300 episodes

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

The Why Factor BBC

    • History
    • 4.8, 4 Ratings

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

    Millennials and business

    Millennials and business

    Whether it is the growth in co-working spaces around the world full of 20 and 30-somethings starting their own thing, to TV shows on entrepreneurship, all the way to the big successes out of California’s Silicon Valley, the millennial generation are attracted to starting their own businesses. However, it is not just about making money but also about passion and doing good.

    Christine Selph from Deloitte and professor Ethan Mollick from the Wharton School of Business give us an overview of this generation and of entrepreneurship. We go to a session run by Pop Up Business School to speak to some millennials about their motivations. Ayzh founder Zubaida Bai and Upstart founder Richard Dacalos tell us about the power of social entrepreneurship to solve problems which can be neglected by governments, while former World Bank economist Charles Kenny cautions us about focusing too much on the individual at the expense of government.

    Presenter and producer: Nastaran Tavakoli-Far
    Editor: Andrew Smith

    • 23 min
    Why do we text instead of talk?

    Why do we text instead of talk?

    We can now curate who we talk to in a way that wasn’t thinkable when a bulky landline phone sat in a corner of a house and rang with anonymous urgency. The screens on our devices allow us to communicate in any number of quick, cheap but silent ways.These modern technologies are very useful, which is why they are so ubiquitous, but are they taking something from us that is deeply human? Sandra Kanthal asks why we choose to text instead of talk, and if this incredibly popular form of communication is changing the way we interact and relate with each other.

    Contributors:

    Gary Turk - Spoken Word Artist/Poet

    Sherry Turkle - Professor of the Social Studies of Technology, MIT and Author, Reclaiming Conversation: How To Talk In The Digital Age

    Sophie Scott - Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

    Mary Jane Copps - Owner, The Phone Lady

    Chetan Deshpande - Digital Sales and Profit Consultant

    • 24 min
    Why do physical scars matter?

    Why do physical scars matter?

    Physical scars can be sources of shame or badges of honour: acquired accidentally or a cry for help. How should we read them, and what do they tell us about ourselves and our place in the world?

    We explore the practice of scarification, intentional body modification which has been practised for millennia, where scars denote status within tribal communities and are worn with pride. Brent Kerehona tells us about the type of scarification he has: Ta Moko.

    We meet stuntman Andreas Petrides, who has been Obi-Wan Kenobi’s stunt double. He also wears his scars with pride, but for different reasons: they are trophies of his profession.

    For millions, scars can be sources of embarrassment. We examine the constructs of beauty that might underpin those feelings. We speak to Hemani Modasia, who suffered scarring from burns to 35% of her body when she was a child, and who wishes, ultimately, she never had them. Scars can also be interpreted as a cry for help, transversing the space between the physical and the deeply emotional. Japanese photographer Kosuke Okahara tells us about his project which captured the scars of Japanese women who suffered from self-harm across a period of 6 years.

    Former Vogue editor Jackie Dixon, tells us the fashion industry is now embracing scars - they are part of the zeitgeist. We spoke to Jackie at a photoshoot in central London, where she was photographing a model for a book she is producing that celebrates scars.

    The programme also hears from Professor Parashkev Nachev, a neurologist at University College London, and Nichola Rumsey, founder of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. Parashkev tells us the creation of scars is not fully captured by science, suggesting they are both deeply mysterious and profoundly human. Nichola places scars in a social context, and points out they often render us outliers which, for many people, is challenging and uncomfortable.

    Presenter: Christopher Gunness
    Producer: Oliver Newlan
    Editor: Carl Johnston

    (Image: Hemani Modasia. Credit: Spencer Murphy for the Scar Free Foundation)

    • 23 min
    Dystopias

    Dystopias

    Dystopic fiction is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, but why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of stories where ordinary people struggle to survive against an all-powerful state, or in a post-apocalyptic world? Is it because they reflect the anxieties we already feel about the world we live in, or because they allow us to escape it? Shabnam Grewal asks: Why is dystopic fiction so appealing?

    Produced and presented by Shabnam Grewal
    Editor: Andrew Smith

    (Photo: Destroyed cityscape. Credit: Stock Photo/Getty Images)

    • 23 min
    Victim blaming

    Victim blaming

    The trauma of sexual assault is both personal and brutal. But what may be an indisputably traumatic event for one person is often challenged by another, and the responsibility for events gets scattered in the process. Why is it so common for people to look for reasons to blame the victims of sexual assault for what has happened to them?

    Nastaran Tavakoli-Far finds multiple reasons from this, speaking to experts and to victims. We hear from Dr Mithu Sanyal about the role of long-standing attitudes towards gender and sexuality. New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey tell us about power and the workplace and who is more likely to be believed. Dr Jackson Katz and Dr Laura Niemi explain the roles of both group dynamics and the language we use and how these often work to protect perpetrators rather than to support victims

    Presenter and producer: Nastaran Tavakoli-Far
    Editor: Andrew Smith

    (Photo: Protest sign held up during 'Slut Walk' protests against victim blaming in Munich, Germany / Credit: Alexander Pohl / Nur Photo / Getty Images)

    • 24 min
    Parties

    Parties

    It’s the festive season, which means there are lots of parties going on. If you’re planning a party, what kind of celebration will it be? Organising the right food, drink and, crucially, guest list requires time and effort. Party planning has been listed as one of the most stressful professions you can have so, in the spirit of the season, in this edition of the Why Factor, Sandra Kanthal is asking: why is it so hard to plan the perfect party?

    Contributors:
    Claire Derrick: Co-founder, The Event Academy
    Rosie Hart: Course Director, The Event Academy
    Kim Glasgow and Henry Khan: Students, The Event Academy
    Liz Taylor: Managing Director, Taylor Lynn Corporation
    Robin Dunbar: Professor of Evolutionary Psychology – Oxford University
    Priya Parker: Author, The Art of Gathering – How We Meet and Why It Matters

    • 23 min

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