Cocaine nights, moral relativism, orgasms and gangs

BBC Radio 4’s wonderfully eclectic and vastly under-rated social science programme Thinking Allowed has had some fascinating programmes lately, covering the concern of ‘cocaine girls’ in 1915 London, the history of the orgasm, moral relativism, gang culture, the social meaning of scents and the culture of detectives, to mention just a few of the topics.

The programme is a mixture of social history and the latest in sociology research on contemporary issues that looks at the most amazingly diverse range of issues.

Although there are no mp3 downloads, you can listen to all of the programmes online as streamed audio.

Some of my recent favourites have included an exploration of the social panic about the cocaine scene in 1915 London, evidence for the existence of ‘gang culture’ in the UK and the psychology of the police interviews but you’ll find discussions on pretty much anything you can think of (and probably plenty you’d never have thought about before) in the archive.

Some of the most interesting points relate to how our concerns of ‘new threats’ to society, for example the influence of popular culture or new technology, are old acquaintances but are presented as new by every generation.

Other interesting programmes often reveal a new angle to something I’d never considered. The programme on the sociology of smell discusses the ‘language’ of scents and perfumes. It asks why we think some scents are ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ and how have we come to associate certain smells with specific social meanings.

Link to Thinking Allowed website and archive.

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