Laurie Taylor (sociologist)

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Laurie Taylor
Born Laurence John Taylor
(1936-08-01) 1 August 1936 (age 80)
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Other names Laurie Taylor
Occupation Sociologist
Radio presenter
Spouse(s) Cathie Mahoney (1988–?)
Children Matthew

Laurence John "Laurie" Taylor (born 1 August 1936) is an English sociologist and radio presenter originally from Liverpool.

Academic career[edit]

After attending Roman Catholic schools including – at the same time as the Liverpool poet, Roger McGoughSt Mary's College in Crosby, a direct grant grammar (and now an independent) school, Taylor first trained as an actor at Rose Bruford College, being associated with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford East. He also worked as a teacher at Forest Hill Comprehensive School for Boys. After earning degrees in sociology and psychology, as a mature student, at Birkbeck College and the University of Leicester, he joined the department of sociology at the University of York, becoming a professor at that institution. He is retired from this position.[1]

He has a particular interest in criminology and was one of the founder members of the National Deviancy Conference.[2] Perhaps his best known early work was the book co-written with Stanley Cohen: Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life. The book arose from research into the wellbeing of long term prisoners. He has also collaborated on research with bank robber turned author John McVicar.

Taylor is sometimes thought to be the model for Howard Kirk in Malcolm Bradbury's novel The History Man[3] although Bradbury and Taylor had not met at the time the book was written. Taylor was then a member of the Trotskyist International Socialists.[4]


Taylor has had an extensive broadcasting career on BBC Radio 4. For many years he was a regular participant on Robert Robinson's fiercely competitive conversation programme Stop The Week, later presented The Radio Programme and took on The Afternoon Shift, a re-branding of the ill-fated programme presented by Gerry Anderson. His media associates have included Tom Baker[5] and Victor Lewis-Smith.

Since 1998, Taylor has regularly presented the discussion programme Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4, a series mainly devoted to the social sciences. In addition, he is known for his long-running (mainly humorous) column in the Times Higher Education Supplement[6] as well as for New Humanist magazine and being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. He is also the presenter of In Confidence, a series which comprises hour-long in-depth interviews with notable public figures.

He was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Leicester in 2007.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Taylor is divorced from his third wife (whom he married in December 1988 in Camden), radio producer Cathie Mahoney who works on Loose Ends on BBC Radio 4. He was previously married to journalist Anna Coote, a former deputy editor of the New Statesman, who has also been associated with various public organisations.

Taylor's son, Matthew is Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts. Matthew Taylor and his stepmother, Cathie, have had directorships of the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Publications and articles[edit]

  • Cohen, S. & Taylor, Laurie (1976) "Escape attempts: the theory and practice of resistance in everyday life" ISBN 978-0-415-06500-9
  • Taylor, Laurie; Taylor, Matthew (2001), "What Are Children For?", What Are Children For?, London: Trafalgar Square, ISBN 978-1-904095-25-5 
  • Taylor, Laurie; Walton, P. (1971), "Industrial Sabotage: Motives and Meanings", in Cohen, Stanley, Images of Deviance, Harmondsworth: Penguin 
  • Taylor, Laurie (1972), "The Significance and Interpretations of Replies to Motivational Questions: the Case of Sex Offenders", Sociology, 6 (1): 23–40, doi:10.1177/003803857200600102. 
  • Taylor, Laurie; Cohen, Stanley (1972), Psychological Survival: the Experience of Long Term Imprisonment, Harmondsworth: Penguin 
  • Taylor, Laurie; Taylor, Ian (1972), Politics And Deviance (Eds), Harmondsworth: Penguin 
  • Taylor, Laurie (1984), In the Underworld, Oxford: Blackwell 


  1. ^ "Listed as former Head of Dept of Sociology at York" (PDF). 
  2. ^ van Swaaningen, R. (1997) Critical Criminology: Visions from Europe, London: SAGE pg.78
  3. ^ "The 'History Man' on Sir Malcolm Bradbury". BBC News. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Laurie Taylor "Motley crew", New Humanist, 7 May 2008
  5. ^ screenonline: Tom Baker biodata
  6. ^ "THES: Laurie Taylor". Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  7. ^ University of Leicester – Doctor of Letters: Professor Laurie Taylor’s Response

External links[edit]