dora Scholarios (University of Strathclyde) published in June 2015

No abstract is provided.

Overview (first section, footnotes not included)

This report sets out the findings from a qualitative study, focusing on two main areas. The first (Study A) examines the barriers to entry for people from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds to elite law and accountancy firms, with a particular focus on London. The second (Study B) examines the barriers to entry for people from similar backgrounds to elite financial service firms (including accountancy) located in Scotland.

The study finds that despite their efforts to improve social inclusion over the past ten to fifteen years, these elite firms continue to be heavily dominated at entry level by people from more privileged socioeconomic backgrounds. This can be attributed primarily to a tendency to recruit the majority of new entrants from a narrow group of elite universities, where students are more likely to have attended selective or feepaying schools, and/or come from relatively affluent backgrounds. In addition, elite firms define ‘talent’ according to a number of factors such as drive, resilience, strong communication skills and above all confidence and ‘polish’, which participants in the research acknowledged can be mapped on to middle-class status and socialisation.

Against this backdrop, the key purpose of the study is to explore what more can be done to open access to elite professions. More generally, the study responds to evidence that the dominance of people from more privileged socioeconomic backgrounds within elite professions has become more pronounced over the past thirty years. For example, research from the Cabinet Office shows that recent generations of lawyers and accountants are more likely to come from families with significantly above-average incomes. There is also some evidence that where diverse individuals gain access to the elite professions, their subsequent career progression is affected by social background, though the extent and cause of this challenge has been under-researched to date. As we shall demonstrate, these issues seem particularly acute in the UK’s largest and most prestigious law, accountancy and financial service firms, on which this study is focused.

A key focus of the current study is on talent. Whilst talent is sometimes presented by firms as though it is an unproblematic concept, it is in fact highly ambiguous. Previous research suggests that this ambiguity is a key factor encouraging firms to rely on proxy measures of potential associated with middle-class status, thus accentuating rather than reducing, non-educational barriers to entry and, possibly, career progression. In order to explore this issue, we look here at how talent is identified and defined at entry level by organisations within the elite professions.

In addition, we also address three specific gaps in current knowledge of graduate hiring processes and practices and career progression.
  • First, we address a lack of transparency about the precise mechanics of the recruitment and selection process, and subsequent promotion decisions. In particular, we ask what non-educational barriers to entry and progression do elite organisations construct? Who are these barriers constructed by? And at what points in the hiring process do these barriers come into play?
  • Second, we examine the organisational dynamics behind a lack of diversity on the basis of social background, including factors in support of change, and in favour of the status quo. As part of this, we explore the role played by the business and moral cases for change, and discuss current best practice with respect to social inclusion initiatives.
  • Third, we ask what role clients of leading firms may play in building a better case for change? Whilst elite organisations regularly claim that client expectations of their professional advisors are a barrier to diversity, there has been no independent study of the client perspective on social background to date. This is important because in other diversity strands, including gender, the client voice has arguably been important in driving forward at least some progressive change.
Full text (PDF 112pp)

Friday, 7 August 2015

Google decision leaves data controllers “exposed and vulnerable”

An article in Privacy & Data Protection Volume 15 Issue 5 (April/May 2015) briefly covers the decision in the UK Court of Appeal.

pdp journals does not make its articles available for free and there are no abstracts.

I have, however, found an article in Practical Law which will, I believe, set out the issues covered.
The Court of Appeal has held that individual users who claimed that their data were collected by Google without their consent for the purposes of more effectively targeting advertising are entitled to seek damages, despite not suffering any pecuniary loss. The decision effectively opens up a potential flood of litigation from individuals whose data are collected or processed unlawfully.
Christopher Knight, 11KBW
Continue reading

and also access a copy of the decision here

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Time Perspective and Vocational Identity Statuses of Emerging Adults

an article by Brian J. Taber (Department of Counseling, Oakland University) and Maureen S. Blankemeyer (Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Kent State University) published in The Career Development Quarterly Volume 63 Issue 2 (June 2015)


Achievement of a vocational identity is an important developmental task for individuals entering adulthood.

The present study examined relationships between vocational identity statuses and time perspective in a sample of 165 emerging adults. Results of a canonical correlation analysis identified 2 interpretable variates.

The 1st variate indicated that diffuse vocational identity status is associated with negative views of the past and lower orientation toward the future.

The 2nd variate indicated that achieved vocational identity is associated with a largely hedonic view of the present, along with being mindful and less inclined to be fatalistic.

These results suggest that differing views on time perspective accounts for some of the variation in different vocational identity statuses. Interventions based on time perspective may prove useful in helping individuals attain an achieved vocational identity.

Future research should examine how time perspective relates to vocational identity status in individuals at later stages of career development.

A web survey analysis of subjective well-being

an article by Martin Guzi (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic) and Pablo de Pedraza García (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands AND Universidad de Salamanca, Spain) published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 36 Issue 1 (2015)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of work conditions and job characteristics with respect to three subjective well-being (SWB) indicators: life satisfaction, job satisfaction and satisfaction with work-life balance. From a methodological point of view, the paper shows how social sciences can benefit from the use of voluntary web survey data.

The paper makes use of a large sample of individual data obtained from voluntary web surveys collected as part of the WageIndicator project. The sample includes extensive information on the quality of working conditions together with different well-being indicators. The propensity score adjustment weights are used to improve the sample performance.

The results shed light on the importance of certain job characteristics not only in determining job satisfaction, but also in other SWB domains. The findings support the theory of spillover perspectives, according to which satisfaction in one domain affects other domains.

Research limitations/implications
As a voluntary web-survey, WageIndicator is affected by selection bias. The validity of the sample can be improved by weighting, but this adjustment should be made and tested on a country-by-country basis.

The paper provides analysis of the quality of a web survey not commonly used in happiness research. The subsequent presentation of the effects of working conditions on several satisfaction domains represents a contribution to the literature.

JEL codes: J28, J81

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Emotional management in the workplace: Age and experience as key influences

an article (no author listed) published in Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal Volume 29 Issue 4 (2015)


This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the papers in context.

Statistics show that populations are aging in many countries around the world. Growth in the number of older employees in the workplace is one major consequence of this demographic shift. As such individuals have become important assets to their firm, leaders should strive to ascertain how to maximize the value they provide. How age is conceptualized determines its impact on attitudes and behaviors regarding work. Such as, involvement and satisfaction with the job and commitment toward the firm can vary depending on the way in which the employee’s age is articulated. Past research has identified subjective age and social age among the different conceptualizations. But, chronological age and age reflected by work experience are often most relevant in workplace contexts.

Practical implications
The paper provides strategic insights and practical thinking that have influenced some of the world’s leading organizations.

The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.

Whose choice? Young people, career choices and reflexivity re-examined

an article by Jacqueline Laughland-Booÿ and Zlatko Skrbiš (Monash University, Australia) and Margery Mayall (The University of Queensland, Australia) published in Current Sociology Volume 63 Number 4 (July 2015)


Young people making future career choices are doing so in an environment that often highlights the benefits supposedly wrought by individualisation and reflexive choice. It is argued that those who demonstrate reflexivity in their decision-making would have an advantage in the negotiation of future risks.

The authors of this article agree with theorists who note that career choices are still strongly influenced by a person’s location in the class structure. However, unlike some writers who suggest youth from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to evaluate risk and demonstrate reflexivity, the authors suggest the opposite.

Interviews were conducted with young people aged 16–17 who are participating in an ongoing project designed to follow a cohort of young Australians from adolescence into later life. Our findings suggest that while a more privileged location may afford young people security from many potential risks and problems, this may in fact encourage a non-reflexive perspective and they may choose careers based on social norms rather than ability.

Instead, we argue that it is young people from less privileged backgrounds who tend to demonstrate reflexivity in their career planning.

Household repayment behaviour and neighbourhood effects

an article by Sarah Brown (University of Sheffield, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 52 Number 6 (May 2015)


The recent financial crisis has revealed the financial vulnerability faced by a significant number of households in the UK. Households experiencing financial problems may potentially fall into arrears in meeting financial obligations such as rent, mortgage payments or household bills. Indeed, such arrears have been regarded as one of the most direct measures of financial stress at the household level.

In this paper, we explore the relationship between household repayment behaviour and neighbourhood ties in order to identify possible channels of support for households experiencing financial stress.

We analyse data on 17,723 households drawn from wave 1 of the UK longitudinal study, Understanding Society, merged with information on neighbourhood ties defined at the postcode area level elicited from a sample of 48,906 individuals.

Our findings, which relate to the post financial crisis era, suggest that households in regions characterised by strong neighbourhood ties are less likely to report being in arrears and that this relationship is particularly apparent in the case of housing costs. This inverse relationship is strongest in regions characterised by a high density of individuals who feel able to turn to someone in the neighbourhood for support or advice.

Thus, neighbourhood and community groups, which enhance social interaction and neighbourhood ties, may be effective channels of support for financially vulnerable households.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Non-Household Populations: Implications for Measurements of Poverty Globally and in the UK

an article by Roy Carr-Hill (University of York, UK) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 44 Issue 2 (April 2015)


Data from household surveys have increasingly been used as a basis for social policy.

They are generally inappropriate for obtaining information about the poorest, and therefore for policies concerned with tackling poverty and deprivation. They omit certain groups by design: the homeless; those in institutions; and mobile, nomadic or pastoralist populations.

In addition, in practice, they typically under-represent those in fragile, disjointed or multiple occupancy households, those in urban slums and those in areas deemed as insecure. These sub-groups constitute a pretty comprehensive, ostensive definition of the ‘poorest’.

The sources of worldwide estimates of the missing populations are briefly described, with those for the UK discussed in greater detail, paying attention to their likely income and wealth.

At least 250 million of the poorest of the poor are omitted worldwide; and in the UK about half a million of the poorest are missing from survey sample frames. In the UK, these ‘missing’ population sub-groups bias the analysis of income inequalities and affect the validity of formulae that have been developed for the geographical allocation of resources to health and social care.

‘Bad Mum Guilt’: the representation of ‘work-life balance’ in UK women’s magazines

an article by Cath Sullivan (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK) published in Community, Work & Family Volume 18 Issue 3 (2015)


The social policy climate, labour market trends and gendered arrangements for paid and family work mean that ‘work-life balance’ remains a key social issue in the UK. Media representations of ‘work-life balance’ are a key source for the construction of gender and working motherhood.

Despite evidence of gendered representations in media coverage of other social issues, little attention has been paid to the construction of work-life balance in UK women’s magazines. Articles from the highest circulating UK women’s magazines are analysed using a discursive approach to explicate constructions of work-life balance and working motherhood.

The analysis reveals that multiple roles are constructed as a problematic choice leading to stress and guilt. Problems associated with multiple roles are constructed as individual problems, in a way that decontextualises and depoliticises them and normalises gendered assumptions and a gendered division of labour.

Parallels can be drawn between this and wider discourses about women’s daily lives and to the UK social policy context.