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Thinking Allowed

Thinking Allowed

New research on how society works


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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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The Sea

The Sea ? Laurie Taylor explores the privatisation of our oceans and the threat of plastic pollution. He gets into deep waters with Guy Standing, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London, and author of new study which argues that exploitation and extraction now drive all aspects of the ocean economy, destroying communities, intensifying inequalities, and driving fish populations and other ocean life towards extinction. How can we rescue the economy of the sea? Alice Mah, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick discusses her recent work on the escalating plastics crisis. Even as public outrage has been prompted by viral imagines of choking marine wildlife, the demand for plastics continues to rise. Is it unstoppable? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Survival of the city

Survival of the City: Laurie Taylor talks to Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University and author of a study examining the future of urban life at a time when the pandemic has exposed failures of governance. Whilst cities have been engines for creativity and wealth, they have also, of late, exposed deep inequities in health care and education and advances in technology mean many can opt out of city life as never before. So are we moving to a post urban world? Or will the city continue to thrive and re-invent itself? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Package holidays and 'authentic' travel

Package holidays and ?authentic? travel: Michael John Law, retired research fellow in History at the University of Westminster, investigates the origin of budget tourism and how the package deal opened up a previously unaffordable world to working class holidaymakers. Also, Kaylan Schwarz, assistant professor in the School of Liberal Education at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, explores the experience of international volunteers who insist on experiencing ?authenticity? and claim superiority to every day tourists. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Shopping: Laurie Taylor talks to Rachel Bowlby, Professor of Comparative Literature at University College London, about the history of shops & shopping, from pedlars to chain stores, markets to home delivery. Shops have occupied radically different places in political arguments and in our everyday lives, over time. They are sites of purchase but also of community. What?s their future in the age of Covid? Also, Robin Sheriff, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, explores young American women's dreams of shopping. What can dreams tell us about cultural change and consumption? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing: Laurie Taylor explores its social history and sexual politics with Hilary French, Professor of Design Studies at Bath Spa University and author of a new book which charts the evolution of a form of dance which originated in upper class, private balls but became a mass, working class pastime in the early 20th century. From Hollywood movies to Mecca dance halls. What explains its rise and fall and rise again, in the current moment? They're joined by Vicki Harman, Reader in Sociology at University of Surrey, who unpacks the intriguing appeal of ballroom in the light of changing gender norms which question the notion that a man should 'lead'. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Wealth - Plutocratic London

Plutocratic London and dynastic wealth. Caroline Knowles, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, takes Laurie Taylor on a tour of plutocratic London, a city with more resident billionaires than New York, Hong Kong or Moscow. How have the fabulously rich re-made London in their own image and what is the cost to ordinary Londoners? They?re joined by Katie Higgins, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Sociology of Elites at the University of Oxford, and author of a study exploring the inheritance practices of the ultra wealthy. How do they maintain a belief in the value of work whilst preserving inheritance for the generation to come? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Covid and change

Covid: Laurie Taylor explores the impact of the pandemic on our working and home lives. Will Davies, Professor in Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, suggests it has revealed the politics of our economy, offering prosperity to some and hardships to others. He?s joined by Heejung Chung, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kent, whose research explores the impact of Covid on flexible working . Has it led to a more equal division of labour for heterosexual couples or entrenched existing inequalities? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Workplace Misbehaviour

Workplace Misbehaviour: Laurie Taylor talks to Paul Thompson, Emeritus Professor of Employment Studies at the University of Stirling, about workers behaving badly, from pilferage and absenteeism to the deployment of satirical humour and dissent on social media. In what ways has the modern workplace facilitated new kinds of recalcitrance? Also, Rebecca Scott, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Cardiff, explores bullying and aggressive behaviour among chefs employed in fine dining restaurants. Does the isolation of the work itself, combined with the geography of elite kitchens, lead to outrageous conduct that would be condemned elsewhere? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Psychiatry: a social history

Psychiatry: Laurie Taylor explores the social history of modern psychiatric practice. He's joined by Andrew Scull, Emeritus Professor in Sociology at the University of California and author of a magisterial study which asks if we are any closer to solving serious mental illness than we were a century ago. He traces the history of psychiatry's attempts to analyse and mitigate mental disorders: from the era of the asylum and psychosurgery to the rise and fall of psychoanalysis and the drugs revolution. Why is this history littered with examples of 'care' which so often resulted in dire consequences for the patient? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Prison Protest

Prison protest: Laurie Taylor explores the way in which prisoners have sought to transform the conditions of their imprisonment and have their voices heard. Nayan Shah, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California, considers the global history of hunger strikes from suffragists in the US and UK to Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland and anti apartheid campaigners in South Africa. What is the meaning and impact of the refusal to eat? They?re joined by Philippa Tomczak, Director of the Prisons, Health and Societies Research Group at the University of Nottingham, and author of a study which examines the way in which the 1990 riots at HMP Strangeways helped to re-shape imprisonment. Was the change lasting or significant? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Footwear - the ?magic? & the material reality. Laurie Taylor talks to Claudio Benzecry, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Sociology at Northwestern University, about the people and places involved in the global manufacture of women?s shoes. They?re joined by Elizabeth Ezra, Professor of Cinema and Culture at the University of Stirling, and author of a study about magic shoes, from Wizard of Oz to Cinderella, which finds that 'the perfect fit' relates to more than size and that our culture invests footwear with symbolic meanings beyond their status as mere commodities. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Strongmen ? what accounts for the global rise of authoritarian leaders? Laurie Taylor talks to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, and analyst of the blueprint which autocratic demagogues, from Mussolini to Putin, have followed over the past 100 years. What lessons might be learned to prevent disastrous rule in the future? They're joined by Christophe Jaffrelot, Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King's College, London, whose recent study of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, examines how a popularly elected leader has pursued Hindu nationalist policies, steering the world's largest democracy towards further ethnic strife and intolerance, according to many observers. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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The Underclass

The ?Underclass?: Laurie Taylor explored a vexed concept which has engaged social scientists, philanthropists, journalists, policy makers and politicians. He?s joined by Loic Wacquant, Professor of Sociology at the University of California Berkeley, and author of a magisterial study which traces the rise and fall of a scarecrow category which, he argues, had a lemming effect on a generation of scholars of race and poverty, obscuring more than it illuminated. They're joined by Baroness Ruth Lister, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University, who charts the way in which the notion of an underclass travelled to the UK, via the New Right sociologist, Charles Murray. She describes its impact on the debate about 'welfare' dependency, across the political spectrum, and argues for a 'politics of renaming' one which accords respect and recognition to people who experience poverty. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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SKILL: Laurie Taylor explores the social construction of skilled and unskilled work. Far from being objective categories, Chris Warhurst, Professor & Director of the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, suggests a more complex history, one which has favoured male workers. They're joined by Natasha Iskander, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Service at NYU, whose new study takes us into Qatar?s booming construction industry in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup. She argues that the experiences of migrant workers reveals the way in which the distinction between the ?skilled? and ?unskilled? is used to limit freedom and personhood. Does skill make us human? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Extremism: Laurie Taylor talks to Julia Ebner, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, about her experience of going undercover amongst political extremists, including neo Nazis, Islamic jihadists and anti feminists. Also, Daniel Koehler, founding Director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-Radicalization Studies (GIRDS) discusses the side-switchers and defectors who migrate across extremist groups and ideologies. Ray Hill is a positive example of a former British fascist, turned informant on the far right. Unlike Sascha Lemanski, a German far right activist who crossed over into Islamic jihadism. Can an understanding of the phenomenon of side-switching help us understand the way in which people become radicalised and help combat terrorist violence? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Why Sociology Matters

Laurie Taylor explores the meaning and purpose of public sociology with Michael Burawoy, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and author of a new book which describes his own contribution to reshaping the theory and practice of sociology across the Western world. He argues that social scientists should engage with the world they inhabit, rather than refusing to take positions on the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century. They're joined by Celine-Marie Pascale, Professor of Sociology at the American University, Washington, whose research advocates for, as well as describes, the daily lives of people in communities marked by poverty, racism, violence and misogyny. From Appalachia to the Standing Rock and Wind River Reservations and Oakland, California, she spoke to the self described 'struggling class'. She suggests that their stories can't be reduced to individual experience but illustrate a nation's deep economic and moral crisis and the collusion between governments and corporations that prioritise profits over people and the environment. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Strangers: Laurie Taylor explores Xenophobia, the fear or hatred of those we do not know. Evolutionary psychologists often describe it as a natural and timeless phenomenon rooted in ancient history. But how accurate is that bleak assessment? George Makari, historian and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Institute, has authored a new study sparked by the resurgence of Xenophobia in 2016. He set out to explore the origins of the concept: Coined by late nineteenth-century medics and political commentators, it emerged alongside Western nationalism, colonialism, mass migration, and genocide. Can an understanding of its complex history offer a more hopeful vision of human co-operation in the future? They're joined by Jonathan Purkis, an independent academic and lifelong aficionado of hitchhiking culture. His history of hitchhiking argues that 'driving with strangers' can offer unique opportunities for cooperation, friendship and an openness to the feared 'other'. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Food, Identity & Nation

FOOD, IDENTITY AND NATION - At a time when many of us are feeling overstuffed by festive eating, Laurie Taylor asks why food matters. He?s joined by Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University, who explores food?s relationship to our sense of self, as well as to inequality and the environment. Joy Fraser, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada, also joins the conversation. She asks why Scottishness has so often been signified, in a derogatory way, through food - from haggis to the deep-fried Mars bar. Does it say something about the relationship between England and Scotland? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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The Value of Things

The value of things: At a time when many of us are sorting through Christmas presents, both wanted and unwanted, Laurie Taylor explores the value of attachment in a disposable world. Christine Harold, Professor of Communication at the University of Washington, asks why we hang on to certain objects and discard others. How might our emotional investment in things be harnessed to create less wasteful practices? Also, clutter in our homes, from the meaningless to the meaningful. Sophie Woodward, Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, challenges the moralistic view of clutter, one which sees it as a sign of individual failure to organise one?s domestic life. Instead, she argues, it is central to the ways we negotiate and manage our intimate relationships. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Covid: Laurie Taylor explores the financial impact of the coronavirus & asks if it represents an opportunity, as well as a crisis. He's joined by Lisa Suckert, Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, whose recent study examines the way in which the pandemic has disrupted our sense of time and the temporal logic of the capitalist economy. Also, Adam Tooze, Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University, considers the shockwaves unleashed by the shutdown of the global economy. Will they yield any positive changes to our way of life? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Freedom: Laurie Taylor explores an unruly & disputed concept. Annelien de Dijn, Professor of Modern Political History at Utrecht University, asks how it came to be identified with limited government. Does our view of freedom owe more to the enemies of democracy than the liberty lovers of the Age of Revolution? Also, Tyler Stovall, Professor of History at Fordham University, considers the intertwined histories of racism and freedom in the United States, a nation that has claimed liberty as at the heart of their national identity. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Love and Romance

LOVE & ROMANCE ? Laurie Taylor unpacks different conceptions of love. He?s joined by Raksha Pande, Senior Lecturer in Social Geography at Newcastle University, whose latest research explores arranged marriages amongst people in the British-Indian diaspora. She finds that they have skilfully adapted cultural norms to carve out an identity narrative that portrays them as modern migrants offering a different take on romantic love. She?s joined by Eva Illouz, Rose Isaac Chair of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who considers the ways in which romantic affairs in Western culture fail to spark or break up. What can ?the end of love? tell us about the effects of consumer culture on personal relationships? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Afghanistan: The lives of Afghans in Britain today and the role of corruption in the return of the Taliban. Laurie Taylor talks to Nichola Khan, Reader in Anthropology and Psychology at the University of Brighton, about her monumental study of Afghan migrants in Sussex, England, at a time when we are seeing a fresh wave of migration from their home country. Also, Sarah Chayes, former Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explores the role of political corruption in the renewed ascendency of the Taliban. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Office Life

Office life: As more people return to the conventional workplace, Laurie Taylor talks to Craig Robertson, Associate Professor of Media Studies at Northeastern University, about a new study which charts the ?vertical? history of the filing cabinet and its role in capitalist modernity. Why was it advertised alongside gleaming skyscrapers & how did the logic of the cabinet come to penetrate the domestic sphere? Also, Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at UWE, Bristol, considers the ways in which people deploy private possessions, from toys to photos, to personalise their increasingly sanitised working environments. Has Covid changed our relationship to such objects at work, as Zoom meetings have blurred the private and professional allowing us to enter our colleagues homes? Producer: Jayne Egerton
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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
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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
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Culture and Privilege

Governments and arts organisations claim that culture brings joy to many lives and unites communities. But a recent 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 on 175 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. Revised repeat. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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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
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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
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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
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Coalmining & Luddism: Laurie explores the meaning of progress, from the former pit villages of South Wales & Durham to contemporary high tech industry. He's joined by Huw Beynon, Emeritus Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Cardiff, who charts the rise and fall of coalmining. What has happened to those communities in a post industrial era? Those who opposed the closure of the mines were often described as Luddites, trapped in a romanticised version of a lost world, but Gavin Mueller, a Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, suggests that Luddism may not always be regressive. His research provides an innovative rethinking of labour and machines & argues that improvement in people's working lives may depend on subverting or halting some technological changes. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Migrants in London

MIGRANTS IN LONDON: how has London been shaped by the history of immigration? Laurie Taylor talks to Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at De Montfort University, & author of a new study which examines the contribution of immigrants to London?s economic success and status as a global capital - from Jewish & Irish immigrants in the 19th century to the Windrush generation and beyond. They?re joined by Esther Saraga, a retired social scientist, whose recent book charts the emotional journeys of her parents, two German Jewish refugees, reconstructing their story from a substantial collection of family material, archives and secondary historical sources. She argues that their contradictory experiences of welcome and restriction challenge simple views of Britain's liberal tradition of welcoming refugees. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Fitness & fatness

Fitness & fatness: Laurie Taylor asks if they are two sides of the same coin. He's joined by Jürgen Martschukat, Professor of North American History at the University of Erfurt and author of a new book which looks at the history of self-optimisation from the Enlightenment to the present. What?s the relationship between neoliberalism and phenomena like Viagra & aerobics? How did the body come to symbolise success and achievement? Also, Sarah Trainer, medical anthropologist at Seattle University, discusses her study on extreme weight loss, via bariatric surgery. Her in depth interviews with patients reveal, in painstaking detail, how the journey to drastic weight - often half a person's body weight - can be at once painful and liberating, revealing which bodies are treated as though they don't belong in modern societies. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Blackface - Minstrelsy

BLACKFACE & MINSTRELSY - At its most basic level, 'blackface' is the application of any prosthetic to imitate the complexion of another race. In theory, it's a performance available to all, yet 'whiteface' is relatively unknown. Laurie Taylor talks to Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, about the painful history of ?blackface?, an ancient European theatrical device that the Europeans brought with them to America. What connects it to Blackface minstrelsy, a specific comedic performance tradition rooted in slavery, and why does this racist practice endure today? Also, Christine Grandy, Associate Professor in History at the University of Lincoln, discusses the origins of the British Black and White Minstrel Show, a prime time, BBC variety programme which lasted for 20 years, from 1958-1978. She uncovers a little known history in which broadcasters, the press, and audience members collectively argued that the show had nothing to do with race whilst the complaints and anger of Black people were dismissed. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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PERFUME: What?s the connection between perfume & politics in the 20th century and how do scents become invested with meaning? Laurie Taylor talks to Professor Karl Schloegel, Chair of East European History at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt, and author of a new study which examines contemporary history through the prism of two scents ? Moscow Red and Chanel No 5. They?re joined by Karen Cerulo, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, who asks how individuals make sense of certain fragrances and correctly decode perfume manufacturers? intended message and target users. To what extent do our every day readings of scent produce a world bound by class and race? Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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The Rural Idyll?

The Rural Idyll? Last year the National Trust produced a controversial report which revealed that 93 of its properties have direct links to colonialism and slavery. In this programme, Laurie Taylor talks to Corinne Fowler, Professor of Post Colonial Literature at the University of Leicester, whose new study engages directly with this painful history, uncovering the countryside?s repressed colonial past and its relationship to notions of Englishness. How have pastoral mythologies in English literature served to erase the story of Empire? In what ways do contemporary writers of colour offer a challenge to uncritical celebrations of our 'green and pleasant' land? They?re joined by Paul Readman, Professor of Modern British History at King's College London, whose recent research considers the relationship between landscape and English national identity, from the rural to the urban. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Life Imprisonment

Life imprisonment - Why is it that such sentences were almost unheard of a generation ago and what is their impact on prisoners, as well as society? Ben Crewe, Deputy Director of the Prison Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, talks to Laurie Taylor about the largest ever sociological study of long term imprisonment conducted in Europe. Focusing on prisoners convicted of murder & serving life sentences of 15 years or more from young adulthood, it asks how they manage time, think about the future, and deal with existential issues of identity and the meaning of their lives. They?re joined by Elaine Player, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Kings College, London, who discusses the different needs and experiences of the much smaller number of female ?lifers?, many of whom are victims of multiple trauma & male violence, drawing on research conducted in a democratic therapeutic community in a women?s prison. Thinking Allowed is produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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The Orange Order

The Orange Order in Northern Ireland and Scotland: Its origins, practices and principles, from the Battle of the Boyne to the Good Friday Agreement.. Laurie Taylor talks to Joseph Webster, Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge, and author of a new book about the Orange Order in Scotland which explores the politics of anti Catholic sectarianism and ultra Britishness, as well as the tensions between grassroots Orangemen and a hierarchy wishing to cultivate a respectable image beyond controversial parades and football hooliganism. Also, Karine Bigand, Senior Lecturer in Irish Studies at Aix-Marseille University, considers the history of Orange politics in Northern Ireland and current attempts to memorialise the Orange Order and contribute positively to reconciliation between divided communities post the GFA in 1998. Produced in partnership with the Open University. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Community & Social Capital

Community & social capital. Laurie Taylor talks to Robert D Putnam, Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and co-author of a new study which revisits some of the themes of 'Bowling Alone' his 20 year old, groundbreaking book, which argued that Americans were losing their connections with one another. His latest research takes a look at trends over the last century which have brought us from an ?I? society to a ?We? society and then back again. What lessons can be drawn from the past, especially at a time of increased economic inequality, political polarisation and loss of social capital and trust, all of which are playing out against the backdrop of a global pandemic? Is it, as he suggests, time for an 'upswing', more focused on our responsibilities to each other and one which, for the first time, must properly account for the way in which racism has shaped America? They?re joined by Emily Falconer, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Westminster, who considers the extent to which Robert Putnam's arguments apply to the UK. She also discusses her own research, which focuses on collective singing as a manifestation of social capital and community, in action. Her study of an Online Zoom community choir - at a time when so many face-to-face activity have disappeared - suggests that virtual, group singing has afforded deep connections between people in a landscape in which the future of social gatherings remains uncertain. Producer: Jayne Egerton Produced in partnership with The Open University
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THE BED: Laurie Taylor talks to Nadia Durrani, writer on archaeology and co-author of a study which explores 'what we did in bed', offering a social history of an often taken-for-granted object. In a story spanning millennia, she illuminates the role of the bed through time, reminding us that it was not always simply a private space for sleep, sex and relaxation; it's also been a place for sharing with strangers, issueing decrees, even taking us to the afterlife. Also, the rise and fall of twin beds for couples. Hilary Hinds, Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University , charts shifting attitudes towards separate sleeping. Whereas it was once seen as the sign of a modern, hygiene conscious and forward thinking relationship, it came to be regarded as the enemy of intimacy. Why did so many couples abandon a sleeping arrangement which used to be regarded as one of the keys to re-imagining domestic relations, promoting equality between the sexes and personal autonomy? This is the last of our current series, as Thinking Allowed heads for a long 'lie in' until April 2021. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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Laurie Taylor talks to Annie Kelly, a researcher of the Digital Far Right, about the QAnon conspiracy theory and why it has attracted a striking number of female followers, many of whom are mothers. She argues that their rhetoric and slogans have cleverly smuggled legitimate concerns about the welfare of children into a baseless and dangerous set of entirely false claims about the nature of child trafficking. What role have social media sites dominated by women played in the circulation of QAnon theories and how can they be challenged? Also, Nina Jankowitz, Global Disinformation Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, examines Russia?s role in the spread of disinformation, not only in the USA but also in Eastern and Central Europe. What lessons can be learned from these experiences? She argues that the best types of disinformation are able to amplify and exploit the already existing divisions in society, including racism and inequality in the US context.
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The Meaning of Work

The anthropologist, James Suzman, explores the shifting meaning of work, and argues that for 95% of our species' history, it held a radically different importance ? it did not determine social status, mould our values or dictate how we spent most of our time. How did it become the central organisational principle of our societies and is it time for a dramatic re-think? Also, Ella Harris, Leverhulme Fellow in the Geography department at Birkbeck, University of London, examines ?pop up culture?. Temporary or nomadic sites such as cinemas, supper clubs and container malls are now ubiquitous in cities across the world. But what are the stakes of the 'pop-up' city? Has economic insecurity and precarity been re-branded as desirable and exciting? Presenter Laurie Taylor Producer Jayne Egerton
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DIRT: Laurie Taylor explores its material & symbolic meanings. Stephanie Newell, Professor of English at Yale University, traces the ways in which urban spaces and urban dwellers come to be regarded as dirty, as exemplified in colonial and postcolonial Lagos,Nigeria. They?re joined by Lucy Norris, Guest Professor of Design Anthropology and Material Culture at the Weissensee School of Art and Design, Berlin, who asks if the resistance to recycled clothes relates to our fear that they may intimately link us with 'dirty' & contagious bodies. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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TEA: A dark history. Laurie Taylor talks to the historian, Seren Charrington-Hollins, about the exploitation, wars & intrigue at the heart of the history of that most 'British' hot beverage. Also, Sarah Besky, Associate Professor in the Departments of International and Comparative Labour & Labour Relations, Law, and History in at Cornell University, discusses her study of mass market black tea, one of the world?s most recognized commodities, and one which is still rooted in the colonial plantation. Producer: Jayne Egerton
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