Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Differing perspectives on adult education and language learning: Human capital, empowerment, and poststructural theories

an essay by Anna Kaiper, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA published in New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development Volume 29 Issue 1 (Winter 2017)

First paragraph

Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs, and in particular, programs supporting adult English language learning, have been promoted throughout the world. Within the United States alone, over $512 million has been given to state ABE programs focusing on English literacy (United States Department of Education, 2016).

Globally, UNESCO's Education for All initiative has created numerous policies and practices for, and put extensive finances into, ABE programs to improve global adult literacy by 50% from 2000 to 2015 (UNESCO, 2013). And yet, while there are often both explicit and implicit assumptions made by students, educators, and policy makers alike regarding the purposes of adult English language learning, the numerous experiences, backgrounds, and histories of adult learners make one common narrative impossible to produce.

In this essay, I explore the differing theoretical perspectives of adult English language learning as a way to both broaden and disrupt the conversations surrounding ABE and English language learning. These frameworks provide reasons for and possible outcomes of adult language education, including education as a vehicle for job attainment and the increase of human capital, education as a means for empowerment and emancipation, and education as a mode for poststructural (re)constructions of identities.

Using these theoretical frameworks as a guide, I will explore both the strengths and weaknesses of each framework and note the interconnectivity of them all. I will also briefly discuss ways in which comprehensive understandings of these frameworks can lead to more nuanced research surrounding adult basic education and language learning.

Full text (PDF)

The bully tends to win …

a blog post from Dave Snowden

I would not normally bring this to you but it struck a chord with me.

Dave starts out by talking of childhood experiences but then branches out into the meat of his post – the bullying that goes on in employment.

A lot of the standard childhood books of my generation dealt with the subject of bullying. I was allowed Jennings and Derbyshire but forbidden Billy Bunter as my mother shared Orwell’s derision of Frank Richard’s writing. During that period the BBC produced a series based on Tom Brown’s School Days where the character of Flashman is in many ways the archetypal bully. That was considered as suitable viewing so we watched that and revealed in the final victory of our hero and the humiliation of the bully. As an aside, in respect of maternal censorhip James Bond and Biggles were absolutely forbidden and had to be covertly smuggled in from the Library or read on visits to cousins subject to less maternal constraint. For those unfamiliar with the genre, Harry Potter draws heavily on the tradition of English School novels, Hogwarts having many features in common with Linbury Court.

In all of these the bully is ultimately shown up as a coward by our plucky hero.

Would that were the case in real life. I still remember issues in both primary and secondary school with members of the North family, the caning of one just making things worse. Bullying remains an issue in schools and one that is intractable in nature but what is really scary is that it carries on in adult life.

Continue reading

Workplace context and its effect on individual competencies and performance in work teams

an article by Mikhail Rozhkov, Benny C.F. Cheung and Eric Tsui (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon) published in International Journal of Business Performance Management Volume 18 Number 1 2017


The purpose of this study was to understand the effect of workplace context on competencies and performance in work (project) teams. This study was conducted at seven technology-based companies in Hong Kong and China.

The results of the study provide companies with important knowledge on how to encourage the right competencies to achieve high performance in a workplace.

This paper attempts to propose a holistic approach on improving individual and team performance in companies. The empirical evidence obtained confirms the importance of the contextual factors as predictors of individual competencies and performance level of team members.

Specifically, the study conducted for industry integrated the concepts of organisational culture, team climate and managing skills into one model that allowed the prediction of the level of competencies and the performance of team members in work teams.

Field-of-study mismatch and overqualification: labour market correlates and their wage penalty

an article by Guillermo Montt (International Labour Office, Genève, Switzerland) IZA Journal of Labor Economics Volume 6 Article 2 (2017)


Field-of-study mismatch occurs when a worker, trained in a particular field, works in another field. This study draws on the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to explore how skill supply and labour market demand dynamics influence mismatch. It updates cross-national estimates on mismatch and estimates the mismatch wage penalty.

Findings suggest that around 40% of workers are mismatched by field at their qualification level, 11% overqualified in their field and 13% overqualified and working outside their field. The saturation of the field in the labour market and the transferability of the fields’ skills predict the incidence of field-of-study mismatch and over-qualification.

Workers who are mismatched by field only suffer a wage penalty if they are overqualified.

JEL Classification: J24, J31

Full text (PDF)

Monday, 27 February 2017

Going the Extra Mile? How Street-level Bureaucrats Deal with the Integration of Immigrants

an article by Warda Belabas (Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and Lasse Gerrits (Otto Friedrich University, Bamberg, Germany)published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 51 Number 1 (January 2017)


Dutch immigration and integration policies are being interpreted and implemented by local street-level bureaucrats.

We carried out 28 semi-structured interviews with integration coaches, integration teachers and client managers in order to understand the dilemmas they face, and to explain their subsequent behaviour.

The results show that although organizational characteristics such as the bureaucratic burden made street-level bureaucrats reluctant to enlarge their discretionary space at the expense of policy rules, their willingness to help clients often transcends these boundaries under a combination of three conditions: high client motivation, extreme personal distress of the client, and negative assessment of existing policies and policy instruments (both in terms of fairness and practicality).

Furthermore, street-level bureaucrats were found to be constantly reinterpreting and revising their roles.

Full text (PDF)

Migrant protest in times of crisis: politics, ethics and the sacred from below

an article by Özgün E. Topak (York University, Toronto, Canada) published in Citizenship Studies Volume 21 Issue 1 (January 2017)


This paper focuses on the 300 Migrant Hunger Strikers event in Greece to explore the material conditions of possibility for migrant politics in times of crisis. It identifies three elements that played determinant roles in the articulation of the event: the politics of equality enacted by migrants, the ethics of hospitality and witnessing enacted by the Greek activists and host populations and the sacredness of the event.

Critically engaging with the theories of Rancière, Derrida, Agamben and Durkheim, this paper demonstrates how these elements encountered and how their encounter helped migrants to achieve rights, albeit limited and temporary.

Moving beyond the particularity of the event, this paper also highlights the event’s importance for migrant politics in times of austerity, and increased surveillance and racism against migrants. Despite its limited and temporary success, the event demonstrates how a politics of equality, ethical openness and respect for human life can form the basis of true cosmopolitan universality.

The event also demonstrates how cosmopolitan universality is constructed from below by the migrants, who despite their undocumented status, engaged in an act of citizenship to demand equality.

The crowding out effect from the European debt crisis perspective: Eurozone experience

an article by Baki Demirel and İlhan Eroğlu (Gaziosmanpasa University, Tokat, Turkey) and Cumhur Erdem (Abant İzzet Baysal University, Bolu, Turkey) published in International Journal of Sustainable Economy Volume 9 Number 1 (2017)


The present study aims to measure the crowding out effect for the countries in the Eurozone that have tried to finance budget deficits through borrowing. We have examined the effects of government debt, government expenditure, interest rate and growth rate on private investments for the 2000-2015 period.

The results show that government debt, government expenditure, interest rates and budget deficits all affect private investment negatively and the impact of economic growth is positive.

The findings of the study support the existence of the crowding out effect in the Eurozone for the period of 2000-2015.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

And for Sunday's reading pleasure ... Shakespeare, Spinoza and infinity are included

A surprising new proof is helping to connect the mathematics of infinity to the physical world
via 3 Quarks Daily: Natalie Wolchover in Quanta
[No Caption]
With a surprising new proof, two young mathematicians have found a bridge across the finite-infinite divide, helping at the same time to map this strange boundary.
Continue reading

Software Heritage: Creating a safe haven for software
via Boing Boing: Paul Brown, Free Software Foundation Europe
Software Heritage is an initiative that has made preserving software its main mission. Why is this important? Consider, if you will, the case of Gary Kildall's video game...
Legend has it that Gary Kildall, forefather of the modern personal operating system, created the first video game ever to run on the first microprocessor, the 4004, manufactured by a then fledgling company called Intel. He ran his game off a computer he had built around the chip mounted into a briefcase. Kildall would lug his case-computer to meetings (along with a 30-kilo teletype), run the game, and demo the hardware's features to prospective clients.
This happened back in the early seventies, still living memory for many of us. The chip has been preserved for posterity as the iconic device it is. But what happened to Kildall's game? Kildall himself died in 1994 and the game, along with much of his early code, has since been lost. We don't even know what the game-play was like.
What could we have learnt from the work of one of the most brilliant minds of contemporary computer history? What other valuable code has disappeared, carelessly overwritten, summarily erased, or fading away as the magnetic layer on an old floppy disk gradually degrades into dust?
Continue reading

Old Possum's Nest
A second look at the poetry of T. S. Eliot
via Arts & Letter Daily: Marjorie Perloff in The Weekly Standard
This long-awaited critical edition of T. S. Eliot’s poems is a scholarly milestone, a watershed in publishing history. The elaborate notes Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue have provided for each line – indeed, each word – of each and every Eliot poem are so informative and the overviews for each stage of Eliot’s career contain so much of the poet's own germane commentary that one can now trace Eliot’s poetic development using no further aids than these two volumes.
Continue reading

When Islamic atheism thrived
via 3 Quarks Daily: Amira Nowaira in The Guardian
It’s astonishing to read about the freedom of expression afforded to Muslims in the 10th century, in contrast to our own times.
Freethinking is perhaps not one of the strongest suits of modern Islam. For one thing, the list of books that have been banned for challenging prevalent religious orthodoxies and sensibilities during the past hundred years is disconcertingly long.
Continue reading

A brief history of crystallography
via OUP Blog by A.M. Glazer
Crystals feature
Walking home from school at about the age of seven or eight I picked up a pebble and dashed it to the ground. It split into two and I saw that inside was a series of coloured bands. Thus begun my lifelong fascination with the world of crystals, and this led eventually to having the opportunity to work professionally in this field. Many years ago I used to have my occupation ‘crystallographer’ on my passport: this often meant a long and sometimes tedious discussion with airport immigration officials. Eventually I changed it to ‘physicist’ as then I didn’t have to explain myself.
Continue reading

Post-war playtime: Mettoy and Corgi Toys
via The National Archives Blog by David Gill
While many of us are no doubt aware of the successes of the British motoring industry in the 20th century, it’s easy to forget that at one point the UK was home to the major manufacturers of miniature toy cars as well.
The names of some of these – such as Spot On and Budgie – are all but forgotten now, but in the 1960s the big three of Matchbox by Lesney, Dinky by Mecanno and Corgi by Mettoy were the world leaders in their field. Of these three, Mettoy and their Corgi range were perhaps the company with the most interesting history, which itself we find recorded in several documents at The National Archives.
Continue reading

Life May Have Come from Hellish Solar Flares Raining Down on Earth
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
We know the necessary building blocks were all here, but the question of what made life actually happen on earth is one of the most compelling scientific questions there are. Was it a quick freak event in some muck somewhere? Ancient astronauts? God? A NASA scientist now says it may have been an extended barrage of intense solar flares that triggered a planet-warming – and life-supporting – greenhouse effect.
Continue reading

To imagine the ocean of the future: picture a writhing mass of unkillable tentacles, forever
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
In Global proliferation of cephalopods a paper in Current Biology, an esteemed group of marine biologists reports that the population of octopuses (and other cephalopods) is booming thanks to its ability to adapt quickly to ocean acidification and temperature change, which is killing off other types of marine life at alarming rates.
Continue reading

Watch this terrific Rube Goldberg magnet-and-marble tabletop demo
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
Kaplamino made this delightful Rube Goldberg-esque demo using magnets and steel balls.
See it here
Warning: it is addictive watching those little balls moving around.

William Shakespeare: The Bard’s most powerful words of wisdom
via 3 Quarks Daily: Jess Denham in The Independent
William Shakespeare at work in his study circa 1610 (original artist A H Payne) Getty Images
The Bard ran the gamut of human experience in his comedies, tragedies and sonnets, musing on life’s joys and sorrows and masterfully crafting words into timeless morsels of wisdom. From laying bare the futility of our existence in Macbeth (“a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”) and preaching the importance of integrity in Hamlet (“this above all; to thine own self be true”) to warning of speaking without thought in King Lear (“mind your speech a little lest you should mar your fortunes”) and urging us to take control of our dreams in Julius Caesar (“it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”, Shakespeare’s grasp on the English language is arguably still peerless. Romantics and realists alike turn to his words on love for guidance through a realm of that baffles us all; parents drawn upon his cautions when bringing up their children; those in need of a moral compass find one in the pages of his plays; and “neither a borrower nor a lender be” remains the best excuse when your friend requests a bailout.
Continue reading

Sykes-Picot: the treaty that carved up the Middle East
via OUP Blog by Umut Özsu
The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement has long been regarded as a watershed – a pivotal episode in the history of the Middle East with far-reaching implications for international law and politics. A product of intense diplomacy between Britain and France at the height of the First World War, this secret agreement was intended to pave the way for the final dissolution of Ottoman power in the region.
Continue reading

It’s Not Just Us Humans Going, &lsquoOm Nom Nom’ At Dinner Time. Other Primates Do, Too
via Big Think by Brandon Weber
Article Image
Scientists have previously found that other primate species express vocalizations when eating – bonobos and chimpanzees – but now they’ve recorded the sounds of gorillas doing the same. In the other species, those sounds changed based on what was being eaten, how much, and who could hear them. Also, in bonobos and chimpanzees, everybody joins in on the mealtime songs, but gorillas have a different social structure and therefore, a different set of needs around meals and such.
Continue reading

Why Spinoza still matters
via 3 Quarks Daily: Steven Nadler in Aeon
In July 1656, the 23-year-old Bento de Spinoza was excommunicated from the Portuguese-Jewish congregation of Amsterdam. It was the harshest punishment of herem (ban) ever issued by that community. The extant document, a lengthy and vitriolic diatribe, refers to the young man’s ‘abominable heresies’ and ‘monstrous deeds’. The leaders of the community, having consulted with the rabbis and using Spinoza’s Hebrew name, proclaim that they hereby ‘expel, excommunicate, curse, and damn Baruch de Spinoza’. He is to be ‘cast out from all the tribes of Israel’ and his name is to be ‘blotted out from under heaven’.
Continue reading

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Another ten interesting items that I hope you will enjoy

Christian theology, literary theory, and sexuality in the 'Song of Songs'
via OUP Blog by Karl Shuve
Why were Christian theologians in the ancient and medieval worlds so fascinated by a text whose main theme was erotic love? The very fact that the ‘Song of Songs’, a biblical love poem that makes no reference to God or to Israelite religion, played an important role in pre-modern Christian discourse may seem surprising to those of us in the modern world. After all, we are accustomed to imagining Christianity, especially in its medieval forms, as profoundly marked by a fear of sexuality and by revulsion of the body. And yet, the ‘Song of Songs’, which opens with its female protagonist urgently petitioning her lover to kiss her “with the kisses of his mouth” (1:2), was one of the most commented on books of the Bible in the Middle Ages. What interest could Christians possibly have in poetry that unabashedly revels in sexual delights?
Continue reading

Today in 1934: the death of Bonnie and Clyde, chronicled in song by Serge Gainsbourg
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
On this day, May 23, in 1934, police killed infamous outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow outside of Sailes, Louisiana. Several weeks before they were killed, Parker penned a poem titled "The Trail's End" that became the basis for "Bonnie and Clyde," a beautiful French-language song that Serge Gainsbourg wrote and performed with Brigitte Bardot in 1968.
Continue reading

11 Fantastic TED Talks That Explain How Your Brain Works
via MakeUseOf by Joel Lee
Why are we the way that we are? Is there anything we can do to change the way we think, behave, and react? And even if we come to know how the brain works, are we limited by our underlying circuitry or can we overcome our limitations?
Over the years, TED has put on dozens of amazing presentations that highlight the mysteries of the brain and break them down in ways that we – laymen – can understand. Here are the most fascinating ones we’ve watched and enjoyed.
Continue here
Hazel’s comment:
There is no way I could watch them all in one sitting but fantastic is the right word.

Kidnapped to order: child actors in Shakespeare’s day
via The National Archives Blog by Patricia Reynolds
In Shakespeare’s day women could not act in public and female roles were performed by boys and young men.
However, what is less well known is there were children’s companies entirely comprised of young boys who played both male and female roles. The Children of the Chapel was one of the most famous, and this blog will explore some of the more extreme methods they went to in order to recruit boys actors.
Continue reading

Music Can Help You Be Productive, As Long As It’s The Right Music
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Days since injury = 0
Lots of people use music to make themselves more productive. For some of us it works, for others, not so much. Maybe those who can’t listen while they work have just been trying the wrong music because science studies have revealed that listening to music does enhance productivity. For one thing, it drowns out distracting noises from others. But it turns out there are definite dos and don’ts to successfully working with music on.
Continue reading

Astronomers excited to study an ancient “uncooked” asteroid
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

ESO/M. Kornmesser
“We already knew of many asteroids, but they have all been baked by billions of years near the Sun,” says Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy. “This one is the first uncooked asteroid we could observe: it has been preserved in the best freezer there is.”
Continue reading

'Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné' By Linda Gertner Zatlin
via 3 Quarks Daily: Matthew Sturgis at Literary Review
Image result for images: aubrey beardsley
Beardsley had little formal training. He attended a few night classes at the Westminster School of Art. He learned by working – principally on two large commissions that he received in 1892 from the innovative publisher J M Dent, one for an illustrated edition of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, the other for a series of ‘grotesques’ to adorn three volumes of bons mots by the wits of the 18th century. He worked on both in tandem over the course of some eighteen months. There were lots of drawings to be done: more than three hundred illuminated letters, chapter headings, tail pieces, borders and full-page illustrations for LeMorte, and around one hundred and thirty images for the Bon-Mots. He got heartily sick of the work, but the sheer volume of it and the speed at which he had to produce improved his penmanship to the point of mastery, stimulated his powers of invention and turned him from an amateur into a professional.
Continue reading

Ten facts about the sousaphone
via OUP Blog by Celine Aenlle-Rocha
Any American can recognize the opening notes of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and that most essential instrument of the American marching band – the sousaphone. How did this 30 pound beauty come to be? Despite its relative youth, the sousaphone has an extensive (and sometimes controversial) history.
Continue reading

What Are the Smartest Animals on the Planet?
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Chimp reading
Humans aside, chimpanzees would have to be at the the top of any consideration about relative intelligence of animals. They are most like us, sharing 99% of the same DNA, as we have have descended from the same ancestor species that lived 6-7 million years ago.
Try this one instead
Raven at premiere
Continue reading

How Europe exported the Black Death
via 3 Quarks Daily: Andrew Lawler in Science
The medieval Silk Road brought a wealth of goods, spices, and new ideas from China and Central Asia to Europe. In 1346, the trade also likely carried the deadly bubonic plague that killed as many as half of all Europeans within 7 years, in what is known as the Black Death. Later outbreaks in Europe were thought to have arrived from the east via a similar route. Now, scientists have evidence that a virulent strain of the Black Death bacterium lurked for centuries in Europe while also working its way back to Asia, with terrifying consequences.
Continue reading

Swiss Scientists Discover Trees' Hidden Underground Carbon Internet
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
Scientists have just uncovered an amazing subterranean carbon dioxide exchange that goes on between trees and fungi. It’s a network of sorts, a so-called “wood wide web” that suggests forests are more cooperative ecosystems than previously understood, and not quite so much about competition.
Continue reading

Friday, 24 February 2017

Interfaces: How to Connect Effectively with Citizens

an article by Alex Brenninkmeijer (Utrecht University, The Netherlands and European Court of Auditors) published in Public Administration Review Volume 77 Issue 1 (January/February 2017)

This Perspective is based upon Alex Brenninkmeijer’s Edge Talk at the 2016 conference of the European Group for Public Administration at Utrecht University.

First paragraph

When citizens interact with agencies – for taxation, social benefits, licenses, permits, and so on – the complexity of rules, procedures, and (web)formuli is a major problem. The complexity of the world of “systems” of our public sector does not easily match the world of “real lives” – the varied lives of individuals.

Administrative systems focus on regularity, equality, and the processing of huge numbers of individual cases. All elements of the administrative process are formalised. If something cannot be formalised, if it does not fit in the system, it does not exist.

Human beings value predictability, but are not made for formality. Consequently, there is a structural tension or misfit between complex administrative systems and citizens.

Continue reading

Construction and deconstruction of ‘family’ by the ‘bedroom tax’

an article by Anat Greenstein (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) and Erica Burman, Afroditi Kalambouka and Kate Sapin (University of Manchester, UK) published in British Politics Volume 11 Issue 4 (December 2016)


This article explores how the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy policy, commonly known as the Bedroom Tax, works materially and discursively to create certain types of individuals and families as valued and deserving, while portraying others as excessive, wasteful or discretionary.

The paper draws on a qualitative study project (Bragg et al., 2015) which generated accounts from 14 families impacted by the policy, as well as 39 interviews with key workers in local schools, charities and community organisations.

Through analysis of official texts (such as the policy text and related debates in Parliament) and interview data, the paper explores how particular gendered understandings of care and kinship are constructed, regulated, penalised, and performed via the Bedroom Tax, and how these impact on the everyday lives of families subject to the subsidy removal, and beyond this also to their neighbours and neighbourhoods.

Evidence for the need to distinguish between self-initiated and organizationally imposed overload in studies of work stress

an article by Gregory A. Laurence (University of Michigan, Flint, USA), Yitzhak Fried (Texas Tech University, Lubbock, USA) and Steffen Raub (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, Delémont) published in Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations Volume 30 Issue 4 (2016)


This study attempts to enhance our understanding of the inconsistencies reported in the literature concerning the relationship between work overload and work outcomes.

We tested the proposition that work overload should be divided into two constructs based on its source: self-initiated overload (SIO), and organization-imposed overload (OIO). Based on the work stress and job crafting literatures, we expected that SIO and OIO would tend to relate differentially to the work outcomes of job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion, work–family conflict, job performance, and helping organizational citizenship behaviours.

A study was conducted using three samples, the first consisting of full-time employed students in three countries (N = 116), the second consisting of the nursing staffs of six private hospitals in Switzerland, and the third consisting of 161 middle manager-supervisor dyads in Switzerland.

Two different measures of SIO and OIO were used. SIO was found to have a more beneficial relationship with the work outcomes than OIO, general supporting our hypothesis. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The embodiment of knowledge: universities as engines of growth

an article by Reinhilde Veugelers (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 32 Issue 4 (Winter 2016)


As universities open themselves up to the marketplace for knowledge and ideas to a greater degree than in the past, debates over university missions has been common.

How can universities match their third mission, contribution to society, with their main missions of education and curiosity-driven basic research to achieve their full growth potential?

This will require a change in policy attention from targeting university patenting and faculty spin-offs, to taking a broader view on universities’ contribution to economic development, including other pathways, most notably collaborative modes and mobility of trained human capital from academe to industry.

The production and reproduction of inequality in the UK in times of austerity

an article by Alex Nunn (University of Derby, UK) published in British Politics Volume 11 Issue 4 (December 2016)


Inequality appears to be back on the intellectual and political agenda.

This paper provides a commentary on this renewed interest, drawing on an empirical discussion of inequality in the UK. The paper argues that inequality should be seen as produced in the inherently unequal social relations of production, drawing attention to the role of social struggle in shaping dynamics of inequality.

However, inequality is not just produced in dynamic class struggle in the formal economy, but also through the social reproduction of labour power on a day-to-day and inter-generational basis. As such, inequalities of household resources at any point in time may be reproductive of greater future inequality.

It is argued that inequality has risen in the UK over recent decades because of changes in the social relations of production in the formal economy and social reproduction in the domestic sector, both of which have witnessed significant state interventions that have increased structural inequalities.

It is argued that, absent of significant change, the underpinning structural dynamics in the UK will lead to further increases in inequality over the short and longer-term. Given this, we might expect to see an already emergent ‘New Politics of Inequality’ intensifying in the coming decades.

The playful newsroom: Iterating and reiterating the news and its publics

an article by Maxwell Foxman (Columbia University, USA) published in First Monday Volume 22 Number 1 (January 2017)


The crisis in the journalism industry, intensified with the popularization of the World Wide Web, warrants radical rethinking of the professional identity of journalists and their role in society.

This paper first suggests replacing the Habermasian public sphere with Dutch historian Johan Huizinga’s magic circle of play to describe the relationship between the press and its audience. Within this new model, the writer configures the rules and boundaries in which the reader is free to respond and subvert, an interplay that increasingly shapes both current news production and expectations of the public.

This paper then explores play and playful attitudes in newsroom practices and output through semi-structured interviews with journalists, game designers and educators. The “Game Team” at the news and entertainment Web site BuzzFeed acts as a primary case study of a group of journalists who make a variety of playful products – from full-fledged games to interactives – which they iterate and improve over time, in response to readers’ feedback.

Full text (HTML)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Privacy and trust in Facebook photo sharing: age and gender differences

an article by Aqdas Malik, Kari Hiekkanen and Marko Nieminen (Aalto University, Espoo, Finland) published in Program Volume 50 Issue 4 (2016)


The purpose of this paper is to examine gender and age differences regarding various aspects of privacy, trust, and activity on one of the most popular Facebook activity – “photo sharing.” Design/methodology/approach
The data were collected using an online survey hosted by a web-based survey service for three weeks during December 2014-January 2015. The target audience comprised of Facebook users over 18 years engaged in sharing their photos on the platform.

Women and young Facebook users are significantly more concerned about the privacy of their shared photos. Meanwhile, users from older age groups are less active in using the site, in sharing photos, and in taking privacy-related protective measures. Interestingly, despite having more privacy concerns, young Facebook users display higher trust levels toward the platform than older users. Overall, in the study, there was an extremely significant difference in privacy attitudes among people under and over 35 years of age.

The main contribution of this study is new knowledge regarding the gender and age differences in various privacy-related aspects, trust, and activity. Findings from the study broadens the overall understanding of how these issues positively/negatively influence the photo-sharing activity on Facebook.

Responsibilising recovery: Lone and low-paid parents, Universal Credit and the gendered contradictions of UK welfare reform

an article by Ruth Cain (University of Kent, Canterbury, UK) published in British Politics Volume 11 Issue 4 (December 2016)


Universal Credit is a new benefits delivery system designed to streamline UK benefits and tax credits and encourage work.

This paper examines Universal Credit’s effect on lone parent and low-paid households. Lone mothers, identified as a moral and financial risk, face conditionality which ignores barriers to employment. Universal Credit also extends conditionality to lower-paid workers and their families. It encodes contradictory gendered messages.

While individual parental responsibility is increasingly socially and legally emphasised, unemployed or low-paid parents may be forced to spend minimal time with children under threat of sanctions or workfare.

Universal Credit demonstrates a clash between market-liberal economic ideals of labour flexibility, and conservative valorisations of the good mother and (married/heteronormative) family, enhanced by ‘recovery’ discourses of thrift and responsibilisation.

This paper argues that such moral/economic incoherence will penalise ‘workless’ and ‘part-workless’ citizens who cannot fulfil neoliberal ideals of the private, self-sufficient family unit in hostile economic conditions.

Social networking as the production and consumption of a self

an article by Michael Fisher, Richard Boland Jr. and Kalle Lyytinen (Case Western Reserve University, USA) published in Information and Organization Volume 26 Issue 4 (December 2016)

  • We conducted a qualitative research study using a grounded theory approach with semi-structured interviews of SNS users.
  • We discovered that the creation and consumption of user generated content (UGC) are symbolic interactions.
  • The creation and consumption of UGC recursively produce and consume the users’ self-identities on SNS.
  • This cyclical framework for explaining the role of self-identity on SNS is a novel finding with broad implications.

The ubiquitous use of social networking sites (SNS) has resulted in the blurring of individual's private and professional social worlds. As the use of SNS in the workplace grows, it has been studied along a number of dimensions such as its impact on boundary spanning, the advancement of careers, and campaigning for projects.

Earlier research on the personal use of SNS has explored user motivations and benefits of participating in SNS including social capital, status seeking, narcissism, self-esteem, and professional identity. However, these studies attempt to describe with static frameworks what we discover to be a dynamic, cyclical process of creation and consumption of self-identity.

We conducted a qualitative research study using a grounded theory approach with semi-structured interviews of SNS users, discovering that the creation and consumption of user generated content (UGC) are symbolic interactions, which recursively produce and consume the users' self-identities on SNS. This cyclical framework for explaining the role of self-identity on SNS is a novel finding with broad implications for understanding the use of SNS, especially in the workplace.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New results on structural change during the recent growth boom in developing countries

My Photo
Dani Rodrik’s weblog: Unconventional thoughts on economic development and globalization

The last two decades have been a rare period of rapid convergence for the world's developing economies. Everyone is familiar with China and India’s experience, but growth went beyond these two large economies. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America had their best performance in decades, if not ever.

In a new paper, my co-authors Xinshen Diao (IFPRI) and Margaret McMillan (Tufts and IFPRI) and I examine this experience. We ask what drove this growth and how sustainable is it. Looking at recent growth through the lens of structural change proves particularly insightful.

Here is our decomposition of recent growth accelerations into the within-sector and between-sector terms. The latter term captures the growth contribution of structural change – the reallocation of labor across sectors with different labor productivities.

Continue reading

Hungry? Food Insecurity, Social Stigma and Embarrassment in the UK

Kingsley Purdam, Elisabeth A Garratt and Aneez Esmail (University of Manchester, UK) published in Sociology Volume 50 Number 6 (2016)


In the context of the economic recession and welfare reform in the UK there have been ongoing political debates regarding food insecurity. Food has an important role in defining people’s identities, yet the rapid growth in the number of food banks and food donation points in supermarkets and schools suggests a normalisation of food aid.

Moreover, an estimated three million individuals are thought to be at risk of malnutrition in the UK.

We examine: the discourse of food aid and the demonisation of those living in poverty, the scale of malnutrition, and the experiences of food bank users by drawing on survey data and case studies. Substantial numbers of people were constrained in their food choices, whilst food bank users had concerns about the social stigma of food aid.

It is questionable whether the present policy approach is economically and politically efficient given the impact on people’s health and well-being.

Full text (PDF)

Migrants from marginal dry areas in Syria: destinations, employment, and returns

an article by Malika Abdelali-Martini (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Cairo, Egypt), Kindah Ibrahim (National Agricultural Policy Center, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic) and Boubaker Dhehibi (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman, Jordan) published in IZA Journal of Migration Volume 5 Article 23 (2016)


We examine the determinants of migrants’ choices of destination, employment, and remittances from one of the poorest marginal dry areas in Syria. Qualitative and econometric analysis of cross-sectional data indicates that migrants’ choices depend mainly on individual, household, and community characteristics and also on availability of opportunities.

The main factors affecting the choice of destination and employment are the sending area, age, and sex of migrants, while the educational level had no significant effect in both cases.

The larger the endowments of migrants’ households, the higher the remittances sent back home to preserve households’ assets in marginal dry areas.

Full text (PDF)

Monday, 20 February 2017

No country for young men?

a blog post for the Resolution Foundation by Daniel Tomlinson

In decades gone by paid work was a thing that men did. Families, the world of work and the welfare state were structured to make this the norm. But this mid-20th century certainty is no more. Women in the UK are participating in the labour market in ever greater numbers with the gender employment gap now at a record low. This is good news.

But rising female participation hasn’t been the only big labour market shift over the last 50 years. There has been a massive upheaval in the nature of work carried out too. The classic mid-skilled jobs of the past – secretarial and routine manufacturing jobs – are in long-term decline and won’t be coming back (no matter what President Trump says). This has huge consequences for the career prospects of younger generations (a key theme of our Intergenerational Commission) but also for how different genders experience the world of work.

Continue reading

A tale of two cities: Rescaling economic strategy in the North Midlands

an article by Will Rossiter (Nottingham Trent University, UK) published in Local Economy Volume 31 Issue 8 (December 2016)


This paper addresses the implementation (or mediation) of industrial policy at the regional and local level in the northern sub-region of the English East Midlands. At the heart of both New Labour and Coalition Government policy on local and regional economic development was a simple proposition to the effect that if decision-making for economic development could be better aligned to ‘functional economic geographies’, better economic outcomes should result.

The abolition of Regional Development Agencies and creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships brought this proposition into sharp focus. This paper explores the consequences of this shift in the spatial scale of decision making for the development process and policy content of place based economic strategies.

Strategies produced for three ‘nested’ geographic areas in the north midlands are compared. An apparent tension between economic development and institutional trajectories is considered.

Full text (PDF)

Status insecurity and temporality in world politics

an article by Joshua Freedman (Northwestern University, USA) published in European Journal of International Relations Volume 22 Number 4 (December 2016)


International Relations scholars concerned with explaining status-seeking behaviour in the international system draw heavily from social comparison theory and its observations that individuals judge their worth, and accordingly derive self-esteem, through social comparisons with others. According to this logic, states become status seekers because, like individuals, they have an innate desire for favourable social status comparisons relative to their peers.

Thus, the great power status literature is often framed in the language of accommodation, and adjustment, which presupposes that status insecurities develop from unfavourable social comparisons and can be resolved through relative social improvements. This article challenges these assumptions by noting, as psychology has acknowledged for some time, that individuals use both social and temporal forms of comparison when engaging in self-evaluation.

Where social comparisons cause actors to ask “How do I rank relative to my peers?” temporal comparisons cause actors to evaluate how they have improved or declined over time. This article advances a temporal comparison theory of status-seeking behaviour, suggesting that many of the signalling problems associated with status insecurity emerge from basic differences in how states evaluate their status, and whether they privilege temporal over social comparisons.

The implications are explored through China’s contemporary struggle for status recognition, situating this struggle within the context of China’s civilisational past and ongoing dispute over Taiwan.

Full text (PDF)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

And for Sunday I start with maps (big time suck) and end with Marc Bolan

The Map Room
via Marcus Zillman

The Map Room is a weblog about maps, curated and composed by map connoisseur Jonathan Crowe. Readers will find frequently updated posts on everything from the use of maps in fantasy novels to election maps to multilingual maps of India.
Entries are short - usually less than 100 words – and packed with links to fascinating and informative sites from around the web. After readers have scrolled down the page and taken in all the latest from Mr. Crowe, they may like to explore the categories of Archives, Fantasy Maps, Publications, and Reviews.
Archives date back to 2003 and include hundreds of entries. They can be scouted by month or by subject (Antique Maps, Environment, GPS, Transit, and about two dozen other). There is also an excellent tag function, where readers can find everything from NASA to 3D Printing to refugees.
This will be added to Reference Resources Subject Tracer™.
From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2016. https://www.scout.wisc.edu

Oh the side trails that one can go down on the Internet!
The Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, has begun a series of posts about imaginary maps. “We’ll be exploring all of these types of maps and imaginary worlds this summer. Come revisit the Hundred Acre Wood and the other worlds of your favorite children’s stories, spend some time in medieval Europe, and run from White Walkers in Game of Thrones.” So far we have an introduction and a look at maps from the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, with Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth next on the schedule. [WMS]
I give up or I will never get anything done!! But I tell you that the Hundred Acre Wood map is superb.

Insects are conscious, according to study
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

“Brain scans of insects appear to indicate that they have the capacity to be conscious and show egocentrico, apparently indicating that they have such a thing as subjective experience.” That's the finding of study written by Andrew B Barron and Colin Klein, and published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
Continue reading

Ghetto: The Shared History of a Word
via 3 Quarks Daily: Adam Kirsch in Tablet
Today most Americans would be surprised to learn that the original ghettos were inhabited by Jews. That is the experience Mitchell Duneier relates in his new book Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, when it comes to teaching his own students at Princeton about the history of the ghetto. For the last 70 years, Duneier shows, the word “ghetto” has for Americans become exclusively associated with poor black neighborhoods, especially in big cities like New York and Chicago. Few people know that, for centuries before America even existed, Jews in many European cities were legally confined to walled neighborhoods known as ghettos. (“Ghetto” is the Italian word for “foundry”; the first Jewish enclave in Venice was located on the same island as a foundry, and the word came to refer to the neighborhood by extension.)
Continue reading

BT Archives: making a collaborative resource
via The National Archives Blog by James Fleming
It’s difficult to overstate the impact of the First World War on people across the globe; from the significant political consequences, to the military and medical legacies, the effect of the First World War on the development of society can still be seen today. Among the various technological developments to medical and military equipment is the impression the war had on British telecommunications and the technological strides that were made as a result.
Continue reading

War and Peace on screen
via OUP Blog by Amy Mandelker
I’m 15 years old and I have just thrown up in the lavatory at the movie theater. Shaking too hard to reach the paper towels, I need to hide out there for the entire intermission of the third instalment of Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic 1967 film adaptation of War and Peace. In its uncut version, the film is almost 9 hours long, requiring four separate screenings of almost 3 hours each, shown on two consecutive weekends of two nights each.
Continue reading

What Killed off the Neanderthals? You Might Not Like the Answer
via Big Think by Philip Berry
Article Image
Beginning about 400,000 years ago, Neanderthals began moving across Europe and Western Asia. They roamed widely for hundreds of thousands of years. Then something happened about 45,000 years ago. That’s when a new, invasive species turned up on the scene, homo sapiens—our direct ancestors. This group began migrating across Africa and into Europe. Waves of them came and spread out. The next bit has been a mystery to modern science. 5,000 years later, the Neanderthals disappeared. No one knows why. But a new discovery has us one step closer to a definitive answer.
Continue reading

Mourning, memory, and performance
via OUP Blog by Laurie Maguire
There is a wonderful Christopher Rush novel, Will (2007), in which Shakespeare says that what he does best is death: “I do deaths you see. And I can do the deaths of children. Their lips were four red roses on a stalk… – that sort of thing.” From the death of young Rutland in 2 Henry VI to the unexpected death of Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s plays are full of loss.
Continue reading

The Mad Dogs of London: A Tale of Rabies
via The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice
L0048997 A mad dog on the run in a London street: citizens attack it
There was panic on the streets of London in 1760, and the city’s newspapers weren’t helping the situation. Hundreds of column inches, for week upon week, were full of terrifying reports about an outbreak of attacks by rabid dogs. Armchair experts even wrote letters to newspaper editors offering advice and hypotheses on the causes and prevention of rabies (or “hydrophobia” as contemporaries called it).
Continue reading

Bosch Mania
via 3 Quarks Daily: Morgan Meis in The Easel
This year [2016] is shaping up to be downright Boschian. We are speaking here of Hieronymus Bosch, the painter. 2016 happens to mark the five-hundred-year anniversary of Bosch’s death. So, Bosch’s home and eponymous town, Den Bosch (or, more correctly but much harder to say, ‘s-Hertogenbosch), has assembled the largest retrospective of Bosch’s work ever to be exhibited. The exhibit (Jheronimus Bosch – Visions of a Genius) is at the Noordbrabants Museum through May 8th. Such is public demand to see the show that this normally sedate regional museum has extended its opening hours until past midnight. And Bosch mania will not end there. The Prado in Madrid, for example, is hosting its own blockbuster Bosch exhibit beginning at the end of May and running into September. The crowds at the Noordbrabants Museum and the activity in the global press suggests that Bosch is more relevant, more interesting to the public mind than ever. Bosch mania is set to peak at the same time as the heat of the Northern summer, with festival events scheduled throughout the summer.
Continue reading and discover what, like me, you missed.

The Cognitive Origins of Religion
via Big Think by Derek Beres
Article Image
To understand the human brain we often turn to neuroscientists and psychologists. Two decades ago, Professor of Archaeology Steven Mithen decided to explore the origins of our nervous system (and much more) through his field of study. Besides popularizing the term ‘cognitive fluidity’, in his landmark book, The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion, and Science, Mithen speculated on exactly how primates evolved to the current iteration of the brain.
Continue reading

Marc Bolan of T. Rex hosted a glam rock TV music show in the 1970s, and it was awesome
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Marc Bolan
I didn't know glam rock icon Marc Bolan hosted a music TV show in the 1970s. It was called simply MARC, and judging from this sixth (and final) episode, it was terrific.
Continue reading

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Start with biological age and end with a brave new world. An eclectic mix.

Your Birth Date Is Arbitrary – It’s Your Biological Age That Matters
via Big Think by Philip Berry
Article Image
In a study published in the journal Molecular Cell, researchers discovered rapid aging in HIV patients. Biologist Trey Ideker and his team at the University of California, San Diego made this discovery, finding that these patients were susceptible to age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia five years earlier than their non-infected peers. Researchers aren’t sure whether it is anti-retroviral drug treatments or the virus itself that causes this. But some aspect seems to speed up their biological age. So what is one’s biological age, and how is it different from the chronological kind?
Continue reading

Paying for the privilege: a new Shakespeare discovery
via The National Archives Blog by Adrian Ailes
One third of a pound does not go far today – it’s not even a small child’s pocket money. But in 1603, it helped Shakespeare secure his future.
Six shillings and eight pence is what Shakespeare’s company of actors, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, were charged for the first stage of a bureaucratic process to gain a licence granting them the patronage of the new king, James I; henceforth, the company would be known as the King’s Men. It was expensive – at the time, actors in London were normally paid less than one shilling a day – but it was to prove a wise investment.
Continue reading

Locations From Harry Potter That You Can See in Real Life
via MakeUseOf by Dave LeClair
Are you a huge fan of Harry Potter? Have you read all the books and seen all the movies multiple times each? What better way is there to truly express your love of all things Hogwarts than by actually going there, or at least going to place on which it’s based.
Check out the infographic here

Inner Earth Is Teeming With Exotic Forms of Life
via 3 Quarks Daily: Sandeep Ravindran in Smithsonian
Ancient bacteria from nearly two miles below Earth's surface: that's what first drew Tullis Onstott to begin his search for life in the most unlikely of places. The geomicrobiologist had just attended a 1992 U.S. Department of Energy meeting about rocks estimated to be more than 200 million years old—older than most dinosaurs. These prehistoric rocks had been unearthed from a gas exploration well, and they turned out to be teeming with bacteria. “That was pretty amazing to me,” says Princeton University's Onstott. “The idea that these bacteria had been living in these Triassic rocks since they were deposited at a time prior to the age of the dinosaurs, that idea caught my fancy,” he says. These rocks were among the first substantial evidence that life existed miles underground, and they jumpstarted researchers’ efforts to study life in the so-called deep subsurface. Over the past 20 years, Onstott and others have found that there is a greater variety of life in a lot more inhospitable places than anyone had imagined.
Continue reading

Sheldon Museum of Art
Back in April of last year Research Buzz said that the Sheldon Museum of Art was digitizing its collection and that the work should be finished in late fall.
Intrigued I had to go and look and I found a treasure trove.
Look for yourself

Psycho thrillers: five movies that teach us how the mind works
Power, violence, death and reality … the movies can teach us plenty about life’s big issues. From the Godfather to Groundhog Day, five psychologists pick the films that tell us what makes humans tick
via 3 Quarks Daily: Catherine Shoard, Philippa Perry, Steven Pinker, Dacher Keltner, Sue Blackmore and Susan Greenfield in The Guardian
films and the mind
Read it here

New Shakespeare discovery reveals fee for royal favour
via The National Archives Blog by Dr Adrian Ailes
Archivists at The National Archives have discovered a 400-year-old document which reveals a new insight into how Shakespeare’s acting company rose to become royal favourites, known as the King’s Men.
It has long been known that Shakespeare and his colleagues acted as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men under Elizabeth I, and that King James I and VI made them the King’s Men after he came to the English throne in 1603.
What was not known until now was how much Shakespeare paid to receive this privilege.
Continue reading

The Science Behind Why Freddie Mercury's Voice Was So Damned Compelling
via Big Think by Brandon Weber
Article Image
Scientists have studied the voice and vocals of one of the greats of pop music, Freddie Mercury of the band Queen. And the results?
Continue reading

Fun “perpetual motion” gizmo made from office supplies
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
I was wondering how this “swing thing” kept going. I had to make the video full screen to see the power source. Very cool!
Watch it for yourself

Is it a brave new world if you're a woman?
via 3 Quarks Daily by Sarah Firisen
There’s never been a better, safer, healthier, fairer time to be a woman than right now. On the other hand, the bar was set pretty low for most of history. Yes, we are no longer chattel, the property of our fathers and husbands. We can vote, hell one of us is probably on track to be the leader of the free world come January. But in reality, there have been other major female leaders before: Margaret Thatcher, what about Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century, how much did she do to advance the cause of women in England? How much did either of them do, either in terms of policy or as icons who caused a major shift in public attitude and behavior?
Continue reading

Friday, 17 February 2017

Should governments of OECD countries worry about graduate underemployment?

an article by Francis Green and Golo Henseke (UCL Institute of Education) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 32 Number 4 (Winter 2016)


To assess potential public concerns, this paper examines theory and evidence surrounding graduate educational underemployment (overeducation) in this era of mass higher education. Using a new, validated, index of graduate jobs, we find that the prevalence of graduate underemployment across 21 countries is correlated with the aggregate supply-demand imbalance, but not with indicators of labour market flexibility.

Underemployment’s association with lower job satisfaction and pay is widespread. Yet in most countries there are external benefits (social trust, volunteering, and political efficacy) associated with higher education, even for those who are underemployed.

Taken together with existing studies we find that, in this era of mass higher education participation, under-employment is a useful indicator of the extent of macroeconomic disequilibrium in the graduate labour market.

We conclude that governments should monitor graduate underemployment, but that higher education policy should be based on social returns and should recall higher education’s wider purposes.

JEL Classification: I23, I28, J2, J3, J4

Full text (PDF)

A Study into Breaches of Youth Justice Orders and the Young People Who Breach Them

an article by Laurie D. Grandi (Middlesex University, London, UK) and Joanna R. Adler (affiliation(s) unknown) published in Youth Justice Volume 16 Issue 3 (2016)


This study concerns the incidence and aetiology of breach of youth community sentences.

A between-groups archival study compared those who breached with those who did not, on socio-demographic and criminogenic factors. Breachers were a minority, likely to breach repeatedly and were similar to those who re-offended.

Whether they breach or re-offend may depend on something other than the characteristics of the Order and the young person’s situation. Youth Justice Professionals should be mindful of the identified areas of need and responsivity when considering compliance.

The impact of acute health shocks on the labour supply of older workers: Evidence from sixteen European countries

an article by Elisabetta Trevisan (University of Padua, Italy and Netspar, Tilburg, The Netherlands) and Francesca Zantomio (Ca' Foscari University Venice, Italy) published in Labour Economics Volume 43 (December 2016)

  • Experiencing a first acute health shock doubles the risk of labour market exit.
  • Conditional on remaining in work, men increase hours worked, women do not.
  • Stroke causes the largest LMP response, followed by cancer, and then infarction.
  • Men’s response is driven by impairment, women’s by preferences and finances.
  • Access to disability benefits drives cross-country heterogeneity in LMP response.

We investigate the consequences of experiencing an acute health shock, namely the first onset of myocardial infarction, stroke or cancer, on the labour supply of older workers in Europe. Despite its policy relevance to social security sustainability, the question has not yet been empirically addressed in the European context.

We combine data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and cover sixteen European countries, representative of different institutional settings, in the years spanning from 2002 to 2013.

The empirical strategy builds on the availability of an extremely rich set of health and labour market information as well as of panel data.

To remove the potential confounding bias, a selection on observables strategy is adopted, while the longitudinal dimension of data allows controlling for time invariant unobservables. Implementation is based on a combination of stratification and propensity score matching methods.

Results reveal that experiencing an acute health shock on average doubles the risk of an older worker leaving the labour market, and is accompanied by a deterioration in physical functioning and mental health, as well as by a reduction in perceived life expectancy.

Men’s labour market response appears driven by the onset of impairment acting as a barrier to work. In the case of women, preferences for leisure and financial constraints seem to play a prominent role. Heterogeneity in behavioural responses across countries – with the largest labour supply reductions observed in the Nordic and Eastern countries, and England – are suggestive of a relevant role played by social security generosity.

JEL Classification: J22, J18, I10, C14

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Watching the watchers: conducting ethnographic research on covert police investigation in the United Kingdom

an article by Shane Mac Giollabhuí (University of Dublin, Republic of Ireland), Benjamin Goold (University of British Columbia, Canada) and Bethan Loftus (University of Manchester, UK) published in Qualitative Research Volume 16 Issue 6 (December 2016)


It has long been claimed that the police are the most visible symbol of the criminal justice system (Bittner, 1974). There is, however, a significant strand of policing – covert investigation that relies routinely on methods of deception – that resists public revelation (Ross, 2008).

The growing importance of covert police investigation has profound implications for the relationship between citizen and the state in a democratic society, but it is relatively unexplored by police researchers.

In this article, we describe the methodology of the first ethnographic study of how the introduction of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) – a piece of ‘enabling’ legislation that regulates the conditions under which law enforcement agencies can intervene in the privacy of individuals – has effected the conduct of covert police investigation in the United Kingdom.

We describe our ethnographic experience in the ‘secret world’ of covert policing, which is familiar in many respects to ethnographers of uniformed officers, but which also differed significantly.

We contend that the organizing principle of surveillance – the imperative to maintain the secrecy of an operation – had a marked impact on our ethnographic experience, which eroded significantly our status as non-participant observers and altered out reflexive experience by activating the ‘usefulness’ of our gender.

Full text (PDF)

The delicate balance of ‘build to rent’

a blog post by Lindsay Judge for Resolution Foundation

How times change. Twenty five year ago less than one in ten families rented their home from a private landlord; today that figure stands at close to one in five. Renting is no longer the tenure of just the footloose and fancy-free who prize the flexibility that it offers. The private rented sector (PRS) is increasingly a place where families settle down, bring up their children and build a home.

But here’s the rub: the PRS in the UK is not well-suited to this new task. In contrast to many of our continental neighbours and the US, our PRS is highly fragmented and unprofessional. Renting out property is a side-line for most UK landlords: recent research has shown, for example, that over 60 per cent own a single unit while just 7 per cent own five or more. The result? Too often a low quality home, with limited security of tenure, and a high price tag.

Continue reading

Local networks for local interactions: Four reasons why and a way forward

an article by Panayotis Antoniadis (Nethood) published in First Monday Volume 21 Number 12 (December 2016)


This paper frames the role of community (wireless) networks, and other forms of grassroots DIY networking models, as complementary to the Internet communication infrastructures hosting local services for facilitating local interactions, as drivers for a more convivial and sustainable life in the city.

Today, only a few Internet-based global corporations mediate our everyday online interactions, without respecting our rights to privacy, freedom of expression and self-determination; they depend for their own sustainability on the exploitation of the immense collected information and design power toward private, commercial and political objectives.

But when communication is meant to take place between people in physical proximity, local community networks can provide an alternative infrastructure owned and designed by those concerned.

The paper analyses four key reasons, practical, social, political, and scientific, why such DIY networks should be considered as a viable complementary infrastructure for local communications even when Internet access is available.

Through analogies with other relevant domains of local action, namely complementary currencies and cooperative housing, I conclude by addressing the dichotomy between local action and global coordination. I advocate for the co-creation of convivial ICT tools for building local communities, or better hybrid spaces of local cooperation, which are larger in size than the small in “small is beautiful” and smaller, but in many cases more diverse, than recent imaginaries of the “multitude”.

Full text (HTML)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Caring About and For the Cuts: a Case Study of the Gendered Dimension of Austerity and Anti-austerity Activism

an article by Emma Craddock (Nottingham University, University Park, Nottingham, UK) published in Gender, Work and Organization Volume 24 Number 1 (January 2017)


Austerity is a feminist issue, given its disproportionate impact on women. Within Nottingham there has been a strong resistance to austerity.

However, the key local anti-austerity groups neglect this gendered dimension, resulting in women forming their own community groups to provide practical support to women affected by the cuts.

This article explores this feminist response to austerity, raising the question of why this gendered dimension is not visible within key local anti-austerity movements. It seeks to answer this question by drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with activists, paying close attention to the gendered barriers and exclusions to activism that exist.

In particular, this article explores the complex relationship between care and activism that underlies many of these barriers.

Finally, it offers some potential solutions to this key problem.

Full text (PDF)

Social Work Grand Challenges and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: Linking Social Work and Women’s Health

an article by Annalise John (MSW), Elizabeth Gamarra (MSW), Melissa Bird (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Rachel L. Wright (Appalachian State University, Boone, USA) and Caren J. Frost (PhD, MPH) published in International Journal of Social Work Volume 3 Number 2 (2017)


The health of women is a crucial component to family and community well-being. However, social work scholars have not been very engaged in research pertaining to the health needs of women. With the Grand Challenges of Social Work becoming a major element for national discussion and with the revision of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) in 2015, we wondered how connected the 12 Grand Challenges and the 17 SDGs were.

We searched the social work literature from 2005 to present to identify what salient publications were available about women’s health and then connected them to the current themes of the Grand Challenges and SDGs.

There are no more articles to review in the social work literature.

Using a feminist social work framework, we summarize the topics covered in these articles and define a call to action for more scholarly work on women’s health in the context of current national and global conversations about this social justice issue.

Full text (PDF)

A new kind of steganography schemes for image

an article by Zhihai Zhuo (Beijing Information Science and Technology University, China) and Ning Zhong (China Youth University of Political Studies, Beijing, China) published in International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics Voume 9 Number 1 (2017)


Message security is more and more important in our modern life. As encryption arousing suspicion easily, steganography which aims at hiding secret message in a cover and has little influence on the cover becomes popular. There are many steganography algorithms having been proposed.

Most of them are based on binary, but binary sequence is longer than ternary sequence of a same decimal sequence. In this paper, to have a shorter sequence to represent secret message and protect it, we propose a new method to deal with secret message and get a binary sequence, a ternary sequence and a quaternary sequence.

For the ternary sequence and quaternary sequence, we propose a ternary JSteg method and a quaternary JSteg method; this method can keep the histogram characters. So for same secret message, our method will have less influence on the cover.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valorised but not valued? Affective remuneration, social reproduction and feminist politics beyond the crisis

an article by Emma Dowling (Middlesex University, London, UK) published in British Politics Volume 11 Issue 4 (December 2016)


This paper proposes an analytical distinction between modes of valorising and modes of valuing social reproduction to suggest that a conflict between these two opposing modes lies at the heart of an on-going crisis of social reproduction in the face of purported economic recovery, where unpaid reproductive labour constitutes a source of surplus value.

A systemic imperative to expand markets in the pursuit of profitability goes hand in hand with a devaluation of social reproduction, either by making this work invisible or by externalising its cost.

This article analyses the specificities of this process in the context of contemporary Britain and investigates the role of the state, focusing on volunteering and new forms of ‘affective remuneration’ linked to financialisation and the connection between social reproduction and wealth extraction.

In conclusion, the paper outlines the contours of possible counter-practices informed by a feminist politics.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Is it better to invest in hard or soft skills?

an article by Jiří Balcar (VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic) published in The Economic and Labour Relations Review Volume 27 Issue 4 (2016)


Increasing awareness of the productive potential of soft skills has sparked a discussion of their systematic and purposeful development. However, education systems pay only limited attention to this topic in most countries and remain focused on the development of hard skills.

Is this approach rational or inadequate?

This article provides new evidence on different aspects of the wage returns to soft skills (as an approximation of their productivity), and thereby contributes significantly to the discussion of the role of educational institutions in their development. It provides evidence that soft skills are as productive as hard skills.

Moreover, it suggests that the productivity of hard skills stems from their combination with soft skills.

These conclusions do not correspond to the fact that the value of education is intermediated mainly by hard skills, resulting in unequal development of soft and hard skills in schools.

While concluding that education systems should pay more attention to soft skills development, the analysis recognises that this attention should be differentiated according to employers’ needs, owing to substantial differences in the value of soft skills across economic sectors.

It is also noteworthy that while significant gender differences in returns to hard skills were identified, wage returns to soft skills appear gender neutral.

JEL Classification: J24, J31, J71

Full text (PDF)

Will more higher education improve economic growth?

an article by Eric A. Hanushek (Stanford University, USA) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 32 Issue 4 (November 2016)


Calls for expanded university education are frequently based on arguments that more graduates will lead to faster growth. Empirical analysis does not, however, support this general proposition.

Differences in cognitive skills – the knowledge capital of countries – can explain most of the differences in growth rates across countries, but just adding more years of schooling without increasing cognitive skills historically has had little systematic influence on growth.

JEL classification: O4, I2

Job Anxiety, Work-Related Psychological Illness and Workplace Performance

an article by Melanie K. Jones (Sheffield University), Paul L. Latreille (Sheffield University and IZA) and Peter J. Sloane (Swansea University; National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University; and IZA) published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 54 Issue 4 (December 2016)


This article uses matched employee-employer data from the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey to examine the relationship between employee psychological health and workplace performance in 2004 and 2011.

Using two measures of work-related psychological health – namely employee-reported job anxiety and manager-reported workforce stress, depression and anxiety – we find a positive relationship between psychological ill-health and absence, but not quits.

The association between psychological ill-health and labour productivity is less clear, with estimates sensitive to sector, time period and the measure of psychological health. The 2004–2011 panel is further used to explore the extent to which change in psychological health is related to change in performance.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Ten more weird and wonderful stories for your Sunday delectation

The Triumph of Piero
via 3 Quarks Daily: Willibald Sauerländer at the New York Review of Books
Piero della Francesca: Virgin of Mercy, the center panel of the Misericordia Polyptych, 1445–1462
Museo Civico, Sansepolcro/Erich Lessing/Art Resource

Piero della Francesca: Virgin of Mercy, the center panel of the Misericordia Polyptych, 1445–1462
I really do not know which paragraph of the review to use to highlight it.

Please read for yourself.

‘Not a fair trial’: Edward Ashford’s petitions for mercy
via The National Archives Blog by Briony Paxman
Working on the many thousands of petitions for clemency in record series HO 17 can be a sobering experience. We find accounts of families torn apart by transportation, descriptions of upsetting crimes, stories of individuals driven to criminal acts in desperate circumstances, and sometimes we come across unsettling accounts of someone who appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Edward Ashford is just such a case. I have chosen to focus on him for this blog because his petitions provide an unusually detailed account of how events overtook him, and his life was turned upside down: a trip to a fair led to an accusation of theft and the prospect of never seeing his family again.
Continue reading

Bird genomes contain 'fossils' of parasites that now infect humans
via 3 Quarks Daily: From PhysOrg
Bird genomes contain 'fossils' of parasites that now infect humans
In rare instances, DNA is known to have jumped from one species to another. If a parasite's DNA jumps to its host's genome, it could leave evidence of that parasitic interaction that could be found millions of years later — a DNA 'fossil' of sorts. An international research team led from Uppsala University has discovered a new type of so-called transposable element that occurred in the genomes of certain birds and nematodes. The results are published in Nature Communications. Dr. Alexander Suh at Uppsala University is an expert on the small stretches of DNA that tend to jump from one place to another, called transposable elements. Working with a team from eleven institutions in five countries, the researchers discovered a new type of transposable element that occurred in certain bird genomes but not others. By searching DNA databases, the team discovered that the only other animals that shared the new transposable element were nematode worms that are parasites of humans and other mammals.
Continue reading

Shakespeare's Not-So Sceptered Isle
via OUP Blog by Marisa R. Cull
In 2012, when the world tuned in for the opening ceremony of London’s Olympic Games, they were witness in part to a performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famed speeches, delivered by one of today’s most revered Shakespearean actors. Kenneth Branagh, dressed as English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, offered these lines in the spirit of the ceremony’s larger theme, “The Isles of Wonder”:
Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
In isolation, as part of a larger tribute to the British Isles, the speech has a powerful effect. But of course Shakespeare is often misleading out of context. At this particular moment in The Tempest, set not in Britain but on a remote isle long associated with the “New World,” the island “monster” Caliban tries to calm the nerves of his fractious guests, who have sought first to subdue him and use his knowledge of the island to help them colonize it. For readers who come to sympathize with Caliban, the moment is poignant – a tribute to a homeland over which he has no control, on which he has been held as a prisoner and slave.
Continue reading

What an Anti-Memory Is and How It Frees Your Mind
via Big Think by Laurie Vazquez
Article Image
Neuroscientists at Oxford just discovered how your brain moves memories into long-term storage. It’s called an anti-memory, and it’s more helpful than it sounds.
Memories, at their most basic, are electrical impulses. But what happens if those impulses are always firing? Would they overload your brain the same way that running too many programs on your computer would fry its RAM? The answer is yes. Scientists think that these overly excited neurons could be the culprits behind conditions like epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism. The balancing agent that keeps that from happening are anti-memories.
Continue reading

The brutality of Islamist terrorism has many precedents
via 3 Quarks Daily: John Gray at Lapham's Quarterly
For those who find the rise of ISIS baffling, much of the past century can only be retro­gression from modern life. Even the regime that committed a crime with no precedent in history must be regarded as an example of atavism: the Nazi state has often been described as having taken Europe back to the Dark Ages. Certainly the Nazis exploited a medieval Christian demonology in their persecution and genocide of Jews, but Nazism also invoked a modern pseudoscience of race to legitimate these atrocities. Invoking a type of faux Darwinism, Nazi racism could have emerged only in a time shaped by science. Nazism was modern not just in its methods of killing but also in its way of thinking.
Continue reading

How Our Minds Were Once Shaped By Poetry
via Big Think by Jag Bhalla
Article Image
Few now sing the praises of when poetry shaped us. Its history of molding minds is almost lost (it lasted till prose, and its logic, could last). That’s the unsung pretext of Plato’s poetry ban.
Continue reading

Portraits of Buffalo Bill’s “Show Indians”
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger
Charging Thunder
Photographer Gertrude Käsebier received permission from Buffalo Bill Cody to photograph the native tribes people in his Wild West Show. This collection, from the Library of Congress, is wonderful.
Continue reading

No place like home
via 3 Quarks Daily: Lyndsey Stonebridge in Eurozine
The end of the Second World War was as bad as the beginning. In Europe displaced persons filled old camps and necessitated new ones, as new political frontiers were drawn across the continent. More people waited on more boats and at more borders. As India and Pakistan took shape out of the ashes of British colonial rule in 1947, millions more found themselves forced on to the road. In 1948 the creation of Israel pushed out a new generation of refugees, the Palestinians, soon to become the first permanently stateless people of modern times. More followed from China, Tibet, Burma, Bangladesh and North Korea; the misfortunes multiplied, from land to land, continent to continent.
Continue reading

10 surprising facts about Ancient Egyptian art and architecture
via OUP Blog by Christina Riggs
Ancient Egyptian art dates all the way back to 3000BC and provides us with an understanding of ancient Egyptian socioeconomic structures and belief systems. The Ancient Egyptians also developed an array of diverse architectural structures and monuments, from temples to the pyramids that are still a major tourist attraction today. But how much do you know about Ancient Egyptian art and architecture? Christina Riggs, author of Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture: A Very Short Introduction, tells us ten things we need to know about Ancient Egyptian art and architecture:
Continue reading