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Thinking Allowed

New research on how society works

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Maoism

Maoism: the changing face of a revolutionary ideology. Julia Lovell, Professor in Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck, University of London explores the origins and development of global Maoism; Alpa Shah, Associate Professor in Anthropology at LSE, provides a glimpse into the lives of a group of Maoist guerrillas in modern day India and Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at the University of Sussex, looks at Maoist organisations in the context of his research into political cults. Revised repeat.Producer: Jayne Egerton

27mins

5 Aug 2020

Rank #1

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Cool

'Cool' - Laurie Taylor traces the trajectory of the notion of ‘cool’ with Joel Dinerstein, Professor of English and American Studies at Tulane University, and author of a study which suggests it originated in American jazz clubs as a stylish defence against racism and cross fertilised with French existentialism and film noir. Also, ‘cool shades’: Vanessa Brown, Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University, explores the enduring appeal of sunglasses as the ultimate signifiers of ‘cool’ in mass culture. Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

23 Oct 2019

Rank #2

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GAMBLING

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

29mins

25 Nov 2020

Rank #3

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Estates

Council estates: Laurie Taylor talks to Insa Lee Koch, Associate Professor in Anthropology at LSE, and author of a new study which explores the history of housing estates and the everyday lives of residents on one such estate in southern England. How did council housing turn from being a marker of social inclusion to a marker of abject failure? Also, the origins and symbolism of the ‘sink estate’, a term invented by journalists and amplified by think tanks and politicians. Tom Slater, Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Edinburgh, traces the usage of this term and the long-term impact of associating council estate residents with effluence and sewage. Revised repeat.Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

9 Oct 2019

Rank #4

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Serial killers

Serial killers: Laurie talks to Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Salford, about the media and cultural responses to the child murders committed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley two decades earlier. The Moors Murders were to provide an unfortunate template for future media reporting on serial killing, including the crimes committed by Peter Sutcliffe - the Yorkshire Ripper - as described in a new study by Louise Wattis, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology at Teesside University. Sutcliffe murdered 13 women in the North of England between 1975 and 1980. Dr Wattis discusses the way in which these crimes shed light on how we think about fear of crime, gender and serial murder and the representation of victims and sex workers.Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

16 Oct 2019

Rank #5

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Debt

Debt: 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?Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

20 Mar 2019

Rank #6

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Erving Goffman - a special programme

Erving Goffman - Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the work and influence of this groundbreaking Canadian sociologist. He's joined by Professor Gregory Smith, Dr Rachel Hurdley and Dr Susie Scott. Revised repeat.Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

7 Jun 2019

Rank #7

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Ambivalent atheism; Neoliberalism and old age

Ambivalent atheism: Laurie Taylor talks to Lois Lee, Research Associate with the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College, London, and author of a study of non religious people. In the UK today a variety of identity labels exist which articulate non belief -atheist, agnostic, humanist, secular, rationalist, free thinker and sceptic. Most of these terms are associated with organised and activist forms of non religion. But what of the ambivalent atheist, whose beliefs may be fuzzier, less clear cut? They're joined by the philosopher, Julian Baggini.Also, old age and neoliberalism. John Macnicol, Visiting Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, & one of Europe's leading academic analysts of old age and ageing, asks if the idea of retirement is being replaced by the belief that citizens should (or be forced to) work later in life. In a harsher economy is the notion of old age, as a protected stage of life, becoming increasingly anachronistic?Producer: Jayne Egerton.

28mins

28 Oct 2015

Rank #8

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The New Economy

The New Economy: How people turn themselves into 'brands' in the quest for work. Laurie Taylor talks to Ilana Gershon, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, and author of a new study exploring the way that people do (and don't) find work by re-defining themselves as unique business enterprises. Also, the death of homo economicus. Peter Fleming, Professor of Business and Society at Cass Business School, argues that the creation of a fake persona - the rational, self interested economic 'man' - originated by classical economists such as Adam Smith, no longer serves any purpose in the contemporary world.Producer: Jayne Egerton.

27mins

6 Dec 2017

Rank #9

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A special programme on Pierre Bourdieu

A special programme on Pierre Bourdieu: 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. Revised repeat Producer: Jayne Egerton

28mins

7 Jun 2019

Rank #10

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Walter Benjamin - a special programme on his work and influence

What is the value of forgotten histories, of possibilities not realised? What can a quite amble down a backstreet 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. Revised repeatProducer: Charlie Taylor

28mins

7 Jun 2019

Rank #11

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Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income: Laurie Taylor asks if it's the answer to an increasingly precarious job landscape. Could it bring greater financial freedom for women, tackle the issue of unpaid but essential work, cut poverty and promote greater choice? Or is it a dead-end utopian ideal that distracts from more practical and cost-effective solutions? He's joined by Stewart Lansley, Visiting Fellow at the School of Policy Studies, University of Bristol and editor of a new book which shares research and insights from a variety of nations including India and Finland; John Rentoul, Visiting Professor at King's College, London and Ursula Huws, Professor of Labour and Globalisation at the University of Hertfordshire Business SchoolProducer: Jayne Egerton.

28mins

2 May 2018

Rank #12

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Elite education

ELITE EDUCATION: Laurie Taylor explores the ways in which the most prestigious schools and universities around the world sustain inequality. Debbie Epstein, Professor of Cultural Studies in Education at Roehampton University, talks about a far reaching study looking at the origins and costs of the 'export' of the British public school to other countries including Hong Kong and South Africa. Also, Natasha K. Warikoo, Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education consider how elite students in America and Britain think about merit, race and privilege having gained admittance to one of the world's top universities.Producer: Jayne Egerton.

28mins

19 Apr 2017

Rank #13

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Menswear Revolution

The menswear revolution: Laurie Taylor explores the transformation in men's clothing with Jay McCauley Bowstead, lecturer in Cultural and Historical Studies at London College of Fashion. Also taking part is John Harvey, Life Fellow at the University of Cambridge, and author of a book charting the history of men's dress from the toga to the suit. They're joined by Julia Twigg, Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent, who talks about her research on older men and fashion.Producer: Jayne Egerton.

27mins

25 Apr 2018

Rank #14

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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.

28mins

27 Jul 2016

Rank #15

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Consumerism, Work-life balance

Consumerism: a history of our modern, material world and the endless quest for more 'things'. Laurie Taylor talks to Frank Trentmann, Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London and author of a study which examines how the purchase of goods became the defining feature of contemporary life. They're joined by Rachel Bowlby, Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London.Also, the middle class bias in work/life balance research. Tracey Warren, Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham, suggests that working class experience of precarity complicates the debate.Producer: Jayne Egerton.

28mins

3 Feb 2016

Rank #16

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Exhaustion: a historical study of weariness.

Exhaustion: is extreme fatigue a peculiarly modern phenomenon?

28mins

26 Jul 2017

Rank #17

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Prison gangs in US, Millionaire children

Prison gangs in the USA. Laurie Taylor talks to David Skarbek, Lecturer in the Department of Political Economy at King's College, London, about his research into the hidden world of convict culture, inmate hierarchy and jail politics. He finds sophisticated organisations, often with written constitutions, behind the popular image of chaotic violence. They're joined by Jane Wood, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent. Also, what would children do with an unexpected windfall of a million pounds? Sally Power, Professor of Education at Cardiff University, asked this question in order to explore children's values and priorities. Would they spend, save or give it away?Producer: Jayne Egerton.

28mins

29 Jul 2015

Rank #18

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Frauds of the left, Siblings

'Frauds' of the Left: Laurie Taylor examines the intellectual credibility of key thinkers of the New Left. Roger Scruton, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, argues that the modern academy is gripped by a form of 'group think' which fails to challenge the positions of theorists such as Michel Foucault and Antonio Gramsci. Has left wing fashion trumped credible argument? They're joined by Mark Fisher, Lecturer in Visual Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London.Also, the significance of siblings in constructing a sense of self. Katherine Davies, Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sheffield, discusses a study which suggests that the stories people tell about their similarity, or difference, from siblings have a critical role in shaping past, present and future identities.Producer: Jayne Egerton.

27mins

25 Nov 2015

Rank #19