Thinking Allowed



New research on how society works




    30/12/2020 Duración: 28min

    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 curr

  • Disinformation


    23/12/2020 Duración: 28min

    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.

  • The Meaning of Work

    The Meaning of Work

    16/12/2020 Duración: 27min

    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

  • DIRT


    09/12/2020 Duración: 28min

    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

  • TEA


    04/12/2020 Duración: 27min

    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



    25/11/2020 Duración: 29min

    Gambling: Laurie Taylor talks to Rebecca Cassidy, Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, about her research into a pastime which was once a criminal activity but is now a respectable business run by multinational corporations listed on international stock markets. Who are the winners and losers created by this transformation? Also, Emma Casey, Associate Professor of Sociology at Northumbria University, discusses her research on gambling and social mobility. Producer: Jayne Egerton



    18/11/2020 Duración: 29min

    DEPORTATION: Laurie Taylor explores the lives of people whose criminal convictions have led to them being deported to Jamaica, although many of them left the Caribbean as children and grew up in the UK. Luke de Noronha, Simon Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester, describes the experiences of a group who are regarded as undeserving of sympathy, compared to the victims of the Windrush scandal of 2018. But are such hard and fast divisions fair or accurate? They’re joined by Adam Goodman, Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies at the University of Illinois, who traces the long history of deportation in the US, beyond current headlines about detention camps and anti migrant ‘walls’, and asks if America is deserving of its reputation as a country which has always welcomed immigrants. Producer: Jayne Egerton



    12/11/2020 Duración: 28min

    Corruption: Laurie Taylor talks to Sarah Chayes, writer and former Senior Fellow in the Democracy and Rule of Law programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about the ways in which vested interests have corrupted America - from unjust Supreme Court rulings to revolving doors between the private and state sector - and challenges the notion that this phenomenon is principally caused by wicked individuals lining their own pockets. Instead she reveals a many headed hydra of sophisticated networks spanning political and national boundaries. They’re joined by Dan Hough, Director of the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption at the University of Sussex, who provides a British & global perspective on a phenomenon which is threatening democracy. How can it be tackled at a personal, political and collective level? Edited since first transmission. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Civilians in the line of fire

    Civilians in the line of fire

    04/11/2020 Duración: 28min

    CIVILIANS IN THE LINE OF FIRE: Laurie Taylor talks to Nicola Perugini, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, about the global history of human shields, from civil wars to Black Lives Matters. How have ordinary people come to be both voluntary and involuntary shields for protection, coercion, or deterrence? Also, war lawyers. Craig Jones, Lecturer in Political Geography at Newcastle University, discusses the way in which legal professionals have increasingly been invited to advise on military operations which were once the exclusive preserve of commanders. What implications has this had for the conduct of war, in general and the treatment of civilians, in particular? Why has it allowed for an extension, rather than a curtailment, of civilian deaths? Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • The Rich

    The Rich

    28/10/2020 Duración: 28min

    The Rich: Laurie Taylor talks to Rowland Atkinson, Research Chair in Inclusive Societies at the University of Sheffield, about his study of London as an 'Alpha City'. Compared to New York or Tokyo, the two cities that bear the closest comparison, it has the largest number of wealthy people per head of population. Has London been transformed into a 'capital for capital' , marginalising the needs of the majority of its population? They're joined by the historian and sociologist, Rainer Zitelmann, who has conducted the first, large scale study into attitudes towards the rich and argues that social envy can lead to scapegoating and finds intriguing differences of opinion amongst Americans, Germans, the British and French. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Fashion  VIP Parties

    Fashion & VIP Parties

    21/10/2020 Duración: 28min

    Fashion & VIP parties - Laurie Taylor explores the hidden stories behind the glamour and wealth. He's joined by Giulia Mensitieri, Social Anthropologist and Ethnologist Research Fellow at the Université Paris Nanterre, and author of a study which investigates the fashion industry and uncovers the harsh and exploitative realities which lurk beneath the glittering façade. Also, Ashley Mears, Associate Professor in Sociology at Boston University, describes the exclusive global nightclub and party circuit, from New York City to Saint-Tropez, revealing a culture of ostentatious display & waste. Producer: Jayne Egerton



    16/10/2020 Duración: 28min

    REVOLUTION: Are all radical upheavals in the social, economic and political order destined to fail? Laurie Taylor talks to Daniel Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Washington, about his study into why so many of the iconic revolutions of modern times have ended in bloody tragedies. Does radical idealism inevitably have tragic consequences? Also, the Rojava Revolution, how a region in Northeastern Syria, has become the site of extraordinary transformation. The writer and activist, Rahila Gupta, describes an experiment in direct democracy, inter-ethnic co-operation and women's liberation which has taken place against a backdrop of civil war. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Elites


    07/10/2020 Duración: 27min

    Elites: Laurie Taylor explores the anti elitism which has become a common staple of media commentary and political rhetoric. He talks to Eliane Glaser, Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and author of a new study arguing that we are taking aim at the wrong enemy and confusing a corporate elite, which does pose a threat to many of us, with people who make our lives worth living, even save our lives – from doctors and lawyers to writers and artists. Are we letting the ‘real’ elite off the hook? They’re joined by William Davies, Professor of Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, whose latest book takes stock of our historical moment and claims that the basic norms of public life have been thrown into question, as the status of political parties, mainstream media and public experts have been undermined. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Cars


    30/09/2020 Duración: 27min

    CARS: How do cars transmit our identities behind the wheel? Laurie Taylor explores the meaning of cars from Bradford to China. Yunis Alam, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bradford, discusses his study of car ownership amongst Bradfordians of Pakistani heritage. How do cars project status, class, taste and racial identity? Also, Jun Zhang, Assistant Professor of Asian and International Studies at City University of Hong Kong, describes the rise of car consumption in China and the ways in which it has shaped the emerging, but insecure, middle class. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Bunkers


    23/09/2020 Duración: 27min

    Bunkers: The bunker has become the extreme expression of our greatest fears: from pandemics to climate change and nuclear war. Laurie Taylor talks to Bradley Garrett, Assistant Professor in Human Geography at University College Dublin, about the global movement of 'prepping' for social and environmental collapse, or 'Doomsday'. They're joined by Diane Morgan, Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds and author of a study examining the symbolic meaning of the bunker and the way in which demilitarised bunkers have taken on a new cultural life. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • CEO Society - Time Management

    CEO Society - Time Management

    16/09/2020 Duración: 27min

    CEO Society – Laurie Taylor talks to Peter Bloom, Head of the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University and author of a new book which asks why corporate leaders such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have become cultural icons of the 21st century. Also, how did productivity emerge as a way of thinking about job performance? Melissa Gregg, Research Director at Intel, explains why she thinks that time management is actually counterproductive. Repeat. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • Au pairing and domestic labour

    Au pairing and domestic labour

    09/09/2020 Duración: 28min

    With her 1974 study The Sociology of Housework, Ann Oakley offered a comprehensive sociological study of women’s work in the home. Analysing interviews with urban housewives, she found that most women, regardless of class, were dissatisfied with housework. It was a finding that contrasted with prevailing perspectives, and a study that challenged the scholarly neglect of housework. Now that this landmark text has been reissued, Ann talks to Laurie Taylor about its significance and reflects on what has changed in the decades since it was published. Also, Rosie Cox discusses her co-authored study of au pairing in the twenty first century, As an Equal? Drawing on detailed research, the book examines the lives of au pairs and the families who host them in contemporary Britain, arguing that au pairing has become increasingly indistinguishable from other forms of domestic labour. Revised repeat. Producer: Alice Bloch

  • Surveillance


    02/09/2020 Duración: 28min

    Surveillance: Laurie Taylor explores the way in which we have become the watchers, as well as the watched. From 9/11 to the Snowden leaks, stories about surveillance increasingly dominate the headlines. But surveillance is not only 'done to us' – it is something we do in everyday life. We submit to surveillance, believing we have nothing to hide. Or we try to protect our privacy. At the same time, we participate in surveillance in order to supervise children, monitor other road users, and safeguard our property. Social media allow us to keep tabs on others, as well as on ourselves. Laurie Taylor explores the contemporary culture of surveillance. He's joined by Kirstie Ball, Professor of Management at the University of St Andrews, and David Lyon, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen's University, Canada. Revised repeat. Producer: Jayne Egerton

  • The Politics of Memorials

    The Politics of Memorials

    26/08/2020 Duración: 26min

    The Politics of Memorials: Remembering Emmet Till – in 1955, a young African-American was lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store. Driving through the Mississippi Delta today, you’ll find a landscape dotted with memorials to major figures and moments from the civil rights movement, none more tragic than this murder. The ways in which his death is remembered have been fraught from the beginning, revealing the political controversies which lurk behind the placid facades of historical markers. Dave Tell, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, analyses the various ways that this landmark event in the civil rights movement has been commemorated. Also, Margaret O’Callaghan, Reader in History, Queen’s University Belfast, discusses commemoration in the context of Irish history. How has the marking of the Easter Rising shifted over time? What roles are played by memorials in any society? And what forces dictate wha

  • Skateboarding - Parkour

    Skateboarding - Parkour

    19/08/2020 Duración: 25min

    Skateboarding and parkour: Laurie Taylor explores lifestyle sports in the hyper regulated city. Iain Borden, Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at UCL, considers the origins, history and thrill of skateboarding. They're joined by Thomas Raymen, a senior lecturer in the Social Sciences department at Northumbria University, who followed a group of Newcastle free running enthusiasts, from wall to rooftop, and probed the contradictions between transgression and conformity to the values of consumer capitalism. Revised repeat. Producer: Jayne Egerton

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