300 episodes

New research on how society works

Thinking Allowed BBC Radio 4

    • Science
    • 4.5 • 268 Ratings

New research on how society works

    The NHS

    The NHS

    The NHS and the 'sick note': Laurie Taylor talks to Gareth Millward, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) in Odense, and author of a new study which explores the history of the British welfare state via the story of the ‘sick note’. It turns out that the question of ‘who is really sick? was never straightforward. At various times, it was understood that a signed note from a doctor was not enough to 'prove' whether someone was really sick, yet with no better alternative on offer, the sick note survived in practice and in the popular imagination - just like the welfare state itself.

    They’re joined by Sally Sheard, Professor of History at the University of Liverpool, who charts the cultural history and changing understandings of healthcare and the NHS in Britain.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Protests

    Protests

    Protests: from Occupy to MeToo and the current situation in Iran. Laurie Taylor is joined by Sara Burke, Senior Policy Analyst at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung political foundation in New York, and co-author of a recent study which analyses the myriad protests which have shaken the world since 2010. She explores their main causes, which include the perceived failures of democracies, as well as the oppression of women and economic inequality. Which protests are likeliest to achieve success and how do we measure success, in the first place?

    They're joined by Maryam Alemzadeh, Associate Professor in the History and Politics of Iran at the University of Oxford, who discusses the characteristics and trajectory of the women-led protests in Iran.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    Gender and Alcohol

    Gender and Alcohol

    Gender and Alcohol: Laurie Taylor talks to Thomas Thurnell-Read, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Loughborough University, about the masculine domain of craft drinks, an area of the alcohol industry associated with liberal and progressive values but where assumptions about tastes are still informed by gender stereotypes, the marketing of products may draw heavily on sexist imagery and men are seen as the gatekeepers of expertise.

    They’re joined by Kath Hennell, Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies, who explores the key ingredients of a 'proper night out' for young women and men. What are the hidden, gendered rules which inform a ritual involving extreme intoxication?

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Futilitarianism - Extreme Pessimists

    Futilitarianism - Extreme Pessimists

    Futilitarianism & Extreme Pessimists: Laurie Taylor talks to Neil Vallelly, Researcher at Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA) at the University of Otago, New Zealand about a new study which argues that the current moment is characterised by feelings of futility and uselessness. If maximising utility leads to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people, as utilitarianism has always proposed, then why is it that as many of us currently maximise our utility—by working endlessly, undertaking further education and relentlessly marketing ourselves—we are met with the steady worsening of collective social and economic conditions? They're joined by Monika Mühlböck, Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna and Senior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies, whose research finds that expected downward mobility is impacting the political attitudes & voting behaviour of young people. Drawing on data from a survey among young adults aged 18–35 in eleven European countries, she asks to what extent that young adults who expect to do worse than their parents in the future are more likely to locate themselves at the extreme ends of the ideological scale.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min
    Rules and Order

    Rules and Order

    Rules & Order: Laurie Taylor talks to Tim Newburn, Professor of Criminology and Social Policy at the LSE, about the social history of ‘orderly Britain’ – the way in which we’ve resolved everyday problems, from dog fouling to smoking and queuing. They’re joined by Lorraine Daston, Director Emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, who traces the development of rules in the Western tradition, ones which have set out work hours, dictated how we set the table, told us whether to offer an extended hand or cheek in greeting, and organised the rituals of life. Why do we need such rules and could we live without them?

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 29 min
    Gentrification revisited

    Gentrification revisited

    Gentrification revisited: Laurie Taylor talks to Leslie Kern, Associate Professor of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University, Canada and author of a new study unpacking the meaning and impact of gentrification six decades after the term was first coined. She travelled from Toronto to New York, London, Paris and San Francisco, scrutinising the myth and reality that surround this highly contested phenomenon. Beyond the yoga studio, farmer's market and retro cafe, she argues that this is not a 'natural' process, but one which impacts the most vulnerable.

    They’re joined by Dr Charmaine Brown, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Education and Cultural Studies at the University of Greenwich, whose research in Peckham, South East London, finds contrasting perspectives amongst different residents. Beautiful shop fronts, fewer police sirens and new street furniture appeal to incomers but Dr Brown sees a loss of social capital, opportunity and support for the original mainly Black communities.

    Producer: Jayne Egerton

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
268 Ratings

268 Ratings

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

Cozzum ,

A Half Hour of Interesting Sociological Content

Presenter Laurie Taylor takes up needle and thread to weave a tapestry of reflections on the diverse states of human affairs. The various strands of thought provoking material consist of insightful guests discussing their studies and resulting papers or books, while Laurie guides the conversation with questions eliciting the most colorful and textured responses designed to give us a better view of the big picture.

His jovial personality adds a friendly and comforting level of uplift to what can often be challenging ideas, behaviours, and incidents from history or the present day. Sometimes the musical interludes and humorous takes on aspects of our world that Laurie employs can be just the right touch to regain a little balance and perhaps harmony to our thinking, which is very much allowed and appreciated.

The artful crafting of episodes also helps inspire me to prepare better meals as I am often cooking while listening to the program. I've never cooked better food than while listening to Thinking Allowed. Thanks for all the great programs Laurie Taylor and Thinking Allowed Crew, nicely done.

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