iPlayer Radio What's New?
On Now : Inside Health
Antibiotics, Winter Flu, NHS Continuing Healthcare, Snoring
Image for HG Wells, Utopias, Paraphernalia

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

HG Wells, Utopias, Paraphernalia

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 15 June 2011

HG Wells was so involved in establishing sociology in this country that he wrote to Prime Minister Balfour to ask for a special endowment so he could give up on his novels. His emphasis was on utopias, he felt that social science could only progress if an ideal version of society was created with which to compare our own. He lost his battle but the sociologist Ruth Levitas tells Laurie that sociology has become boring and that Wells was right!
Also, some everyday things - keys, combs, glasses - have the ability to enchant or absorb. Laurie Taylor talks to Steven Connor and Michael Bywater about how paraphernalia can have an almost magical power.
Producer: Charlie Taylor.

  • Ruth Levitas

    Professor of Sociology, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol

    Paper: Back to the future: Wells, sociology, utopia and method
    The Sociological Review, Special Issue: Imagining the political
    Volume 58, Issue 4, pages 530–547, November 2010
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2010.01938.x

    Find out more about Ruth Levitas
  • Steven Connor

    Professor of Modern Literature and Theory and Academic Director, London Consortium in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College

    Paraphernalia: The Curious Lives of Magical Things
    Publisher: Profile Books
    ISBN-10: 1846682703
    ISBN-13: 978-1846682704

    Paraphernalia: The Secret Lives of Vanishing Objects (forthcoming)
    Publisher: Profile Books (1 Jun 2012)
    ISBN-10: 1846682711
    ISBN-13: 978-1846682711

    Find out more about Steven Connor
  • Michael Bywater

    Writer, critic and broadcaster

    Find out more about Michael Bywater


Featured in...

  • Dangerous Visions

    Programmes and clips related to Dangerous Visions - a season of dystopic drama.


  1. Image for Thinking Allowed

    Thinking Allowed

    Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss