Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Thinking Allowed - Review by James Nicholls

I was invited to appear on Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed this week to discuss my new book, The Politics of Alcohol. I was impressed by Laurie Taylor’s ability to squeeze a huge range of issues into a ten-minute interview, leaving time for some well-chosen music as well as an excerpt from the Shadow Home Secretary’s speech to the Conservative Party conference last week. While the book is broadly chronological, Taylor concentrated on overarching themes such as the idea of national drinking traditions, class, gender and the cultural symbolism of drinking practices. We were also able to discuss how history could inform the heated policy debates which surround alcohol at the moment – something which illustrated one of the central claims in The Politics of Alcohol: that the ‘drink question’ is very much alive today.

My book argues that debates about alcohol policy and culture not only evade simple resolution but persist in exposing gaps in otherwise coherent ideological claims about individual freedom, social responsibility and the regulation of markets. Although it was a brief discussion, I think we managed to get a sense of that idea across.

Listen to the interview on BBC iplayer (choose the programme dated 14/10/09)

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