Laurie Taylor column

November 29, 2002

Why dump dons when they turn 65? (Experience counts for little if the years are stacking up) - THES , November 22.

Good morning, seminar group 26. As this is the final seminar this term on the Society and Social Change course, I think it would be appropriate to go over some of the things we've learnt in the past seven weeks. So let me invite everyone to list at least one major change in modern society that has occurred in the past half century. Yes, Alison. Let's start with you.

Compared with 50 years ago, we're all much more atomised, individualised and privatised.

Very good. Michael?

Compared with 50 years ago, we're now completely enveloped by the consumerist ethic and enjoy only the illusory freedom to make choices between commodities.

Excellent. Jane?

Compared with 50 years ago, we live in a society characterised by a high degree of uncontrollable and unpredictable risk.

Spot on. Yes, Louise?

Compared with 50 years ago, the mass media is now even more finely tuned to commercial imperatives, with the result that we no longer have excellent television programmes such as World in Action and X Cars .

Z Cars , Louise, Z Cars . But still a very good go. Yes, Rebecca. You have a question.

Only a very small point, Professor Lapping, but I was wondering if there was any overall theoretical perspective to link these different social changes.

You're a clever student, Rebecca. What would be your idea?

I'm only guessing, of course. But how about: "Everything was much better in the old days?"

Got it in one. Well done, Rebecca. Now, just a couple of other elements that no one has covered. Let me give you all a clue. What has happened over the past 50 years to politeness, trust and proper ginger beer? Anyone?

Join in the ageism web debate in the THES Common room.

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