Dog Poop and Social Order in Recent History

Dr. Tim Newburn explains how modern societies (especially Britain) have organized themselves since the 1970s. He uses the new practice of cleaning up after dogs to bust myths about the orderliness of the “good old days.” The relatively recent phenomenon of “pooper scoopers” explains why some societies have been able to regulate themselves around a handful of accepted practices and “rules.” It’s not perfection, but there is certainly less poop around! Episode 472.

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Tim Newburn and Andrew Ward, Orderly Britain: How Britain has resolved everyday problems, from dog fouling to double parking 

How do British pavements remain free of dog mess? Why are paths not littered with cigarette butts or roads not lined with abandoned cars? What does the decline of the public lavatory say about us and is the national reputation for queuing still deserved today?

Orderly Britain takes a topical look at modern society, examining how it is governed and how it organises itself. It considers the rules of daily life, where they come from and why they exist. It asks whether citizens are generally compliant and uncomplaining or rebellious and defiant. This quirky social history takes a close look at shifting customs and practices, people’s expectations of each other and how rule-makers seek to shape everyone’s lives – even when ignoring some of those rules themselves.

Taking the reader on a journey that covers a range of topics – dog mess, smoking, drinking, parking, queuing, toilets – Orderly Britain examines the rapidly changing patterns of everyday life, from post-war to the present day, and concludes with an extended look at the unparalleled shifts in social routines that resulted from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Asking whether it is the proliferation of rules and regulations in the UK or something else that keeps people in line, authors Tim Newburn and Andrew Ward offer a unique insight into what creates orderly Britons.

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