300 episodes

New research on how society works

Thinking Allowed BBC Radio 4

    • Science
    • 4.5 • 286 Ratings

New research on how society works

    Anonymity - Self-creation

    Anonymity - Self-creation

    Anonymity and self creation: Laurie Taylor talks to Thomas DeGloma, Associate Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, about hidden identities and how and why we use anonymity, for good or ill. He explores a wide range of historical and contemporary cases, from the Ku Klux Klan to 'Dr H' the psychiatrist who disguised his identity in a meeting which changed his profession's regressive attitudes towards homosexuality. In recent years, anonymity has featured widely in the political and social landscape: from the pseudonymous artist, Banksy, to Hackers Anonymous and QAnon. What is anonymity, and why, under various circumstances, do individuals act anonymously? How do individuals use it, and, in some situations, how is it imposed on them?
    Also, Tara Isabella Burton, Visiting Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, on the crafting of public personae, from Beau Brummell to the Kardashians. She finds the trend for personal branding, amongst ordinary people as well as celebrities, originated with the idea that we could shape our own destiny, once the power of the church had waned. What are the connections between the Renaissance genius and the Regency dandy, the Hollywood 'IT' girl and Reality TV star? Might there be social costs to seeing self-determination as the fundamental element of human life?
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    Capitalism

    Capitalism

    Capitalism – what's the story behind the word and a cross cultural survey of peoples attitudes to it. Laurie Taylor talks to Michael Sonenscher, Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge about the evolution of a word which was first coined in France in the early 19th century. How has its meaning changed over time and how can a historical analysis shed light on political problems in the here and now? What’s at stake in our understanding or misunderstanding of the term?
    They’re joined by the German sociologist and historian, Rainer Zitelmann, whose latest study argues that many people are buying into myths about Capitalism and includes the largest international survey of attitudes towards our economic system. He finds negative attitudes to be widespread, including in Great Britain, the motherland of Capitalism - only in 12 countries are attitudes more critical. What accounts for this disillusion?
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Traditionalism - Russian Orthodox Converts

    Traditionalism - Russian Orthodox Converts

    Traditionalism and Russian Orthodox Converts – Laurie Taylor talks to Mark Sedgwick, Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University, about the radical project for restoring sacred order. Traditionalism is founded on ancient teachings that, its followers argue, have been handed down from time immemorial and which must be defended from modernity. How has this mystical doctrine come to have contemporary sway on the political right, inspiring ex President Trump's former chief strategist, as well as the Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, sometimes dubbed as “Putin’s brain”?
    They’re joined by Sarah Riccardi-Swartz, Assistant Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Northeastern University, Boston, who has uncovered an extraordinary story of religious conversion in one corner of Appalachia. Here, a group of American citizens has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church and through it Putin’s New Russia. They look to Russian religion and politics for answers to Western secularism and the loss of traditional family values.
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    THE ENGLISH

    THE ENGLISH

    THE ENGLISH: Laurie Taylor asks how the country house became ‘English’ and explores changing notions of Englishness over the past 60 years. He’s joined by Stephanie Barczewski, Professor of Modern British History at Clemson University, South Carolina and author of a new book which examines the way the country house came to embody national values of continuity and stability, even though it has lived through eras of violence and disruption. Also, David Matless, Professor of Cultural Geography at Nottingham University, considers the way that England has been imagined since the 1960s, from politics to popular culture, landscape and music. How have twenty-first-century concerns and anxieties in the Brexit moment been moulded by events over previous decades?
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    The Passport

    The Passport

    THE PASSPORT: Laurie Taylor explores the cultural history of an indispensable document which has given citizens a license to travel and helped to define the modern world. Patrick Bixby, Professor of English at Arizona State University, delves into the evolution of the passport through the tales of historical figures, celebrities, artists, and writers, from Frederick Douglas to Hannah Arendt. How has the passport become both an instrument of personal freedom as well as a tool of government surveillance? They’re joined by Kristin Surak , Associate Professor of Political Sociology at the LSE and author of a new study which investigates the routes taken by wealthy elites in pursuit of a ‘golden passport’. Through six years of fieldwork on four continents, she discovered how the sale of passports has transformed into a full-blown citizenship industry that thrives on global inequalities.
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    The Power of Song

    The Power of Song

    The power of song: Laurie Taylor talks to James Walvin, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of York and author of a new study which explores the cultural history of "Amazing Grace," one of the transatlantic world's most popular hymns and a powerful anthem for humanity. How did a simple Christian hymn, written in a remote English vicarage in 1772, come to hold such sway over millions in all corners of the modern world? Also, Angela Impey Professor of Enthomusicology at SOAS, argues that songs in South Sudan can be key platform for truth-telling, often invested with greater moral force than other forms of communication in the context of 50 years of civil war. What role can songs play in the struggle for peace and justice?
    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
286 Ratings

286 Ratings

Klingrid ,

Guns

I am anti-gun and am even more appalled at the gun culture in the US after listening to this podcast. I always get a chilling feeling whenever I drive by gun shops. Now I am even more repulsed from knowing the lobbying and “educating” that takes place in them. I know gun ownership, even gun safety, are extremely complicated issues which are virtually impossible to solve any day soon. I pray to God that my family and future grandchildren will forever be free from gun violence.

Entropyman ,

Terrific - informative and fun

Laurie must be a wonderful teacher. He has a good sense of humor but more important he discusses topics in a way that offers a fresh perspective. History and sociology are combined with music to make episodes memorable. The recent episodes on CoVid and Freedom were intriguing. I hope he continues his podcast.

coffee&pickles ,

Great content - horrible sound

I enjoy the guests and the topics (albeit I would prefer longer and more substantial conversations with those incredible thinkers). Sound quality, though, is very bad. Simply disrespectful to listeners… there is technology in place to mitigate outside noises, to level the volume of the host and a speaker etc. Not sure what might be a problem for such a respectable platform like BBC

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