BBC Radio


BBC Radio, February 11, 2004

Personal debt was until very recently seen in terms of moral transgression.  With the rapid disappearance of the Puritan work ethic, which emphasised saving over consumption, debt has become socially acceptable in a remarkably short time. 

Once regarded as an earned privilege of the thrifty few, the plastic in our pocket has come to be seen as a fundamental social class entitlement, sometimes called affectionately Yuppie Food Stamps.

Laurie Taylor talks to the economic sociologist Robert D. Manning about how the US became seduced by the credit card and an extraordinary transformation in attitudes to debt.


The relationship between levels of crime and fear of crime continues to exercise academics and policy makers alike. Do soaring prison populations accurately reflect the former or the latter?

Nils Christie, Professor of Criminology at the University of Oslo, argues that crime is a product of cultural, social and mental processes. In his latest book A Suitable Amount of Crime, he examines how the current socio-economic climate makes it easy, and in the interests of many, to broaden the definition of what constitutes criminal behaviour.

Listen to THINKING ALLOWED for February 11, 2004 via Real Player.

Additional information

Robert D. Manning
University Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology
Credit Card Nation
Credit Card Nation: The Consequences of America's Addiction to Credit
Basic Books ISBN 0465043674
Give Yourself Credit: A Basic Plan for Surviving Credit Card Debt
Taylor Trade Publishing
ISBN 158979009X


This story ran on BBC Radio on February 11, 2004.