Thursday, March 26, 2009

The weekly social science stop - BBC's Thinking Allowed

Listening to BBC's Thinking Allowed is slowly beginning to become a weekly delight. In addition to the large variety of social science subjects, there is also a feel of community, as the host Laurie Taylor relates to the subjects personally and takes time each week to report listeners' reactions and respond to them.

A number of interesting subjects have been touched in the past weeks. This week had a coherent feature of the politics of climate change and a new capitalism. The week before that I was surprised how interesting the subjects rugby and magic could be. Then there as a show in which among others the idea of America's Wild West was historically pin-pointed. And last but not least, a show already mentioned earlier this week in my review of a lecture at the RSA. Laurie Taylor spoke with James Boyle about the way intellectual property rules are hurting culture.

As a result of the rapport with the audience there can be unexpected twists in the chain of shows. Laurie told the joke of a white horse entering a bar. The barman exclaimed: what a coincidence, we have a drink named after you. To which the horse replied: "What, Eric?" This joke triggered so many reactions and suggestions, that the origins of the joke and the reason why the horse must be called Eric, became a subject of ongoing interest. To which Taylor added more jokes.

More Thinking Allowed:
Substance and Sociology,
Hole in the Wall,
Moral relativism,
Male Immaturity.

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On Crime - Big Ideas

TVO's podcast Big Ideas brought a lecture by Darryl Davies on crime. This lecture is the fastest introduction into criminology I have ever experienced. The whole thing crammed into 43 minutes.

Once upon a time, I studied criminology and I turned down a PhD project, because I chose to go down the path of theory of law. Hence, going through Davies's lecture was not exactly the experience the average listener will have. Needless to say, when you are familiar with the field you know where corners are cut and insights passed over, but all in all this lecture is very commendable in that it surely covers the whole range of criminology and makes it available to the layman in all its aspects.

Davies touches upon the questions of the origins of crime. He mentions the aspect of the social labeling of the deviant. He touches upon class justice. He explains why criminologists investigate the official handling of crime. He explains why crime statistics are incomplete and often unreliable. And he talks of white collar crime. And all these subjects wide and far connected into one flowing lecture. That is an achievement in itself. All that you ever needed to know about the study of crime, but didn't know where to get it from.

More Big Ideas:
Why isn't the whole world developed?,
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism,
The Bad News about Good Work,

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