Thinking Allowed

Thinking Allowed

United Kingdom

New research on how society works

Episodes

Sexual violence in the Bangladeshi War of Independence - Global danger and the risk to research  

Sexual violence in the Bangladeshi War of Independence. Laurie Taylor talks to Nayanika Mookherjee, Reader in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Durham University, about the internationally unprecedented state designation of raped women as birangonas (brave women) in 1971. Her groundbreaking study was shortlisted for the 2016 BSA/Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award. She analysed the pubic memory or wartime rape perpetrated by the West Pakistani army and local Bengali men in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during that conflict. This national commemoration of the women's suffering counters the assumption of silence and shame amongst victims of rape in war. But what did it mean to the women themselves? Has their elevation to the status of heroines ensured their integration into their communities and acceptance by their menfolk? Also, Ruben Andersson, Associate Professor at Oxford University's Department of International Development, discusses the expansion of 'no go' areas of the world since 9/11. He argues that alleged regions of 'risk' are seen as posing a particular danger to Western states and citizens. How can ethnographers who, by definition, do not wish to observe from a distance, address this challenge to their research? Professor Andersson was the winner of the 2015 Ethnography Award for his study of clandestine migration on the borders of Europe. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Super Rich: the 1% of the 1%  

The 'Super Rich' - Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the 1% of the 1%. Rowland Atkinson, Research Chair in Inclusive Society at the University of Sheffield, Roger Burrow, Professor of Cities at Newcastle University and Emma Spence, PhD Researcher at Cardiff University explore the origins of this wealthiest of elites and their impact on our cities and lives. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Laurie Taylor discusses the relationship between literature and sociology.  

What is the relationship between literature and sociology? Laurie Taylor discusses fiction and the real world with crime writer Denise Mina, criminologist Dick Hobbs and English literature lecturer Nick Bentley. From Charles Dickens' "Oliver" to Alan Sillitoe's "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning", literary descriptions of the social world - and working class life in particular - have often been called "realistic". But how has 'real life' been misrepresented by scholars and novelists alike? Can ethnography produce fictions of its own? And what skills are vital for any writer who wants to capture the complexity of everyday life? Plus, is it really true, as WH Auden once suggested, that "poetry makes nothing happen"? Laurie and guests discuss the influence of literature and sociology on attitudes and policy, reflecting on how both can make a meaningful impact. Producer: Alice Bloch.

Musicians Union - women heavy metal fans  

The Musicians Union: Laurie Taylor explores the history of musicians efforts to be seen as workers, as well as entertainers. Martin Cloonan, Professor of Popular Music Politics at the University of Glasgow, drew on extensive archive and interviews with Union employees and members to provide a comprehensive assessment of the role of the MU in the nation's ballrooms, orchestras, recording studios and radio stations. They're joined by Caspar Melville, Lecturer in Global Creative and Cultural Industries, SOAS, University of London. Also, women heavy metal fans. Rosemary Hill, Lecturer in Sociology at University of Leeds, examines the tensions between being a 'metal' fan and being a woman. From the media representation of women rock fans as groupies to the widely held belief that hard rock and metal is masculine, being a music fan is an experience shaped by gender. How do female fans negotiate their place in a male dominated music scene? Producer:Jayne Egerton.

Men and Violence - Stag Parties  

Men, Masculinities and Violence. Laurie Taylor talks to Anthony Ellis, lecturer in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Salford, about his ethnographic study conducted with men involved in serious crime and violence over the course of two years in the North of England. How do some men come to value physical violence as a resource? Historian Joanna Bourke joins the discussion. Also, stag parties and consumerism. Daniel Briggs, Professor in Criminology at the Universidad Europea de Madrid, unpicks the commercial and emotional motivations of men taking part in stag 'dos'. Is such stereotypical excessive and deviant behaviour ultimately rooted in commercial ideology? Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

Success and Luck - Cosmopolitanism and Private Education  

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. Laurie Taylor talks to Robert H. Frank, Professor of Economics at Cornell University's Johnson School of Management, about the role luck has to play in life's successes, or failures. Frank argues that chance is much more significant than people give it credit for. Lynsey Hanley, writer and Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University, joins the discussion. Also, Claire Maxwell, Reader of Sociology of Education at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London, talks about her co-authored paper looking at the attitudes of privately-educated young women towards the idea of cosmopolitanism. Did they feel like global citizens, or were their aspirations confined to the local and the national? Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

Foie gras & the politics of taste - Memories of Irish food  

Foie gras: The politics of taste. Laurie Taylor talks to Michaela DeSoucey, Assistant Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, about the controversies that surround this luxury product. What makes us see some foods as 'wrong' and worthy of prohibition? They're joined by the distinguished anthropologist, Henrietta Moore. Also, memories of Irish food. Angela Maye-Banbury, Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, talks about her research with working class Irish male migrants whose evocative recollections of the food back home illuminate their sense of the past. Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

Racial segregation, Dementia and hair care  

Racial segregation in the United States: Laurie Taylor explores a provocative new study which sheds light on the racism which still endures today. Nicholas Guyatt, lecturer in American History at the University of Cambridge, asks why America's founding fathers failed to include Black and Indian people in their cherished ideals of equality. Kehinde Anderws, Associate Professor in Sociology at Birmingham City University, provides a Black British perspective. Also, hairdressing for people with dementia. A new study by Sarah Campbell, Research Associate at the University of Manchester, discovered the importance of salon chat and human touch to women and men who struggled to recall the past. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

16/11/2016  

Population change - how will it transform the world? Laurie Taylor talks to Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford, about one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. She's joined by Robert Mayhew, Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Bristol. Also, a cross cultural study of chronic illness management. Ivaylo Vassilev, Senior Research Fellow in Health Sciences at the University of Southampton, discusses the different experiences and perceptions of people suffering with diabetes in the UK and Bulgaria. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Evangelicals - Troubled families  

Evangelicals in London: Laurie Taylor talks to Anna Strhan, Lecturer In Religious Studies at the University of Kent, about her study of the everyday lives of members of a conservative, evangelical Anglican church at the heart of the modern city. How do they navigate work and faith in a largely secular society? They're joined by Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion, at Lancaster University Also, 'troubled families': Tracy Shildrick, Professor of Sociology at Leeds University, draws on interviews with different generations of deeply disadvantaged families who are often blamed for their multiple problems, including poverty. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Drone warfare, Fitness instructors  

Drone warfare: from soldiering to assassination? Laurie Taylor talks to the US philosopher, Laurie Calhoun, about her study of remote controlled killing. Has self defence become naked aggression in the Drone age. She argues that 'black ops' are now standard operating proceedure. Professor David Galbreath, Professor of International Security at the University of Bath, offers an alternative perspective. Also, the precarity of personal trainers. Geraint Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations at the University of Birmingham, discusses a new study which claims that their working conditions represent a new form of hyper flexible and insecure work. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Hoods - Construction Blacklist  

Hood: a cultural history of a seemingly neutral garment which has long been associated with violence, from the Executioner to the KKK and inner city gangs. Laurie Taylor talks to the America writer, Alison Kinney, about the material and symbolic meaning of hoods. Also, the blacklisting of employees. Dr Paul Lashmar, Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Sussex, examines a hidden history of discrimination. He's joined by Jack Fawbert, Associate Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, who provides the most contemporary and widespread instance of blacklisting in the UK - an extraordinary corporate crime which led to over 150 current or retired building workers reaching a substantial out of court settlement with the country's eight largest building employers earlier this year. All had been blacklisted for their trade union activities and alleged political views. How did this happen? Producer: Jayne Egerton.

House of Commons - Voting and Inequality  

The House of Commons - an anthropologist's guide to the political 'tribe'. Emma Crewe, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS, spent two years doing interviews in the Palace of Westminster and MPs constituencies. She talks to Laurie Taylor about her study, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the hidden mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. She's joined by Lord Daniel Finkelstein, political commentator and associate editor at The Times. Also, Anne Phillips, Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science, asks if inequality impacts on rates of voting in general elections. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Rentier capitalism - Protest camps  

The Corruption of Capitalism & the rise of the rentiers. Laurie Taylor talks to Guy Standing, Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, who claims we're living through a Second Gilded Age, one which mirrors the vast inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few which characterised late 19th century America. The difference now is that it's global and its beneficiaries are mainly the owners of property. So is capitalism now rigged in favour of a rentier class? They're joined by David Smith, the Economics Editor of The Times. Also, Protest camps: Anna Feigenbaum, Senior Lecturer in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University, charts the transnational history of tents pitched for political change.

Political polarisation, An anthropologist's guide to naming  

Political polarisation in America. Laurie Taylor talks to Marc Hetherington, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, about why distrust of the opposite party is now so common in the US. Is the same pattern emerging in Britain? They're joined by Robert Ford, Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester. Also, an anthropologist's guide to names and naming with Barbara Bodenhorn, Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Higher Education - Crisis or Change?  

Higher education - crisis or change? A special programme exploring the role, meaning and future of a university education in a globalised world. It was once assumed that university graduates, particularly those from working class backgrounds, had a route to social mobility via a degree. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, tells Laurie Taylor why her new study suggests the end of the American dream of self improvement. Half the students, in her sample of 3,000 disadvantaged young adults, dropped out of college due to a lack of financial resources. Lorenza Antonucci, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Teeside University, compared the lives of students in England, Italy and Sweden and found that, contrary to what is assumed by HE policies, participating in university education now exacerbates inequality. Thomas Docherty, Professor of English and of Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick, joins the discussion, placing these developments in the context of an increasing marketisation of education which, he argues, has turned the university into the servant of the economy. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Shyness - Names  

Shyness: Laurie Taylor talks to Joe Moran, Professor of English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and the author of study of the 'shrinking violet' in history and sociology. Also, a sociology of naming. Jane Pilcher, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester, explores the relationship between names and our sense of identity. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Men dressing up - The male 'suit'  

The male 'suit': Christopher Breward, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Edinburgh, talks to Laurie Taylor about the myriad forms and meanings of a garment which has dominated men's wardrobes for 400 years. From Saville Row to Wall St; in times of crisis, as well as celebration; the tailored suit is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted, ignoring its complex history and many varieties, including the Zoot Suit and Le Smoking. Although it embodies ideas of traditional masculinity and respectability, it has also been subverted by women, musicians and revolutionaries Also, men 'dressing up'. Barbara Brownie, a senior lecturer at University of Hertfordshire, explores how, in recent years, the wearing of costumes has become an increasingly masculine pursuit. Through historical re-enactment, superhero 'cosplay', and the personalisation of characters in online games, a new generation of men are taking pleasure in costume. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Airport security, Retiring to Spain  

Airport security: what are the costs of a surveillance regime which turns us all into potential suspects? Laurie Taylor talks to Rachel Hall, Associate Professor in Communications at Syracuse University, New York, about her study into the 'transparent traveller' who must submit their bags and bodies to technologies aimed at countering terrorism. Also, Anya Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Salford, explores the pleasures and pitfalls of retiring to Spain in her research into the lives and times of working class British women who've made this choice. Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Food bank Britain, Food poverty in Europe  

Hunger pains: Life inside foodbank Britain. Kayleigh Garthwaite, Leverhulme Trust funded researcher in the Centre for Health and Inequalities Research , Durham University, interviewed hundreds of people who depend on emergency food provision, one of the most controversial by products of the UK government's 'austerity' programme. Critics of these economic policies claim that food poverty has now become a major issue for many citizens - Trussell Trust foodbank use is at a record high with over one million three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in 2015/16. Beyond the statistics, the study focuses on the experience and feelings of users of foodbanks, as well as the volunteers. Stewart Lansley, Economist and visiting fellow at the School of Policy Studies, University of Bristol, joins the discussion, providing a historical perspective on hunger in Britain. Also, food poverty in Europe. Owen Davis, Doctoral Candidate in Social Policy at the University of Kent, places hunger in Britain in a wider context. How do we compare to other countries? Producer: Jayne Egerton.

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