Rise of the Busybody State

Date: Wednesday 12 April 2017 - 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm

Venue: Carriageworks Theatre, Room 1

Speaker: Josie Appleton (Manifesto Club)

Respondents: Adam Crawford (University of Leeds) & A.N.Other t.b.c.

£5 waged/£4 unwaged to pay on the door. To reserve a place, please e-mail us at contact@leedssalon.org.uk

In recent years, there has been a widely recognised rise of ‘busybodies’ in public spaces: private security guards or council officials who approach somebody busking or skateboarding and ask them to move on. There has also been a growth of ‘pointless rules’, from outdoor smoking bans to mandatory reporting of innocuous playground incidents.

These policies and procedures often seem to make little sense and only obstruct rather than to serve any useful public purpose. These changes are often blamed on the meddling personalities of official ‘Little Hitlers’, but in a new book, Officious: Rise of the Busybody State, Josie Appleton argues that the new officials and regulations represent a new logic of state organisation and a change in the relationship between citizens and state. The target of this officiousness is spontaneous and unregulated public life, in which state regulations represent the rule and restriction of freedom as an end in itself - and defined against the citizenry as a problem to be managed.

So how do we explain the rise of the ‘busybody state’? Can, or should, it be rolled-back? And could opposition to it even lead to potential new political alliances between various affected groups - from protestors to buskers to dog walkers - against the organs of the officious state and in defence of the principle of the free civic domain?

Josie will introduce her book followed by questions and comments from our critical panel, before discussion is opened up to the audience.


The busybody state is on the rise – and it is ticking us all off, Josie Appleton OpenDemocracyUK, 13 December 2016

Leeds council wins court order banning groups of anti-social driver in city, Georgina Morris, Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 December 2016

The rise of the officious state, James Heartfield, Spiked, 9 December 2016

Leafletting: A Liberty Lost?, Paul Thomas, Culture Vulture, 5 October 2011



Follow Leeds Salon

Leeds Salon on Facebook

Follow theleedssalon on Twitter



Sign up to our mailing list


The Leeds Salon is a judging partner of the sixth form Debating Matters competition

The Tetley and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for central and south Leeds

The HFoI and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for north Leeds


Leeds Salon is a member of the Amazon Affiliate Programme. When you follow this link, we receive a small percentage of anything you spend in that visit. It costs you no extra but is a big help to us!

Leeds Debate Links

Arts Society Leeds

Café Psychologique

Café Scientifique (Chapel Allerton)

Café Scientifique (Headingley)

FORUM 2000

Headingley Festival of Ideas

Headingley LitFest

Leeds Library Salon

Leeds Phil & Lit Society

Leeds Pint of Science

Taking Soundings

Talking Allowed In Leeds: PiPs

Think Headingley: PiPs


National Debate Links

Salon Aberystwyth

Birmingham Salon

East Midlands Salon

Exeter Salon

Liverpool Salon

London Legal Salon

Manchester Salon

Academy of Ideas

Debating Matters

Manifesto Club


The Great Debate



Global Debate Links

Berlin Salon

Dublin Salon

Zurich Salon


Donations gratefully received