Tales from Houghton Street: Paul Rock


Paul Rock
Clara Cook
Relationship to LSE
Department of Sociology, Emeritus Professor of Social Institutions, Mannheim Centre for the Study of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Student life at LSE; Teaching at LSE; Campus; London; Notable people; LSE Students' Union; Developments in higher education


Track 1 [16.47] [Session one 24 July 2015] Paul Rock [PR] Born 1943 [00:16] Department of Sociology, Emeritus Professor of Social Institutions, Mannheim Centre for the Study of Criminology and Criminal Justice. PR recalls his first visit for interview mentioning that knew of LSE from his parents’ friends who were of the 1930s generation. [00:25] PR was interviewed for Economics Degree but after showing an interest in demography was directed to Sociology Degree. PR notes that he fell into criminology after being taught by Terence Morris. [00:53] PR remembers LSE as small and dowdy; discusses food in the refectory. [1:43] PR remembers the Library in Old Building as a warren of staircases. [2:16] PR discusses lectures and standard of teaching, mentions Isaac Schapera and Ronald Dore. [2:38] PR notes importance of learning from fellow students including Jock Young, Stan Cohen and Frances Heidenson; remembers discussions in Florries Bar in the Old Building. [3:44] PR notes importance of discussions introducing new ideas many from the USA eg symbolic interaction, microsociologies and workings of the Chicago School. [5:45] PR talks about the Library and small number of teaching hours enabling wider reading. [7:17] PR describes the Library and its collections. [8:05] PR remembers being arrested for protesting against nuclear weapons at an air force base and later politicisation of students by the Vietnam War. [8:37] PR describes organising a series of talks by controversial speakers and the difficulty of demolishing their arguments. [9:00] PR talks about rowing and visiting the LSE boat house at Chiswick. [10:06] PR describes attending Student Union meetings in the late 1960s as a staff member and role of academic, Robin Blackburn. [10:59] PR remembers LSE being the base for students during political demonstrations and having French revolutionaries using his office phone. [10:27] PR felt distant from the conflict but remembers others trying to get him to resign because of the School’s policies. [10:59] PR describes going to Nuffield College, Oxford, for his doctorate and his application for a post at LSE. [13:50] PR discusses the transition from student to a teacher and working with his former teachers. [15:21] PR describes the tensions between senior Professors and their supporters. [16:08]

Track 2 [32.40] PR discusses the role of Professor Bob Mackenzie. [00:14] PR discusses conflicts between professors and their impact on the Department. [1:08] PR discusses his interest in new developments in sociology and criminology. [2:14] PR discusses teaching. [3:14] PR discusses difference between teaching undergraduates and research. [4:53] PR notes LSE’s busy and collegial atmosphere and the scope for inter-disciplinary working. [8:21] PR discusses work of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology. [10:50] PR discusses the importance of LSE’s size in enabling conversations and notes the importance of the SDR in bringing people together. [11:28] PR describes himself as conventional academic interested in ideas and discussing ideas; notes that he is not involved with other social groups as he had a family. [12:50] PR discusses changes in support for personal research and development influence of a government directed research agenda. [14:58] PR discusses scholarly values at LSE eg in sabbatical system although there has been changes since his retirement [17:20] PR recalls work in Canada, Princeton, Australian National University and a year researching the Crown Court in Wood Green. [18:10] PR discusses changes at LSE noting it is more architecturally adventurous, the financial situation and potential impact of global economic changes. [19:14] PR remembers that the School staff as white and middles class; remembers appointing women to the board of the British Journal of Sociology. [21:05] PR expresses concern about a government led agenda for higher education and its impact on smaller eg anthropology [22:05] PR recounts Director John Ashworth’s statement that LSE’s first priority was to remain solvent. [26:15] PR comments on the Law Department balancing vocational training and open minded enquiry [27:04] PR comments on the importance of LSE’s location in central London in shaping LSE’s research; mentions earlier plan to move to Croydon. [27:58] PR notes the difficulties of retaining staff in high cost London and describes a Stanford University scheme to support faculty in purchasing properties on the university estate. [30:18]

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