Peer-to-peer networking: David Willetts and Jennie Bristow in the latest Books podcast

Books editor Karen Shook introduces our latest literary podcast

July 31, 2015
Pile of books on grass, summertime

Canterbury Christ Church University sociologist Jennie Bristow’s Baby Boomers and Generational Conflict was covered in our books pages a few weeks ago.

The peer reviewer I chose for the job of assessing her monograph is an early career scholar known for his own book on the subject – and, admittedly, even better known for his previous day job. David Willetts, formerly minister for universities and science, is now a visiting professor affiliated with the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

As Professor Willetts’ critically acclaimed and agenda-setting 2010 book The Pinch: How The Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future – And Why They Should Give it Back was one of the works Dr Bristow focused on in her wide-ranging study, and as his review praised her book’s insights into the work of Karl Mannheim but took issue with its “postmodern” focus on the “cultural script” forming around “the baby boomer problem”, I thought it would be interesting to introduce academic author to peer reviewer in the confines of our podcast studio, and invite them to discuss – or slug it out.

So, for 45 minutes, you’ll hear me refereeing as two scholars – one a baby boomer and the other a Generation X-er, in case you wondered – who are both fascinated by generational and demographic change and its social, economic and political impact, debate the issues.

They talk about each others’ books, Mannheim, Havant constituents’ Nimby tendencies, whether top-down media positioning of the baby boomer generation as a “Boomergeddon” is merely a cover for the realities of sharply rising inequality, why The Pinch wasn’t called We Need to Talk About Pensions, what books both scholars are working on next, and just how much Professor Willetts enjoyed getting his very first round of peer review at King’s.

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