Chats about great thinkers in social theory hosted by Chris Till
Social Theory Podcast Episode 6: Ibn Khaldun feat. Morteza Hashemi
44:21In this final episode of series 1 (we will be back next year) of the Social Theory Podcast I spoke to Morteza Hashemi about the great Arabic scholar Ibn Khaldun. See the end of this post for links to the episode. Khaldun was around in the 14th and 15th century and lived and traveled across the Islamic world including Tunisia, Egypt and Andalusia. Khaldun is a hugely important thinker who has sadly been underappreciated in many parts of the world. The innovative critical and philosophical approach to history he took revealed sociological insights which would not be matched or built on for at least four centuries. In this chat we focus on some of his most important analysis which focuses on the movement from nomadic to settled communities and how these different social forms produce different kinds of societies. Morteza also tells me about some of his own excellent work which has applied Khaldun’s analysis to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg. He suggests such tech giants might have become too “settled” and might be leaving themselves open to becoming unseated by more entrepreneurial upstarts. This article was published in The Sociological Review (also available open access). Probably Khaldun’s most influential work (and the one we mostly refer to) is The Muqaddimah or “The Introduction” which is available online. Below are some of the other books Morteza mentioned in the episode. The Orange Trees of Marrakesh by Stephen Dale Muslim Society by Ernest Gellner Applying Ibn Khaldun by Syed Farid Alatas Apologies, there are a few minor sound issues. Hopefully these aren’t too painful as they are just tiny cuts in the sound. Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown used on a Creative Commons license Incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 used on a Creative Commons license You can follow me on Twitter @chrishtill The Social Theory Podcast will be back in 2021!
Social Theory Podcast Episode 5: George Herbert Mead feat. Darren Nixon
45:30The focus of this episode is George Herbert Mead who has had a tremendous impact on sociology, psychology and philosophy. See the end of this post for links to the episode. I talk to Darren Nixon about Mead’s most famous contribution; his conceptualisation of the self as as being comprised of two parts, “I” and the “Me”. Mead’s great insight is that our “self” is not part of a transcendent “spirit” or biologically predisposed but is a “social self” that is produced through our interactions with others. As well as his most famous insight we also discuss his contribution to broader social and political thought in particular his analysis of the relationship between our acceptance of our knowledge of the world and what is useful to us. Darren and I consider what his insights might mean for some contemporary issues including social media use and the increasing acceptance of populist ideology. Mead’s work is mostly not available open access but this introduction from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is good. There is also a chapter by him in a collection on pragmatist philosophy available on Project Gutenberg . It is usually possible to pick up his books quite cheaply second hand such as his Mind, Self & Society. If you have access to a good library I highly recommend Ian Burkitt’s books Social Selves which has some excellent sections on Mead’s work. Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown used on a Creative Commons license Incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 used on a Creative Commons license You can follow me on Twitter @chrishtill Anchor https://anchor.fm/chris-till Breaker https://www.breaker.audio/social-theory-podcast Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/social-theory-podcast/id1533951560 Pocket Casts https://pca.st/yueatxzh Radio Public https://radiopublic.com/social-theory-podcast-WoKrjx Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/0RBMehx0NHJKjEnySugQNn Stitcher https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/chris-till/social-theory-podcast?refid=stpr
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Social Theory Podcast Episode 4: Ferdinand Tönnies feat. Hinnerk Freytag
45:57In this episode I spoke with Hinnerk Freytag who is a PhD student at the European University Flensburg about the sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies. Tönnies is best known for the concepts Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft which refer to two different kinds of societies each associated with particular kinds of “social bonds”. Central to Tönnies’ analysis is that modernity and urbanisation has loosened the previously strong, familial and communal ties of communities. Modern society is, instead, more individualised and our relationships with others are more anonymous and contractual. While this analysis is quite well known among sociologists much of the rest of his work is less so. We try to put these insights into context of Tönnies other work around public opinion and custom. Sadly none of Tönnies work is freely available however this essay is a good introduction. Also, it is usually possible to pick up cheap second hand copies (from sites such as Abe Books) or if you have access to a good university library you should be able to access his key works discussed on this episode such as Community & Society (Gemeinschaft & Gesselschaft) and Custom. Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown used on a Creative Commons license Incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 used on a Creative Commons license You can follow me on Twitter @chrishtill Podcast Links Anchor https://anchor.fm/chris-till Breaker https://www.breaker.audio/social-theory-podcast Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/social-theory-podcast/id1533951560 Pocket Casts https://pca.st/yueatxzh Radio Public https://radiopublic.com/social-theory-podcast-WoKrjx Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/0RBMehx0NHJKjEnySugQNn Stitcher https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/chris-till/social-theory-podcast?refid=stpr
Social Theory Podcast Episode 3: Harriet Martineau feat. Natalia Gerodetti
55:00This episode features a chat with Dr Natalia Gerodetti about the early and pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau. Natalia makes the case for Martineau as the “mother of sociology”. We discuss some of her fascinating biography and her independent and adventurous life which was far from usual for women in the nineteenth century. Martineau wrote a vast amount over her life in a variety of genres including fiction, journalism, political and activist interventions, popularisations of political economy (which were hugely popular. But we focus on her sociological writing which was far ahead of its time. She established a nuanced sociological method which was built on the assumed existence of “social facts” but saw these as being inherently intertwined with subjective, personal ideas, opinions and experiences. Her theory was also developed through her empirical research in America where she applied pioneering approaches to ethnographic observation, qualitative interviewing and macro-scale analysis. This led her to conclude that America was (in the 19th century) a society with great potential but held a fundamental contradiction between its professed values (equality, liberty, democracy) and the oppression and lack of freedom experienced by slaves and women. As with many of the sociologists we are covering in this first series much of their writing can be accessed freely (as it is out of copyright) on sites such as Project Gutenberg. The texts we mostly concentrated on were How to Observe Morals & Manners and Society in America A book which Natalia mentioned as introducing her to Martineau’s work is Women of Ideas by Dale Spender I mentioned a book I’ve found really useful by Patricia Madoo Lengermann & Jill Niebrugge-Brantley The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory, 1830-1930 Harriet Martineau: Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives eds. Michael Hill and Susan Hoecker-Drysdale You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrishtill and read more on the podcast on his blog at thisisnotasociology.blog Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown and incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 both used on a Creative Commons license
Social Theory Podcast Episode 2: WEB Du Bois feat Lisa Long
43:58For episode 2 of the Social Theory Podcast I spoke to Dr Lisa Long about the monumentally important sociologist and activist WEB Du Bois. We had a really good chat about his work and its importance for sociology but it was also interesting to hear Lisa's take on his significance for criminology. It is hard to overstate what an incredible figure Du Bois was and we try to get our head around the range and importance of his insights, his mastery of, and innovation in, a range of research methods. We also try to highlight what he can tell us about racism today and what it means for how we do sociology and criminology and how university education should be structured to include black representation in all its forms. See the end of this post for links to the podcast. A great resource to for Du Bois's texts (and many other works out of copyright) is Project Gutenberg But one of his most important works, The Philadelphia Negro, isn't there although it is available on the Internet Archive We spent a lot of time talking about The Souls of Black Folk In the episode we touch on the significance of his essay 'The Souls of White Folk' which is part of his book Darkwater Lisa mentioned the Free Black University initiative which perhaps come out of a similar critique of the opportunities for progression for Black people in mainstream white educational institutions You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrishtill and read more on the podcast on his blog at thisisnotasociology.blog Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown and incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 both used on a Creative Commons license
Social Theory Podcast Episode 1: Karl Marx feat. Tom Houseman & Joseph Ibrahim
53:48This first episode of social theory podcast discusses the work of one of the greatest thinkers of all time in any field, Karl Marx. The guests are Tom Houseman and Joseph Ibrahim both of Leeds Beckett University in the UK. Probably the best and most easily accessible source for writing by and about Marx is the Marxists Internet Archive which houses a huge amount of material. The text by Marx referred to most frequently in the episode is Capital (sometimes called Das Kapital). Also mentioned a couple of times is the excellent and very entertaining biography of Marx by Francis Wheen. There is also an extract of this book available on the Marxist Internet Archive. Also mentioned is the excellent episode of the BBC Radio Four series In Our Time (available as a podcast) dedicated to Marx after he was voted by listeners of the programme to be the greatest philosopher of all time. Joseph also mentioned the Conditions of the Working Class in England by Frederick Engels. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrishtill and read more on the podcast on his blog at thisisnotasociology.blog Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown and incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 both used on a Creative Commons license