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Thinking Allowed: People history and baristas

Updated Tuesday, 6th May 2014

Laurie Taylor talks to the author of a major new work on social history, and explores why people are happy to make coffee for low pay.

When and where

Wednesday, 7th May 2014 17:00 - BBC Radio 4

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Mrs Suter cuts a slice of bread for her husband at the breakfast table of the family home at 44 Edgeworth Road in Eltham, South East London in the summer of 1940. Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Imperial War Museum collections under IWM non-commercial licence - Please read licence terms for this image before using elsewhere A working-class couple during wartime. Each week, The Open University and BBC Radio 4 bring you the latest thinking from the social sciences.

In this programme, the focus is on the rise & fall of the working class: Laurie Taylor talks to Selina Todd, social historian at St Hilda's College, Oxford, about her sweeping study of ordinary British people between 1910-2010. Rooting her analysis in first person accounts from factory workers, servants and housewives, she reveals a hidden history full of the unexpected: How many of us know that cinema audiences once shook their fists at Winston Churchill?

Also, US sociologist, Yasemin Besen-Cassino, discusses her research on 'baristas', the preparers of coffee across the urban world. She finds a group of affluent young people who'll work for poor wages if they're associated with a 'cool' brand.

This edition of Thinking Allowed is first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 7th May 2014. For further broadcast details, and to listen again where available, please visit

Selina Todd will be talking about her book at Ruskin College, Oxford on June 13th 2014. Full details of The People event can be found at





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