BBC Thinking Allowed

Thinking Allowed

Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how we live today.
English United Kingdom News
90 Episodes
1 – 20


Museums - Laurie Taylor talks to Adam Kuper, most recently Centennial Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economic, about their history and future. Originally created as colonial enterprises, what is the purpose of these places now? How do we regard the ways in which foreign and prehistoric peoples…
1 Feb 28 min

Religion of Work and Welfare

The religion of work and welfare: Laurie Taylor explores the way in which our understanding of jobs and joblessness has become entangled with religious ideologies. He's joined by Tom Boland, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at University College, Cork, who argues that Western culture has ‘faith’ in the labour market as…
25 Jan 29 min


Parenting - Laurie Taylor explores its cultural history and the shift towards intensive parenting. Andrew Bomback, Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, investigates the emergence of an immersive, all-in approach to raising children that has made parenting a competitive sport. Drawing on “how-to” parenting books and…
18 Jan 31 min

Dirty Work

Dirty work - Laurie Taylor explores the invisible labour we choose not to see. The writer and sociologist, Eyal Press, considers the morally dubious, even dangerous jobs, which sustain modern society but which are concealed from view, from the prison guards who patrol the wards of America's most violent and…
11 Jan 29 min


SELF IMPROVEMENT: Laurie Taylor explores the 'wellness' and 'confidence' cultures that injunct us to be better versions of ourselves. He talks to Shani Orgad, a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE and co-author of a new study arguing that imperatives directed at women to “love…
4 Jan 30 min

The football pools - mass investment

Betting and Investment: Laurie Taylor explores the connections and the differences between two apparently very different phenomena - the football pools and the stock market. He's joined by Keith Laybourn, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Huddersfield, who charts the rise and fall of the football pools over…
28 Dec 2022 29 min

The Internet - how it shapes the past and the future

The Internet and time – how the World Wide Web has transformed our understanding of history as well as the future. Laurie Taylor talks to Jason Steinhauer, public historian and Global Fellow at the Wilson Centre, Washington, DC, whose latest study argues that the tangled complexity of history that we…
21 Dec 2022 29 min


The NHS and the 'sick note': Laurie Taylor talks to Gareth Millward, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) in Odense, and author of a new study which explores the history of the British welfare state via the story of the ‘sick note’…
27 Oct 2022 28 min


Protests: from Occupy to MeToo and the current situation in Iran. Laurie Taylor is joined by Sara Burke, Senior Policy Analyst at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung political foundation in New York, and co-author of a recent study which analyses the myriad protests which have shaken the world since 2010. She explores their main…
19 Oct 2022 29 min

Gender and Alcohol

Gender and Alcohol: Laurie Taylor talks to Thomas Thurnell-Read, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Loughborough University, about the masculine domain of craft drinks, an area of the alcohol industry associated with liberal and progressive values but where assumptions about tastes are still informed by gender stereotypes, the marketing of products…
12 Oct 2022 28 min

Futilitarianism - Extreme Pessimists

Futilitarianism & Extreme Pessimists: Laurie Taylor talks to Neil Vallelly, Researcher at Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA) at the University of Otago, New Zealand about a new study which argues that the current moment is characterised by feelings of futility and uselessness. If maximising utility leads to the greatest…
5 Oct 2022 31 min

Rules and Order

Rules & Order: Laurie Taylor talks to Tim Newburn, Professor of Criminology and Social Policy at the LSE, about the social history of ‘orderly Britain’ – the way in which we’ve resolved everyday problems, from dog fouling to smoking and queuing. They’re joined by Lorraine Daston, Director Emeritus at the…
28 Sep 2022 29 min

Gentrification revisited

Gentrification revisited: Laurie Taylor talks to Leslie Kern, Associate Professor of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University, Canada and author of a new study unpacking the meaning and impact of gentrification six decades after the term was first coined. She travelled from Toronto to New York, London, Paris and…
21 Sep 2022 28 min

The Sea

The Sea – Laurie Taylor explores the privatisation of our oceans and the threat of plastic pollution. He gets into deep waters with Guy Standing, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London, and author of new study which argues that exploitation and extraction now drive all aspects of the…
14 Sep 2022 29 min

Survival of the city

Survival of the City: Laurie Taylor talks to Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University and author of a study examining the future of urban life at a time when the pandemic has exposed failures of governance. Whilst cities have been engines for creativity and…
7 Sep 2022 28 min

Package holidays and 'authentic' travel

Package holidays and ‘authentic’ travel: Michael John Law, retired research fellow in History at the University of Westminster, investigates the origin of budget tourism and how the package deal opened up a previously unaffordable world to working class holidaymakers. Also, Kaylan Schwarz, assistant professor in the School of Liberal Education…
15 Jun 2022 28 min


Shopping: Laurie Taylor talks to Rachel Bowlby, Professor of Comparative Literature at University College London, about the history of shops & shopping, from pedlars to chain stores, markets to home delivery. Shops have occupied radically different places in political arguments and in our everyday lives, over time. They are sites…
8 Jun 2022 28 min

Ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing: Laurie Taylor explores its social history and sexual politics with Hilary French, Professor of Design Studies at Bath Spa University and author of a new book which charts the evolution of a form of dance which originated in upper class, private balls but became a mass, working class…
1 Jun 2022 29 min

Wealth - Plutocratic London

Plutocratic London and dynastic wealth. Caroline Knowles, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, takes Laurie Taylor on a tour of plutocratic London, a city with more resident billionaires than New York, Hong Kong or Moscow. How have the fabulously rich re-made London in their own image and what…
25 May 2022 29 min

Covid and change

Covid: Laurie Taylor explores the impact of the pandemic on our working and home lives. Will Davies, Professor in Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, suggests it has revealed the politics of our economy, offering prosperity to some and hardships to others. He’s joined by Heejung Chung, Professor of…
18 May 2022 30 min
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