Press coverage from other years
SIRC in the News
Press coverage from 2000
- Sunday Times – 17.12.2000
Herbal High. Ever wondered why you have an in-built urge to go wild every so often? "It's instinctive," says Kate Fox, an anthropologist and director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "Every society uses mood- altering activities – drinking alcohol, chewing coca leaves, practising transcendental meditation. And look at kids, spinning around and rolling down hills. Why? Because it makes them dizzy and high."
- Telegraph – 09.12.2000
Lost: one dear friend. Looking up old friends can be very dangerous," says Dr Peter Marsh, the director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "People often get in touch when they're at some junction in their lives. They hanker after the 'safety' of a person they once knew. But that person can have changed so much, you end up feeling even more uncertain than ever." This is especially true if you were once involved romantically. "Contacting an old platonic friend may be harmless enough," says Marsh. "But your partner might not be too thrilled if you call an old boyfriend or girlfriend, even if it is just to see how they are. My advice is to first ask yourself why you want to make contact."
- BBC – 23.11.2000
The British Pub. Excerpts from Passport to the Pub. In Russian.
- Financial Post, Canada – 20.11.2000
Destructive precaution. "There is another option: the judicious use of biotechnology, while being quick to regulate or end the use of products shown to cause harm. Biotechnology is already improving lives. Biomodifications have made tomatoes more resistant to cold, and soybeans, cotton and corn immune to selected herbicides. As well, the Rockefeller foundation reports that genetically altered rice is preventing thousands of cases of childhood blindness. Turning our back on life-saving bioengineered products would irresponsibly condemn millions of people to unnecessary suffering and early deaths. Does this mean the precautionary principle has no utility whatsoever? Not at all. In the words of the Social Issues Research Centre, in Oxford, England: "If we apply the precautionary principle to itself -- by asking what are the possible dangers of using this principle -- we would be forced to abandon it very quickly."
- Heartland – November 2000
Can England reach the twenty-first century with Charles in charge?. "Prince Charles, of course, has a long history of high-minded pontificating on issues about which he is generally quite ill-informed," noted the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Center. "And his profound lack of understanding of the true motivation and role of the scientist in modern society revealed the underlying vacuity of his sentimentalist speech. . . . The Prince's unqualified support for the precautionary principle again exposes his failure to appreciate the consequences of what he is proposing."
- World Wide Words
Riskfactorphobic A genuinely shudderworthy invention, apparently from the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, which used it in a report. As you might guess, riskfactorphobics are people frightened of risks, who – for example – overreact to health scares.
- British Journal of General Practice – November 2000
Scientific communication guidelines. The SIRC/RI Guidelines include a basic rule-of-thumb test to help scientists and journalists judge the potential effects of their reports, as well as more detailed guidance on responsible communication of health risks and medical advances. The rule-of-thumb test asks any scientist or journalist about to release a report about a potential health risk or potential cure to imagine what effect the story could have on a relative or close friend who is sensitive or vulnerable to such information; a parent with cancer, for example, or a friend on the pill.
- Express – 05.11.2000.
Be afraid. But should you be very afraid? Dr Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, who has tracked the reporting of health scares, worries that genuine threats get lost in all this noise. The SIRC's website offers innumerable examples of trivial, titillating headlines: Are flatulent sheep contributing to global warming? Is curry addictive? Is bottled water bad for your teeth? Does football give girls arthritis?
- Scotland on Sunday – 23.12.2000
Turf Talk. The simple message is that if we care about the sport, then it is up to us to get people involved in Discover Racing. So if you see a "two-for-one" offer, take along a non-racing acquaintance and introduce him or her to what anthropological research by Dr Kate Fox, of Oxford, has confirmed is the "the friendliest of sports". Teach your friends and family to have fun at the racecourse and not to take the sport – especially the gambling aspect – too seriously. And do try to get them to be philosophical about racing.
- Express – 16.10.2000.
Yuppies? No, here come the Bobos. Bobos can be of any age and although the ones Mr Brookes identifies live in America, as social commentator Dr Peter Marsh, from the Social Issues Research Centre has observed they well and truly established over here. Dr Marsh said: "This is an emerging group who seem more concerned with health food and politics than their predecessors. Consumer or environmental groups are more likely to replace the traditional political values of left and right. "There is a lack of ostentation in terms of lifestyle. It is Bohemia but mixed with a deeply conservative streak."
- Business Impact – October 2000
Hold the hype on health risks and cures. Companies which make claims about the health risks or benefits of their products should take note of new guidelines on health and science communication published on September 21. The guidelines suggest that whoever prepares publicity on this topic should consider what effect it could have on a relative or close friend who would be sensitive to that subject – who has cancer, for example, or who is on the pill. Doctors have been concerned that their patients' hopes or fears are being falsely raised. The guidelines are directed primarily at scientists and journalists, but with implications for companies. They have been prepared by the Social Issues Research Centre and the Royal Institution in consultation with leading scientists, doctors and journalists. They aim to tackle sensationalism and distortion in the reporting of scientific developments, health risks and medical advances, and to encourage a more sensitive and responsible approach.
- Financial Times – 22.09.2000.
Guidelines published on medical story hype. Guidelines on science and health communication, designed to put an end to damaging scare stories and hype about "miracle cures", were published yesterday. The guidelines – drawn up by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, the Royal Institution in London, doctors, scientists and journalists – emphasise that scientists and journalists share responsibility for ensuring accurate and unbiased reporting of research findings.
- Press Gazette – 22.09.2000
Scientists hit back with 'anti-scare' story guide. Detailed guidelines on science and health reporting have been launched aimed at ending scare stories and bogus breakthrough reports. The guidelines were issued this week by the Social Issues Research Centre and the Royal Institution of Great Britain with backing from top scientists and input from science journalists. In a statement, Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Wakeham said: "I welcome these guidelines as a constructive and positive contribution in this crucial area."
- Statistical Assessment Service.
Wise Code Words. Dramatic headlines like "Mutant Crops Could Kill You" (Daily Express -- a major British tabloid newspaper) have characterized the poor standard of scientific journalism in Europe during the recent spate of health scares there. As a result, Britain’s Royal Institution, in partnership with a STATS-like group called the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), has prepared a set of guidelines for scientists releasing major new findings and the journalists who cover them.
- BBC – 13.09.2000.
Why we secretly like a crisis. But while some dig in their heels, others are quite happy to find themselves unable to get to work, says Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre. "For a lot of people it gives them an excuse not to do anything, they have an excuse to skive legitimately" … Peter Marsh was astonished by the good will among drivers who queued for up to an hour to fill up at petrol stations, before stocks ran dry. "It was very perverse. But at the same time, the fact you are in a long line of people all similarly suffering and all having to queue is a great leveller. Whether you are in a Fiat Uno or a Jaguar, you have to wait just as long to fill up."
- Guardian, Hindustan Times – 07.09.2000.
More than skin deep. "In certain cultures tattooing and scarring isn't unusual at all, so I feel there is nothing generically or naturally unfeminine about it," says Kate Fox, anthropologist and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre. "Essentially it has become acceptable without becoming middle-class and respectable."
- Mail on Sunday – 03.09.2000
I'm Worried I Might be Neurotic 'To a certain extent all of this can be seen as a middle-class issue, and many of these anxieties are just a kind of new [political] correctness in lifestyle,' admits Dr Peter Marsh, a social psychologist and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre. 'But we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them as just a silly fad. They can have seriously damaging consequences.' All this obsessing,he says, is far worse for our health than whatever it is we are worried about. 'People who worry about health issues, for example, don't have complete information and can't assess the risks properly. As an example, our social obsession with germs as lead us to sterilise our homes, thereby giving our children no chance to build up immunity and making them vulnerable to illness. And the national obsession with dieting is proven to increase the chances of eating disorders in our children (the latest scare is that phobias can be inherited). Once you make food an issue, even if it is for "health" reasons, you are teaching your children that they should fear "bad" foods.'
- Times – 01.09.2000
World sends its regards to killer Kray. Dr Peter Marsh, a social psychologist and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, said: "It's the same kind of romantic notion as Bonnie and Clyde. The Kray cult is very easy to romanticise. People forget Bonnie and Clyde were a pair of murdering thugs."
- UK Today – September 2000
Bar Culture. Dr Peter Marsh – Social Issues Research Centre: "The places we choose to drink in define us as particular kinds of people. They define us socially. So as the zeitgeist of society changes, as a new generation seeks to re-define itself, it re-invents the bar and that is what we are seeing happen in London at the moment … All of us have a concept of understanding who we are, but also understanding who we would like to be – glamorous, larger than life, articulate, socially successful person and a good bar owner – a good bar operator – understands that psychology."
- Guardian – 17.08.2000.
Out of the ashes. "In terms of Concorde," says Dr Peter Marsh, psychologist and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, "it comes down to the public's perception of risk. A plane crash is obviously seen as a disaster, but people are very aware that planes in general are a safe way of travelling [the risk of your plane crashing this year is approximately a million to one]. Even people who have a fear of flying are prepared to get on planes after crashes.
- Oxford Times – 15.08.2000
Soccer thugs are still alive and kicking. Dr Marsh's work with Oxford's Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) produced a profile of the English hooligan earlier this year … Dr Marsh says: "Hooliganism is reinvented every year just as the season is about to start. There are apocalyptic predictions in some newspapers. There were reporters in Belgium during Euro 2000 whose sole job was to file pictures and stories of fans fighting. Beforehand, there were stories of fans plotting to kill each other which was untrue.
- Fox News, Boston Globe, Straits Times – 15.08.2000.
Confidence-shaken England struggles with nationalist demons. "The idea that football fans express something about Englishness is, unfortunately, accurate,'' said Peter Marsh, director of the Social Issues Research Center, which has studied the phenomenon of soccer violence. "They see themselves as patriots. They reflect very strong undercurrents in society,'' Marsh said.
- Birmingham Post – 07.08.2000
When body and mind are out of control. "There is a process called behavioural contagion, where emotions generated by the group spread like a viral infection and everyone gets infected by it," says Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "Violent and aggressive behaviour is particularly triggered in this way." Another theory which attempts to explain why usually law-abiding people riot when they are in large groups is that being part of a mob affords a certain amount of anonymity. "So you can say, 'it wasn't me; the crowd did it'," comments Dr Marsh.
- Financial Times – 29.07.2000
Living dangerously In Britain, the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford identifies three types of adverse reaction to the "high doses of health scares and warnings received by the public". The most common is "warning fatigue": people eventually stop listening. "The danger is that when you need to warn of a real danger, your audience has switched off," says Kate Fox, SIRC co-director. "If the research linking smoking with lung cancer had come out now rather than in the 1950s, how would we distinguish it from the nonsense about mobile phones frying the brain?"
- BBC News Online – 29.07.2000
Analysis: Soccer violence an international problem. Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford said: "If you had thousands of working-class males congregating on a Saturday afternoon, and there were no fights, that would be very surprising" … "Given all the attention paid to this small minority of English fans that occasionally causes trouble, violence of some kind is inevitable," Dr Marsh says. It may be no coincidence, therefore, that the British tabloid press gives English hooligans massive coverage after games, as well as stoking up the atmosphere of xenophobia before them.
- The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Toronto Star – 15.07.2000.
Van Man drives Britons crazy. The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford says White Van Men are viewed with the hostility and opprobrium previously reserved for soccer hooligans. "Van drivers have taken on the mantle of what sociologists refer to as 'folk devils'," said Peter Marsh, the centre's director. "Like other species of animal, he feels most confident on his own turf, so a note of caution: when you obstruct the passage of a white van, you are often preventing the driver travelling freely on what he perceives to be his road."
- Daily Mail – 14.07.2000
The Thelma Effect. Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, said drivers can be affected by an intense film for around an hour after leaving the cinema. 'Try taking your pulse as you leave,' he added. 'If it's faster than normal, stop and breathe deeply and slowly and make allowances for the natural tendency to feel as indestructible as James Bond.' The Institute of Advanced Motorists urged drivers to remember that movie car scenes are filmed on specially-prepared and monitored studio lots not public roads and with strict safety standards.
- New York Times – 14.07.2001
The White Van Man of England: Oh, He's a Devil! The Oxford-based Social Issues Research Center found that white van men are viewed with the hostility and opprobrium Britons previously reserved for the soccer hooligans who almost got England disqualified from the European soccer championship last month. … Dr. Marsh found in his study that the white van drivers operate under their own tribal rules. He uncovered, for instance, White Van Man's standards for permitting someone to cut ahead: black taxis: never; buses: very rarely; women drivers: depends what they look like; other white van drivers: always.
- Evening Standard – 13.07.2000.
Film goers feel the need for speed. According to psychologists, there is a strong link between emotional responses and the way people drive. Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, said: "Driving is as much an emotional experience as it is a mechanical task; when we drive we experience a state of psychological arousal somewhere between heart-stopping fear and mind-numbing boredom. This in turn can affect the speed we drive at, our level of attention and the risks we take."
- Express – 12.07.2000.
Motorists who are driven to distraction by movie stars. For up to an hour after witnessing their heroes' exploits on the big screen, men no longer see their local high street through the windscreen but a treacherous mountain pass or isolated air strip to negotiate. Those surveyed by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford said driving home after a movie could lead to a range of side-effects. More than one in two male drivers thought the most likely effect of watching an action film such as Mission Impossible would be to cause them to drive faster and one in 10 thought they might be more likely to take a bend without dropping gear.
- Senior Women – July 2000
Current Reading. Naming & Praising update – The latest SIRC Naming and Praising awards – for responsible reporting of health issues (British presss). Social Issues Research Center.
- The Press(Canterbury, New Zealand) – 07.07.2000.
Sidelights. Good Sports Dept: Racetracks are friendly places, a 12-month research project by the Social Issues Research Centre in England shows. One of its principal findings: "While in most public contexts strangers actively avoid eye contact, they frequently make eye contact and smile at each other on racecourses for no apparent reason."
- Telegraph – 01.07.2000.
Dire estates The tidier the house, the scruffier the car. Dr Peter Marsh, social psychologist and director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford says: "Although this is a bit of a generalisation, women don't have the close relationship with their car than they have with their house. It is not an area where they make their personal mark, unlike their home which usually reflects their personality." Why is this? "Well, a certain number might not trust their car in the same way they trust their home, especially if it has broken down and `failed' them. "Many men, on the other hand, see a car as their own personal space and look after it accordingly. If it is a company car, the owner – regardless of sex – normally takes particular care over it. An unkempt car is an extension of undesirable office behaviour."
- Oxford Times – 30.06.2000.
Anatomy of a thug. Researchers at Oxford's Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) have been trying to understand what makes a football hooligan tick. Their research programme first started in the 1970s when the spectre of football violence, as we know it today, reared its ugly head. Then, traditional rivalries between clubs such as Celtic and Rangers and Liverpool and Manchester United bubbled over into full-scale riots. Despite being sporadic and disorganised the riots left large scars on the face of the sporting world.
- Northern Echo – 20.06.2000
What makes the thugs disgrace their nation? "The average football hooligan is a white, working-class male, someone seeking status and a reputation through the terraces," says Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "Most are very knowledgable and passionate about their club but they see violence as a way of achieving status."
- Birmingham Post – 20.06.2000
Response to thugs is too little, too late. We also have to find a way of eliminating the seemingly inbred xenophobia which rears its ugly head whenever the English are let off the leash in foreign climes. 'We have always been pretty xenophobic people,' comments Dr Peter Marsh, co -director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, 'and the idea that working class cultures now should be any different is wrong.'
- BBC – 19.06.2000.
Analysis: Soccer violence an international problem. You don't have to be sociologist to understand that football hooliganism is a reflection of the violence and divisions prevalent in any society. Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford said: "If you had thousands of working-class males congregating on a Saturday afternoon, and there were no fights, that would be very surprising."
- Daily Mirror – 26.05.2000.
Health Warnings can Damage Your Health. Too many government health warnings can make you ignore the lot – and put your health at risk. Shock tactics and Big Brother "bullying" have the opposite effect of what is intended, research revealed yesterday. Teenagers light up if they are told not to smoke. And, despite constant official advice on exercise and healthy eating, obesity continues to rise. The "warning fatigue" syndrome is incovered in a study by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. It says people desensitised by messages telling them what to do, snub the advice. They bought more beef on the bone on the run up to it being banned.
Warned every day of the dangers of tobacco, booze and drugs they merely indulge themselves more. On the other side, some treat risks so seriously the effects are as bad as if they had ignored them altogether. When there was a claimed danger to the pill, thousands of women stopped using it. As a result the abortion rate rose nine per cent. A SIRC spokesman said: "Health promotion is a cut-throat industry. People are bombarded with scary warnings and conflicting advice. This is not in the public interest."
- Society for Applied Microbiology – 14.05.2000.
Food Scares A Non Microbiologist’s Perspective. Being a young(ish) fit, healthy female who takes regular physical exercise and generally looks after herself, surely it's my duty to ensure that I stay that way…fit and healthy! One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to be aware of all the nutritional benefits and any potential hazards of the food I ingest every day. But is this logistically possible? … "Do you not watch the news or read the papers?" I hear you cry. Of course I do. But I am becoming increasingly aware of the influence of media hype. The need for journalists to grab the attention of the public in order to sell their particular publication, may lead to the use of words and phrases which exaggerate, for instance, the harmful effects of ingesting low levels of dioxins, or the risk of Salmonella from under-cooked eggs. According to the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), the way in which people react to health warnings in the media (including dietary risk factors) can be divided into 3 categories …
- Brave New World Online – 23.04.2000.
Don't Put Your Daughter on a Diet Say S.I.R.C. . Rather than expressing concern about the ways in which the slimming industry exploits and preys on the anxieties of vulnerable adolescent girls, persuading them that the perfectly natural and healthy weight and fat gains of puberty are a 'problem', the health establishment, by focusing campaigns exclusively on the dangers of overweight and dietary fat, is tacitly condoning this message.
- Ultramarathon World – 19.04.2000.
Sex boosts marathon performance, survey finds. Sex on the eve of a big race is good for marathon running, according to a survey carried out for the organisers of Sunday's London marathon. "Every competitor planning to build a last-minute lovemaking session into their training programme will run faster than those who don't," organisers said in announcing the findings.
- Irish Times – 15.04.2000.
Rumbling the sleep thieves …there is a horrible smugness about the new refreshed executive. US anthropologist Lionel Tiger says that showing off about your eight hours is classic one-upmanship. "There is an implication in the `sleep-a-lot' boast that you are so well organised and such a neat delegator that the world can persist adequately even while you are comatose. This is a tribute to how splendid you are when you are not comatose."
- New California Media – 14.04.2000.
Sexiness of the Long-Distance Runner. "For the first time we have gone inside the mind of a marathon runner and produced some interesting findings not the least those about sex," Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Center.
- Aften Posten – 14.04.2000.
Sex og maraton hører sammen. "Sex kvelden før et stort løp gir bra effekt for maratonløpere" konkluderer den nevnte undersøkelsen som er foretatt av det Oxford-baserte Social Issues Research Centre i regi av søndagens maratonarrangør i London.
- Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald – 12.04.2000.
Dream on. Executive sleep indulgence is also fashionably health-conscious. "Sleep is the new wheat allergy," says anthropologist Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "Bravado is out of fashion in the higher tiers of the workplace. Of course we're talking about the chattering classes. Working mothers don't have the luxury of sleeping for prestige."
- L.A.Times, Total Sports, Indian Express – 12.04.2000.
The sex drive of long distance runners. "And the study goes on to conclude that marathon running can be good for your sex life, with 30 percent of those questioned saying the sport had improved their performance in bed."
- Express – 11.04.2000.
Passionate performance boosts marathon runners' times. London Marathon competitors who enjoy a night of passion on the eve of the big event clock faster times for the race than those who do not, according to a survey published today. Researchers from the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre found that 20% of men and 16% of women claimed that a last-minute love-making session had helped them to increase their times. They also found that 30% of competitors believed that marathon running had improved their performance in bed.
- Telegraph – 11.04.2000.
Sex is better in the long run. A survey into the "hearts, minds and staying power" of runners claims that having sex the night before a marathon can improve their performance in the race. The Social Issues Research Centre, concluded that competitors who build a last-minute lovemaking session into their training programme will run faster than those who don't.
- National Center for Policy Analysis – April 2000.
Saving Lives and Promoting Health by Throwing Precaution to the Wind. Does this mean the precautionary principle has no utility whatsoever? Not at all. In the words of the Social Issues Research Centre, in Oxford, UK, "If we apply the precautionary principle to itself – ask what are the possible danger's of using this principle – we would be forced to abandon it very quickly."
- IDF50 – April 2000.
A Little Bit Of What You Fancy – Dr Desmond Morris. It was a meal to make a food faddist swoon away in horror. My mother was piling her plate high with a greasy, fatty, fry-up of a mixed grill and tucking in with gusto. When I say 'with gusto', I mean she was eating with the urgent pleasure of a predator at a kill. Although she was born during the reign of Queen Victoria, she was more in tune with the robust food pleasures of the eighteenth century, when a feast was a feast, and nobody had heard about health foods, diet regimes, or table etiquette that demanded you chew each mouthful 32 times before swallowing.
- Sunday Times – 09.04.2000.
Does my Bum Look Big in this, Mate? . The psychologist Dr Peter Marsh, a co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, says there is a reason for this trend. "It is known as social facilitation, where patterns of behaviour, particularly those considered positive, such as spending money, are amplified by a group," he explains. "And when it's all men, male-bonding means members of the group feel able to do things they couldn't do on their own."
- Africa Bio – 21.03.2000.
Britain Considers Code for Science Reporting. The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, UK, is working closely with the Royal Institution and the S&T Committee of the House of Commons to establish a new code of practice for science reporting in Britain … Concerns over the quality of British journalism came to a head in February 1999 when the issue of GM food dominated the headlines for weeks.
- Independent – 21.03.2000.
Lies, damn lies and science fiction. The [Social Issues] Research Centre says it does not want to tell journalists how to to their job, but merely offer a framework they can choose to work to. "It matters because misleading information is positively dangerous; it can even cost lives," says Kate Fox, the centre's director. I have to admit she's right. The Pill scare of 1995, when newspapers emphasised a tiny increased risk of cancer, led many women into unwanted pregnancies and resulted in 29,000 extra abortions, which carried far greater risks to health than taking the Pill.
- Montreal Gazette – 20.02.2000.
Feeding hysteria over food science. Greenpeace has been whipping up hysteria aided and abetted by sycophantic members of the media who have fallen over one another to swallow the Greenpeace twaddle. According to the Social Issues Research Centre at Oxford, many of the articles praising Pusztai were written by activists masquerading as detached journalists. Among the more notorious were Andy Rowell of Greenpeace and George Monbiot, author of An Activist's Guide to Exploiting the Media.
- Guardian – 15.02.2000.
Bad habits die hard. "There is such a plethora of contradictory medical warnings, that people don't know what is worthwhile and what is cranky," says Dr Peter Marsh, social psychologist and director of the science and research unit in Oxford. But Dr Elizabeth Dowler, of Warwick University's department of social policy and social work, is doubtful that unhealthy eating has much to do with the public's distrust of nutritionists: "There is a strong view that the trouble with nutritionists is they are always changing their minds, and I don't think it is particularly true. There are a lot of popular myths around, but experts have always advocated a balanced diet, and recommended eating fruit and vegetables."
- Sydney Morning Herald – 12.02.2000
Mate by machine on new casting couch. Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research Centre, believes turning to an agency is not a departure from more formalised matchmaking but a return to it. "The idea that matchmaking can happen spontaneously is new. Previously parents or elders helped provide suitable mates."
- Real Health & Beauty – February 2000.
Are you an unhappy eater? The Social Issues Research Centre, an Oxford-based think-tank, is carrying out a research project into health and food issues. Kate Fox of SIRC says that 'sub-clinical eating disorder' is a valid concept. 'It's very reasonable to talk about the vast majority of women in Western cultures being preoccupied with food, weight and body image. All research on the project points to the same thing – up to 80% of women suffer from poor body image and most have dieted.' Fox believes that while the imagery of fashion and beauty industries has a very bad influence on women's self-image, there is also blame to be laid at the door of the health lobby. 'There has been an emergence between the messages coming from the slimming/diet/fashion industry and the health establishment: people are given the idea that slim equals fit.'
These days, she says, a preoccupation with weight and food is the norm, rather than an aberration. 'The health establishment is not expressing any concern about the way the slimming industry is exploiting women – in fact, it is tacitly condoning it. The current idea is that any degree of overweight is unhealthy and that losing weight is good; obesity is seen as a great public health issue. When you have messages about losing weight coming at you from all sides, this is a rationale for constant dieting.'
- Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald – 31.01.2000.
Our eyes met across a crowded column …Perhaps we should view the rise in pro-active dating as a way to achieve attachment now that traditional social stuctures are disintegrating. Dating organisations are being embraced by a generation of women and men raised in a service culture. Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research Centre, believes turning to an agency is not a departure from more formalised matchmaking but a return to it. "The idea that matchmaking can happen spontaneously is new. Previously parents or elders helped provide suitable mates. Going to look for one on the internet is more a return to normal mating than some weird aberration."
- Sun – 15.01.2000
White van man 1st Vanniversary It started when Oxford's Social Issues Research Centre identified the drivers of white vans as a distinct social group. Director Dr Peter Marsh said: "He is the man who never signals and uses the kind of vocabulary represented by asterisks in newspapers." We thought there must be something more to this army of delivery drivers, salesmen, builders and tradesmen – so we created a weekly platform for their views in The Sun. It has been a huge success, with White Van Man quoted scores of times on TV and radio as well as entertaining 10million Sun readers weekly.