A tale of twos: Two months, two new policies, two parts of the world

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

What do Ho Chi Minh City and the country of Chile have in common? HCM is a city of 7.84 million people, a bustling metropolis, the economic nerve centre of Vietnam. Chile is a small, middle income country of 18 million on the other side of the globe. Worlds apart in culture, language, political systems, economics—they now share a common approach to dealing with persistent poverty. Both have adopted a new way to measure poverty—giving them the information to transform the way they focus resources to combat the problem.

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‘We are Sierra Leoneans, not Slaves’: Contesting Citizenship in Freetown

Sociology of citizenshipBy Luisa Enria

In the summer of 2013, Freetown’s King Jimmy Bridge collapsed. This was around a decade after the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war, and a year before the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus; needless to say, the resulting deaths seemed barely newsworthy.

But King Jimmy Bridge, and the tunnels that it took down with it, had particular significance to the many young people who make a precarious living in the neighbouring streets’ vibrant informal economy. The tunnels bore the marks of the chains used to imprison the victims of the Atlantic slave trade, as passages to the Ocean they were about to cross. Before King Jimmy Bridge collapsed, the tunnels served as congregation spots for young people, where discussions ensued about their current predicaments and about the plight of the youthman in a country where high rates of youth unemployment have forced a generation into marginal and irregular income-generating activities. Continue reading

Plurinational citizenship in the making

Sociology of citizenshipBy Lorenza B. Fontana

In 2009, after a long and contentious process of national dialogue that led to the approval of a new Constitution, the Republic of Bolivia officially changed its name to Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Over the last decade, the idea of plurinationalism has influenced public debates across the Andean region. In 2008, the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa defined plurinationalism as the coexistence of several different nationalities within a larger state where different peoples, cultures and worldviews exist and are recognized. Yet, Bolivia was the first country to go all the way, not only including this idea in the Constitution (as Ecuador did) but actually changing its official name. This is not just a formality. The new Bolivia is engaging in a process of in-depth institutional reforms, challenging mainstream narratives and political structures and reinventing a model of the state and creating notions of citizenship better suited to highly diverse ethnic and cultural landscapes. Continue reading

Calling for a Multidimensional Poverty Index in the Sustainable Development Goals

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

Last year the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a research centre at ODID, won the Economic and Social Research Council’s Outstanding International Impact award for the development of a methodology for measuring multidimensional poverty, known as the Alkire Foster (AF) method. By early 2015, the governments of Mexico, Colombia, Bhutan, the Philippines and Chile had adopted such multidimensional poverty measures, enabling them to design more effective poverty-reduction programmes.  Now uptake at the country level is expanding, with other countries lining up to fight national poverty with this new way of looking at, measuring and targeting the problem.

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Preventing child mortality and addressing the ‘lottery of birth’

The_Lottery_of_Birth_coverBy Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer, Young Lives

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The status report on the Convention published by the UN in September noted an incredibly important fact –that under-5 mortality has nearly halved, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 per 1,000 in 2012. That is 17,000 fewer children dying every day. The pace in reducing early child deaths has quickened – from a 1.2% per annum in 1990–95 to 3.9% in 2005–12.  Of course this is a tremendous success story, but to put it into perspective, the global average of 48 per 1000 compares to 5 per 1000 in the UK and 3 in Sweden, and the MDG goal of a two-thirds reduction will not be met by the 2015 target year.

Last week Save the Children issued a report, The Lottery of Birth, which shines a spotlight on a key part of this story which is that even within national averages, the progress has not been equitable – mortality rates are typically falling least among the poorest and most marginalised children and mortality inequalities within countries are growing. The implication of this is that to make further reductions requires policies to reach the poorest families, where the problem is greatest.

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A sociology of citizenship: preliminary reflections

Sociology of citizenshipBy Indrajit Roy

Social scientists most commonly view citizenship as a juridical status conferred by states upon individuals in a national community. TH Marshall’s (1950) formulation most famously helped analysts to unpack its political, civil and social dimensions.

Marshall’s formulation has since been held up to critical scrutiny for the manner in which it foregrounded citizenship as a regime of rights. In her critique of Marshall’s account, Margaret Somners (1993: 589) reminds us that citizenship refers to an ensemble of “institutionally-embedded social practices”. The idea of citizenship as practice and process has since been emphasized by many a political theorist (Beetham, 1999; Heater, 1999; Mouffe, 1996). Such perspectives have made possible further sociological investigations into citizenship. What does citizenship actually mean to the people upon whom it is conferred as a legal status? With what meanings do people who claim it, either through petition or through struggle, imbue it? The viewpoint that citizenship is an ensemble of practices enables scholars to investigate the concrete ways in which states fashion citizens (Ong, 1999) as well as the ways in which people forge their collective selves as citizens (Lazar and Nuitjen, 2013). Continue reading

Sociology of Citizenship

Sociology of citizenshipPolitical theorists, sociologists and anthropologists are increasingly open to the idea that citizenship goes beyond the legal status conferred by states upon individuals in a national political community. The contributors to this series will focus on the concrete, empirical ways in which people make meaning of citizenship and the manner in which they forge and imagine membership in the political community. Contributors will draw on their ongoing research in different parts of the world, including South Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America.

A conference on the Determinants of International Migration

DEMIG_new siteBy Katharina Natter

The Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG) Conference took place in Wolfson College at the University of Oxford on 23–25 September 2014. This three-day, interdisciplinary conference brought together sixty-five early career and established migration researchers to discuss empirical and theoretical research on the role of states and policies in migration processes. In his opening keynote lecture, Hein de Haas presented emerging insights from the DEMIG project (2010–2014), which was core-funded by the European Research Council. Presenting the rationale, aims and methodology of DEMIG, de Haas argued that: (1) migration policies are about the selection of migrants, rather than affecting numbers, despite public discourses suggesting the contrary; (2) the effectiveness of migration restrictions is often partly or totally undermined by (categorical, inter-temporal, spatial, and reverse flow) substitution effects; and (3) destination and origin states primarily affect migration through non-migration policies.

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Borders beyond control?

By Hein de Haas

Morocco Spain borderIn my previous blogpost, I argued that politicians are often busy feigning immigration control while in reality they frequently want to, or can, do little about it. Does that mean that borders are beyond control, as Jagdish Bhagwati famously argued in 2003? Have governments lost control? What do we actually know about the effects of immigration policies?

In order to answer this question, I have conducted a research project on the ‘Determinants of International Migration’ (DEMIG) at the International Migration Institute at ODID. This five-year project, which lasted from 2010 to 2014 and received funding from the European Research Council, allowed a team of researchers to collect new data and conduct analyses on the effectiveness of migration policies. (See this link for more information on the project, the four DEMIG databases, analyses and 28 research papers).
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Reflecting on 2014: 14 things we learned

Paul-DornanBy Paul Dornan, Young Lives Senior Policy Officer

As the year drew to an end, I decided it was time for a re-run the next instalment of our ‘who’d miss’ series … 12 things we learned in 2012  and the ‘ever popular and long-awaited’ 13 things we learned in 2013. So here are 14 things from 2014… The need for brevity means I’ve had to simplify loads of information into a few lines – so don’t take my word for it all, click the links to find out more.

#1 Children have high hopes and expectations to study for longer to get a good job and future. At the age of 12 years between three-quarters of children in Ethiopia and nine in ten in Peru wanted to go on to vocational training or university after finishing school. Such high hopes often bump up against sharp realities later on, especially for the most marginalised children. But it makes little sense to interpret the reasons for children leaving school early as a lack of understanding of the importance of a good education. Continue reading