Peter Saunders personal website


Go to content

Presentations archive

A selection of recent talks, lectures and debates:

Get rich or get equal?
Battle of Ideas, The Barbican, London, 20 October 2013

Debate on inequality at the Battle of ideas conference (organised by the Institute of Ideas). Panel with (from left to right) Danny Dorling, Marryn Somerset Webb, Peter Lloyd (chair) and Rob Killick.

Details here

Social mobility myths

Presentation to Grammar School Heads' Annual Conference, RAF Club, London, 19 June 2013.

Contains material based on my 2012 Civitas report, Social Mobility Delusions. Versions of this talk have also been given to the Forum of Independent Day Schools annual conference (Hampton School, June 2011); the Head Masters Conference annual conference (Belfast, October 2012); and St Albans School (November 2012 and March 2014).

Seminar to launch Tom Palmer's 'After the welfare state'

with me as discussant (Sydney, 8 April 2013)

Andrew Baker and I (via video link) debate the problems and future of the welfare state with Tom Palmer on the launch of the Australian edition of his book at a seminar hosted by the Centre for Independent Studies

View seminar
View Q&A session

Opposing the motion, 'This House believes class runs Britain'
Speech to the Cambridge Union (25 October 2012)

My speech (from 35 mins on the YouTube video) attacks the elites in Britain who have 'class on the brain' and who are tryin g to impose class quotas on our top universities. Other speakers opposing the motion were Peter Hamilton (headmaster of Haberdashers school) and Aairif Ahmed. Those opposing were ex-mayor of London Ken Livingstone, with Danny Dorling and Martha Morey. The opposition lost heavily but garnered an honourable 100 votes (slightly fewer than the number of abstentions!).

Welfare without the state

Centre for Independent Studies 'Big Ideas Forum', Sydney, 27 August 2012.

In my presentation I focus on the specific example of child support. In Britain and Australia, men who claim benefits are expected to pay almost nothing towards the cost of raising children they have fathered but no longer live with. It is morally wrong that absent fathers who work are expected to contribute child care, but those who don't are not - but what can be done about it? I describe policy in the USA (when absent fathers are required to work) and Germany (where grandparents must pay if parents default) and suggest we can learn from both countries. Other contributors to the debate were historian John Hirst, economist Gary Johns, first nation leader from Canada Manny Jules, and the CIS's Jeremy Sammut.

view presentation

view Q&A

Debunking the Equality Myth: A critique of the Spirit Level

Presentation via video link to the Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney, 6 June 2011.

Presentation based on my updated critique of Wilkinson and Pickett's claims in 'The Spirit Level.' Identifies five fundamental flaws: their choice of countries; their selection of indicators; the disjuncture between their theory and measurement; their spurious correlations; and their failure to recognise the importance of cultural differences. The presentation ends by reflecting on Wilkinson and Pickett's reaction to criticism: their attempts to label their opponents as racist and 'far right'; their claim to represent a consensus which does not exist; and finally, their petulant refusal to engage in any further debate.

View presentation
View Q&A session

Towards a Fair Tax Policy for Families
Presentation to the Iona Institute conference on Women, Home and Work, Davenport Hotel, Dublin, 26 May

Based on my Policy Exchange report, 'Reforming the UK Tax and Benefits System,' it explains why the abandonment of spousal and child tax allowances and the move to a radically individualist tax system has been such a disaster for UK families. Other speakers: Catherine Hakim (LSE), Jonas Himmelstrand, Breda O'Brien (Irish Times). Chair: Finola Bruton

Click to listen

Debate on inequality for Guardian podcast

Recorded at The Guardian offices in Kings Cross, London, 26 April 2011
(some comments have been removed by Guardian editors).

Debate on whether government should reduce income inequality, featuring left-wing journalist Polly Toynbee (who thinks it should), Marxist geography professor Danny Dorling (who thinks it should), and Demos 'progressive conservative' Max Wind-Cowie (who thinks it should). Chaired by Aditya Chakrabortty.


Debate: Are we still a classless society Mr Cameron?
Battle of Ideas, University of London, 31 October 2010)

Debate at the London Battle of Ideas festival with Daily Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire (who claims "your parent's occupation virtually decides your occupation"), marxist sociologist Neil Davenport (who maintains upward social mobility is "a total myth"), and journalist Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal.

View debate

Debate on 'The Spirit Level'
Royal Society of Arts, London, 22 July 2010

Debate on the claims made in 'The Spirit Level'. Partnered by Chris Snowdon (author of 'The Spirit Level Delusion') and opposed by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

View video

Full list of conference papers delivered, 1975-2013

1975: SSRC conference on questionnaire design, Aberystwyth
1976: World Congress of Rural Sociology, Torun, Poland
1978: SSRC political geography conference, Glasgow
1979: Centre for Environmental Studies urban change & conflict conference, Nottingham
International Political Science Association inter-governmental relations conference, Oxford
British Sociological Association urban sociology conference, Warwick
Urban planning conference, University College London
1980: Political Science Association territorial dimension in UK politics conference, Cardiff
International Political Science Association intergovernmental relations conference, Oxford
British Sociological Association conference on power in towns and cities, Glasgow
School for Advanced Urban Studies conference on the local state, Bristol
1981: British Sociological Association capital ideology & politics conference, Sheffield
1982: Institute of British Geographers annual conference, Southampton
1983: Inter-governmental relations conference, Copenhagen
Political Science Association territorial dimension in UK politics conference, Oxford
International Sociological Association urban change & conflict conference, Essex
SSRC intergovernmental relations conference, Oxford
1984: British Sociological Association urban sociology conference, LSE
1985: International Sociological Association conference on spatial structures & social processes, Lesbos (Greece)
International Sociological Association urban change & conflict conference, Sussex
1986: Work habitat & leisure conference, Oslo
British Sociological Association conference on issues of the modern state, Edinburgh
Colston symposium on geography & politics, Bristol
1987: Nordic Universities winter symposium, Stockholm
International Sociological Association urban change & conflict conference, Kent
1988: Sociology of consumption inaugural conference, Oslo
International Sociological Association housing policy & innovation conference, Amsterdam
International Sociological Association conference on urban restructuring, Rio de Janiero
1989: Social change & macroplanning conference, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia
Festschrift for Hugh Stretton, University of Adelaide
The future of cities conference, Vienna
British Sociological Association conference on environment & behaviour, LSE
Student educational conference, Westminster
Conference on the enterprise culture, Lancaster
1990: German Sociological Association Urban Sociology conference, Munich
International Sociological Association world congress, Madrid
British Sociological Association annual conference, Surrey
University of Essex 25th anniversary conference, Essex
Association of Teachers of Social Science annual conference, Brighton
Conference on water privatisation, Leicester
Liberty Fund symposium, Oxford
Student educational conference, Westminster
1991: Libertarian Alliance conference on social theory & freedom, London
1992: Conference on the future of the water industry, Melbourne
1993: ESRC social stratification conference, Cambridge
1994: ESRC sociology of consumption conference, Salford
1995: ESRC social stratification conference, Cambridge
1997: ESRC social stratification conference, Cambridge
1998: International Sociological Association world congress, Montreal
Conference on Gender in Higher Education, Helsinki
ESRC social polarization conference, Leicester
1999: Australian Institute of Family Studies conference on Social Capital, Canberra
Social Policy Research Centre biennial conference, Sydney
National Marriage & Relationship Education annual conference, Sydney
Mutuality Australia conference on a Third Way for Australia, Melbourne
2000: International Sociological Association conference on future of welfare, Tilburg (Netherlands)
Family Council of Victoria keynote address, Melbourne
2002: Mont Pelerin Society Asian Regional Meeting, Goa, India
2003: Australian Instititute of Family Studies conference (Melbourne);
Keynote address to Second Knowledge Wave Leadership Forum (Auckland);
Social Entrepreneurs Network conference on 'Civic Entrepreneurship' (Canberra);
Social Policy Research Centre conference on social exclusion (Sydney);
New Zealand National Party Annual Conference (Wellington);
Economic & Social Outlook Conference (Australian Newspaper & Melbourne Institute)
2004: Australian Labor Party conference fringe meeting on 'poverty wages' (Sydney);
ACT Party forum on welfare reform (Wellington);
Taxpayers Australia annual conference (Gold Coast)
2005: Rotary Centenary Conference keynote address (Hobart)
Department of Employment & Workplace Relations Conference keynote address on welfare reform (Canberra)
Social Policy Research Centre conference (Sydney)
Housing Income & Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) conference (Melbourne)
2007: Maxim Institute conference on social justice (Auckland)
Cape York Institute conference on Rebuilding norms in Indigenous communities (Cairns)
2008: 'New agenda for prosperity' conference (Melbourne Institute/Australian newspaper)
2009: 'Child poverty in hard times' conference (Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (Birmingham)
2010: Institute for Fiscal Studies one-day conference on child poverty measurement
'Battle of Ideas' annual conference, session on class (University of London)

2011: Iona Institute conference on 'Women, Home and Work' (Dublin)
Forum of Independent Day Schools annual conference (Hampton School)
2012: Head Masters' Conference annual conference (Belfast)
2013: Grammar School Heads Association annual conference (RAF Club, London)
'Battle of Ideas' annual conference, 'Get rich or get equal?' (Barbican, London)

Other talks, public lectures, etc

1977: SSRC stratification seminar, Cambridge
1978: research seminars at Kent & Birmingham
1979: research seminars at Institute of Local Govt Studies, Warwick, LSE & Birmingham Polytechnic
1980: research seminars at Liverpool, Edinburgh, Kent, Nuffield, Open University, Kingston Poly and Bartlett School of Architecture
1981: research seminars at Aston, Oxford Poly, Liverpool, Ulster Poly, Melbourne, ANU, New South Wales, Newcastle (NSW) & Swinburne
1982: seminar on Australian urban politics (ANU) & research seminars at Manchester, Leicester Poly, Auckland, NZ Forest Research Institute, Canterbury (NZ), Queensland, Adelaide, Flinders & Swinburne
1983: research seminars at LSE & Cardiff
1984: research seminars at Sheffield Poly, Oxford Poly, Salford, Portsmouth Poly, Surrey & SAUS (Bristol)
1985: research seminars at Hull, Bartlett School of Architecture & Institute of Local Govt Studies
1986: ESRC stratification seminar (Cambridge) and research seminar at LSE
1987: seminars at Swedish Building Research Institute (Gavle) and research seminars at Brown, Columbia, Rutgers, Sussex & Cambridge
1988: seminar at Helsinki City Planning Office and research seminars at University of Helsinki, Helsinki Technical University, Sussex, Bristol Poly, Surrey, Nuffield, Lancaster & NE London Poly
1989: research seminars at Monash and Essex
1990: AMP seminar (Brands Hatch) plus research seminars at Free University Berlin, Sussex, Leeds & Brighton Poly
1991: Professorial inaugural lecture at Sussex, Anglo-Bulgarian seminar Sussex, plus research seminars at Brighton Poly, Sussex and Kent
1992: research seminars at Swinburne, Tasmania, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Bremen, Essex and Sussex
1993: AMP seminar (Croydon)
1994: research seminars at Kent, Lancaster
1996: public lectures at Humboldt University (Berlin) and the Royal Overseas League Club (London), research seminars at Brown, Edinburgh, Institute of Development Studies, Manchester
1997: IEA seminar on state and market, research seminars at Essex and Hertfordshire, A-level conference Westminster Central Hall
1998: Research seminar UCAS (Cheltenham), research seminars at Sussex and Institute of Development Studies, two A-level conferences at Central Hall Westminster
1999: Centre for Independent Studies Bert Kelly Lecture (Sydney), Papers to Victoria Dept of Youth and Family Services (Melbourne), CIS Planning Retreat (Sydney), Australian Junior Chamber national convention (Melbourne), Relationships Australia AGM, Productivity Commission; seminars at Swinburne University, RMIT, AIFS public seminar
2000: Department of Family & Community Services seminar (Canberra), seminar on panel surveys (Canberra), NSW research forum on meritocracy and intelligence (Macquarie)
2001: Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit seminar on meritocracy (London), CIS 'Consilium' paper on welfare reform (Sydney), NSW Liberal Party seminar on risk (Sydney), CIS public lecture (Sydney)
2002: New Zealand Treasury Guest Lecture (Wellington), CIS public lecture (Wellington), research seminar at University of Auckland, CIS Liberty and Society seminar (Sydney), CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld)
2003: Hugo Group Executive Retreat (Queenstown, NZ), CIS Liberty and Society seminars (Auckland and Sydney), CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld); RMIT University social policy seminar
2004: Australia Club 'Dinner Club' lecture (Sydney); Melbourne Institute Economic Forum (Canberra); CIS Liberty & Society seminars (Sydney); CIS public lecture (Melbourne); CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld); CIS 'Big Ideas Forum' (Sydney); Melbourne Institute research seminar (University of Melbourne); West Australia Council of Social Service public debate (Perth); Edith Cowan University staff-graduate seminar; Liberal Party backbenchers' forum on tax reform (Canberra); Cape York Institute seminar on
Aboriginal welfare (Cairns)
2005: Probus (Sydney); Swinburne University (Melbourne); CIS Liberty & Society seminars; CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld); Economic Society (Canberra); Institute of Public Administration seminar (Melbourne); Wentworth Liberal Party tax forum (Sydney); CIS Tax reform forums (Sydney and Wellington); Melbourne Institute Economic Forums (Canberra and Melbourne); CIS Members Christmas lecture
2007: Australian Institute of Family Studies research seminar (Melbourne); Keynote lecture to Dept of Employment & Workplace Relations Senior Executives retreat (Sydney); Macquarie University public debate (Sydney); CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld); Heritage Foundation/CIS seminar on economic freedom (Sydney); CIS public lecture (Wellington)
2008: Lecture to Productivity Commission senior executive retreat (Melbourne)
2010: Presentation to Frank Field's Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances (London); Seminar to Dept of Work & Pensions Strategy Group, London; video presentation to Centre for Independent Studies debate on Henry welfare reform proposals (Sydney); video presentation (by YouTube) to NZ Welfare Working Group; Policy Exchange debate on family tax and benefits system (London); Policy Exchange seminar on poverty and work targets (London); Seminar on social mobility at Civitas (London); debate on 'The Spirit Level' at Royal Society of Arts (London)
2011: Speaker for Policy Exchange at the 'Think Tank Clash' (London, South Bank); Guardian debate on inequality; videolink to Centre for Independent Studies on The Spirit Level (Sydney);
2012: 'Shaken and Stirred' debate on welfare with David Hetherington (Sydney); CIS 'Consilium' (Coolum, Qld); CIS Big Ideas Forum (Sydney)
2013: CIS seminar on welfare (Sydney, via video link)

Back to content | Back to main menu