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Thinking Allowed 2019
Thinking Allowed explores how society works, with leading social science experts.
22nd July 2019 at 12:15AM
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.
How is the middle class expanding, changing or shrinking in different contexts? Laurie Taylor looks at the rise of the Chinese middle class, as well as the evolution of the African American middle class. He's joined by Bart Landry, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland and Ying Miao, Lecturer in Politics at Aston University.
The Class Ceiling: Why it pays to be privileged. Drawing on four in-depth case studies – acting, accountancy, architecture and television – Sam Friedman, Associate Professor in Sociology at the LSE, argues that the ‘class ceiling’ in the elite professions can only be partially attributed to conventional measures of ‘merit’. Instead, he suggests that more powerful drivers include the misrecognition of classed self-presentation as ‘talent’ and the affordances of the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’. He's joined by Louise Ashley, Senior Lecturer in Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London and Anna Williams, Director of Research, Advocacy and Communications at the Sutton Trust.
Randy McBee, Professor of Labor and Social History at the Texas Tech University, considers the rise of the American Motorcyclist from its largely working-class roots to the growth in "outlaw" motorcycle culture in the 1950s through to the development of the motorcycle rights movement of the 1960s and the emergence of the rich urban biker more recently. What impact has the 'biker' had on American culture and politics?
He is joined by Esperanza Miyake, Lecturer in Digital Media and Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University, and author of a new study of the 'gendered motorcycle' in film, advertising and TV. She asks why biker culture is often seen as essentially masculine and what happens to gender at 120mph.
A social history of the human made barrier which has divided people into those who should be kept safe and those who should be excluded. From Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China to the Berlin Wall. Laurie Taylor talks to David Frye, Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut University and Wendy Pullan, Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Snobbery is defined as the behaviour or attitude of people who think they are better than others. Laurie Taylor asks why accusations of snobbery have become such a central element in modern political discourse, be it about Brexit or Trump. He talks to David Morgan, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, who argues that such public sentiments reflect deeper issues of class inequality. They’re joined by Bev Skeggs, Professor of Sociology at the LSE and Florence Sutcliffe Braithwaite, Lecturer in 20th Century History at University College, London.
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, Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Plymouth, 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.
We spend our lives moving through hallways and corridors, yet these channeling spaces do not feature in architectural histories. They are overlooked and undervalued. Laurie talks to Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, whose new book charts the origins and meaning of the corridor, from country houses and utopian communities in the eighteenth centuries, through reformist Victorian prisons to the "corridors of power," as well as their often fearful depiction in popular culture. They’re joined by Kate Marshall, Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and author of a study of the intriguing place of the corridor in modernist literature.
The world’s tallest building is in Dubai and the 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar. But what role do the sensational cities of the Arabian Peninsula play in urban development across the Earth? Laurie Taylor talks to Harvey Molotch, Professor of Sociology at New York University and to Davide Ponzini, Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. Also, Natalie Koch, Associate Professor of Geography at Syracuse University, asks why autocrats in resource rich nations build spectacular new capital cities.
We live in a culture of credit with a dramatic surge in private borrowing due to wage stagnation over several decades. Many people will now be indebted until death. Johnna Montgomerie,Reader in International Political Economy King's College London, tells Laurie Taylor why she proposes the abolition of household debt in the context of a chronically dysfunctional situation, both individually and collectively. Also, the story of the National Debt. Martin Slater, Emeritus Fellow in Economics at the University of Oxford, explores its changing fortunes and role in shaping the course of British history. How has Britain been moulded by attempts to break fee of the debt, from post war Keynesian economics to today's austerity?
Simon May, visiting professor of philosophy at King’s College London, explores cuteness and its immense hold on us, from emojis and fluffy puppies to its more uncanny, subversive expressions. Also, the changing significance of kitsch, from garden gnomes to the bachelor bad, Ruth Holliday, Professor of Gender and Culture at the University of Leeds, suggests that judgements of taste have shifted ground rather than relaxed. They’re joined by the cultural critic, Peter York.
Laurie Taylor explores the 'persuasion industries' and their role in creating modern consumer society. How has their use of an emotional model of brand communication, whether in political campaigning or product advertising, transformed our understanding of the rational consumer? He's joined by Steven McKevitt, Visiting Professor in Brand Communication, at Leeds Beckett University. Also, how 'branding' can desensitize far right consumers to extremist ideas. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Associate Professor of Education and Sociology at American University, discusses her study into the ways in which extremism is going mainstream in Germany through clothing brands laced with racist and nationalist symbols.
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.
Detecting the social - how the changing nature of crime stories illuminates shifts in society. Also, homicide confessions on social media. What does it mean when killers confess online? Laurie Taylor is joined by Mary Evans, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the LSE and Elizabeth Yardley, Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University.
No go world: Is fear redrawing our maps and infecting our politics? Ruben Andersson, Associate Professor of Migration and Development at the University of Oxford, considers the way in which images of danger, from the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands to the Sahara, depict a new world disorder on the global margins.
Holidays in the danger zone: Debbie Lisle, Professor of International Relations at Queens University, Belfast shows how a tourist sensibility has come to shape the behaviour of soldiers in war and a military sensibility now influences the development of tourism.
Remembering Emmet Till: In 1955, a young African-American was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 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 and you’ll find a landscape dotted with memorials to major figures and moments from the civil rights movement, none more tragic than the murder of Emmett Till. 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.
The politics of memorials: Margaret O’Callaghan, Reader in History, Queen’s University Belfast, discusses commemoration in the context of Irish history. She considers what roles are played by memorials in any society and the forces that dictate what gets remembered and what forgotten.
Laurie Taylor talks to Thomas Konda, Professor of Political Science at SUNY, Plattsburgh, about the history and changing nature of conspiracy theories. Why have such wild theories overrun America? Also, Hugo Leal, Methods Fellow at the University of Cambridge discusses the most comprehensive examination of conspiracy theories ever conducted. About 11,500 people were surveyed in a study covered nine countries - the US, Britain (excluding Northern Ireland), Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary. The research found that Trump and Brexit voters were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories than others.
What is the value of forgotten histories, of possibilites not realised? What can a quite amble down a backstreat tell us about the nature of modernity? How has technology affected the nature and purpose of art? In the mid twentieth century Walter Benjamin explored all these questions and brought Marxist thinking to high culture, exploring people's relationship to objects and art. His influence is probably felt now more than ever. Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the work of this pioneering German intellectual and theorist. He's joined by the philosopher Jonathan Ree and the professor of political aesthetics, Esther Leslie.
Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the work and influence of Erving Goffman - a groundbreaking Canadian sociologist. He's joined by Professor Gregory Smith, Dr Rachel Hurdley and Dr Susie Scott.
Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the life and work of Michel Foucault - a iconoclastic French philosopher and theorist. He's joined by Professor Stephen Shapiro, Professor Vikki Bell and Professor Lois McNay.
Laurie Taylor explores the ideas and legacy of the French sociologist, best known for establishing the concepts of cultural, social, and symbolic forms of capital (as opposed to traditional economic forms of capital). His book 'Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste' was judged the sixth most important sociological work of the twentieth century by the International Sociological Association. His work is credited with enhancing the understanding of the ways in which the social order and power are transferred across generations. Laurie is joined by Diane Reay, Professor of Education at Cambridge University, Derron Wallace, Post Doctoral Fellow at Brandeis University and Kirsty Morrin, Phd Student at the University of Manchester and co-convenor for the Bourdieu Study Group.
How critical is it to our sense of identity, and relationship with others? Sharrona Pearl, Assistant Professor in Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses her study of face transplant surgery. She's joined by Anne-Marie Martindale, Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester, who has studied the impact of facial disfigurement; as well as Professor Jonathan Cole, consultant in clinical neurophysiology, and author of two books examining the relationship between facial expressions, communication and the self.
Laurie Taylor talks to Abigail Brooks, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence College USA, and author of a study which asks why women choose or reject cosmetic anti ageing procedures. Also, beauty politics in the Neoliberal age. Ros Gill, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at City University, discusses the ways in which women are required to be 'aesthetic entrepreneurs', maintaining a constant vigilance about their appearance. They're joined by Rachel Wood, Research Associate in the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics at Sheffield Hallam University.
Organised crime in the UK - how has it changed? Professor Dick Hobbs, joins Laurie Taylor, to discuss his work on 'Lush Life', a rich, ethnographic study into 'Dogtown', a composite of several overlapping neighbourhoods in East London. Looking behind the clichéd notions of criminal firms and underworlds, he finds that activity which was once the preserve of professional criminals has now been normalised. He invites us to consider whether or not the very idea of organised crime has become outdated in a predatory, post industrial world in which many fight, by illegal as well as legal means, to survive on the margins. Also, the presence and activities of the Mafia in the UK. Dr Felia Allum, a Lecturer in Italian History and Politics, discusses how Italian organised crime functions outside its territory of origin.
Producer: Jayne Egerton
Prison TV: Laurie Taylor considers the therapeutic role of television in the modern day jail. He talks to Victoria Knight, Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, and author of a new study examining the way in which TVs in cells manage the everyday life and emotions of prisoners; helping deliver both care and control. In addition, she offers insights into how technology in prison is evolving globally. They're joined by David Wilson, Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University.
Also, prison 'blues': BB King, the African American Blues musician, died on 14 May 2015. One year on, Les Back, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, London, focuses on his performances in prisons. Over a 25-year period, B.B. King performed for free in 47 different jails across America. Situating his concerts within a wider political context in which a crisis was unfolding in US prisons, Back explores the implications of King's prison 'blues' and interrogates the meaning of music behind bars.
Producer: Jayne Egerton
Laurie Taylor asks why so many Islamist extremists come from an engineering background. He talks to Steffen Hertog, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics, about a new study which finds that Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism, in which engineers are absent while social scientists and humanities students are prominent. Is there a mindset susceptible to certain types of extremism? They're joined by Raffaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute.
Orange prison jumpsuits: Elspeth Van Veeren, Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Bristol, discusses the US prisoner uniform which took on a transnational political life due to the Global War on Terror.
Producer: Jayne Egerton
War in the air: Laurie Taylor explores the history of aerial bombing and tear gas; from the battlefield to urban streets. He's joined by Thomas Hippler, Professor of Modern History at Caen University, Normandy, Anna Feigenbaum, Senior Lecturer in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University and Steve Graham, Professor of Professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University.
Producer: Jayne Egerton.
Discover more on the subjects discussed in Thinking Allowed
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During the recent election campaign, the Tories insisted there was no such thing as a magic money tree. But, as Alan Shipman explains, low bond yields might be the next best thing.Read now ❯Have vanishing debt costs created a magic money tree?
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Professor Sophie Watson
Prior to joining The Open University, she held several high-profile academic positions at leading institutions including University College London, University of New South Wales, and the University of Bristol.
Dr Jess Perriam
Jess is a lecturer in sociology, primarily interested in the digital and everyday life. She received her PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2018.
Prior to joining The Open University, she appeared on BBC World Service’s Newshour programme to discuss café loyalty schemes.
Before pursuing an academic career, Jess was a radio and online journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) between 2007 and 2011.