Beyond the Obvious – Episode with John Carroll


In this conversation, I had the pleasure of chatting with John Carroll, professor emeritus in Sociology at La Trobe university. John’s work focuses on culture and its crucial role in the human search for meaning. For those unfamiliar with John’s work, you can often find him as a contributor in the weekend Australian newspaper.

Early in May this year, I read an article that John had written in the paper titled, Coronavirus and the great age of uncertainty.  His article inspired me to read some of his other works on culture and meaning, including his books, The Existential Jesus, The Wreck of Western Culture – Humanism revisited and finally the book I’d almost finished by the time we had our conversation, Ego and Soul – The Modern West in search of Meaning. John’s books consider the cultural underpinnings of Western Civilisation, and I found them so helpful to contemplate during this time of great uncertainty.

Being personally sensitive to the collective anxiety that many of us are currently experiencing, I found in John’s books a balm to soothe my recently amplified existential angst.

In our chat, we discuss questions of meaning but also look to the future in terms of potential impacts on current and emerging trends from his sociological perspective. We also discuss the recently proposed government policies of picking winners within university education and its likely impact on culture.

It was a pleasure to chat with John. There is depth and nuance to John’s perspective that I only really started to grasp when re-listening to our chat.

I hope you find the conversation as interesting as I did. Enjoy.

Note: this conversation was recorded on the 25th of June 2020, before Melbourne went back into lock-down.

John Carroll can be found at:


Podcast Music: The Spiel by Flag Duty. Copyright 2019.