300 episodes

New research on how society works

Thinking Allowed BBC

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 8 Ratings

New research on how society works

    Cool Consumers

    Cool Consumers

    Cool Consumers: Laurie Taylor considers how music acquires the social connotations of “cool” & its implicit association with youth and outsider status. He's joined by Jo Haynes, Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Bristol. Also, the way in which racial marketing promoted menthol cigarettes to African Americans, linking them to notions of ‘cool’, with enduringly harmful effect. Keith Wailoo, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University, unpacks a poignant and intricate story which reveals why 85% of Black smokers prefer menthol brands and how difficult it has been to ban them, not least because of the way that tobacco companies forged deep connections with Black media publishers and civil rights campaigners. He argues that the cry of 'I can't breathe' has multiple meanings in America's painful racial history.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    The Smartphone

    The Smartphone

    The Smartphone: Nearly 90 per cent of British adults now own a smartphone and ownership among those aged 55 and over has soared from 55 per cent in 2019 to 70 per cent in 2020. Laurie Taylor explores the ways in which this ubiquitous object is transforming everyday life, from China to Ireland, & considers its impact on intimate relationships. He's joined by Daniel Miller, Professor of Anthropology at UCL and co-author of a new study involving 11 anthropologists who each spent 16 months living in communities in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, focusing on the take up of smartphones by older people. They found that smartphones are technology for everyone, not just for the young, and are transformed by their users & national context. Also, Mark McCormack, Professor of Sociology at the University of Roehampton, considers the impact of smartphones on relationships in the UK. Are they keeping couples together when apart, and driving them apart when together?

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Culture & privilege

    Culture & privilege

    Culture & privilege: Governments and arts organisations claim that culture brings joy to many lives and unites communities. But a new study signals a note of scepticism. Orian Brook, AHRC Creative and Digital Economy Innovation Leadership Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, talks to Laurie Taylor about the mechanism of exclusion in cultural occupations which ensures that women, people of colour, and those from working class backgrounds experience systematic disadvantage in terms of gaining such jobs, in the first place, or progressing within these industries. In addition, only a very small percentage of people in England & Wales ever go to an art gallery, the theatre or opera. Only 60% go to cinemas, even though this is seen as accessible to all. So why do so few people participate in or produce 'culture'?
    They’re joined by Dave O’Brien, Chancellor's Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Edinburgh, who asks why people from privileged class backgrounds often misidentify their origins as working class. Drawing on175 interviews with those working in professional and managerial occupations, he finds that such misidentification allows them to tell an upward story of career success ‘against the odds’ that casts their progression as well deserved while erasing the structural privileges that have shaped key moments in their lives.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    The Changing Nature of Crime

    The Changing Nature of Crime

    The changing nature of crime: What do current day thieves, gangsters and dealers say about their ‘business’ and how its evolved over time? How strict a division is there between the 'respectable' and the 'illicit' world? To what extent are our notions of crime rooted in Hollywood myth making about sharp suited gangsters rather than the more mundane reality? Laurie Taylor explores these questions with Richard Hobbs, Emeritus Professor of Criminology at the University of Essex and author of a new study which analyses the essence of illegal capitalism, from anonymous warehouse thieves to exalted underworld figures such as the Krays. They’re joined by Tuesday Reitano, Deputy Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, whose research highlights the impact on Covid 19 on the illegal economy. She finds that shortages, lockdowns and public attitudes have brought the underworld and upperworld closer together allowing criminals to taking advantage of the virus, finding new routes for illegal commodities, from narcotics to people.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Tourism - Travel

    Tourism - Travel

    Tourism & travel: Laurie Taylor explores their past, present and future. He's joined by the Italian social theorist, Marco D' Eramo, whose latest book unpacks a global cultural phenomenon at the point at which some of us are considering the possibilities of foreign travel, once again. How did travelling, as an elite pastime, evolve into mass tourism? Why do tourists often despise other tourists? How 'authentic' is the average heritage site? What impact does tourism have on our cities and the environment? Might we find more 'otherness' by staying at home? They're joined by Emily Thomas, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, whose research has found that philosophers have theorised extensively about the meaning and purpose of travel in a quest to understand the complexity of the world and of ourselves. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    The Handshake - Social Interaction

    The Handshake - Social Interaction

    The handshake & social interaction. Laurie Taylor explores the history and meaning of a commonplace ritual which has played a role in everything from meetings with uncontacted tribes to political assassinations. He's joined by the paleoanthropologist, Ella Al-Shamahi, who asks what this everyday, friendly gesture can tell us about the enduring power of human contact. They're joined by Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, & author of a recent article which considers the way in which social distancing and self isolating have put us 'out of touch' with each other. As he says, COVID is a social disease, a pathological experiment on the nature of our social relations. Will it irrevocably change the way we interact with other human beings? Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

J K-K ,

Brilliant radioshow

Thinking allowed is a rarity these days - speech radio based on recent academic social studies and research papers, wrapped up with Laurie Taylor's insight and dry, well-kept humour.
I would compare this to a salmon confit and noilly-prat sauce. Keeps my week happily going.

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