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New book by Richard Breen: "Education and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Europe and the United States"
14 Jan 2020

Education and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Europe and the United States
Richard Breen and Walter Müller (editors)

Stanford University Press
February 2020

This volume examines the role of education in shaping rates and patterns of intergenerational social mobility among men and women during the twentieth century. Focusing on the relationship between a person's social class and the social class of his or her parents, each chapter looks at a different country—the United States, Sweden, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. They find a striking similarity in trends across all countries, and in particular a contrast between the fortunes of people born up to the mid-1950s, who enjoyed increasing rates of upward mobility and a decline in the strength of the link between class origins and destinations, and later generations who experienced more downward mobility and little change in how origins and destinations are linked. This volume uncovers the factors that drove these shifts, revealing education as significant in promoting social openness. It will be an invaluable source for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of mobility and inequality in the contemporary world.

More information:

"This book is a must-read for anyone interested in educational policy and social mobility. This team of leading international scholars uses innovative comparative analysis to corroborate the claim that the expansion and equalization of education enhances mobility between social classes."
—Yossi Shavit, Tel Aviv University

Richard Breen is Professor of Sociology and Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

Walter Müller is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Mannheim University.

GenTime project to host symposium showcasing Japanese data newly available to Oxford researchers
06 Jan 2020

The Department of Sociology’s GenTime project will host statisticians from the Statistics Bureau Japan at a symposium on 9 January as they showcase high-quality, hard-to-access Japanese statistical data that can now be used by scholars at Oxford.

Access to the data has been a key component of the GenTime project’s research into gender inequality in time use; an ERC-funded project led by Professor Man-Yee Kan. Whereas previous research into gender inequality in time use has relied heavily on data from Western countries, the GenTime project is harmonising this with time-use data from East Asian countries (including Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan).

Their comparative analyses have uncovered key differences in gendered trends of time use around the globe. Examining data sets from 1985 to 2016, the team found that – across all analysed countries – women do more paid and unpaid domestic work (or ‘total’ work) than men, but that this gender gap is closing at different rates. While women in Western countries and Beijing undertake one extra hour of total work per day compared to men (a figure that has remained static since 1985), the gender gap in total work time in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan was much higher than one hour in the mid-1980s, but has been decreasing ever since.  

Professor Man-Yee Kan, who leads the GenTime project, said:

‘The Japanese time use data used in my project were collected from over 100 million individuals over three decades, which have shown robust and reliable trends in gender equality.

‘My project has benefited greatly from these high quality data. Researchers interested in studying Japan or including Japan in their comparative research will find the symposium very useful, as it will introduce Japanese data available to researchers outside Japan.’

Building on the success of their project, the GenTime team are also in close discussions with the National Statistics Center, Japan, about establishing a secure data facility at University of Oxford to allow UK-based researchers access to the anonymised statistical data, facilitating the inclusion of Japanese data in comparative research.

Register here for the Introduction to Data and Resources Available at Statistics Bureau Japan, 9 January 2020 symposium.

New book by Rolando Ochoa: "Intimate Crimes: Kidnapping, Gangs, and Trust in Mexico City"
12 Nov 2019

Author: Rolando Ochoa

Published: OUP, Nov 2019

Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. Intimate Crimes outlines the history of kidnapping in Mexico City by constructing a narrative of this crime based on extensive qualitative research on gangs, policing and other crime-related policies. The book also analyses the effect of kidnapping - and crime more broadly - on how communities experience the city, as well as the strategies put in place by potential kidnapping victims to deal with the threat of being victimised by someone close to them, a common occurrence in Mexico City, including analysing the processes through which household employees are screened and selected in Mexican households.

New publication by Nicholas Martindale
21 Oct 2019

Nicholas Martindale (DPhil student supervised by Dr Michael Biggs) just published ‘Does Outsourcing School Systems Degrade Education Workforces? Evidence from 18,000 English State Schools’ in the British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Abstract: Critics claim that outsourcing the running of 7000 state-funded schools under England’s Academies Programme has caused a rapid increase in the number of pupils taught by teachers without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). However, it is unclear whether Academies are simply more exposed to contexts associated with higher rates of teachers without QTS than schools still controlled by local government. Analysis of a newly compiled dataset reveals that, net of context, the percentage of teachers without QTS is increasing in Academies relative to non-outsourced schools and that business-style governance is associated with greater Academy divergence from non-outsourced schools. Moreover, the Academies programme is widening class-based inequality in pupils’ access to qualified teachers. This research, the first nationally comprehensive assessment of the impact of Academies on school workforces, draws into question the merits of neoliberal policies which outsource public services and undermine systems of professional accreditation.

Full text here.

New article: "Managing uncertainty in medicine quality in Ghana"
02 Jul 2019

Where regulation is weak, medicine transactions can be characterised by uncertainty over the drug quality and efficacy, with buyers shouldering the greater burden of risk in exchanges that are typically asymmetric. Drawing on in-depth interviews (N = 220) and observations of medicine transactions, plus interviews with regulators (N = 20), the authors explore how people in Ghana negotiate this uncertainty and come to trust a medicine enough to purchase or ingest it.

This new article co-authored by Professor Heather Hamill is now available via Open Access.

"The Illegal Wildlife Trade in China" by Rebecca Wong
21 Jun 2019

Our former student Rebecca Wong (DPhil Sociology 2013) has published a new book on the illegal wildlife trade.  The book offers a theoretically-based study on crimes against protected wildlife in mainland China with first-hand empirical data collected over five years. It provides an overall examination of crimes against protected and endangered wildlife and an extensive account of the situation in China, where a significant portion of the illegal wildlife trade is currently happening.

Full details of the book can be found on the Palgrave website.

New Book: "Societal Problems as Public Bads"
07 Jun 2019

Nan Dirk de Graaf and Dingeman Wiertz have published a new, multidisciplinary social science textbook, Societal Problems as Public Bads. The book addresses several of the most pressing problems facing societies today, offering a vast amount of data, numerous real-world examples, and rigorous analyses connecting society-level problems to the individual-level behaviours from which they originate.

Role of Trust in a Self-Organizing Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Model with Variable Good Quality and Imperfect Information
13 May 2019

This new article in JASSS, co-authored by Professor Heather Hamill, presents an Agent-Based Model for a pharmaceutical supply chain operating under conditions of weak regulation and imperfect information, exploring the possibility of poor quality medicines and their detection. It aims to demonstrate how buyers can learn about the quality of sellers (and their medicines) based on previous successful and unsuccessful transactions, thereby establishing trust over time.

Centre for Demographic Science to launch with £10m from Leverhulme Trust
11 Jan 2019

Oxford University is to launch a new Centre for Demographic Science with £10 million funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The Trust today made the announcement as part of their annual Leverhulme Research Centre awards.

Scientists call for increased diversity in genomic research
07 Jan 2019

Work by Professor Melinda Mills and Dr Charles Rahal has highlighted a lack of diversity in the people studies in genetic discovery research, with over 70% of subjects coming from either the UK, the USA, or Iceland.  Read the full article here.

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