300 episodes

New research on how society works

Thinking Allowed BBC

    • Science
    • 4.9, 7 Ratings

New research on how society works

    Metrics

    Metrics

    Laurie Taylor explores the increasing use of metrics across diverse aspects of our lives.

    From education to healthcare, charities to policing, we are are target-driven society which places a heavy emphasis on measuring, arguably at times at the expense of individual professional expertise.

    Laurie is joined by Jerry Muller, Professor of History at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., who asserts in his book, The Tyranny of Metrics, that we are fixated by metrics, to the extent to which we risk compromising the quality of our lives and most important institutions. He is also joined by Btihaj Ajana, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London, who, in the introduction to the book, Metric Culture - Ontologies of Self-Tracking Practices, explains the concept of the 'Quantified Self Movement' - whose philosophy is 'self-knowledge through numbers'.

    With such a plethora of personal information about ourselves being generated daily are we complicit in creating a culture of surveillance with the blurring of boundaries between the private and public? Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at the University of Cambridge, joins the discussion. Revised repeat.

    Producer Natalia Fernandez

    • 27 min
    Maoism

    Maoism

    Maoism: the changing face of a revolutionary ideology. Julia Lovell, Professor in Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck, University of London explores the origins and development of global Maoism; Alpa Shah, Associate Professor in Anthropology at LSE, provides a glimpse into the lives of a group of Maoist guerrillas in modern day India and Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at the University of Sussex, looks at Maoist organisations in the context of his research into political cults. Revised repeat.
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 27 min
    Ignorance

    Ignorance

    Strategic ignorance and knowledge resistance: Laurie Taylor talks to Mikael Klintman, Professor of Sociology at the University of Lund, Sweden about our capacity for resisting insights from others. At all levels of society, he argues, our world is becoming increasingly dominated by an inability, even refusal, to engage with others' ideas. It does not bode well either for democracy or for science. They're joined by Linsey McGoey, Professor of Sociology at the University at Essex, whose new study explores the use of deliberate and wilful ignorance by elites in pursuit of the retention of power - from News International's hacking scandal to the fire at Grenfell Tower.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 27 min
    Rummage - Waste

    Rummage - Waste

    Rummage & waste: Laurie Taylor talks to Emily Cockayne, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia, about the overlooked story of our throwaway past, from ladies of the First World War who turned dog hair into yarn to Girl Guides inspired to collect bottle tops by the litter collecting Wombles of Wimbledon. What lessons can be drawn from the past to address urgent questions of our waste today? Patrick O'Hare, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, joins the conversation and considers our shifting definitions of waste, from domestic homes in the Global North to the rubbish dumps of Uruguay.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 27 min
    Finance

    Finance

    Traders and finance: Daniel Beunza - Associate Professor in the Cass Business School at City, University of London, talks to Laurie Taylor about his study of a Wall Street derivatives-trading room. In particular, he explores how the extensive use of financial models and trading technologies over recent decades has exerted a far-ranging influence on Wall Street , one which should alert us to the risks of moral disengagement caused by a dependence on ‘models’. Also, Anastasia Nesvetailova, Director of City Political Economy Research Centre at City, University of London , argues that financial malpractice is not an anomaly, but part of a business model of finance which involves the sabotaging of competitors, clients and even the state.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 27 min
    Blood

    Blood

    Blood - Laurie Taylor explores the metaphorical, as well as material, reality of blood. He's joined by Gil Anidjar, Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies at Columbia University, and author of a study which explores the relationship between the history of Christianity and blood. What are the social and political implications of the way in which Christian blood come to be associated with purity and kinship?

    Also, Janet Carsten - Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, considers the extraordinary symbolic power of blood. She traces the multiple meanings of blood as it moves from donors to labs, hospitals, and patients in Penang, Malaysia, telling the stories of blood donors, lab staff and hospital workers. In the process, she shows that blood is a lens for understanding the entanglements of modern life.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 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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