Thinking very aloud – Laurie Taylor at the University of Brighton

LaurieTaylorI’ve been listening to Laurie Taylor on the radio for many years. Originally earmarking my Sunday evenings as must listen nights. More recently I have just downloaded the podcasts of his social science review show, Thinking Aloud ( On 11 June I saw him in the flesh speaking on the theme of ‘escaping academia’ – something that us modern-day academics dream about.

The 45 minutes – which seemed like 10 – were packed full of often amusing anecdotes. But like all the best speakers that I know, the anecdotes were woven into the speaker’s more profound and less accessible conceptual points, drawing in the audience in the process.

Taylor talked at length about his early career at York University – a world apart from the reality of working in a university in 2015. More significantly he identified some of his most influential texts/theorists. In particular, Erving Goffman (whom he met in a restaurant in the US and who disrupted the situation by ordering dessert first to make a point about ritual); Michel Foucault’s ( particularly, it seems, Order of Things, 1965), Ernst Bloch and Anthony Giddens.

This made me briefly think about the key texts that had most influenced me. These are indisputably Steven Lukes’ Power: A Radical View; Stewart Clegg’s Frameworks of Power and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunoch.

But how does one get into radio? In Taylor’s case, he received a phone call from an unnamed BBC person who asked him whether he agreed with, if I recall, an increase in postal charges. His answer swiftly captured ideas about the art of writing being lost if charges for letters increased. The enquirer then asked him to make the opposite case. Bemused, Taylor proceeded to talk about how telephones provide opportunities for real-time communication and ideas development, discourse, etc. The enquirer then asked if Taylor would care to come on his radio show later that week. Seemingly the enquirer was Robert Robinson and the programme was Radio 4’s Stop the Week.

I will not publish my phone number on this blog; but interested radio show hosts, please email me.

Picture: BBC

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