Honey Money not to LSE's taste

Loose 'ties' with author emphasised after terrible notices for 'erotic capital' book. Jack Grove writes

September 22, 2011

Scathing reviews of a book encouraging women to cash in on their sex appeal have prompted the London School of Economics to distance itself from the author.

Catherine Hakim's Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital garnered some hostile reviews after it was published by Allen Lane last month, with many commentators aghast that an LSE sociologist should advocate that women use their sexual assets to get ahead.

The book's title is inspired by the catchphrase used by prostitutes in Jakarta who ask for cash upfront for sex - with women advised to exploit their own "erotic capital" to gain professional success.

It has now emerged that Ms Hakim's links to the LSE are perhaps looser than had been suggested. Although she is described as a "senior research Fellow of sociology" at the LSE on the book's dust jacket and in subsequent book reviews, Times Higher Education has learned that Ms Hakim has not been employed there since 2003.

She had, with the agreement of the school, continued to work from an LSE office and use email, telephone and other clerical-support facilities - despite not being part of the sociology faculty.

The institution has now written to Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin, asking it to correct further publications, while Ms Hakim has been asked by the LSE not to refer to herself as an LSE sociologist, THE understands.

An LSE spokesman said: "Catherine Hakim was employed as a senior research Fellow at LSE until 2003. Subsequently she had an agreement with LSE that allowed her the use of an office and associated facilities but this arrangement has now ended."

Paul Gilroy, head of sociology at the LSE, also confirmed that Ms Hakim had left her research fellowship post in 2003, but did not want to comment further.

Ms Hakim, who expounded on "erotic capital" in a THE article in June last year, is described on her website as a "sociologist in the Complexity Group in the LSE" - a statement she reiterated when originally contacted by THE.

But Eve Mitleton-Kelly, founding director of the group, which uses the social psychology method of "complexity theory" to research workplace issues, told THE that Ms Hakim was not a member.

Professor Mitleton-Kelly said she had applied to join, but her expertise did not fit into the group's area of study. THE contacted Ms Hakim for clarification, but she had not responded at the time of going to press.

Criticism of Ms Hakim's book has been fierce. Jenni Russell, a reviewer for The Sunday Times, calls it "repetitious, rambling, contradictory (and) ill-argued".

She adds: "If this is what counts as intellectual discovery at the (LSE), or Allen Lane...I fear for the future both of universities and of serious books."

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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